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The Suitcase: Part Three

Frances Stonor Saunders, 10 September 2020

... all shared until the van turned up), I see his loving gaze falling on the objects in it: a conch shell on a side table, a painting by John Piper (a wedding gift). Home is never a neutral place, it is a very specific context, an animated expression of the presence it contains. Why can’t it be loved?‘You can’t love an inanimate object.’ I don’t know ...

One Summer in America

Eliot Weinberger, 26 September 2019

... the top.*A well-known magazine columnist, E. Jean Carroll, graphically describes being raped by Donald Trump in the mid-1990s. The president denies knowing her, but after photos of the two of them in groups at social gatherings are produced, he says: ‘It never happened. She’s not my type. I’ll say it with great respect: number one, she’s not my ...

Goldfish are my homies

John Lahr, 22 October 2020

Casting Shadows: Fish and Fishing in Britain 
by Tom Fort.
William Collins, 368 pp., £20, April, 978 0 00 828344 5
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... defies rational expression; Fort’s description of the salmon’s strike – ‘like an artillery shell leaving the barrel of a gun’ – proves the point. While he gives the salmon its props, Fort feels compelled to conclude with typical fustian formality: ‘I speak as one who has flirted with salmon-fishing for a long time without ever falling in ...

Gravity’s Smoothest Dream

Matthew Bevis: A.R. Ammons, 7 March 2019

The Complete Poems 
by A.R. Ammons.
Norton, two vols, 2133 pp., £74, December 2017, 978 0 393 25489 1
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... But I also found myself wondering why Ammons isn’t read more outside the US and was reminded of Donald Davie’s 1975 review of Sphere, which he began by admitting that the idea of yet another ‘major visionary poet’ was an unattractive proposition. Still, he confessed, ‘I can’t refuse the evidence of my senses and my feelings – there wasn’t one ...


Peter Pulzer, 4 September 1986

Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Oxford, 304 pp., £17.50, July 1986, 0 19 212239 8
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... in England, Jenny Marx wrote: ‘Here ... you can withdraw into yourself and your snail’s shell – no one bothers about you, whereas in Germany people know the next morning what you had for dinner last night and how much your husband earns.’ Followers of Johanna Kinkel’s advice ‘those who have been forced into exile here ought really to make a ...

How Movies End

David Thomson: John Boorman’s Quiet Ending, 20 February 2020

by John Boorman.
Faber, 237 pp., £20, February, 978 0 571 35379 8
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... We’re not​ dealing with an ordinary man, or a conformist. There he is in the abandoned shell of Fort Point in San Francisco, this fierce and frightened man, looking like Lee Marvin. The fat parcel of money he has been demanding throughout the film is at his feet. All he has to do is pick it up. Instead, he fades into the darkness ...

There is only one Harrods

Paul Foot, 23 September 1993

Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon 
by Tom Bower.
Heinemann, 659 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 434 07339 3
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... by the Department of Trade, Tiny issued a devastating letter to the newspapers demonstrating how Shell and BP were transporting oil into Rhodesia, not just breaking sanctions but keeping white Rhodesia afloat. The allegations were immediately and vigorously denied, but the cat was out of the bag. Tiny’s letter led inexorably to the 1978 Bingham Inquiry ...

Devolution Doom

Christopher Harvie: Scotland’s crisis, and some solutions, 5 September 2002

... Whoever wins, is Holyrood to be little more than a Glasgow-Council-writ-large, a magnificent shell housing a small, dim creature? Has transparency done its business, only to expose the morbidity of the Scottish body politic? Scottish devolution reasserted itself in the 1980s as a by-product of Europeanisation. Technology, politics and culture would, it ...

Father, Son and Sewing-Machine

Patrick Parrinder, 21 February 1985

Garden, Ashes 
by Danilo Kis, translated by William Hannaher.
Faber, 170 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 9780571134533
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Star Turn 
by Nigel Williams.
Faber, 314 pp., £9.95, January 1985, 0 571 13296 0
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On Glory’s Course 
by James Purdy.
Peter Owen, 378 pp., £9.95, January 1985, 0 7206 0633 0
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... bluebells? There are further guest appearances by Proust, Freud, Virginia Woolf, Ramsay Mac Donald, Winston Churchill and other ‘stars’, and it is not every pair of Cockney youngsters who travel to France, as Amos and Zak do, in a laundry-basket full of General Haig’s underpants. All this is good fun, but the dialogue is sometimes inexcusably ...

Darling Clem

Paul Addison, 17 April 1986

Clement Attlee 
by Trevor Burridge.
Cape, 401 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 224 02318 7
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The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940-1945 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape in association with the London School of Economics, 913 pp., £40, February 1986, 9780224020657
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Loyalists and Loners 
by Michael Foot.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 00 217583 5
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... effective leader of his party and an outstanding prime minister. Having reacted against Ramsay Mac-Donald, the argument runs, Labour stood in need of a personality who would put party above self, and Attlee fitted the bill. Yet in his quiet fashion he was skilful in managing the Party and holding it together. Hence Labour’s victory in the General Election of ...

The Leveller

Ben Ehrenreich: Famine in East Africa, 17 August 2017

... a tortoise. It was nearly a metre long, with short, spikily scaled legs tucked beneath its shell. A black liquid stained the dry red earth around it. Beside it was the carcass of a donkey, white bone showing beneath what little flesh remained. A few metres away a warthog lay rotting, and beyond that a camel. For miles outside the village – and ...

Damsons and Custard

Paul Laity: Documentary cinema’s unsung poet, 3 March 2005

Humphrey Jennings 
by Kevin Jackson.
Picador, 448 pp., £30, October 2004, 0 330 35438 8
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... out: ‘Look at me! … Don’t you think I’m beautiful?’ In fact, she thought he looked like Donald Duck, and insisted he put his clothes on and take her to meet André Breton. ‘There has only been one really good edition of anything that Shakespeare wrote,’ he told the writer Ruthven Todd, ‘and that is an edition of Venus and Adonis that I did ...

Marvellous Boys

Mark Ford, 9 September 1993

The Ern Malley Affair 
by Michael Heyward.
Faber, 278 pp., £15, August 1993, 0 571 16781 0
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... as the most famous of all doomed Romantics: ‘Yet we are as the double almond concealed in one shell,’ he broods in ‘Colloquy with John Keats’, going on to predict his own equally untimely demise in harsh demotic terms – ‘Look! My number is up!’ After his cremation at Rookwood Cemetery Ethel opened his trunk and set about disposing of his ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... would learn from the Oxford History that the slaughter of the aborigines was often intentional. Donald Denoon and Marivic Wyndham, who write here about Australia and the Pacific in the 19th century, suggest matter-of-factly that ‘indigenous peoples were decimated and outnumbered by new, expanding societies of free British migrants,’ but they seem to ...

The Most Corrupt Idea of Modern Times

Tom Stevenson: Inspecting the Troops, 1 July 2021

The Changing of the Guard: The British Army since 9/11 
by Simon Akam.
Scribe, 704 pp., £25, March, 978 1 913348 48 9
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... reputation’. This assessment stood in stark contrast to the confident war planning for Iraq that Donald Rumsfeld ordered in November 2001. Fresh from the swift removal of the Taliban with special forces and airstrikes, American military planners felt that its imperial tasks could now be managed by means of an air war and a modest number of specialist shock ...

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