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This is America, man

Michael Wood: ‘Treme’ and ‘The Wire’

27 May 2010
The Wire 
created by David Simon.
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created by Eric Overmyer and David Simon.
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... like slotting the DVDs into your machine. There was a hiatus after season Three, which ended in December 2004. Seasons Four and Five picked up just under two years later. The creator of The Wire is DavidSimon, who wrote many of the episodes and by the third season was executive producer. He is a reporter who became a full-time writer of books: Homicide (1991) and, with Ed Burns, The Corner (1997 ...

The Atom School

Theo Tait: J.M. Coetzee

3 November 2016
The Schooldays of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 260 pp., £17.99, August 2016, 978 1 911215 35 6
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... in an unnamed country, in a city called Novilla. They have travelled there from across the sea, via a ‘camp’ in the desert, where they have learned Spanish and been assigned new names: Simón and David. The man is old and people assume that the boy is his grandson. ‘Not my grandson, not my son,’ he explains. ‘But I am responsible for him.’ Novilla seems to be partly a spiritual state ...

Freddie Gray

Adam Shatz

20 May 2015
... even work to conceal the system’s worst aspects. Jean-Michel Basquiat satirised this problem in his 1981 painting The Irony of the Negro Policeman; in a recent interview in the Marshall Project, DavidSimon, the creator of The Wire, noted that black police officers in Baltimore are sometimes more brutal than white officers, as if their skin colour makes them immune to racism against poor blacks. A ...

Tables and Chairs

Christopher Tayler: J.M. Coetzee

21 March 2013
J.M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing 
by J.C. Kannemeyer, translated by Michiel Heyns.
Jonathan Ball, 710 pp., R 325, October 2012, 978 1 86842 495 5
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Here and Now: Letters 2008-11 
by Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee.
Viking, 256 pp., $27.95, March 2013, 978 0 670 02666 1
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The Childhood of Jesus 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Harvill Secker, 210 pp., £16.99, March 2013, 978 1 84655 769 9
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... views only in order to subject them to prolonged Socratic or Dostoevskian querying. The Childhood of Jesus tells the story of Simón, a man of indeterminate age who presents himself and a small boy, David, at a resettlement centre in a city called Novilla. They have come from the camp at Belstar, Simón explains, and need a place to live; the boy is ‘not my grandson, not my son, but I am responsible ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown

19 February 1998
Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon​ and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... a tax haven. One millionaire in the Government is not enough. As soon as New Labour was elected, its ministers scurried into the City to seek out millionaires to conduct the Government’s business: DavidSimon from BP, Martin Taylor from Barclays Bank, Peter Davis from the Pru, even that devoted Thatcherite Alan Sugar of Tottenham Hotspur. Past Labour Governments had made some small effort to assert ...

The Bart

Gabriele Annan

10 December 1987
Broken Blood: The Rise and Fall of the Tennant Family 
by Simon​ Blow.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 571 13374 6
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... fear – nay, the shame – of a future of parasites haunted them.’ These sentences, from the Marxist historian E.J. Hobsbawm’s The Age of Empire, 1875-1914, would make the perfect epitaph for Simon Blow’s history of his maternal grandmother’s family, the Tennants. Or for a Thatcherite tract on Britain’s decline from Victorian values. Or for a great novel like Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus

7 November 2013
The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... to set them to music: call it incentivisation, in a viral campaign involving spinets. Franzen might not have written The Corrections to be optioned by HBO – the chamber music of our time, with DavidSimon our Mendelssohn – but he agreed to the option, and so the only thing that prevented his book’s debasement was an inept script that died in development. Kraus writes in Franzen’s ...
19 July 1984
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon​ Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... no further part in Swallow. Another familiar mask is borrowed from American politics, to give the reader a recognisable stock character. This is Ronald Reagan, here renamed President O’Reilly. (David Lodge’s version, ‘Ronald Ruck’, was funnier.) D.M. Thomas offers a farcical interview with President O’Reilly in which the old man is so confused that he can only answer the question before ...


