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Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?

20 August 2014
Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... One simple way​ of grasping the magnitude of what has happened to London over the last thirty years is to compare the introductions to the first and most recent editions of Edward Jones and ChristopherWoodward’s Guide to the Architecture of London. In 1983, they wrote of a city in decline, its population down by about a sixth from its postwar height. ‘London is cleaner and uglier than it was ...

Utopian about the Present

Christopher​ Turner: The Brutalist Ethic

4 July 2019
Alison and Peter Smithson 
by Mark Crinson.
Historic England, 150 pp., £30, June 2018, 978 1 84802 352 9
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Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing 
by John Boughton.
Verso, 330 pp., £9.99, April, 978 1 78478 740 0
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... the East End. But from the start the estate was isolated by its geography. It was surrounded on all sides by major roads, from which it was protected, in the words of the Smithsons’ assistant ChristopherWoodward, by an ‘almost manic system of walls and moats’. The perimeter of the estate was marked by a high wall designed to bounce back traffic noise, and to allow for oblique views through it ...

Diary

Will Self: Battersea Power Station

18 July 2013
... over!’ Hitler declared on returning to Germany after his 1938 state visit to Italy. Mussolini had laid on a grand night-time tour that climaxed in a visit to the Colosseum, which – according to ChristopherWoodward in his excellent In Ruins – ‘was lit from inside by red lamps so that, as if ablaze, it cast a bloody glow on to the grass and the ruddy brick ruins on the surrounding slopes ...

Half-Wrecked

Mary Beard: What’s left of John Soane

17 February 2000
John Soane: An Accidental Romantic 
by Gillian Darley.
Yale, 358 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 300 08165 0
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John Soane, Architect: Master of Space and Light 
by Margaret Richardson and Mary-Anne Stevens.
Royal Academy, 302 pp., £45, September 1999, 0 300 08195 2
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Sir John Soane and the Country Estate 
by Ptolemy Dean.
Ashgate, 204 pp., £37.50, October 1999, 1 84014 293 6
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... the temporal within the eternal’, according to John Summerson; an embodiment of the ‘tension between enticement and resistance, openness and enclosure ... a mesmerising presence’, according to ChristopherWoodward (writing in John Soane, Architect, the lavish catalogue of the recent Royal Academy exhibition of Soane’s work). More mundanely, it is regularly identified as the source of one of the most ...
5 April 1984
TheSinking of the ‘Belgrano’ 
by Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon.
Secker, 192 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 436 41332 9
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Our Falklands War 
edited by Geoffrey Underwood.
Maritime Books, 144 pp., £3.95, November 1983, 0 907771 08 4
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... letting various cats out of various bags by revealing to the Scottish press corps that he had sunk the Belgrano on orders from Fleet Headquarters at Northwood. Now we find the submarine commander, Christopher Wreford-Brown DSO, saying in Our Falklands War: We were tasked to look for and find the General Belgrano Group. It was reported to consist of the cruiser and escorts. We located her on our passive ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher​ Hitchens

7 November 1991
Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... foundation of the storied ‘Reagan revolution’? Contemporary historians like Theodore Draper, Arthur Schlesinger and Garry Wills, or political journalists like Seymour Hersh, Lou Cannon and Robert Woodward, deal with this difficulty in various ways, but seldom succeed for long in firing the general consciousness. This is because they are either apologists for power (Schlesinger, Woodward) or its ...

At the Party

Christopher​ Hitchens

17 April 1986
Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... Three Comrades? At any rate, it’s interesting to learn that her wretched biography, written by her daughter Brooke Hayward, was entitled Haywire – much like the heading under which Bob Woodward interred John Belushi. I remember being given a tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills by a screenwriter friend a few years ago. With unmistakable civic pride he pointed out the house on Cielo Drive ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher​ Hitchens

8 December 1994
The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... for a million dead.) To all this invocation of high and evasive metaphor, Milne opposes one hard and fast, earthy injunction. It is, in effect, the same injunction that Deep Throat laid upon Woodward and Bernstein in that DC underground car-park. ‘Follow The Money.’ Nothing was more damaging, in the entire course of the strike, than the accusation that Arthur Scargill and his colleagues had ...

President Gore

Inigo Thomas: Gore Vidal

10 May 2007
Point to Point Navigation: A Memoir, 1964-2006 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 278 pp., £17.99, November 2006, 0 316 02727 8
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... Vidal’s Lincoln, popping up as a steward. But Trimble’s death as motivation for Vidal’s will to succeed? Suppressed love as the engine for Vidal’s enormous output? Fifty years ago, Vidal told Christopher Isherwood that he was an enemy of love. It involved too much entanglement; and entanglements of any kind, whether they are conducted by an individual or by the US government, were too European for ...

Sucking up to P

Greg Grandin: Henry Kissinger’s Vanity

29 November 2007
Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power 
by Robert Dallek.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, August 2007, 978 0 7139 9796 5
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Henry Kissinger and the American Century 
by Jeremi Suri.
Harvard, 368 pp., £18.95, July 2007, 978 0 674 02579 0
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... with weapons of mass destruction in Iraq cannot wait.’ And even as critics of the war were focusing their anger on the neo-Jacobinism of Paul Wolfowitz and Co, the old Metternich hand was, as Bob Woodward reported, exerting a ‘powerful, largely invisible influence on Bush’s Iraq policy’, regularly meeting with the president and Cheney, dusting off his old Vietnam-era memos to urge the ...

House-Cleaning

David Bromwich: I met a Republican

7 March 2019
... one of the morning hours he could spare from the wall with Mexico, Iran returned to Trump’s mind, and on 30 January he tweeted a denunciation of his intelligence chiefs Dan Coats, Gina Haspel and Christopher Wray: they were ‘naive’ for telling the Senate that Iran wasn’t working on a nuclear weapon. Half of Trump’s argument for exiting the agreement Obama signed with Iran in 2015, along with the ...

Advantage Pyongyang

Richard Lloyd Parry

9 May 2013
The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future 
by Victor Cha.
Bodley Head, 527 pp., £14.99, August 2012, 978 1 84792 236 6
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... rights, this is overlooked with depressing frequency by people who should know better. North Koreans are not a ‘zombie nation’ (Martin Amis), an undifferentiated mass of ‘racist dwarfs’ (Christopher Hitchens), but 24 million individuals, as virtuous and vicious as the rest of us, and just as keen on sweet and sticky snacks. The Choco Pie story also reveals a susceptibility to outside influence ...

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