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28 June 1990
Which of Us Two? The Story of a Love Affair 
by Colin Spencer.
Viking, 258 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 670 83076 3
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... itself, finds its resolution here. Some love letters seem positively to solicit the attention of third parties. Extremity of feeling seeks not only consummation but also witness. In Which of us two? ColinSpencer is author, editor and commentator, all three, presenting his own thirty-year-old love letters and those of his then lover, recently deceased, with a linking narrative of their affair. The ...
30 November 1995
Homosexuality: A History 
by Colin Spencer.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85702 143 6
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Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality 
by Andrew Sullivan.
Picador, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 34453 6
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Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography 
by David Halperin.
Oxford, 246 pp., £14.99, September 1995, 0 19 509371 2
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... some of the range of contemporary gay thinking in Britain and America, and also manifest a clear hierarchy of intellectual ambition. Here are Gay Studies Advanced, Intermediate and also Rudimentary. ColinSpencer’s Homosexuality: A History is the work of a hobbyist, who offers what is essentially a scrap-book of the various ways that homosexuality has been inflected in different periods and cultures ...


Christopher Hitchens: Men (and Women) of the Year

14 December 1995
... fashionable charity named United Cerebral Palsy is having an ‘awards’ event. I think that the winners 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 ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin​ Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll

1 December 2011
Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... had been uncannily predicted on the eve of the assassination. The American historian Richard Hofstadter’s influential essay ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’ was given as the Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford on 21 November 1963. Hofstadter’s subject was the irrational underside of American political culture, where ill-defined fears gave rise to the populist scapegoating of particular ...


Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations

20 October 1994
... t you order me out of the shop, you fucking cow. I allow you to work here.’ The mild, rather donnish Asian pharmacist is a bit nonplussed and as he serves me I offer to go next door to Marks and Spencer for their security man. But the blonde assistant is pluckily standing her ground. The young man has a really mean face and the pharmacist thinks the best thing is to wait until he goes. Which he is ...

Wrecking Ball

Adam Shatz: Trump’s Racism

6 September 2017
... antifa’, the roving band of young anti-fascist militants who battle with fascists in street demonstrations. In a New York Times profile of the movement, the white supremacist leader Richard Spencer, one of the organisers of Unite the Right, was interviewed saying the antifa ‘have a sadistic streak’, as if he were an authority on violent extremism rather than its embodiment. With Trump’s ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor

1 June 2016
David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... from Drum magazine in South Africa. Philip Toynbee arrived after his father, the historian Arnold Toynbee, called to wonder if Astor could rescue his son from drink, depression and riotous behaviour. Colin Legum, expelled from his native South Africa, joined the paper after working as a psychologist at the Tavistock Clinic, becoming the writer who did most to identify the paper with the anti-colonial ...

When the Floods Came

James Meek: England’s Water

31 July 2008
... For ten days, much of urban and rural Gloucestershire was pushed back in time by a couple of centuries. It was completely without running water. Pavey commandeered a food trolley from Marks and Spencer and set himself the task of pushing it around the sodden, cracked streets of central Tewkesbury, delivering hundreds of litres of bottled water to the aged and infirm, for no reward but thank yous ...

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