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Silly Little War

Diarmaid MacCulloch: Zwingli, 9 June 2022

Zwingli: God’s Armed Prophet 
by Bruce Gordon.
Yale, 349 pp., £25, October 2021, 978 0 300 23597 5
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... English-speakers to reassess Switzerland’s pioneer Reformer, but, nearly half a century on, Bruce Gordon still has every reason to try to get the news out beyond the manicured shores of Lake Zurich. Few are better placed to do so: Gordon is steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition that owes its birth to ...

Brought to book

Gordon Williams, 7 May 1981

Ronnie Biggs: His Own Story 
by Michael Joseph.
Sphere, 238 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 9780718119720
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A Sense of Freedom 
by Jimmy Boyle.
Pan, 264 pp., £1.25, September 1977, 0 330 25303 4
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... Good Soldier Biggs ambles from a Brixton boyhood into petty thieving and friendship with big-timer Bruce Reynolds, who asks him to make one for the big job because he can produce a bent train-driver: ‘I knew before the meeting that there were qualms about my being included on the job, because I was such an unlucky thief; even ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... of Old Mr Turveydrop. He was not alone in this, if you bear in mind the solo thespian flights of Bruce Chatwin. A woman in Italy with whom Chatwin used to stay remembers an afternoon when the maid came running downstairs, frightened half to death by the noises coming from Chatwin’s room. ‘Oh, don’t worry,’ said the experienced hostess. ‘...


Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... off to Longchamp for the weekend. A thief goes home to the wife in Up-minster. So why did Bruce Reynolds, a main player in this country’s robbery of the century, choose to call his book The Autobiography of a Thief ? It was, he says, a bit of homage to Jean Genet. The Thief’s Journal was being translated into English just as ...

Uncrownable King and Queen

Christopher Sykes, 7 February 1980

The Windsor Story 
by J. Bryan and Charles Murphy.
Granada, 602 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 246 11323 5
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... in World War Two would have given it its death-blow. Nothing of the sort happened. The late Gordon Childs, who had worked in propaganda in the USA, told me that as a morale-booster, when inspecting factories in the war, the Duke of Windsor was streets ahead of any British or American public figure. If he had made a go of his assignment to the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’ , 14 August 2008

The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... an anecdote-cum-fable that Michael Caine, as the faithful servant Alfred, tells Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. There was a bandit in Burma, apparently, who stole jewels at will from almost everyone and was never caught – because he didn’t want and didn’t keep the jewels, he just stole them because he could. Alfred understands, as Wayne doesn’t, even ...

Early Kermode

Stefan Collini, 13 August 2020

... scholarly flotsam. It was a review of a book called Music and Poetry of the English Renaissance by Bruce Pattison: a learned, exact, even exacting, piece, full of abstruse detail, acknowledging the book’s achievement but, in the manner of young scholars everywhere, ticking it off for not drawing on the latest scholarship.Reflecting on this unexpected ...

The Cow Bells of Kitale

Patrick Collinson: The Selwyn Affair, 5 June 2003

... looked for a position of some kind but without success. A deal was struck with his elder brother, Gordon, a leading Anglican theologian and Dean of Winchester, who took possession of the title deeds of the farm and offered them a loan. But the condition was that Helen was to take over. Her husband was to follow her instructions, even obey her orders.She seems ...

Parkinson Lobby

Alan Rusbridger, 17 November 1983

... hubris: ‘The Greeks have a word for it,’ we were repeatedly told. Jock (now Lord) Bruce-Gardyne, former Economic Secretary to the Treasury, managed to combine at least two of these factors in an article in the Times, ‘Hounded out by Hypocrisy’, the day after Mr Parkinson’s resignation. ‘So that great British tradition, hypocrisy, has ...


James Wood: The ‘TLS’, 27 June 2002

Critical Times: The History of the ‘Times Literary Supplement’ 
by Derwent May.
HarperCollins, 606 pp., £25, November 2001, 0 00 711449 4
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... existed. This world was Q’s cave: a warm, amateurish, freshly-dug hideout in which, say, G.S. Gordon, when he succeeded Walter Raleigh as Merton Professor of English at Oxford, ‘was said to have got the job largely on the strength of his Lit Supp contributions’. In that first year of the TLS’s existence, The Wings of the Dove was reviewed by ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... Nevertheless, some revisionist historians have recently shown that William Wallace and Robert Bruce, icons of Scotland’s War of Independence against England in the late 13th and early 14th century, became unionist heroes in 19th-century Scottish culture. Without Wallace and Bruce, so Victorian Scots argued, Scotland ...

Only the Drop

Gabriele Annan, 17 October 1996

Every Man for Himself 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 224 pp., £14.99, September 1996, 0 7156 2733 3
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... real: Lord Melchett (Morgan’s 19-year-old buddy), Lord Astor and his bride, Lord and Lady Duff Gordon, a Frick, a Vanderbilt, Mr and Mrs Straus who own Macy’s, and also Thomas Andrews, the architect of the Titanic, and Bruce Ismay, a White Star official. Real or fictional, they divide roughly into a group of young ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd, 10 August 2000

Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... not have his brains swallowed up in chaff. For women this protection is impossible.’ Well, Lenny Bruce had as good a claim to the title of Jewish intellectual as many of those in these pages, and he phrased it just as tersely when he said that all men want wives who are perfect mothers, perfect secretaries, perfect cooks and top-dollar, tireless ...


Charles Nicholl: At the Maison Rimbaud in Harar, 16 March 2000

... unexpected high point in terms of historical house-hunting was provided by the British Ambassador, Gordon Wetherell. A tall, genial man in his early fifties, he had already upstaged his Gallic counterpart by giving the first part of his speech at the Maison Rimbaud in fluent Amharic. On the morning of our return to Addis, I went off with him and his wife Rosie ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... lost his Midas touch.’ In October 2004, he carried the first of a long series of eulogies to Gordon Brown, then ‘odds-on to be prime minister before the end of 2008’. ‘The Brown transition,’ Goodhart wrote, ‘could help to realise the centre-left’s dream of governing Britain for a generation.’ What had happened? Nothing had shaken ...

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