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In the Line of Fire

George O’Brien: The Sniper, 28 November 2002

... According to one early theory, the reason some of the murder sites were close to branches of Michael’s, the craft-store chain, was that the shooter wished to be thought of as the Archangel Michael, expecting the cowed populace to recall the name’s meaning (‘who is like God’) and to realise the end was nigh. The ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... feature came to be the provision of music, which is fascinatingly discussed by Stanford Lehmberg. George Herbert went twice a week to Salisbury Cathedral, ‘and at his return, he would say that his time spent in prayers and cathedral music elevated his soul and was heaven on earth.’ Cathedral choirs sang the difficult music of Tallis, Byrd and ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ides of March’, 1 December 2011

The Ides of March 
directed by George Clooney.
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... George Clooney’s The Ides of March is a slow and modest political drama that often feels like a faster and better thriller. There’s no crime, just misbehaviour and deals and dangerous knowledge, but it generates quite a bit of the suspense and discomfort we associate with crime movies. We don’t want the truth of the story to be true, and we wish the characters would not act in the way they have already set about acting ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Swing Time’, 4 April 2019

... careful, non-intrusive touch of the directors (Mark Sandrich for Top Hat and Shall We Dance and George Stevens for Swing Time); and there are the differences among Irving Berlin (Top Hat), Jerome Kern (Swing Time) and George Gershwin (Shall We Dance) as composers. There is some amazing dialogue (in this case by Allan ...

Vicarious Sages

Michael Mason, 3 November 1983

John Forster: A Literary Life 
by James Davies.
Leicester University Press, 318 pp., £25, June 1983, 0 7185 1164 6
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Mr George Eliot: A Biography of George Henry Lewes 
by David Williams.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, June 1983, 0 340 25717 2
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Johnnie Cross 
by Terence de Vere White.
Gollancz, 153 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 575 03333 9
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... after the death of either man. The coincidence is made more striking by the similarities between George Henry Lewes and John Forster. They were two of the stars of Victorian literary journalism: much in demand as editors, and absolutely reliable in their capacity to produce essays and reviews of first-rate quality on a huge range of topics at an intimidating ...

Ediepus

Michael Neve, 18 November 1982

Edie: An American Biography 
by Jean Stein and George Plimpton.
Cape, 455 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 0 224 02068 4
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Baby Driver: A Story About Myself 
by Jan Kerouac.
Deutsch, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 233 97487 3
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... a haunted history stretching from 1774 to the present: the author, Jean Stein, and her co-editor, George Plimpton, of the Paris Review, acknowledge the familial dimension by providing a ‘genealogy of principal characters’ near the end of the book. The founding father was Judge Theodore Sedgwick who came to Stockbridge ‘after the Revolution’, and who ...

Pouting

Karl Miller: Smiley and Bingham, 9 May 2013

A Delicate Truth 
by John le Carré.
Viking, 310 pp., £18.99, April 2013, 978 0 670 92279 6
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The Man Who Was George Smiley: The Life of John Bingham 
by Michael Jago.
Biteback, 308 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 1 84954 513 6
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... Bear of that night sky being the series of novels lit by the round English gentleman, spymaster George Smiley, he who wipes his glasses with the thick end of his unfailing tie. Among the features of these spy stories is a concern with patriotism and uncertainty, not least with the uncertainties of patriotism. There are passages which can be hard to ...

The Charm before the Storm

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 9 July 1987

Speak, Memory 
by Vladimir Nabokov.
Penguin, 242 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008623 4
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The Russian Album 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 191 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3109 8
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The Making of a Peacemonger: The Memoirs of George Ignatieff 
prepared in association with by Sonja Sinclair.
Toronto, 265 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 8020 2556 0
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A Little of All These: An Estonian Childhood 
by Tania Alexander.
Cape, 165 pp., £12.50, March 1987, 0 224 02400 0
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... way, I inherited an exquisite simulacrum – the beauty of intangible property, unreal estate.’ Michael Ignatieff was born in Canada in the 1940s. ‘My friends,’ he remarks a little sheepishly at the start of his book, ‘had suburban pasts or pasts they would rather not talk about. I had a past of Tsarist adventurers, survivors of revolutions, heroic ...

