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Reasons to be Miserable

James Meek: The Day My Pants Froze, 8 July 2004

The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia out in the Cold 
by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy.
Brookings, 303 pp., £13.50, December 2003, 0 8157 3645 2
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... be where they are, or not working at all, but with nowhere else to go. Thus far, the thesis in Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy’s book is right. Anyone who’s visited a Russian government office will have seen one of those gigantic, boastful maps of the country, covering an entire wall. It is only after a while that you realise how misleading the maps ...

Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March 2020, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... or less run by May and her two main advisers: Timothy, the supposedly visionary strategist, and Fiona Hill, who was more street-smart and politically savvy.Everything fell apart on election night, when Hill and Timothy became scapegoats for the loss of the slim majority May inherited from David Cameron. But the real ...

You Know Who You Are

Colin Kidd: About Last Year, 25 January 2018

Fall Out: A Year Of Political Mayhem 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 559 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 0 00 826438 3
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... May as a “captive” or “prisoner”’ of her former joint chiefs of staff, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill. Boris Johnson, letting off steam after a tough session at Number Ten with the chiefs of staff, alluded to Hill’s crusading work against people trafficking: ‘That’s modern slavery, right there.’ Under ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... ensued cost Gove his job as education secretary and May the services of her most trusted adviser, Fiona Hill. But their dispute also had its origins in an incident a year earlier, when Gove had sounded off at a cabinet away day about a Home Office policy that he had come to see as hopelessly inadequate, the so-called Gang Task Force. This was something ...


Peter Pomerantsev: Berezovsky’s Last Days, 25 April 2013

... went on to become full-blown dissidents with arrests and jail terms to show for it. A new book by Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy attempts to draw a psychological portrait of Putin and finds at least six personas in him, from the ‘history man’ to the ‘free marketeer’ (I would add several more to their list).* The condition has made for a generation ...

The Choice Was Real

David Runciman, 29 June 2017

... the blame for the disaster. There is plenty to go around. May’s aides Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill have already been dispatched. Lynton Crosby, the Tories’ campaign guru, has let it be known he had his doubts from the start, thinking it far too risky at a time of global political instability. He could have added that no government should ever ...

Taunted with the Duke of Kent, she married the Aga Khan

Rosemary Hill: Coming Out, 19 October 2006

Last Curtsey: The End of the Debutantes 
by Fiona MacCarthy.
Faber, 305 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 571 22859 3
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... glow of John Betjeman’s ardour. This is just the sort of ‘facile and patronising view’ that Fiona MacCarthy, herself one of those who queued up to curtsey in 1958, is determined to counter. Nearly fifty years on, having spent the intervening decades hoping that nobody would find out about her shamefully smart past, she has decided to tell all and to ...

First Person

Tony Wood: Putin’s Russia, 5 February 2015

‘Sistema’, Power Networks and Informal Governance 
by Alena Ledeneva.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £19.99, February 2013, 978 0 521 12563 5
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The Man without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin 
by Masha Gessen.
Granta, 314 pp., £9.99, January 2013, 978 1 84708 423 1
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Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? 
by Karen Dawisha.
Simon and Schuster, 464 pp., £11.50, September 2014, 978 1 4767 9519 5
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... as well as analyses by academics and think-tankers: Alena Ledeneva’s Can Russia Modernise?, Fiona Hill and Clifford Gaddy’s Mr Putin: Operative in the Kremlin (2013) and Richard Sakwa’s Putin Redux (2014). New Year’s Eve 1999 – when Yeltsin appeared on Russian TV screens to announce his resignation as president in favour of Putin – is ...

Uncle Kingsley

Patrick Parrinder, 22 March 1990

The folks that live on the hill 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 246 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 09 174137 8
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Kingsley Amis: An English Moralist 
by John McDermott.
Macmillan, 270 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 9780333449691
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In the Red Kitchen 
by Michèle Roberts.
Methuen, 148 pp., £11.99, March 1990, 9780413630209
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See Under: Love 
by David Grossman, translated by Betsy Rosenberg.
Cape, 458 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 224 02640 2
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... The folks that live on the hill? It’s not exactly what you’d expect of a Kingsley Amis title, but in another two years the old devil will be 70 and perhaps he is beginning to mellow. John McDermott remarks in his appealing study of Amis’s novels that the hero-as-shit, at large in a world of mutual animosity and obsessive self-interest, is one of their most characteristic figures ...

At the National Gallery of Scotland

Peter Campbell: Joan Eardley, 13 December 2007

... on a chosen bit of coast brings her closer to Frank Auerbach, who has concentrated on Primrose Hill, than to painters who made brush marks more like her own. When you think about what kind of artist she was, putting her child-invaded studio and Lucian Freud’s naked-friend-and-acquaintance-laden chairs and couches side by side suggests a common attitude ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John Hartley Williams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... are donnishly based on literary jokes like these, and probably the best in the book is a Geoffrey Hill parody which pictures Hill playing tennis against his devoted admirer Martin Dodsworth: Who crouches at the net, his mouth compressed Severely to a little Gothic slit? On the whole, though, the book falls well short of ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... were at the time more or less silent witnesses. Among those Thompson should not have ignored are Fiona MacCarthy’s The Last Curtsey (2006), a witty account of coming out at a time when debs were turning into dolly birds, and Elisabeth Luard’s My Life as a Wife (2008). Luard’s book casts a sharp sidelight on the scene Thompson needs to evoke. Her ...

Was Plato too fat?

Rosemary Hill: The Stuff of Life, 10 October 2019

Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life 
by Christopher Forth.
Reaktion, 352 pp., £25, March 2019, 978 1 78914 062 0
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... of obesity, the topic has, as it were, ballooned. Forth’s book joins, among others, David and Fiona Haslam’s Fat, Gluttony and Sloth: Obesity in Literature, Art and Medicine (2009), Sander Gilman’s Obesity: The Biography (2010) and Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting over 2000 Years by Louise Foxcroft (2011). All of these are concerned in ...


Robert Crawford, 3 October 1996

The Poems of Ossian and Related Works 
by James Macpherson, edited by Howard Gaskill.
Edinburgh, 573 pp., £16.95, January 1996, 0 7486 0707 2
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... the Ossianic fragments now we often hear in them the voices of later poets. ‘Who cometh from the hill, like a cloud tinged with the beam of the west? Whose voice is that, loud as the wind, but pleasant as the harp of Carry1?’ To these questions from the fourth fragment, I’m tempted to answer that the voice is that of Walt Whitman, the great self-styled ...

What the doctor said

Edna Longley, 22 March 1990

A New Path to the Waterfall 
by Raymond Carver.
Collins Harvill, 158 pp., £11, September 1989, 0 00 271043 9
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by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 55 pp., £8.99, September 1989, 0 571 14167 6
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Poems 1954-1987 
by Peter Redgrove.
Penguin, 228 pp., £5.99, August 1989, 0 14 058641 5
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The First Earthquake 
by Peter Redgrove.
Secker, 76 pp., £7.50, August 1989, 0 436 41006 0
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Mount Eagle 
by John Montague.
Bloodaxe, 75 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 1 85224 090 3
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The Wreck of the Archangel 
by George Mackay Brown.
Murray, 116 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 7195 4750 4
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The Perfect Man 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Abacus, 96 pp., £3.99, November 1989, 0 349 10122 1
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... However, good intentions are still intentions: This is the slope of loneliness. This is the hill of silence ... A stony patience. This is, in fact, the height of abstraction. Montague’s diction betrays him here, as in the awkward phrase ‘gasps of, glimpses of miracle’. His over-insistent participles and adjectives cannot disguise a deep ...

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