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13 May 1993
Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... was both risky and a radical departure from the paper’s traditional methods of recruiting staff. Whether I would have been quite so ebullient about it if I had known what I know now, after reading GeoffreyTaylor’s riveting book, is another matter entirely. To be sure, I knew that the dear old Grauniad was not exactly flush – my new salary would have told me that even if I hadn’t noticed that one ...

Nobody wants it

José Harris

5 December 1991
Letters to Eva, 1969-1983 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Eva Haraszti Taylor.
Century, 486 pp., £20, June 1991, 0 7126 4634 5
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... A cynic? How can I not be when I have spent my life writing history?’ Alan Taylor’s love letters to his Hungarian third wife created a predictably prurient, though transient, stir when they were published earlier this year. Their more lasting interest may lie in the light that ...
18 July 1985
The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement ...

Lucky Boy

Kevin Kopelson

3 April 1997
Shine 
directed by Scott Hicks.
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Shine: The Screenplay 
by Jan Sardi.
Bloomsbury, 176 pp., £7.99, January 1997, 0 7475 3173 0
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The Book of David 
by Beverley Eley.
HarperCollins, 285 pp., £8.99, March 1997, 0 207 19105 0
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Love You to Bits and Pieces: Life with David Helfgott 
by Gillian Helfgott, with Alissa Tanskaya.
Penguin, 337 pp., £6.99, January 1997, 0 14 026546 5
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... for purposes of telephonic seduction, Tristan-esque trip-taking.’ Now comes Scott Hicks’s Shine, an equally arty but commercially viable biopic about a man – David Helfgott (played by Geoffrey Rush, Noah Taylor and Alex Rafalowicz) – who is abnormally inarticulate. Helfgott’s very first words are: ‘Kissed them all, I kissed them all, always kissed cats, puss-cats, kissed them, always ...

Heat-Seeking

Susan Pedersen: A.J.P. Taylor

10 May 2007
A.J.P. TaylorRadical Historian of Europe 
by Chris Wrigley.
Tauris, 439 pp., £25, August 2006, 1 86064 286 1
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... This is the third full biography of A.J.P. Taylor to appear since his death in 1990. I find this fact almost more interesting than anything in the biographies themselves. For more than two decades after the war Taylor was, very nearly, the public ...

What Philosophers Dream Of

Geoffrey​ Hawthorn: Bernard Williams

1 July 2015
Essays and Reviews 1959-2002 
by Bernard Williams.
Princeton, 435 pp., £24.95, January 2014, 978 0 691 15985 0
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... of civil rights in the 1960s and the domestic consequences of the Vietnam War, but these events don’t explain why Rawls and Dworkin and others wrote what they did. Those of us who, as Charles Taylor put it in Sources of the Self, ‘feel particularly strongly the demand for universal justice and beneficence, are particularly sensitive to the claims of equality, feel the demands to freedom and ...

Short Cuts

Geoffrey​ Wheatcroft: Gordon Brown

7 June 2007
... that ‘the enormous condescension of posterity’ seem to be the only words of E.P. Thompson’s that anyone now remembers, but even that has eluded Brown, who attributes the phrase to A.J.P. Taylor. This is a mistake a competent ghost-writer might have avoided. But our new prime minister should be able to fend off any doubts about authorship. Cavell ‘sought to replicate those exacting ...

Adjusting the Mechanism

Colin Burrow: Robert Graves

11 October 2018
Robert Graves: From a Great War Poet to ‘Goodbye to All That’, 1895-1929 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 461 pp., £25, August 2018, 978 1 4729 2914 3
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The Reader over Your Shoulder: A Handbook for Writers of English Prose 
by Robert Graves and Alan Hodge.
Seven Stories, 613 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 60980 733 7
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... a flat in London, where they set up a private press in emulation of the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press. They became keen to incorporate in what they now called the ‘Holy Circle’ the strikingly handsome Geoffrey Phibbs, later known as GeoffreyTaylor. After some months with Graves and Riding (who insisted on burning Phibbs’s clothes and confiscating his books as part of his induction into the circle ...

All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union

19 October 2000
British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... Governments and James Callaghan’s 1976-79 Administration spent more time cajoling, ‘standing up to’, browbeating, placating and schmoozing with union leaders than with any other group. Robert Taylor’s close account of the TUC has in it some wonderfully revealing passages on these (and other) periods: none so rich as the gathering of 1 June 1969 at Chequers which brought together Wilson, his ...

Out of Germany

E.S. Shaffer

2 October 1980
The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought 1800-1860 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £14.50, April 1980, 0 521 22560 4
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Criticism in the Wilderness. The Study of Literature Today 
by Geoffrey​ Hartman.
Yale, 314 pp., £11.40, October 1980, 0 300 02085 6
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... Rosemary Ashton traces the impact of some German writers, especially Goethe, on the British periodicals and on four writers, Coleridge, Carlyle, Eliot and Lewes; Geoffrey Hartman ranges widely through 19th and 20th-century criticism in pursuit of the idea of philosophic criticism, as it derived from Friedrich Schlegel and his German contemporaries. For both authors to ...

War and Peace

A.J.P. Taylor

2 October 1980
Humanity in Warfare: the Modern History of the International Law of Armed Conflicts 
by Geoffrey​ Best.
Weidenfeld, 400 pp., £15, September 1980, 0 297 77737 8
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Pacifism in Britain 1914-1945: the Defining of a Faith 
by Martin Caedel.
Oxford, 342 pp., £12.50, August 1980, 0 19 821882 6
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... jus ad bellum has proved a will o’ the wisp, though still actively pursued by some. The lesser attempt to moderate or even to civilise war has been more rewarding. This jus in bello is the topic of Geoffrey Best’s fascinating book, a volume replete with scholarship and brilliant presentation. Moderate or civilised wars can only operate within certain limitations. They are almost impossible when there ...
24 June 1993
Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey​ Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... essentially’. As well as being, to my mind, factually wrong, his contention is based on a greatly exaggerated dichotomy between industry, on the one hand, and finance and commerce, on the other. As Geoffrey Jones points out in his clear, sober and authoritative history of British multinational banking, the strength of those banks in the 19th century rested on British economic and political pre-eminence ...
16 October 1980
The Duchess of Windsor 
by Diana Mosley.
Sidgwick, 219 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 9780283986284
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... has had the worst of it. The Duke, after the first accusations of dereliction of duty wore off, has been blamed principally for silliness, which is commonly supposed not to be a moral quality. Geoffrey Bocca’s She might have been Queen (1955), for instance, bears out the title by recording the long series of fatal mistakes made by the King/Duke at the time of the Abdication; it reads like a ...

Reasons

Geoffrey​ Hawthorn

1 April 1983
A Treatise on Social Theory. Vol. I: The Methodology of Social Theory 
by W.G. Runciman.
Cambridge, 350 pp., £25, March 1983, 0 521 24906 6
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... invaluable antidote to fundholders, or of Angela Carter to say that discrete sex in tight little bright little rooms produces some sort of stain on the moral fabric. But the fact remains, as Charles Taylor once put it, that there is a ‘value-slope’ in our accounts which, if left to itself, without countervailing argument, does tend to commend or condemn. Second, and much more interestingly ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey​ Parker

4 September 1980
Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... a penetrating one: if they saw more, they probably would not see so keenly, nor so eagerly pursue one course of the second living historian to be profiled in the Journal of Modern History, A. J. P. Taylor: ‘Error can often be fertile, but perfection is always sterile.’9 ...

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