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How wars begin

Jon Halliday, 23 May 1985

The Korean War: History and Tactics 
edited by David Rees.
Orbis, 128 pp., £7.99, September 1984, 0 85613 649 2
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Der Koreakrieg 1950 bis 1953: Das Scheitern der Amerikanischen Aggression gegen die KDVR 
by Olaf Groehler.
Militarverlag der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 120 pp., DM 6.50
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The Rainy Spell, and Other Korean Stories 
translated by Suh Ji-moon.
Onyx, 255 pp., £12.95, December 1984, 9780906383179
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The Complete Book of MASH 
by Suzy Kalter.
Columbus, 240 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 86287 080 1
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The Last Days of MASH 
by Alan Alda and Arlene Alda.
Columbus, 150 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 88101 008 1
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... outside intervention? Standard Western texts tend to stress Great Power manoeuvring (usually, as Rees does, travestying the real positions of the USA and the USSR on Korean independence and unification) and to downgrade domestic Korean developments. It is one of the great merits of Bruce Cumings’s path-breaking work, The Origins of the Korean War ...

What are they after?

William Davies: How Could the Tories?, 8 March 2018

... they want, these Brexiteers? The fantasies of hardliners such as Liam Fox, Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg are based on dimly learned lessons from British history. The mantra of ‘Global Britain’ resurrects an ideal of laissez-faire from the era of Manchester cotton mills and New World slavery. Discussing the range of Brexit options at a Tory Conference ...

Squealing

Ian Buruma, 13 May 1993

Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... David Gower was this year’s most popular victim, the English underdog, the handsome knight sacrificed by knaves. But good news is at hand: the hero has announced a brilliant season full of runs. In the tradition of General MacArthur, David Gower has announced his return. I hope he succeeds ...

Diary

Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... worried that she had been bullied into it. The speakers at their memorial included Hugh Casson and David Astor. ‘Why haven’t you thrown them away?’ I asked my friend Catherine Freeman, the 87-year-old owner of the dusty folder I’ve been drawing from. ‘They will help me as I plan my own service,’ she said. I wondered if the challenge of throwing ...

Diary

James Wood: These Etonians, 4 July 2019

... stretching upwards, but perhaps true ambition has a pair of silent claws. None of us identified David Cameron as the boy marching inexorably towards Downing Street. When he became Tory leader in 2005, I had difficulty recalling him: wasn’t he that affable, sweet-faced, minor fellow at the edge of things? I remembered him as quite handsome, with the ...

Short Cuts

Martin Loughlin: Tax Credits, 19 November 2015

... trumped by the insistence of Leigh’s fellow Tory MP, the ‘keen constitutional student’ Jacob Rees-Mogg, that the motion to delay undermined a privilege of the Commons ‘codified as long ago as 1678’. Rees-Mogg had a solution: the prime minister must create 150 new peers to make absolutely sure that the Conservatives ...

You know who

Jasper Rees, 4 August 1994

Jim Henson – The Works: The Art, the Magic, the Imagination 
by Christopher Finch.
Aurum, 251 pp., £20, April 1994, 1 85410 296 6
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... Lewis Carroll. (The fact that the latter also represented the indisputable nadir in the career of David Bowie is, for the purposes of this review, neither here nor there.) In the film Dreamchild, the cinematic meditation on the life of the real Alice directed by Gavin Millar and scripted by Dennis Potter, Henson was the obvious choice to supply the puppets ...

Making things happen

R.W. Johnson, 6 September 1984

The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in the 20th Century 
edited by Christopher Andrew and David Dilks.
Macmillan, 300 pp., £16.95, July 1984, 0 333 36864 9
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... Perhaps the chief novelty is the persistent implication that the writer, academic and MP, Goronwy Rees, may have been active in the Soviet cause over a considerable period of years. If so, it certainly lends a new twist to one’s reading of the vitriolically right-wing pieces Rees (under the pseudonym ‘R’) later ...

Leave, and Leave Again

William Davies: The Brexit Mentality, 7 February 2019

... What kind of identity or vision does it assert? But among the many things unreckoned with by David Cameron’s government, when it initiated Britain’s current political disaster, was the extent to which voters were up for a bit of negativity. The vote for Brexit was a ‘no’ to many things: wage stagnation, mass immigration, local government ...

What sort of traitors?

Neal Ascherson, 7 February 1980

The Climate of Treason 
by Andrew Boyle.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 9780091393403
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... much more horrified – felt, indeed, much more betrayed – by the fact that the late Goronwy Rees gave a version of their flight to the People than by the flight itself. When Stephen Spender showed the Daily Express a friend’s letter about Burgess, he was held to have disgraced himself. This book is a great feat. Andrew Boyle went through archives and ...

Shining Pink

Tam Dalyell, 23 May 1985

Death of a Rose-Grower: Who killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Graham Smith.
Cecil Woolf, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1985, 0 900821 76 0
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... been there on the Thursday. But when the local landowner, Mr Ian Scott, went around counting his trees with a view to felling on 22 March, he didn’t come across any bodies. Corpses do not turn up in different locations, after rigor mortis has set in, of their own volition. The events surrounding the ‘brutal and callous murder’ of Hilda Murrell, to use ...

The Stamp of One Defect

David Edgar: Jeremy Thorpe, 29 July 2015

Jeremy Thorpe 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 606 pp., £25, December 2014, 978 0 316 85685 0
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Closet Queens: Some 20th-Century British Politicians 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 320 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4087 0412 7
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... was educated at Eton and Oxford, where he defeated Dick Taverne (later a Labour MP) and William Rees-Mogg (later the editor of the Times) for the Union presidency. Like one of his successors as Liberal leader, Charles Kennedy, he became an MP at a young age and came to public notice through his entertaining performances on radio (particularly in Any ...

Diary

Ian Aitken: Closing Time at the Last Chance Saloon, 6 August 1992

... London Evening Standard had turned down the editorship of the Times in favour of succeeding Sir David English at the Daily Mail. As a boy, wrote Sir Perry, he had wanted to be editor of the Times more than anything in the world. So when Mr Paul Dacre picked Rothermere’s Daily Mail in preference to Rupert Murdoch’s Times, Worsthorne’s first reaction ...

Be flippant

David Edgar: Noël Coward’s Return, 9 December 1999

1956 and All That 
by Dan Reballato.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 415 18938 1
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Collected Plays: Six 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 415 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Plays: Seven 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 381 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73410 2
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Collected Revue Sketches and Parodies 
by Noël Coward.
Methuen, 282 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 0 413 73390 4
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Noël Coward: A Life in Quotes 
edited by Barry Day.
Metro, 116 pp., £9.99, November 1999, 9781900512848
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Noël Coward: The Complete Lyrics 
Methuen, 352 pp., £30, December 1998, 0 413 73230 4Show More
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... is the story, told in Philip Hoare’s 1995 biography, of Coward’s visit to the Court to see David Storey’s grittily realistic Rugby League play The Changing Room. His attention having been drawn to the male genitalia on display in the bath scene, Coward remarked: ‘13 acorns are not worth the price of admission.’ ‘Not worth the price of ...

Meringue-utan

Rosemary Hill: Rosamund Lehmann’s Disappointments, 8 August 2002

Rosamond Lehmann 
by Selina Hastings.
Chatto, 476 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 6542 1
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... of her time at Cambridge that she got her own first ‘dusty answer’. She fell for the dashing David Keswick, who seemed so ‘very, very smitten’ that after one kiss she knew they would be together for ever. She was devastated when he explained he had been engaged to somebody else for years. She renounced love and made a short, disastrous marriage on ...

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