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Roll​ Call

Michael Stewart

5 September 1985
Crowded Hours 
by Eric Roll.
Faber, 254 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13497 1
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... Lord Roll is a very distinguished man, who has levitated over a period of 70 years or so from a small village in an obscure corner of Central Europe to the topmost rank of the British Establishment. He has had ...


E.S. Turner: Kiss me, Eric

17 April 2003
Dean Farrar and ‘Eric’: A Study of ‘Eric, or Little by Little’, together with the Complete Text of the Book 
by Ian Anstruther.
Haggerston, 237 pp., £19.95, January 2003, 1 869812 19 0
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... From the 11th century to the 19th not a single Eric was to be found in England, according to the Harrap Book of Boys’ and Girls’ Names. Then in 1858 the schoolmaster Frederic Farrar, not yet a dean, published that passionately morbid tale Eric, or ...
23 September 1993
Will Pop Eat Itself? Pop Music in the Soundbite Era 
by Jeremy J. Beadle.
Faber, 269 pp., £7.99, June 1993, 9780571162413
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Present Tense: Rock & Roll​ and Culture 
edited by Anthony DeCurtis.
Duke, 317 pp., £11.95, October 1992, 0 8223 1265 4
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... computer-generated sounds and 37 shouts of ‘go’ isn’t, I suspect, what turns on Anthony DeCurtis. DeCurtis, a senior features editor at Rolling Stone, and editor of Present Tense: Rock & Roll and Culture (an anthology which includes some excellent essays and, thankfully, reveals a broader range of views than the editor’s), confesses in his introduction to the collection: ‘It [is] hard ...


Eric​ Hobsbawm: My Days as a Jazz Critic

27 May 2010
... and records. It wasn’t as much fun, except for the stunning and disturbing first visit to Britain of Ray Charles, whom I had first heard as one of a handful of whites in a corner of a vast rock-and-roll dance in Oakland, California, when he was still known only to the black public. They did not dance much while he sang. By now not quite a major pop star but already a hipster saint, fourth in line to ...

Captain Swing

Eric​ Hobsbawm

24 November 1994
The Duke Ellington Reader 
edited by Mark Tucker.
Oxford, 536 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 19 505410 5
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Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America 
by David Stowe.
Harvard, 299 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 0 674 85825 5
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... as measured by box-office returns. The musical analogue of Hollywood has, of course, been profoundly imbued with the influence of black music, and never more so than since the rise of rock and roll in the mid-Fifties. Indeed, since the days of ragtime the popular music business could not have existed without this continuous infusion. The jazz which was discovered as a heavyweight art in the ...

Reasons for thinking that war is a good thing

Eric​ Foner: The death of Liberalism

27 June 2002
The Strange Death of American Liberalism 
by H.W. Brands.
Yale, 200 pp., £16, January 2002, 0 300 09021 8
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... pursuing a liberal domestic agenda. But, he argues, it was in the 1950s, under Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, that New Deal liberalism truly became institutionalised. Rather than seeking to roll back liberalism, Eisenhower presided over the extension of Social Security benefits to ten million predominantly black agricultural and domestic workers who had initially been excluded from the ...

In Letchworth

Gillian Darley: Pevsner's Hertfordshire

22 December 2019
... and the Comet, a 1930s roadhouse that is apparently designed ‘to resemble the outline of an aeroplane, with rounded two-storey nose and lower wings’. In front of it stands a column carved by Eric Kennington with images of flight and surmounted by a model of the Comet racing plane. The 1952 flight test hangar and the control tower are still standing, though the aerodrome closed in 1993 to ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... On the dust-jacket of the latest supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography there are photographs of David Niven, Diana Dors, Eric Morecambe, John Betjeman and William Walton. Dors has a leering ‘Come up and read me sometime’ expression on her face and Niven wears his yacht-club greeter’s smile. Morecambe seems to be ...
24 March 1994
Cigarettes Are Sublime 
by Richard Klein.
Duke, 210 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 8223 1401 0
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... I remembered walking behind the old man’s coffin in a massive and orderly crowd, tens of thousands of them smoking. I also recall watching Casablanca at the theatre in Leeds University and smoking roll-ups throughout – a Virginia tobacco called The Ringer Returns, which came in a blue and yellow tin with the feathered head of an American Indian chief in a red roundel at the centre. I would be ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out

