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Diary

Dick Leonard: Belgian Affairs, 14 November 1996

... The Dutroux affair, involving a paedophile ring, child-kidnapping and murder, might have surfaced in any country in the world. But would any other advanced, democratic country have been quite as slack as Belgium in taking action to track down the ring, and prevent further crimes? And is there something inherent in the way the Belgian state is organised which made the evident failure of the legal system almost inevitable? These are the questions which thousands of hitherto complacent Belgians are now asking, and they account for the enormous turn-out – around 3 per cent of the national population – for the ‘white march’ in Brussels on 20 October ...

The Man Who Never Glared

John Pemble: Disraeli, 5 December 2013

Disraeli: or, The Two Lives 
by Douglas Hurd and Edward Young.
Orion, 320 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86097 6
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The Great Rivalry: Gladstone and Disraeli 
by Dick Leonard.
I.B. Tauris, 226 pp., £22.50, June 2013, 978 1 84885 925 8
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Disraeli: The Romance of Politics 
by Robert O’Kell.
Toronto, 595 pp., £66.99, February 2013, 978 1 4426 4459 5
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... inebriated by the exuberance of his own verbosity’. This legendary combat is at the heart of Dick Leonard’s The Great Rivalry, which uses the old compare and contrast formula, hopping between the two protagonists, but updating the story with the recent work of Colin Matthew, Roy Jenkins, Richard Shannon, John Vincent, Sarah Bradford and Stanley ...

Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann, 17 March 1983

Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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Bluebeard 
by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... In a recent interview, Kurt Vonnegut rated his latest novel, Deadeye Dick, at B-. The gesture is disarming, and no doubt his critics will conclude that he has got it just about right. But if we start from the tacit assumption that Deadeye Dick is not a masterpiece, whether or not it becomes a best-seller, we can concentrate our minds on what it is that makes Vonnegut’s style of storytelling so distinctively beguiling ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Prendergast: Sarah Palin’s Favourite Frenchman, 2 December 2010

... of the New Deal. The key players were Thomas Carver, a Harvard professor of economics, and Leonard Read, who created the Foundation for Economic Education; the emigré Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises was a member, while Hayek gave his warm support. Later fans included Reagan and Thatcher, who found his theories ‘elegant and powerful’. So far ...

Strenuously Modern

Rosemary Hill: At Home with the Stracheys, 3 March 2005

Bombay to Bloomsbury: A Biography of the Strachey Family 
by Barbara Caine.
Oxford, 488 pp., £25, February 2005, 0 19 925034 0
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... in argument, and characterised, in most cases, by long limbs and large spectacles, they struck Leonard Woolf as ‘much the most remarkable family I have ever known’. His wife, on the other hand, who knew several Stracheys well, thought them ‘a prosaic race, lacking magnanimity, shorn of atmosphere’. The direct line has died out now. The family’s ...

The Wrong Stuff

Christopher Hitchens, 1 April 1983

The Purple Decades 
by Tom Wolfe.
Cape, 396 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 224 02944 4
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... who had survived that many games of high-low over North Vietnam were like the preacher in Moby Dick who ascends to the pulpit on a rope ladder and then pulls the ladder up behind him.             ‘The Truest Sport: Jousting with Sam and Charlie’ It is entirely possible that in the long run historians will regard the entire New Left ...

Put it away, like a good girl

August Kleinzahler, 16 March 2000

Where I Live Now: Stories 1993-98 
by Lucia Berlin.
Black Sparrow, 240 pp., $25, March 1999, 1 57423 091 3
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... writer, by which I do not mean a genre writer of cowboy tales like Zane Grey or the younger Elmore Leonard, but that her stories, with only a few exceptions, are situated west of the Great Plains or in Mexico. Berlin herself was born in Alaska and spent most of her childhood in Chile – a setting for several stories. The daughter of a mining man, she also ...

