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Thomas Jones: How to Type like a Man, 10 May 2007

... of The Iron Whim concerns itself with the likes of Paul Auster, Bram Stoker, William Burroughs, David Cronenberg, Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, J.G. Ballard and Hunter S. Thompson: in other words, men. He says more than once that he’s less interested in typewriters as machines (once upon a time ...

Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS, 21 April 2005

Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... an essay entitled ‘Hypocrisy and Democracy’ in his wonderfully measured new collection, Dennis Thompson quotes Judith Shklar, who described the politics of anti-hypocrisy as an ‘unending game of mutual unmasking’, in which everyone is bound to lose. Because democracy is a system of government that institutionalises distrust, as the price we pay for ...
The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age 
by Gertrude Himmelfarb.
Faber, 595 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 571 13177 8
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... she is noticeably less reverential towards historians of the left, from R.H. Tawney to E.P. Thompson, than of the right, and she tartly rebukes radical literary critics from George Orwell to Raymond Williams for their limited vision and sympathies. More positively, this leads to some important re-evaluations of major figures: Adam Smith and even Malthus ...

Just be yourself

David Hirson, 23 July 1987

Swimming to Cambodia: The Collected Works of Spalding Gray 
by Spalding Gray.
Picador, 304 pp., £3.50, January 1987, 0 330 29947 6
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... candid confessors since Frank Harris’ and ‘An unholy cross between James Joyce and Hunter S. Thompson’. These remarks tend to compound an already severe identity crisis. For almost a decade, Gray has been delivering monologues which chronicle his life from early childhood to the present. Since ‘Sex and Death to the Age 14’ premiered at New York’s ...

Tortoises with Zips

David Craig: The Snow Geese by William Fiennes, 4 April 2002

The Snow Geese 
by William Fiennes.
Picador, 250 pp., £14.99, March 2002, 0 330 37578 4
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... these non-stop flyers mate on the wing is something for which, according to the chief authorities (David Lack and Derek Bromhall), there is no firm evidence. I have watched them for nearly sixty years, at home in North-East Scotland and Westmorland, in the Dolomites and on Gibraltar, and from high up on the Blouberg in Transvaal, and their closest intimacy was ...

Gentlemen prefer dogs

Andrew O’Hagan, 10 February 1994

The Dogs 
by Laura Thompson.
Chatto, 254 pp., £9.99, January 1994, 0 7011 3872 6
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... gambling game; for the English, it’s all for the fun of the chase, the thrill of the kill. Laura Thompson jumps on this point in order to take the first of many boring swipes at what used to be called the upper orders. In England, she tells us, coursing is part of the world of the English country gentleman, who is rarely a gambling man, because ...

Townlords

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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... in relative decline for over a century, is something that has puzzled numerous observers. Michael Thompson raised the question among economic historians nearly twenty years ago, and whole generations of political historians have offered alternative solutions. It is something which occurs, different in detail but similar in outline, in many other European ...

The End of the Future

Jeff McMahan, 1 July 1982

The Fate of the Earth 
by Jonathan Schell.
Cape/Picador, 256 pp., £7.95, June 1982, 0 224 02064 1
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The Two-Edged Sword: Armed Force in the Modern World 
by Laurence Martin.
Weidenfeld, 108 pp., £5.95, March 1982, 0 297 78139 1
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Zero Option 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 198 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 85036 288 1
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Disarming Europe 
edited by Mary Kaldor and Dan Smith.
Merlin, 196 pp., £10, May 1982, 0 85036 277 6
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... his own efforts compared with the brilliantly satirical and justly celebrated review which E.P. Thompson published in New Society some months back. Although it is rather unpleasantly savage in its attacks on Martin himself, the piece is nevertheless immensely entertaining, and its reappearance in a new collection of ...

The Global Id

John Lanchester: Is Google a good thing?, 26 January 2006

The Google Story 
by David Vise.
Macmillan, 326 pp., £14.99, November 2005, 1 4050 5371 2
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The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture 
by John Battelle.
Nicholas Brealey, 311 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 1 85788 361 6
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... insanely cool new search engine, wanted to incorporate it as a company, and needed to find a name. David Vise, in his breezy book The Google Story, tells how they came up with one. A fellow graduate student suggested to Page and Brin that they use the name given to what is sometimes, erroneously or metaphorically, called the largest number, 10100: google. They ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... its social structure. Lord Lucan and Veronica Duncan on their wedding day, 28 November 1963. Thompson’s book is a mixture of all of these and the result is persuasive and revealing in some parts, absurd and tasteless in others. Yet it is a compelling read. The story doesn’t pall because it has become a myth and myths change with time. As the Lucan ...

Wordsworth’s Crisis

E.P. Thompson, 8 December 1988

Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years 
by Nicholas Roe.
Oxford, 306 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 19 812868 1
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... of Coleridge’s Revolutionary Youth’, TLS, 6 August 1971) might have been written by E.P. Thompson, a speculation which could have been translated into a finding at the cost of a postage stamp. But his speculations do not always compel assent. Thus his book is illustrated by a Gillray cartoon of a London Corresponding Society open-air meeting, and in ...

Where are the space arks?

Tom Stevenson: Space Forces, 4 March 2021

War in Space 
by Bleddyn Bowen.
Edinburgh, 356 pp., £85, July 2020, 978 1 4744 5048 5
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Dark Skies: Space Expansionism, Planetary Geopolitics and the Ends of Humanity 
by Daniel Deudney.
Oxford, 443 pp., £22.99, June 2020, 978 0 19 090334 3
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... Boeing X-37 robotic spacecraft. When asked about this, the second in command of the space force, David Thompson, said: ‘We don’t need to tell the world everything we’re doing.’ The US hasn’t yet made what aerospace analysts call the transition from ‘space operators to space warfighters’. But the vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of ...

It’s a Knock-Out

Tom Nairn, 27 May 1993

The Spirit of the Age: An Account of Our Times 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 388 pp., £20, February 1993, 1 85619 204 0
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... In his brilliant account of collapsing Yugoslavia, A Paper House, Mark Thompson meets a leader of the Vojvodina Ruthenes called Professor Julijan Tamas. Since 1989 this tiny people has been struggling back into political existence. In 1991 they managed to stage the first World Congress of Ruthenes and just before that the first Bible in Ruthenian had finally appeared ...

No Casket, No Flowers

Thomas Lynch: MacSwiggan’s Ashes, 20 April 2006

Committed to the Cleansing Flame: The Development of Cremation in 19th-Century England 
by Brian Parsons.
Spire, 328 pp., £34.95, November 2005, 1 904965 04 0
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... prompted by the appearance in the Contemporary Review of January 1874 of an article by Sir Henry Thompson – physician, surgeon, nutritionist, porcelain collector, artist, novelist and father of the modern cremation movement – entitled ‘The Treatment of the Body after Death’: After detailing the post-mortem changes occurring to the body and the cycle ...

Blake’s Tone

E.P. Thompson, 28 January 1993

Dangerous Enthusiasm: William Blake and the Culture of Radicalism in the 1790s 
by Jon Mee.
Oxford, 251 pp., £30, August 1992, 0 19 812226 8
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... Just under forty years ago David Erdman provided for William Blake historical contexts in abundance in Blake: Prophet against Empire (1954). It was a remarkable work of literary detection, which still dominates the field. Some Blake readers have felt that his attribution of correspondence between text and contemporaneous events was over-literal (as well as hazardous), and Jon Mee is one of these ...

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