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20 December 1984
Neville Chamberlain. Vol. I: 1869-1929 
by David​ Dilks.
Cambridge, 645 pp., £20, November 1984, 0 521 25724 7
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... through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe’. ‘Neville has a retail mind in a wholesale business,’ observed his diametrical opposite, Lloyd George. Volume One of the new biography by David Dilks uses the voluminous Chamberlain diaries and letters drawn upon by Feiling, but supplements them with a mass of public and private archives not available in 1944. It elaborates in a quarter of a ...
16 April 2014
... in East London). Now, once again, the railway is threatening Drummond Street. Euston has been designated the London terminal for High Speed Two, the 330-mile railway that will link the capital with Birmingham and then split to run, in a Y shape, north-west to Manchester and north-east to Leeds. Diwana is just outside the proposed footprint of the new station but, as Salique puts it, ‘There will be this ...


Sidney Pollard

2 April 1981
Lords and Landlords: The Aristocracy and the Towns, 1774-1967 
by David​ Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 494 pp., £19, July 1980, 0 7185 1152 2
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... the capitalists: it proved to be just as profitable for large numbers of landlords, and included among them were some of the most noble families in the land. This theme is not entirely neglected in David Cannadine’s book – it inevitably rears its head on many occasions – but it does not form the main focus of his interest. This is a pity, for there can be few historians equally familiar with ...


David​ Saunders-Wilson: The Prison Officers’ Strike

22 May 1986
... our messages weren’t being acknowledged at all, and I was reduced to merely telephoning Head Office to dictate ‘situation reports’, the teletext having jammed ‘temporarily’, according to David in the ‘ops’ room. I thought, perhaps, that with all the bad news, it had simply shown some human feeling and committed suicide. St George’s Day was my 28th birthday. This meant that my salary ...


Denis Donoghue

6 November 1986
Write on: Occasional Essays ’65-’85 
by David​ Lodge.
Secker, 211 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 436 25665 7
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... This is a gathering of David Lodge’s easy pieces: they are footnotes, shouldernotes and headnotes to the formal work in fiction and literary criticism he has published in the past twenty years. The book is in two parts. The ...
18 September 1986
Error of Judgment: The Truth about the Birmingham​ Bombings 
by Chris Mullin.
Chatto, 270 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 7011 2978 6
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... For several weeks after 21 November 1974 most Irish people in Birmingham took cover. Even the most respected and entrenched felt unsafe. Outrage and grief overwhelmed the city and spread far beyond its boundaries. Twenty-one people had been done to death. Another 162 had ...
17 March 2016
Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola since the Civil War 
by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira.
Hurst, 291 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 84904 284 0
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A Short History of Modern Angola 
by David Birmingham.
Hurst, 256 pp., £17.99, December 2015, 978 1 84904 519 3
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Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria and the Struggle for Southern Africa 
by Piero Gleijeses.
North Carolina, 655 pp., £27.95, February 2016, 978 1 4696 0968 3
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A General Theory of Oblivion 
by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated by Daniel Hahn.
Harvill, 245 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 1 84655 847 4
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In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre 
by Lara Pawson.
I.B. Tauris, 271 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 1 78076 905 9
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Cuito Cuanavale: Frontline Accounts by Soviet Soldiers 
by G. Shubin, I. Zhdarkin et al, translated by Tamara Reilly.
Jacana, 222 pp., £12.95, May 2014, 978 1 4314 0963 1
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... numbers of Ovimbundu migrants from southern and central Angola had been brought north to work on coffee plantations, and a handful threw in their lot with the FNLA. But the ethnic strains, which DavidBirmingham describes very well in his new history of Angola, were too great for this arrangement to last: in 1966 Jonas Savimbi, an ambitious and volatile character, left the FNLA to embark on a ...
5 April 1990
Exploding English: Criticism, Theory, Culture 
by Bernard Bergonzi.
Oxford, 240 pp., £25, February 1990, 0 19 812852 5
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Professing Literature: An Institutional History 
by Gerald Graff.
Chicago, 315 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 226 30604 6
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... a lectureship under Morley at UCL. Modelling himself on his indefatigable head of department, Arber soon made up for his late start. In 1881 he was appointed Professor of English at Mason College BirminghamBirmingham University, as it was to become. As was normal practice, Arber’s application to UCL was tendered as a printed pamphlet. Its eighty pages were divided into two main sections ...