Mirror Images

Jenny Diski: Piers Morgan, 31 March 2005

The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade 
by Piers Morgan.
Ebury, 484 pp., £17.99, March 2005, 0 09 190506 0
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... as an editor. His narrative is entirely about being taken seriously by Elton John, Princess Diana, George Michael, Anthea Turner, Richard Branson, Paul McCartney, Patsy Kensit, Ian Botham, Jordan, Mohammed al Fayed, Cherie Blair, Alastair Campbell, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair. (If there are names in that list you haven’t heard of, don’t worry, none ...

His Greatest Pretend

Dinah Birch: The man behind Pan, 1 September 2005

Hide-and-Seek with Angels: A Life of J.M. Barrie 
by Lisa Chaney.
Hutchinson, 402 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 09 179539 7
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... straddled stance became emblematic of the irresponsibility of Peter Pan, the immortal boy. George Frampton’s familiar statue in Kensington Gardens fixed the image, with the addition of pan pipes turning David’s whistle into something that fused the glamour of those Housman called the ‘lads that will die in their glory and never be old’ with the ...

Mothers

Michael Church, 18 April 1985

Gypsy and Me: At Home and on the Road with Gypsy Rose Lee 
by Erik Lee Preminger.
Deutsch, 277 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 233 97736 8
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George Thomas, Mr Speaker: The Memoirs of Viscount Tonypandy 
Century, 242 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 7126 0706 4Show More
Toff down Pit 
by Kit Fraser.
Quartet, 129 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 7043 2513 6
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Menlove: The Life of John Menlove Edwards 
by Jim Perrin.
Gollancz, 347 pp., £14.95, February 1985, 0 575 03571 4
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... her early death from cancer, in a rush of love. There seems to have been nothing problematic about George Thomas’s relationship with his mother, even if he has dedicated his memoirs not to her but to the Mother of Parliaments. His mercifully long-lived Mam was, he tells us in his first paragraph, ‘the single most important influence in my life’, and that ...

Signora Zabaggy

Michael Rose, 2 August 1984

All Visitors Ashore 
by C.K. Stead.
Harvill, 150 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 00 271009 9
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A Trick of the Light 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Bodley Head, 204 pp., £7.95, July 1984, 0 370 30589 2
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Dividing Lines 
by Victor Sage.
Chatto, 166 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 7011 2811 9
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... brave attempt at a taxing subject. The opening pages of A Trick of the Light give us Wyn Douglas, George Grillet, and London. Douglas, marginal urban man, a fixer, a reporter, an intriguer, scurries about the underside of the city with plans for the dispossessed. George Grillet, 25, Anglo-French, vacationing in England ...

Ready for a Rematch

Michael Byers: The Bushes and Saddam Hussein, 8 February 2001

... Tribalism may soon become the determinating factor in White House decision-making as well, for George W. Bush and his entourage don’t deal in shades of grey. As far as they’re concerned, the distinctions between good and evil, right and wrong, us and them, are perfectly clear; and within this world of absolutes the family feud is alive and well. After ...

Over the Top

Michael Howard, 8 February 1996

A Genius for War: A Life of General George Patton 
by Carlo D’Este.
HarperCollins, 977 pp., £25, November 1995, 0 00 215882 5
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... Mad, is he?’ George II is reported to have said of General Wolfe; ‘Then I wish he would bite some of my other generals!’ Both remarks might have been made about General George S. Patton Jr, and no doubt frequently were. His sanity was seriously in question. As S.L.A. Marshall, the most judicious of American military historians, put it: ‘Any man who thinks that he is the reincarnation of Hannibal or some such isn’t quite possessed of all his buttons ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Behind the Candelabra’, 4 July 2013

Behind the Candelabra 
directed by Steven Soderbergh.
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... died in 1987. In the movie the performances keep pace with the glitter and the hokum for a while. Michael Douglas as Liberace acts up onstage and off, twinkles with a coy kindness that is all self-admiration but quite fetching even so; Damon is bewildered and wary and captivated in just the right proportions, and his shift from baffled gay guy into trinketed ...

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