4 June 1998
... done to the quality of government when one party is in power for much too long and the incomers are therefore wholly without previous experience of office? 1 January. Delighted to see a CH for Eric Hobsbawm and a CBE for David Lockwood in the New Year Honours. Would either have been honoured at all without the change of government? David, although Britain’s number one sociologist, is almost ...

Saint Jane

D.A.N. Jones

20 October 1983
The Good Father 
by Peter Prince.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 224 02131 1
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Mrs Pooter’s Diary 
by Keith Waterhouse and John Jensen.
Joseph, 208 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 7181 2339 5
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Dandiprat’s Days 
by David Thomson.
Dent, 165 pp., £8.50, September 1983, 0 460 04613 6
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The Dream of a Beast 
by Neil Jordan.
Chatto, 103 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 7011 2740 6
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Squeak: A Biography of NPA 1978A 203 
by John Bowen and Eric​ Fraser.
Faber, 127 pp., £2.95, October 1983, 0 571 13170 0
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The Life and Times of Michael K 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 250 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 436 10297 8
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... self-disgust, like Mr Samsa in Kafka’s tale, ashamed that he has become a beetle – but rather as a useful, interesting disguise. He climbs buildings as if he were flying, his bandages unfurl and roll down to earth, caught by an admiring boy who returns them – ‘I brought your things, sir!’ – and fetches green corn-tips for the beast to eat. Sprinklers are hissing over the lawns and a fish ...


John Kerrigan: Lost Shakespeare

6 February 1986
... would be less giddy, and the company less dependent on coachloads of US tourists. Hence the frisson created here by Shakespeare’s Lost Play: ‘Edmund Ironside’. But by the time a copy of Eric Sams’s edition reaches me through theatrical hands, it’s been marked up and rejected. Understandably, because the play is dull and its attribution groundless. The verse is wooden and inert, yet ...

A Spanish girl is a volcano

John Pemble: Apostles in Gibraltar

9 September 2015
John Kemble’s Gibraltar Journal: The Spanish Expedition of the Cambridge Apostles, 1830-31 
by Eric​ Nye.
Macmillan, 416 pp., £100, January 2015, 978 1 137 38446 1
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... was published, in 1939, Barcelona had fallen, the Republic had collapsed, and Spain had embarked on forty years of right-wing military dictatorship. In his introduction to John Kemble’s journal, Eric Nye accuses Greene of underestimating the seriousness of the Apostles. He reckons Greene had been misled by Carlyle’s Life of John Sterling, in which the Spanish venture is all about sorcerers ...

The Age of EJH

Perry Anderson: Eric​ Hobsbawm’s Memoirs

3 October 2002
Interesting Times: A 20th-Century Life 
by Eric​ Hobsbawm.
Allen Lane, 448 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 7139 9581 5
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... perhaps only two classics – Gibbon’s graceful mirror at the end of the 18th century, and Henry Adams’s eerie Wunderkammer at the beginning of the 20th. In this generally disappointing field, Eric Hobsbawm has entered the lists with a work he invites us to read as the ‘flip side’ of Age of Extremes, his great history of the 20th century: ‘not world history illustrated by the experiences ...
4 January 1996
Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators 1930-1945 
edited by David Britt.
Hayward Gallery, 360 pp., £19.95, October 1995, 1 85332 148 6
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... and by searchlights) is crowned, just like a car, with a winged emblem. Boris Iofan’s Russian pavilion for the Paris exhibition was a pedestal as much as a building, but a pedestal which seemed to roll forward with the colossal striding figures it supported. Mukhina’s group was made to be viewed from below – from in front and from the side (only from the side do hammer and sickle lock into the ...

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