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Grail Trail

C.H. Roberts, 4 March 1982

The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail 
by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.
Cape, 445 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 224 01735 7
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The Foreigner: A Search for the First-Century Jesus 
by Desmond Stewart.
Hamish Hamilton, 181 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 241 10686 9
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Satan: The Early Christian Tradition 
by Jeffrey Burton Russell.
Cornell, 258 pp., £14, November 1981, 0 8014 1267 6
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... large Jewish population, and Guillem himself was a Jew, perhaps a practising one, of the house of David. (Other versions not quoted here treat him as a Christian hero who ended his days as a monk.) Attempting to explain what they see as the quite extraordinary importance attached to Merovingian descent, the connections between the Merovingians and the Grail ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman, 8 February 2007

Nicole Kidman 
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... To understand Nicole Kidman, David Thomson argues, you need to see a film called In the Cut. Not because Kidman is in it. She isn’t. The film stars Meg Ryan, is directed by Jane Campion and tells the story of how a lonely creative writing teacher, Fran, becomes involved with a cop (Mark Ruffalo) who is investigating a string of particularly gruesome murders ...

Maggiefication

Peter Clarke, 6 July 1995

The Path to Power 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 656 pp., £24, June 1995, 0 00 255050 4
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... early in life, it might lead anywhere. Look what happened to the daughter of Councillor Alfred Roberts of Grantham. ‘Perhaps the main interest which my father and I shared while I was a girl was a thirst for knowledge about politics and public affairs,’ Baroness Thatcher tells us in The Path to Power, thus confirming the centrality of Councillor (later ...

Blush, grandeur, blush

Norma Clarke: One of the first bluestockings, 16 December 2004

Hannah More: The First Victorian 
by Anne Stott.
Oxford, 384 pp., £20, September 2004, 0 19 927488 6
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... Cobbett called her ‘the Old Bishop in petticoats’), was already a celebrity. William Roberts, the family friend entrusted with the task of producing the book, made her into a saint. He presented her as a vessel chosen by God, who had carried her ‘through great temptations and trials’ to her ‘exemplary eminence’. Among Hannah More’s ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: RBG’s Big Mistake, 8 October 2020

... assault. The political centre of the court now shifted from Kennedy to the chief justice, John Roberts. Appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, Roberts was at one time a reliable Republican. He has been a bit less predictable of late, principally because, as chief justice, he is trying to ensure that the court retains a ...

Escaped from the Lab

Robert Crawford: Peter Redgrove, 21 June 2012

A Lucid Dreamer: The Life of Peter Redgrove 
by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 341 pp., £30, January 2012, 978 0 224 09029 2
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Collected Poems 
by Peter Redgrove, edited by Neil Roberts.
Cape, 496 pp., £25, January 2012, 978 0 224 09027 8
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... Known only to his lovers and a few in his inner circle, the Game has now been made public in Neil Roberts’s remarkable biography of the poet, published almost a decade after Redgrove’s death, along with a new Collected Poems. The revelations in Roberts’s book have an undeniably voyeuristic fascination but they also ...

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 ...

What Nanny Didn’t Tell Me

Bernard Porter: Simon Mann, 26 January 2012

Cry Havoc 
by Simon Mann.
John Blake, 351 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 84358 403 2
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... add much to what we know about the attempted coup; in some respects it tells us less than Adam Roberts’s excellent The Wonga Coup.* Roberts names more names than Mann does, including Jeffrey Archer’s (he may have donated money), and gives some broad hints as to the identity of Mann’s equivalent of Sir James ...

Triumphalism

John Campbell, 19 December 1985

The Kitchener Enigma 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 436 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 7181 2385 9
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Kitchener: The Man behind the Legend 
by Philip Warner.
Hamish Hamilton, 247 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 0 241 11587 6
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... and society hostesses on his annual home leaves, in having himself appointed second-in-command to Roberts in South Africa, Commander-in-Chief under Curzon in India (until their famous quarrel resulted in Curzon’s resignation) and the Governor-General of Egypt – from which stepping-stone he confidently expected to return to India as Viceroy. The often ...

English Butter

David Trotter, 9 October 1986

Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... thought better of it, retired smartly into the nearest town, and was once again surrounded. Lord Roberts spoke exasperatedly of his ‘strange fancy for being besieged’. Both Roberts and Kitchener clearly regarded him as a liability. But being besieged had already made his name. Brilliantly laconic despatches from ...

Memories of Lindsay Anderson

Alan Bennett, 20 July 2000

... thoughts occur like ‘I bet Tom Stoppard doesn’t have to do this’ or ‘There is no doubt David Hare would have deputed this to an underling.’ So I was happy to read in Gavin Lambert’s Mainly about Lindsay Anderson* that Lindsay harboured similar thoughts about such self-imposed menialities. On the eve of filming O Lucky Man Lindsay has his ailing ...

Urban Humanist

Sydney Checkland, 15 September 1983

Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in Urban History by H.J. Dyos 
edited by David Cannadine and David Reeder.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £20, September 1982, 0 521 24624 5
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Themes in Urban History: Patricians, Power and Politics in 19th-Century Towns 
edited by David Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 224 pp., £16.50, October 1982, 9780718511937
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... stemmed from the basic nature of his approach. He tended to begin with urban agglomeration (what David Reeder in his useful introduction calls ‘accretive growth’), seen as a process of population concentration, with resultant shifts in the national rural-urban balance, together with related demographic changes within the two modes of life. From ...

It was all about the Russians

David French: The First Anglo-Afghan War, 5 April 2012

The Dark Defile: Britain’s Catastrophic Invasion of Afghanistan 1838-42 
by Diana Preston.
Walker, 307 pp., £21, February 2012, 978 0 8027 7982 3
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... would need 100,000 reinforcements to stop them. Similar ideas were propagated subsequently by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener when they were commanders-in-chief in India. The generals had found a good way of extracting money from the Treasury at a time when the army was finding it hard to compete with the Royal Navy for exiguous funds. The invasion bogey had ...

The Finchley Factor

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Thatcher in Israel, 13 September 2018

Margaret Thatcher and the Middle East 
by Azriel Bermant.
Cambridge, 274 pp., £22.99, September 2017, 978 1 316 60630 8
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... who had by then returned to office as foreign secretary in the wartime coalition government led by David Lloyd George. The British government would ‘view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object’. Although there was realpolitik behind ...

Fear and Loathing in Limehouse

Richard Holme, 3 September 1987

Campaign! The Selling of the Prime Minister 
by Rodney Tyler.
Grafton, 251 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 246 13277 9
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Battle for Power 
by Des Wilson.
Sphere, 326 pp., £4.99, July 1987, 0 7221 9074 3
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David Owen: Personally Speaking 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 297 79206 7
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... One of the principal problems of the warring generals was an inability to agree on strategy. At David Owen’s insistence, the Alliance’s election objectives were limited to achieving the balance of power. This had the apparent advantage of modest realism, but there were more substantial disadvantages. The first of these – as I can report by taking a ...

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