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Triumph of the Termites

Tom Nairn: Gordon Brown, 8 April 2010

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Viking, 802 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 670 91851 5
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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the Dream Job Turned Sour 
edited by Colin Hughes.
Guardian, 294 pp., £8.99, January 2010, 978 0 85265 219 0
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Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown 
by Christopher Harvie.
Verso, 206 pp., £8.99, February 2010, 978 1 84467 439 8
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... Much of the tale is conveyed by the covers. A sad, thoughtfully dithering photo of the prime minister fronts What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown? The cover of Christopher Harvie’s book features a cartoon from the Independent: an apocalyptic lightning flash strikes and anoints David Cameron, while Brown and Alistair Darling flee London as Parliament quakes against the background of a setting sun ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paul Foot has a shocking story to tell, the story of Colin Wallace. It is, quite literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful about the difficulty of getting a fair hearing in this country ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... Mark Felt, a Hoover loyalist and associate director of the FBI. Hoover plays a central role in Ken Hughes’s gripping investigation, Chasing Shadows, which takes as its point of departure the only break-in ordered by Nixon on 2658 hours of tape: not at Watergate, but at a liberal think-tank, the Brookings Institution. The burglary never took place, despite ...

Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... something of a hiatus, until the first volumes of the New Dictionary of National Biography, under Colin Matthew, begin to appear early next century, with all lives revised and the text sprinkled with ten thousand pictures. A DNB newsletter issued to mark this transition lists some of the odder occupations, or claims to distinction, recorded in earlier ...

After the Movies

Michael Wood: Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma, 4 December 2008

Histoire(s) du cinéma 
directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
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... of the experience: seeing, not seeing again, or clocking the reference. It’s important, as Colin MacCabe says in Godard: A Portrait of the Artist at 70 (2003), not to turn our viewing into a guessing game. We see Godard sitting at his electric typewriter, smoking a cigar. He is murmuring titles of novels and movies, staring into space. If there is an ...

Diary

Tobias Jones: The politics of football, 7 May 1998

... desire to react to hooliganism by erecting unforgiving steel cages which became coffins’, Colin Ward writes in All Quiet on the Hooligan Front (1996). Lord Justice Taylor produced his interim report on the tragedy on 1 August that year. The chief superintendent in charge, Taylor decided, ‘could not face the enormity of the decision to open the gates ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... the former Liberal leader Jo Grimond and middle-of-the-road Labour politicians like Cledwyn Hughes. On the other side of the argument were the bogeymen of British politics – from Enoch Powell, who was by then, scarier still, an Ulster Unionist, to Tony Benn and Michael Foot. With a sly coyness that sits oddly with her later reputation, the newly ...

Hit and Muss

John Campbell, 23 January 1986

David Low 
by Colin Seymour-Ure and Jim Schoff.
Secker, 180 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 9780436447556
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... to go elsewhere. During their long association, Low and Beaverbrook served each other well, as Colin Seymour-Ure points out: ‘Low’s cartoons looked the stronger for being in Beaverbrook’s paper, and Beaverbrook could use Low to symbolise his own detachment, as newspaperman, from party ties and trammels.’ Meanwhile the Evening Standard basked in the ...

Uncertainties of the Poet

Nicolas Tredell, 25 June 1992

Kid 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 571 16607 5
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Feast Days 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 52 pp., £6, April 1992, 0 436 20103 8
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An African Elegy 
by Ben Okri.
Cape, 84 pp., £4.99, March 1992, 9780224030069
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Memorabilia 
by Colin Falck.
Taxus, 77 pp., £5.95, March 1992, 1 873012 23 3
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Serious Concerns 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 87 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571166589
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... Similarly, Burnside’s awareness of primal violence lacks the melodramatic insistence of Ted Hughes. Violence, and the resistance to it, are important themes in Ben Okri’s An African Elegy: but his declamatory mode largely proscribes subtle registrations like those of Burnside. Okri’s greatest public exposure as a poet came on the 1991 Booker Prize ...

On the Coalition

LRB Contributors, 10 June 2010

... press conference chaired by Roy Jenkins (then Labour), sitting on a platform together with Cledwyn Hughes (Labour), Jo Grimond (Liberal), Willie Whitelaw and Reginald Maudling (both Conservatives) and the diplomat Con O’Neill. Harold Wilson supported Britain’s continued membership of the Common Market, but did so from the sidelines, and – in a break from ...

Mon Pays

Michael Rogin: Josephine Baker, 22 February 2001

The Josephine Baker Story 
by Ean Wood.
Sanctuary, 327 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 86074 286 6
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Negrophilia: Avant-Garde Paris and Black Culture in the 1920s 
by Petrine Archer-Straw.
Thames and Hudson, 200 pp., £14.95, September 2000, 0 500 28135 1
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... was part kangaroo and part prizefighter. A woman made of rubber, a female Tarzan,’ wrote Paul Colin, who sketched her for La Revue nègre. Baker’s notorious horizontal movements were propelling her to the top of the world. Hers was the American dream, the assimilationist success story that (as Tylor Stovall argues in Paris Noir: African Americans in the ...

Winterlude

Janette Turner Hospital, 1 August 1996

Talking to the Dead 
by Helen Dunmore.
Viking, 224 pp., £16, July 1996, 0 670 87002 1
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... read it in Heinemann’s Best Short Stories, the annual selection edited by Giles Gordon and David Hughes. I made a mental note of the author’s name, Helen Dunmore, because I’d never heard of her before. A name to watch for, I thought, and watched for it in The Best of Best Short Stories, 1986-95. Dunmore was not included, which I thought a puzzling ...

Frog’s Knickers

Colin Burrow: How to Swear, 26 September 2013

Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing 
by Melissa Mohr.
Oxford, 316 pp., £16.99, May 2013, 978 0 19 974267 7
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... Batman! These closely integrated homosocial groups do absobloodylutely love ’em. As Geoffrey Hughes noted in his excellent Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English, the more charged a swear word is the more susceptible it becomes to grammatical transformation.* This means that the boundaries between nouns and adjectives ...

In Farageland

James Meek, 8 October 2014

... for maintenance or alterations. ‘Every time we want to change a light bulb, it costs £25,’ Colin Harris, the deputy head, told me. Ellington and Hereson has been trying to break away from Kent’s traditional selective education system – the county retains the 11-plus – by becoming an academy, which would result in its being funded directly from ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... I was the editor. We had a committee consisting of John Fuller, Francis Hope, Martin Dodsworth, Colin Falck, Michael Fried and Gabriel Pearson. We never had meetings or anything like that. There was a lot of correspondence, because John went to Buffalo for a year. So he wrote to me a lot from there. And Michael and ...

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