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Rather Break than Bend

Clare Jackson: The Winter Queen, 26 May 2022

Elizabeth Stuart: Queen of Hearts 
by Nadine Akkerman.
Oxford, 581 pp., £20, December 2021, 978 0 19 966830 4
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... In​ a collection of essays published in 2005 to mark four hundred years since the Gunpowder Plot, Antonia Fraser imagined Elizabeth Stuart being crowned as Queen Elizabeth II in January 1606. ‘The Gunpowder Plot Succeeds’ describes the plotters’ confessed intention, in the chaos following the death of James VI and I in the explosion at Westminster, of abducting his eldest daughter from her governor’s home in Warwickshire ...

Rat-Catchers, Dog-Butchers

Jessie Childs: England under Siege, 6 January 2022

Devil-Land: England under Siege, 1588-1688 
by Clare Jackson.
Allen Lane, 682 pp., £35, September 2021, 978 0 241 28581 7
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... view that fear is the chief driver of man. Hobbes would have recognised the England depicted in Clare Jackson’s Devil-Land, a country in danger of ‘popish’ encirclement, beset by disaster, and suffering from rebellion and religious extremism. ‘To contemporaries and foreigners alike,’ she writes, ‘17th-century England was a failed ...

The Chop

John Bayley, 27 January 1994

A History of Warfare 
by John Keegan.
Hutchinson, 432 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 09 174527 6
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How Great Generals Win 
by Bevin Alexander.
Norton, 320 pp., £22, November 1993, 9780393035315
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The Backbone: Diaries of a Military Family in the Napoleonic Wars 
edited by Alethea Hayter.
Pentland, 343 pp., £18.50, September 1993, 1 85821 069 0
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... however, enjoyed fighting for its own sake, as Caesar did, or Napoleon, or Alexander, or Stonewall Jackson, by far the most talented commander of the American Civil War. To them it was – or became – like a drug, an addiction that could not be given up. Had he lived, Alexander might have invaded Italy through the Balkans, or attacked Carthage and Spain ...

Dead Man’s Coat

Peter Pomerantsev: Teffi, 2 February 2017

Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 169 7
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Rasputin and Other Ironies 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Rose France and Anne Marie Jackson.
Pushkin, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 217 5
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Subtly Worded 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson, Natalia Wase, Clare Kitson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 304 pp., £12, June 2014, 978 1 78227 037 9
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... How​ does a comic writer describe a world that has stopped being funny? What to say when the system you satirise is swept away, when parts of the population are killed, when the survivors become refugees, drifting away en masse but it’s unclear where to? Teffi was faced with these questions as she tried to make sense of revolution in St Petersburg, as she fled through the Civil War, as she crossed the Black Sea along with other refugees to start a new life in a place which would in turn be engulfed by fascism and war ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: The Peruvian Corporation of London, 10 October 2019

... published in Colombo in 1900, Sinclair briskly sketches a career that had some parallels with John Clare (an elective Scot when the humour took him). Born in 1832, there was a mean village upbringing; a book-hungry lad leaving school at 12 years of age and commencing his education, ‘such as it was and is’. Sinclair describes a farming family of ...

No Crying in This House

Jackson Lears: The Kennedy Myth, 7 November 2013

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 
by David Nasaw.
Allen Lane, 896 pp., £12.35, September 2013, 978 0 14 312407 8
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Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 
by Barbara Perry.
Norton, 404 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 393 06895 5
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... Agreement brought Kennedy temporary relief and in its wake he managed to squeeze in a tryst with Clare Booth Luce, who cabled him on her return to New York: ‘Golly that was nice.’ Such distractions were no solution to the most intractable problem – the Jewish refugees begging for asylum from Nazi persecution. Roosevelt asked Kennedy to mention the ...

At DFID

Chris Mullin, 19 March 2020

... Blair government to abandon its pledge. In the end it went ahead. The department was set up with Clare Short as its first secretary of state; against the odds she remained in the job for six years and DFID became internationally respected. In the early days there were a number of skirmishes. Foreign Office ministers and ambassadors continued to make ...

Festschriftiness

Susan Pedersen, 6 October 2011

Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... interests and institutions successfully targeted trade unionists as the enemy within (by Ben Jackson). None of the essays has much truck with grand theory; their authors are no more likely to cite the contributors to the Joyce volume than vice versa; the collection is as miscellaneous as the volume for Stedman Jones. But a higher proportion of the essays ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: My Olympics, 30 August 2012

... bonanza. The soft-spoken Californian rodent was attended by his sleepover pal and minder, Michael Jackson. We have heard it stated, quite accurately, that construction work on the Olympic Park has been carried out with few casualties. But cycle deaths are mounting, from the early casualties of the fresh-painted lanes at the base of the Bow Flyover, leading to ...
... form of a trial run: thus, for example, the revised notice to detained persons developed by Isabel Clare and Gisli Gudjonnson can readily enough, as we recommended, be tested under real conditions. But there was no way that we could find out in advance whether our recommended overhaul of detective training would in fact achieve a significant improvement in ...

Upriver

Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... acts, artists presumed dead or missing in action, for Norma Desmond divas and the real Michael Jackson, a trembling skin-graft mask cursed with eternal youth. Parrot-scream arias and the cough of angry engines, as punters try to exit the gridlocked car park, carry across a broad expanse of oily water. Thames, Amazon, Congo: crumbling regimes like nothing ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... and had been offered an internship in New York.‘Her soul was of a kind,’ said Betty Jackson, speaking of her sister Mary Mendy, Khadija’s mother. Their relative Demel Carayol, also an artist and a former member of the group Soul II Soul, was full of memories the day I tracked him down in Palmers Green. ‘Mary came to the UK with the help of ...

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