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At the David​ Parr House

Eleanor Birne: There are two histories here

7 November 2019
... Street​ in Cambridge, just off the appealingly scruffy Mill Road, is a narrow street of Victorian terraced houses. In the 1980s my secondary school English teacher lived there: he would drive his Morris Minor out to our village to tell us about books and music and more books. In my mind, Gwydir Street was the sophisticated centre of the urban world. Walk down it now, past the old Dewdrop Inn (a ...

Big Books

Penelope Fitzgerald

15 September 1988
William MorrisAn Approach to the Poetry 
by J.M.S. Tompkins.
Cecil Woolf, 368 pp., £20, May 1988, 0 900821 84 1
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... As a schoolboy, Rudyard Kipling used to stay in North End Road, Fulham with his aunt and uncle, the Burne-Joneses. One evening William Morris came into the nursery and, finding the children under the table and nobody else about, climbed on to the rocking-horse and slowly surging back and forth while the poor beast creaked, he told us a ...
18 November 1993
New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... one of America’s largest publishing houses. We have not the time to laugh at this speculation because dinner is announced, and William Faulkner is seated next to Candy author Terry Southern. Willie Morris, of the Texas Observer and Harper’s Magazine by way of a place called Yazoo and a university named Oxford, is now listening. ‘Mr Bill,’ Southern whispers into Faulkner’s ear, ‘why are you ...

Deal of the Century

David​ Thomson: As Ovitz Tells It

7 March 2019
Who Is Michael Ovitz? 
by Michael Ovitz.
W.H. Allen, 372 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 7535 5336 7
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... as the most effective operator in the motion picture business was at some point swept into the dustbin of ‘Whatever happened to … ?’ So who was he? Michael Ovitz was born in Chicago in 1946 to David, the son of Jewish Romanian immigrants. David was a liquor salesman for Seagram’s but he worked weekends too, selling patio furniture to support his family after they moved to Encino in the San ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt

6 June 2002
Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... Americans seem to relish Presidential biographies. David McCullough’s Truman (1992) was on the bestseller lists for the better part of a year, and his John Adams (2001) is providing an astonishing repeat performance. Robert Caro’s dramatically detailed ...

The Great Lie

Charles Glass: Israel

30 November 2000
The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World 
by Avi Shlaim.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780713994100
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Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 
by Benny Morris.
Murray, 752 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7195 6222 8
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A Blood-Dimmed Tide: Dispatches from the Middle East 
by Amos Elon.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 7139 9368 5
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Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ 
by Efraim Karsh.
Frank Cass, 236 pp., £39.50, May 2000, 0 7146 5011 0
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From Herzl to Rabin: The Changing Image of Zionism 
by Amnon Rubinstein.
Holmes & Meier, 283 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 8419 1408 7
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... into the Israeli past to contrast it with the naivety (and mendacity) of school textbooks. Their work has steadily eroded the ‘old history’, especially since the publication in 1987 of Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-49. Morris’s research into the archives of the Israeli Defence Forces demonstrated what Palestinian Arab refugees and historians had been ...

‘It was necessary to uproot them’

Charles Glass: Post-Zionist historiography

24 June 2004
A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples 
by Ilan Pappe.
Cambridge, 333 pp., £15.99, January 2004, 0 521 55632 5
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The Gun and the Olive Branch 
by David​ Hirst.
Faber, 624 pp., £16.99, August 2003, 0 571 21945 4
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The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited 
by Benny Morris.
Cambridge, 664 pp., £70, January 2004, 0 521 81120 1
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... using the model of Britain’s 30-year rule, Likud began in 1978 to declassify archives that the Labour Party had kept secret during its uninterrupted period in power from 1948. The Labour patriarch David Ben-Gurion had called Begin a ‘Jewish Hitler’. Begin, a zealot but a legalist, had called Ben-Gurion’s extension of the repressive British Defence Regulations, although enforced mainly against ...
18 August 1994
Israel’s Border Wars, 1949-56: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation and the Countdown to the Suez War 
by Benny Morris.
Oxford, 451 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 827850 0
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... Benny Morris is one of the most original and prolific contributors to the new or revisionist Israeli historiography of the Arab-Israeli conflict. What distinguishes the new historians most clearly from the ...
9 May 1991
Israel’s Secret Wars: The Untold History of Israeli Intelligence 
by Ian Black and Benny Morris.
Hamish Hamilton, 603 pp., £20, February 1991, 0 241 12702 5
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... and partly on fantasy, as the best intelligence service in the world – an image reinforced by novels like John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl and Agents of Innocence by the American writer David Ignatius. In recent years, however, a number of scandals have badly tarnished the reputation of Israel’s security services and stimulated calls for greater public accountability. One of the most ...

