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Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... sadistic buffoon and could never have been tolerated even by the long-suffering Labour Party. John Wheatley was the intellectual and organising genius behind the Clydesiders, but you have only to watch the surviving newsreels to see why Maxton had to be the leader of that group, and you only have to study Maxton’s confused utterances to see how he could ...

Handbooks

Valerie Pearl, 4 February 1982

The Shell Guide to the History of London 
by W.R. Dalzell.
Joseph, 496 pp., £12.50, July 1981, 0 7181 2015 9
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... perceptively as Steen Eiler Rasmussen, who saw it in 1937 as The Unique City. More recently, both David Piper in his Companion Guide (1964) and Christopher Hibbert in Biography of a City (1969) have written with elegance and comprehension, the first closer to the form of the traditional guidebook, the second to the style of the popular historian. Yet there is ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... Civil War would not have taken place.’ Johnson manages to ignore the work of Edmund Morgan, David Brion Davis and numerous other scholars of the past thirty years who have demonstrated that slavery was an intrinsic element of American life almost from the beginning of the colonial era, and that it imparted a powerful exclusionary dimension to the ...

Diary

John Sutherland: My Grandmother the Thief, 21 August 2003

... and powerful friends. She had been a celebrity on What’s My Line? and lives on as the subject of David Bowie’s song ‘God Knows I’m Good’. God knows what the authorities would do to a hardened, inarticulate sneak thief from the lower classes. And even if the magistrates were in a forgiving mood, what about the shame? My grandmother had neither a lucid ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... Beside me on the sofa is the most recent number of the Richmond and Twickenham Times (proprietor David Dimbleby). It carries an interesting letter on page four. Sir, While thanking you for printing a story about my forthcoming book Unholy Pursuits: The Wayward Parsons of Grub Street I would like to point out that this is not my third, but my 19th ...

Beyond the Cringe

John Barrell: British Art, 2 June 2016

Art in Britain 1660-1815 
by David Solkin.
Yale, 367 pp., £55, October 2015, 978 0 300 21556 4
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... David Solkin​ ’s new book is designed to replace Painting in Britain 1530-1790, a volume of the Pelican history of art by Ellis Waterhouse, which was first published in 1953 and appeared in five separate editions, the last in 1994, nine years after Waterhouse’s death. Waterhouse’s history was quickly recognised as a classic ...

Making strange

John Sutherland, 19 March 1981

Other people 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 223 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 224 01766 7
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The Magic Glass 
by Anne Smith.
Joseph, 174 pp., £6.50, March 1981, 9780718119867
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The Book of Ebenezer Le Page 
by Gerald Edwards.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £7.50, March 1981, 0 241 10477 7
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Sharpe’s Eagle 
by Bernard Cornwell.
Collins, 266 pp., £6.50, February 1981, 0 00 221997 2
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XPD 
by Len Deighton.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £6.95, March 1981, 0 09 144570 1
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... worth going a little into the general question of why Lowland Scots, as different in pedigree as David Daiches, the film-maker Bill Douglas, Jimmy Boyle and Anne Smith, should be so determined to rake over and publicly display their childhoods (all more or less deprived childhoods, though in Daiches’ case less so from poverty than from an austerely Judaist ...

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