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Great Tradition

Robert Barnard, 18 December 1980

Plaster Sinners 
by Colin Watson.
Eyre Methuen, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 413 39040 3
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Photo-Finish 
by Ngaio Marsh.
Collins, 262 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 00 231857 1
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The Predator 
by Russell Braddon.
Joseph, 192 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7181 1958 4
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... the thick of the latest Flaxborough murder. It’s a piece of miscalculated self-consciousness on Colin Watson’s part – almost the only miscalculation in the book. The Flaxborough Chronicles embody a great many of the virtues that make the golden-age detective story still one of the most widely read literary forms. They have their share of ...

Scentless Murder

Michael Wood: Billy Wilder, 2 March 2000

Conversations with Wilder 
by Cameron Crowe.
Faber, 373 pp., £20, December 1999, 0 571 20162 8
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... he has seen his way out: the Tchaikovsky route. He explains that he is not a free man, that he and Watson have been living together for some time, ‘five very happy years’. The impresario is shocked. ‘Dr Watson is . . . your glass of tea?’ Holmes, enjoying himself, is off the hook, and soon leaves the scene. Holmes ...

Representing Grandma

Steven Rose, 7 July 1994

The Astounding Hypothesis: The Scientific Search for the Soul 
by Francis Crick.
Simon and Schuster, 317 pp., £16.99, May 1994, 9780671711580
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... I have never seen Francis Crick in a modest mood.’ Thus James Watson opens his notorious account of the discovery of the structure of DNA which won him, Crick and Maurice Wilkins a Nobel Prize in 1962. Whichever other of Watson’s judgments have been controversial – notably his dismissal of Rosalind Franklin, from whom, courtesy of Wilkins, he and Crick were provided with the crucial X-ray photographs of DNA crystals – his assessment of Crick has scarcely been disputed ...

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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... and its puzzling relationship with the Thing – the Establishment. Take the case of Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, an eminent chemist, a progressive Whig in his politics and a champion of the equalisation of church revenues, yet who also issued An Apology for Christianity (1776) when he entered the lists against Gibbon. To what extent were Court ...

Newspaperising the World

Sadakat Kadri: The Leveson Inquiry, 5 July 2012

Dial M for Murdoch 
by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman.
Allen Lane, 360 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 603 9
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... an invaluable account of its evolution, told by Martin Hickman of the Independent, and the MP Tom Watson. Watson has been particularly close to events. In September 2006, he spearheaded opposition within the Labour Party to Tony Blair’s refusal to schedule his departure from office. Since Blair enjoyed Rupert Murdoch’s ...

Disarming the English

David Wootton, 21 July 1994

To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right 
by Joyce Lee Malcolm.
Harvard, 232 pp., £23.95, March 1994, 0 674 89306 9
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... The 19th century saw a steady fall in violent crime, despite the growth of cities and slums. Dr Watson had a revolver only because he was a former military man, and, even in Holmes’s company, he rarely needed it. Victorians would have been as frightened as we would be to find ourselves alone at night on the dangerous streets of the London of Defoe and ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey, 6 June 2002

Spider-Man 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... type (I mean, like myself) are bearing down with such emotional intensity on the results. Like Colin Wilson’s Outsider or A.E. van Vogt’s Slan, Spider-Man was a wunderkind-outcast identification available to anyone who’d mixed teenage grandiosity with even the mildest persecution complex, let alone real persecution. Matt Groening once proposed a ...

Perfectly Mobile, Perfectly Still

David Craig: Land Artists, 14 December 2000

Time 
by Andy Goldsworthy.
Thames and Hudson, 203 pp., £35, August 2000, 0 500 51026 1
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... and heaved large boulders and soil into a network of gelifluction lobes’, as the naturalist Adam Watson puts it. Nothing could be less purposeful. This beautiful marking of the land, which works on the planes of colour, relief and texture, has simply come about. Coming nearer to the animate: according to the research of an inspired zoologist at Glasgow ...

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