Construct or Construe

Stephen Sedley: Living Originalism, 30 August 2012

Living Originalism 
by Jack Balkin.
Harvard, 474 pp., £25.95, January 2012, 978 0 674 06178 1
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... society of whose nature and problems they knew they had no conception? The question was asked by Leonard Levy in his classic debunking of originalism, Original Intent and the Framers’ Constitution (1988), a book not discussed by Balkin. One of the things Levy pointed out was that Reagan’s attorney general, Edwin Meese, was repeatedly using originalist ...

Alan Bennett writes about his new play

Alan Bennett: ‘The Habit of Art’, 5 November 2009

... the fractured speech about biography that begins the play was actually a casualty from Kafka’s Dick, written more than 20 years ago. Still, it’s a pragmatic process and I’m thankful never to have reached that eminence which would endow every sentence I write with significance and make it untouchable.There is some talk in the play about Auden’s ...

Easter Island Revisited

Tam Dalyell, 27 June 1991

A Green History of the World 
by Clive Ponting.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 352 pp., £16.95, May 1991, 1 85619 050 1
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... the rest of us. I would mention the late Dame Evelyn Sharpe, (who was better than her minister, Dick Crossman, which caused trouble), and my colleague Lord ‘Tommy’ Brimelow, Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Office, who, as a Member of Labour’s first delegation to the indirectly-elected European Parliament, used to help the rest of us express ...

I don’t want your revolution

Marco Roth: Jonathan Lethem, 20 February 2014

Dissident Gardens 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 366 pp., £18.99, January 2014, 978 0 224 09395 8
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... or B art-movies, at the same time that Lethem was writing Amnesia Moon, a homage to Philip K. Dick, and Gun, with Occasional Music, a homage to Chandler and Hammett; graffiti and other outsider art started appearing in museums and auction houses; and DJ-worship replaced the mid-century cult of the conductor. It’s possible, in other words, to read this ...
... has been involved ever since 1970, was nothing but a sham, a fraud and a hoax (or, to borrow Dick Crossman’s phrase about Cabinet Government, ‘a gaily painted hoarding behind which lie hidden the real secrets of power’). In the light of the resources and energy the Church over the past two decades has thrown into adapting itself to an elected ...

Welcome Home

Sukhdev Sandhu: Memories of Michael X, 4 February 1999

Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain 
by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
HarperCollins, 422 pp., £16.99, May 1998, 0 00 255909 9
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... products. He solicited donations from US entertainers such as Sammy Davis Jr and the comedian Dick Gregory. He also guilt-tripped John Lennon by claiming that ‘you have stolen the rhythms of the black people you knew in Liverpool.’ Soon Yoko Ono was presenting him with £10,000 in £10 notes. Malik offered Lennon a pair of Muhammad Ali’s bloodied ...

Some Flim-Flam with Socks

Adam Kuper: Laurens van der Post, 3 January 2002

Storyteller: The Many Lives of Laurens van der Post 
by J.D.F. Jones.
Murray, 505 pp., £25, September 2001, 0 7195 5580 9
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... made a special plaque for him, and there is some striking testimony from an Australian prisoner, Dick Pabley, who told the authorities after his release: ‘The Japs picked us up and took us to a place called Soekaboemi and put us in some sort of jail. Here we met Colonel van der Post, you probably know of him. He was like Jesus Christ to us with his help ...

Grass Green Stockings

Eleanor Hubbard: A Spinster’s Accounts, 21 March 2013

The Business and Household Accounts of Joyce Jeffreys, Spinster of Hereford, 1638-48 
edited by Judith Spicksley.
Oxford, 413 pp., £90, March 2012, 978 0 19 726432 4
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... her from being visited by an admirer or two. In 1641, she gave a shilling to Mr Tom Aston and Mr Dick Gravell, who, she wrote, ‘cam to be my valantine’. As a single woman, she couldn’t attend female neighbours who were giving birth, but she would send money to midwives and nurses. When her niece produced twins, Jeffreys stood as godmother to ‘little ...

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