Douglas Johnson

7 February 1980
Napoleon: Master of Europe 1805-1807 
by Alistair Horne.
Weidenfeld, 232 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 297 77678 9
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Napoleon’s Diplomatic Service 
by Edward Whitcomb.
Duke, 218 pp., June 1981, 9780822304210
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Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars 
by David​ Chandler.
Arms and Armour, 576 pp., £12.95, November 1980, 0 85368 353 0
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Napoleon, the Jews and the Sanhedrin 
by Simon​ Schwarzfuchs.
Routledge, 200 pp., £5.50, March 1979, 0 7100 8955 4
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Auguste de Colbert: Aristocratic Survival in an Era of Upheaval, 1793-1809 
by Jeanne Ojala.
Utah, $15, February 1979, 9780685953709
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... the three hundred thousand which have already been devoted to this one man, but Edward Whitcomb brings about a substantial (and welcome) reduction by referring only to some two hundred thousand. David Chandler explains that ever since he wrote his excellent book on the campaigns of Napoleon ten years ago, he has been inundated by requests for further information coming from the widest possible ...

Caruthers & Co

Simon​ Raven

19 July 1984
... my own, it is impossible to understand why this book is still here when many others in the genre, far more compelling or beguiling on sexual or other topics, have totally vanished. In E.F. Benson’s David Blaise, ‘young, pink flesh’ appears under wet, black knickerbockers in an open squash court: yet where is David now? The Hill, by H.A. Vachell, a tale of true friendship, drew hot tears, from me ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet

14 June 2017
The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... without even realising it.’) He decides to seek out an interpreter, and a sniffy person at the Sorbonne directs him to the University of Paris VIII at Vincennes. There he finds a young lecturer, Simon Herzog, teaching an introductory semiology course with examples from the James Bond films – material, at last, that Bayard is at home with, as well as a nod to Umberto Eco’s analysis of Ian ...
5 June 1997
... Government’s deference to boardroom barons. Within three weeks of the Party’s election victory, four prominent businessmen had been appointed or approached to join or advise the Government: Sir DavidSimon, chairman of BP, to become European competition minister, Martin Taylor, chief executive of Barclays Bank, to lead a Whitehall task force on tax and benefits, Lord Hollick, chairman of United ...


David​ Denby: Deaths on Camera

7 September 2016
... investigation is followed invariably by prosecution, a lockstep sequence which may not always produce justice but remains tirelessly cogent in its pursuit of it. Of the famous shows, perhaps only the DavidSimon classic The Wire adds the dimensions of fallibility and compromise to the image of the police. Here the police sometimes act with righteous violence, sometimes not. Often they are stymied by ...


D.A.N. Jones

8 January 1987
The Old School: A Study 
by Simon​ Raven.
Hamish Hamilton, 139 pp., £12, September 1986, 0 241 11929 4
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The Best Years of their Lives: The National Service Experience 1945-63 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 7181 2459 6
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Murder without Conviction: Inside the World of the Krays 
by John Dickson.
Sidgwick, 164 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780283994074
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Inside ‘Private Eye’ 
by Peter McKay.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 947795 80 4
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Malice in Wonderland: Robert Maxwell v. ‘Private Eye’ 
by Robert Maxwell, John Jackson, Peter Donnelly and Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 191 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 356 14616 2
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... survived fifty-odd years of life in Britain. Our day-school years in the Thirties were much influenced by the public school system, expressed in schoolmasters’ aspirations and schoolboys’ comics. Simon Raven’s notorious devotion to that system began when he was only a seven-year-old comic reader, as he admits in The Old School, a loving but mordant survey of the dormitory schools: he went on ...


Rodney Hilton

21 January 1988
Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies 
edited by David​ Cannadine and Simon​ Price.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33513 2
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... This is a collection of fascinating studies, ranging from Babylon to 20th-century Ghana, from China to Madagascar. David Cannadine, in his Introduction, says that the topics covered are mainly pre-modern and therefore outside the scope of most professional historians. In their Acknowledgments, however, the two editors ...

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