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Palmers Greenery

Su sannah Clapp

19 December 1985
by Jack Barbera and William McBrien.
Heinemann, 378 pp., £15, November 1985, 0 434 44105 8
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... This biography gets off to a bad start with its title. The writer called Stevie Smith was also a celebrity called Stevie – a spiky sprite who was famous for being unfashionable ...

Michael Gove recommends

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley

20 January 2011
The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... In 1975, when he was 78, Dennis Wheatley finally achieved his long-held ambition of being elected to a really smart gentlemen’s club, White’...

Our Fault

Frank Kermode

11 October 1990
Our Age: Portrait of a Generation 
by Noël Annan.
Weidenfeld, 479 pp., £20, October 1990, 0 297 81129 0
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... The title of this large, attractive book needs explanation. It isn’t to be understood as a claim to deal with the times of all of us who are now alive ...


John Brown

18 November 1982
Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... Universally acclaimed as the pioneer of the modern detective-thriller, Hammett died in 1961, yet this is the first full-length account of his life to appear ...


Robert Tashman

9 March 1995
directed by Robert Altman.
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... Hollywood has not covered fashion, as a theme or subject, as well as one might hope, given the importance of Am<span class="highlight-term">ericspan>an movies in mandating and legitimising styles of dress ...


Perry Anderson: On E.P. Thompson

21 October 1993
... Coming home one evening in the last weeks of 1962, I found a bottle of wine in the vacated room, with a note underneath. Edward Thompson had been completing The Making of the English Working-Class ...

Red Science

Eric Hobsbawm: J.D. Bernal

9 March 2006
J.D. Bernal:&nbsp;The Sage of Science&nbsp;
by Andrew Brown.
Oxford, 562 pp., £25, November 2005, 0&nbsp;19&nbsp;851544&nbsp;8
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... Let me begin with a motor trip in 1944 by two scientist s down the valley from Lord Mountbatten’s headquarters in Kandy to the jungle. The younger of the two remembers what his companion talked about ...

Not a Belonger

Colin Jones

21 August 1997
The End of the Line:&nbsp;A Memoir&nbsp;
by Richard Cobb.
Murray, 229 pp., £20, June 1997, 0&nbsp;7195&nbsp;5460&nbsp;8
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... Richard Cobb, who died last year at the age of 79, began his career as a historian of Revolutionary France. When I first met him, in 1968, he was widely thought to be able to write only in French, but as time went on a strong personal vein and a taste for high comedy widened the scope of his writing and revealed a highly distinctive English style: intricate perceptions and sensations  set down in long, baroque sentences, full of Gallicism s, argot and incantatory list s of French and English place-name...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes

26 January 2012
The Ascent of the Detective:&nbsp;Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England&nbsp;
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978&nbsp;0&nbsp;19&nbsp;957740&nbsp;8
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... Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?’ snapped Edmund Wilson, writing in the New Yorker in 1945. He refused to find out who did, because he’d already discovered that Agatha Christie’s books were garbage and that he couldn’t put them down ...
20 October 1994
Frank Zappa:&nbsp;The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play&nbsp;
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0&nbsp;7043&nbsp;7066&nbsp;2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning&nbsp;
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... It’s quite a popular secret, the Cambridge Poetry Festival; a roomful of freelance delegates, all capable of keeping their eyes to the front, on the platform – no droolers, no crisp packet...

A Short History of the Trump Family

Sidney Blumenthal: The First Family

16 February 2017
... The​ most enduring blight left behind by Donald Trump, long after he has  smashed things up, will be the pile of books devoted to trying to make sense of him ...


Perry Anderson: Forget about Paris

23 January 2014
... France is fabled as the land of bureaucratic centralisation, the epitome of administrative reason, where once a year every adolescent takes the same exam on the same day across the country ...


Jeremy Harding: My ’68

19 July 2018
... It seems​ no more than a moment since the recent commemorations of May 1968 – fifty up – were superseded by the anniversary of the June Days in Paris in 1848 ...

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