Bloody

Michael Church

9 October 1986
The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... I adore war,’ Julian Grenfell reported to his mother from the Flemish trenches in 1914, in a letter which she proudly sent on for anonymous publication in the Times. Stalking Germans through the mud was not very different from stalking partridges, as he noted in his game book: ‘November 16th; 1 Pomeranian. November 17th; 2 Pomeranians.’ Two decades later in Spain, Julian Bell informed his ...
9 June 1994
Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of ‘Transfer’ in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948 
by Nur Masalha.
Tauris/IPS, 235 pp., £19.95, May 1994, 0 88728 235 0
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The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 
by Ilan Pappé.
Tauris, 324 pp., £39.50, June 1992, 1 85043 357 7
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... The first and most comprehensive attack on the official version was published by Simha Flapan in The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities in 1988. The same year saw the publication of Benny Morris’s The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949. Morris describes the flight of the Palestinians wave after wave, town by town, and village by village. He gives numerous specific examples ...

Cleansing the Galilee

David​ Gilmour

23 June 1988
The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities 
by Simha Flapan.
Croom Helm, 277 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 7099 4911 1
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Collusion across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement and the Partition of Palestine 
by Avi Shlaim.
Oxford, 676 pp., £35, May 1988, 0 19 827831 4
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The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949 
by Benny Morris.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 521 33028 9
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... to discover and present the truth. Among them are Yehoshua Porath, professor of Middle East History at the Hebrew University, and several younger historians such as Avi Shlaim, Tom Segev and Benny Morris. A handful of older men have also encouraged the re-examination of Israel’s past, including the late Simha Flapan, a pioneer of the state’s early days, and Dr Israel Shahak, president of the ...
15 September 1983
George Borrow: Eccentric 
by Michael Collie.
Cambridge, 275 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 521 24615 6
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A World of his Own: The Double Life of George Borrow 
by David​ Williams.
Oxford, 178 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 19 211762 9
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Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jan Morris.
Oxford, 279 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 19 281361 7
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Eothen 
by Alexander Kinglake and Jonathan Raban.
Century, 226 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 7126 0031 0
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... could do. In 1835, aged 32, he was in St Petersburg, arranging the printing of a translation of the English Bible into Chinese. (‘He boned up feverishly on Manchu,’ enthuses his other biographer, David Williams, in his schoolboyish way.) Borrow had to argue in Russian with the Tsar’s board of censors, hire and supervise ill-educated Estonian compositors to set up Mongolian print (which, he said ...

Diary

David​ Thomson: Alcatraz

26 March 2009
... the public really had to witness them, surely they’d cease to exist. So sometimes I ask people who’ve been here far longer than I have: how did people look at the prison without feeling dismay? David Ward and Gene Kassebaum have compiled an immense study of the prison in what they call the gangster years, from its foundation in 1933 to 1948.* Drawing on interviews with inmates and guards that the ...

Utopia Limited

David​ Cannadine

15 July 1982
Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... years from the 1870s to the 1930s saw what may prove to be the last grand flowering of Utopian designs. One late 19th-century approach, exemplified by Ruskin in his Guild of St George and by William Morris in his News from Nowhere, sought salvation in a world of rustic, artsy-craftsy, thatched and timbered, anti-machine socialism: ‘small is beautiful’ before its time. Another, more pragmatic ...

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