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It’ll all be over one day

James Meek: Our Man in Guantánamo, 8 June 2006

Enemy Combatant: A British Muslim’s Journey to Guantánamo and Back 
by Moazzam Begg and Victoria Brittain.
Free Press, 395 pp., £18.99, February 2006, 0 7432 8567 0
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... He has a green belt in jujitsu and a blue belt in Taekwondo, acquired in classes in his native Birmingham, and speaks English, Urdu and Arabic, along with some Pashto and a little Bosnian. What the Americans got when they captured him was a small – 5’3’’ – Brummie of Indian Muslim descent, an intellectually curious autodidact, a zealous, pious ...

Up the avenue

Peter Clarke, 11 June 1992

Election Rides 
by Edward Pearce.
Faber, 198 pp., £5.99, April 1992, 0 571 16657 1
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... not to have been stripped out and exported to Japan’. How different from his final slog from Birmingham to catch the count at Huntingdon, which evinces the comment that ‘a journey across west central and east central England by major road is best occupied reading proofs.’ So that’s how the book came into my hands within a week of polling day! If ...

Down with Cosmopolitanism

Gillian Darley, 18 May 2000

Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman v. Pevsner 
by Timothy Mowl.
Murray, 182 pp., £14.99, March 2000, 9780719559099
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... 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 volume of poetry, Mount Zion (paid ...

Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... when Hill and Timothy became scapegoats for the loss of the slim majority May inherited from David Cameron. But the real surprise wasn’t the downfall of May’s advisers so much as their earlier rise to brief but utter dominance in a party whose upper reaches have in recent times seemed to belong almost exclusively to Old Etonians. Hill was born in ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar , 1 June 2016

... self-conscious, not sure what they will unwittingly disclose. By the later stages of the show, as David Chandler points out in his catalogue essay, Britain was often just a stopover for those intent on creating an international body of work in which their own style was paramount. Sometimes their subjects are its victims. The American Bruce Gilden manages to ...

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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... 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 narration: both the nuts and bolts of expository ...

Barely under Control

Jenny Turner: Education: Who’s in charge?, 6 May 2015

... Ambition​ , says the pop-up video that recently appeared on the website of Park View Academy in Birmingham. On it, there’s netball, djembe drums, electronics, football, textiles, computing, plus a couple of dissolving-in-hopeless-giggles blooper shots, one with pupils in it, one with staff. ‘I’ve been at Park View for many, many years,’ one staff ...

London Review of Crooks

Robert Marshall-Andrews, 15 July 1982

Rough Justice: The Extraordinary Truth about Charles Richardson and his Gang 
by Robert Parker.
Fontana, 352 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 00 636354 7
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Web of Corruption: The Story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith 
by Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor.
Granada, 282 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 246 10915 7
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Inside Boss: South Africa’s Secret Police 
by Gordon Winter.
Penguin, 640 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 9780140057515
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Crime in Wartime: A Social History of Crime in World War II 
by Edward Smithies.
Allen and Unwin, 219 pp., £12.50, January 1982, 0 04 364020 6
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... Web of Corruption, which tells the story of John Poulson and T. Dan Smith. Raymond Fitzwalter and David Taylor took eight years to research and write their analysis of the most far-reaching corruption trial of this century. The opening summary is startling. Of those prosecuted in connection with Poulson 21 were convicted on corruption charges. There were ...

Unemployed

David Cannadine, 2 December 1982

Duchess: The Story of Wallis Warfield Windsor 
by Stephen Birmingham.
Macmillan, 287 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 34265 8
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The Duke of Windsor’s War 
by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 397 pp., £10.95, October 1982, 0 297 77947 8
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... tanned and more tired’. The latest contribution from the legion of dishonourers is Stephen Birmingham’s life of the Duchess. Macmillan assure us that the writer is ‘the well-known American popular historian’ (author of The Towers of Love, Heart Troubles and other classics), and that we are offered ‘a truly thoroughgoing biography’. But it is ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... to be gaining a presence not just in politics but in pop culture too. That same month, May 1976, David Bowie was photographed at Victoria Station on his return to Britain after two years in North America. Standing in an open-topped Mercedes, he appeared to give his fans some kind of open-handed, straight-armed – possibly fascist – salute. Soon afterwards ...

Decisions

John Kenneth Galbraith, 6 March 1986

Truman 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 220 pp., £12.95, February 1986, 0 00 217584 3
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... were unquestionably enhanced as authors by their criminality. However, this is not essential: Mr David Stockman, President Reagan’s first Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the OMB, has been offered a million or so for the rendering of his tenure in public office. This latter involved no known larceny or perversion of law: Mr Stockman gained ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flashman, 9 May 2002

... Fraser might have mixed feelings is The Gift: New Writing for the NHS, an anthology edited by David Morley (Stride, £7.95). The shortest contribution is ‘the underfunder’s utopia’ by Tom Leonard, an asthmatic poet: ‘the state hospital/ with one bed/always full/always efficient’. David Morley is the director ...

Your mission is to get the gun

Theo Tait: Raoul Moat, 30 March 2016

You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] 
by Andrew Hankinson.
Scribe, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2016, 978 1 922247 91 9
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... his former partner, Samantha Stobbart, her new boyfriend, Chris Brown, and a traffic policeman, David Rathband, setting in motion a massive manhunt. You Could Do Something Amazing with Your Life [You Are Raoul Moat] is written in the Capote tradition, and Hankinson mentions Gordon Burn in his acknowledgments. The basic strategy of the genre, as Tom Wolfe ...

Showman v. Shaman

David Edgar: Peter Brook, 12 November 1998

Threads of Time 
by Peter Brook.
Methuen, 241 pp., £17.99, May 1998, 0 413 69620 0
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... writing is recognisably clean, clear and colloquial, only occasionally falling into what David Hare calls ‘the Esperanto patter of the higher mysticism’. From the start, Brook avoids ‘personal relationships, indiscretions, indulgences, excesses, names of close friends, private angers, family adventures or debts of gratitude’, though there is ...

It makes yer head go

David Craig: James Kelman and Gordon Legge, 18 February 1999

The Good Times 
by James Kelman.
Secker, 246 pp., £14.99, July 1998, 0 436 41215 2
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Near Neighbours 
by Gordon Legge.
Cape, 218 pp., £9.99, June 1998, 0 224 05120 2
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... friend, also a revolutionary socialist, a Sinhalese who worked nights in the Bournville factory in Birmingham and talked about the mental tricks the men used to get through eight hours under tubelights weighing boxes of chocolates and inserting milk-chocolate ‘envelopes’ in every box that was a touch below standard. Some swore continuously, others poured ...

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