A Catholic Novel

David​ Lodge

4 June 1981
... five suitcases and the first chapter of what I hoped would be my third published novel. I was beginning a year’s leave of absence from my post as lecturer in English Literature at the University of Birmingham to take up a Harkness Commonwealth Fellowship in America. This marvellous foundation allows the lucky recipients of its Fellowships to pursue their own programmes of study wherever they like in the ...
5 October 1995
Vale Royal 
by Aidan Dun.
Goldmark, 130 pp., £22.50, July 1995
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... studies at one of our livelier universities, himself a fine poet, was talking to me on the telephone. A student had decided to write something about London poetry – was there any? He’d toyed with David Gascoyne’s A Vagrant (‘They’re much the same in most ways, these great cities’), but decided that Paris was the principal focus there. He couldn’t work up much enthusiasm for the post ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham​ to Jamaica

20 March 2003
Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... War; now, after years of degeneration following the white man’s departure, the empires that ruled Africa and Asia don’t seem quite as bad. The perplexingly affirmative work of Niall Ferguson and David Armitage scants, if it doesn’t actually trivialise, the suffering and dispossession brought by empire to its victims. More is said now about the modernising advantages the empires brought, and ...
18 May 2000
Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman v. Pevsner 
by Timothy Mowl.
Murray, 182 pp., £14.99, March 2000, 9780719559099
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... Betjeman. In 1933, Pevsner was back in England. Born a Jew (albeit, like his wife, a Lutheran convert), he had been dismissed from his post in Germany. Almost 32, with three children, he headed for Birmingham, where he had contacts, in the hope that soon his family could follow. While Betjeman was wooing Penelope Chetwode against the background of her parents’ intense disapproval, publishing his first ...

Victorian Piles

David​ Cannadine

18 March 1982
The Albert Memorial: The Monument in its Social and Architectural Context 
by Stephen Bayley.
Scholar Press, 160 pp., £18.50, September 1981, 0 85967 594 7
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Victorian and Edwardian Town Halls 
by Colin Cunningham.
Routledge, 315 pp., £25, July 1981, 9780710007230
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... often pitfalls. Would-be individual patrons might fight with local rivals over who was to pay, as with the Crossley and Ackroyd families at Halifax. Committees could be notoriously indecisive (as at Birmingham) or excessively penny-pinching (as at Preston). And competitions might be rigged (as at Bradford) or their results set aside (as at Glasgow). However much a town hall might be conceived as the ...
6 June 1985
The BBC: The First 50 Years 
by Asa Briggs.
Oxford, 439 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 0 19 212971 6
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The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. I: Words, Numbers, Places, People 
Harvester, 245 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0094 0Show More
The Collected Essays of Asa Briggs. Vol. II: Images, Problems, Standpoints, Forecasts 
Harvester, 324 pp., £30, March 1985, 0 7108 0510 1Show More
The 19th Century: The Contradictions of Progress 
edited by Asa Briggs.
Thames and Hudson, 239 pp., £18, April 1985, 0 500 04013 3
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... is his capacity for making connections which is his most impressive gift: between social structure and political activity, between contemporary issues and contemporary writers, between Manchester and Birmingham, Melbourne and London. By such illuminating comparisons and aptly-chosen examples, Briggs has built up an unrivalled panorama of the range and riches of Victorian life. But what has given Briggs’s ...

Whisky out of Teacups

Stefan Collini: David​ Lodge

19 February 2015
Quite a Good Time to Be Born: A Memoir, 1935-75 
by David​ Lodge.
Harvill Secker, 488 pp., £25, January 2015, 978 1 84655 950 1
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Lives in Writing: Essays 
by David​ Lodge.
Vintage, 262 pp., £10.99, January 2015, 978 0 09 958776 7
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... defining premise of autobiography. So what would constitute a comparable kind of ‘terrible fluidity’ here and how might an author guard against its perils? Few writers are as well qualified as David Lodge both to diagnose and to overcome these potential difficulties. One of the leading critics and literary theorists of the past few decades, he has interested himself above all in the mechanics of ...

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