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Willesden Fast-Forward

Daniel Soar: Zadie Smith, 21 September 2000

White Teeth 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 462 pp., £12.99, January 2000, 9780241139974
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... label of NW2; there are houses that go for £800,000. It’s where White Teeth is set. Zadie Smith won a kind of lottery: £250,000 in a two-book deal, and there’s a £5 million BBC adaptation on the way. She was one of the deserving – just a step away from the prize-winning bus-driver novelist – only 23, half-Jamaican, half-English, parents ...


Colin Kidd: Burke, 4 February 2016

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke 
by Richard Bourke.
Princeton, 1001 pp., £30.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 14511 2
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Training Minds for the War of Ideas: Ashridge College, the Conservative Party and the Cultural Politics of Britain, 1929-54 
by Clarisse Berthezène.
Manchester, 214 pp., £75, June 2015, 978 0 7190 8649 6
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, Vol. IV: Party, Parliament and the Dividing of the Whigs, 1780-94 
edited by P.J. Marshall and Donald Bryant.
Oxford, 674 pp., £120, October 2015, 978 0 19 966519 8
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... of information from every quarter of the globe, are cumulatively astounding. Like Hume, Adam Smith and Gibbon, Burke was a genius of Britain’s moderate establishmentarian Enlightenment. He was not – or at the very least not quite – the reactionary Prince of Darkness of leftist demonology; though there is no disguising the fact that he equated ...

Highway to Modernity

Colin Kidd: The British Enlightenment, 8 March 2001

Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World 
by Roy Porter.
Allen Lane, 728 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7139 9152 6
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... than on the sociological context of the environment in which this message was received. Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ is only the most obvious product of a rich and neglected interaction within the Enlightenment of naturalistic explanation with the more distant and depersonalised versions of Christian providentialism. There are some very notable ...


Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year, 14 December 1995

... must have been picked some time ago. The ‘outstanding achievement’ prize goes to General Colin Powell, and will be presented by Barbara Walters. The ‘humanitarian’ award goes to Diana Spencer and will be presented by Henry Kissinger. In other words, a single well-placed grenade could remove the whole beating heart of the international celebrity ...

Double Doctrine

Colin Kidd: The Enlightenment, 5 December 2013

The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters 
by Anthony Pagden.
Oxford, 436 pp., £20, May 2013, 978 0 19 966093 3
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... posture – plausibly enough – as custodians of Enlightenment principles. Hume and Adam Smith are celebrated as pointing the way for Hayek, Friedman and public-choice theorists. But conservative flirtation with the Enlightenment takes a decidedly odd turn in the US, where the leaders of the American Enlightenment are separated from their historical ...

What did you expect?

Steven Shapin: The banality of moon-talk, 1 September 2005

Moondust: In Search of the Men Who Fell to Earth 
by Andrew Smith.
Bloomsbury, 308 pp., £17.99, April 2005, 0 7475 6368 3
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... 1969, the Times ran a piece entitled ‘Put a Poet on the Moon’: ‘I am not carping,’ Colin Webb wrote, ‘about Neil Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind” – whoever wrote it … A British astronaut would have stuck in a flag and said: “I name this moon Elizabeth.”’ And Michael Collins – the ...

Fiction and the Age of Lies

Colin Burrow, 20 February 2020

... When a lie is discovered it isn’t just that trust has been betrayed: it’s not simply that Colin’s wife discovers that Colin has been in the arms of a glamorous Russian spy rather than (as he said) in the library. The lie-ee is made to see herself and her desires as manipulable and herself as credulous. The fury of ...

‘Wisely I decided to say nothing’

Ross McKibbin: Jack Straw, 22 November 2012

Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor 
by Jack Straw.
Macmillan, 582 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 4472 2275 0
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... founding fathers anyway. (Both things are more or less right.) It is probably because John Smith, who led the party from July 1992 until his death in 1994, would not be prematurely enrolled in New Labour that the depiction of him here is so bleak. The man who might have led Labour to victory, thus bypassing the possibility of a Blair leadership, is not ...

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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... D’Ancona traces the contempt George Osborne feels for the otherwise unemployable Iain Duncan Smith. Osborne, indeed, emerges a much more attractive figure – reflective, compassionate and with a social conscience – than his usual portrayal in the press. But D’Ancona doesn’t engage with the question of how the mildly progressive Liberal Democrats ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William Gibson, 22 May 2003

Pattern Recognition 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... and sees that it’s time for her meeting with Bernard Stonestreet, an ad exec in ‘a Paul Smith suit, more specifically the 118 jacket and the 11T trouser’. Cayce, by contrast, wears a ‘museum-grade replica of a US MA-1 flying jacket . . . created by Japanese obsessives’. Afterwards there’s lunch, ‘the food California-inflected Vietnamese ...

Around Here

Alice Spawls: Drifting into the picture, 4 February 2016

... Street in London’ (1906). My view of the British Museum is unlikely to change, though had Colin St John Wilson’s designs for a new British Library south of the BM been realised I wouldn’t be able to approach it as I do now, up to the spot where Hammershøi painted from his rooms above 67 Great Russell Street. Today it’s Celia Paul who has a ...

The Illiberal Hour

Mark Bonham-Carter, 7 March 1985

Black and White Britain: The Third Survey 
by Colin Brown.
PSI/Heinemann, 331 pp., £22.50, September 1984, 0 435 83124 0
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... of minority groups. Between 1974 and 1976 three further volumes emerged from PEP, all by David Smith, though one volume, The Extent of Racial Discrimination, was written in collaboration with Neil McIntosh. The first volume was published in June 1974, six years after the passage of the second Race Relations Act. It looked at racial disadvantage among ...


Randolph Quirk, 25 October 1979

Collins Dictionary of the English Language 
by P. Hanks, T.H. Long and L. Urdang.
Collins, 1690 pp., £7.95
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... similar check? Obviously not: yet on what principle shall we include Margaret Thatcher and Bessie Smith (both in Collins) and exclude some John Smith who had to be rescued after a fall in Snowdonia? The answer is, of course, common sense – and on the whole there seems to have been a good supply in Aylesbury (largely, one ...

Bad News at the ‘Observer’

Colin Legum, 4 November 1982

Powers of the Press: The World’s Great Newspapers 
by Martin Walker.
Quartet, 401 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 7043 2271 4
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Goodbye Gutenberg: The Newspaper Revolution of the 1980s 
by Anthony Smith.
Oxford, 367 pp., £3.95, January 1982, 9780198272434
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New Technology and Industrial Relations in Fleet Street 
by Roderick Martin.
Oxford, 367 pp., £17.50, October 1981, 9780198272434
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News Ltd: Why you can’t read all about it 
by Brian Whitaker.
Minority Press Group, 176 pp., £3.25, June 1981, 0 906890 04 7
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... of modern print technology. We are at the dawn of a new technological age: what Anthony Smith describes as ‘the third revolution in communication’ – the others were the invention of writing and of printing. The computerisation of print through electronic technology opens up the possibility of an abundance of information becoming universally ...

Watermonster Blues

William Wootten: Edwin Morgan, 18 November 2004

Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity 
by Colin Nicholson.
Manchester, 216 pp., £40, October 2002, 0 7190 6360 4
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translated by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 118 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 588 5
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by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 128 pp., £6.95, November 2002, 1 85754 617 2
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... Jamie and Jackie Kay, who have learned from him. In Edwin Morgan: Inventions of Modernity, Colin Nicholson tries to account for his many-sided subject by examining him facet by facet, but the result is rather less than the sum of its (sometimes valuable) parts. Nicholson gives a sense of the various periods and idioms, and the many influences, but not ...

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