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‘Spurious’ is the word we want

Ian Gilmour, 28 November 1996

Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher 
by George Urban.
Tauris, 206 pp., £19.95, September 1996, 1 86064 084 2
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... This book tells how the author fell in and out of love with Margaret Thatcher. Although George Urban found her ‘an attractive lady’, with ‘the movements, the legs and walk of a young woman’, his love affair was wholly ideological. Urban, who is or was on the extreme right, was attracted by ‘the great spirit that animated her policies in many areas’; and he greatly admired her ‘galvanisation of the British people at a time of accelerating decline’; yet it was her attitude to foreign policy which chiefly excited his passion ...

Urban Messthetics

John Mullan: Black and Asian writers in London, 18 November 2004

London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City 
by Sukhdev Sandhu.
Harper Perennial, 498 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 00 653214 4
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... books and films are invariably expressions of enthusiasm, celebrating the imaginative freedoms of urban life: for black and Asian writers, London is a place not of exile or alienation, but of ‘self-expansion’. Sandhu’s story gets going in the 18th century. There were blacks in London before then, but he wants to ‘show how they have depicted the ...

Did Lloyd George mean war?

Michael Brock, 26 November 1987

David Lloyd GeorgeA Political Life. The Architect of Change, 1863-1912 
by Bentley Brinkerhoff Gilbert.
Batsford, 546 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 7134 5558 6
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... facts. All his skills were needed here: during some seventeen years of ministerial life Lloyd George took a hand in five books about himself, and much distortion resulted. After the war, for instance, Ll.G. hoped that his long struggle against Naval expenditure had been forgotten. He recorded that in July 1908 he had told the German Ambassador of his ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice, 11 October 2018

... print, Esso Station and Tenement House, Hoboken, New Jersey (the photograph can be seen in George Tice: A Celebration, at the Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York until 13 October). In the foreground is an Esso gas station, a Ford Fairlane parked behind the pumps, filling up, a fluorescent logo above the white office area, the entire station ...

The Man Who Stood Behind the Man Who Won the War

E.H.H. Green: Andrew Bonar Law, 16 September 1999

Bonar Law 
by R.J.Q. Adams.
Murray, 458 pp., £25, April 1999, 0 7195 5422 5
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... victory as leader, in 1922, and only then, some would say, because he was more obviously not Lloyd George than anyone else. He can claim no great legislative programme – no equivalent of Baldwin’s ‘new Conservatism’, Churchill’s ‘new Elizabethans’ or ‘Thatcherism’. Meeting him socially, the young Harold Macmillan found him a crashing bore and ...

Townlords

Sidney Pollard, 2 April 1981

Lords and Landlords: The Aristocracy and the Towns, 1774-1967 
by David Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 494 pp., £19, July 1980, 0 7185 1152 2
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... part of the answer is to be found in the fact that landlords were the beneficiaries of rents from urban as well as agricultural properties, and as towns and industry began to grow, so did some landlords’ incomes. This growth, it is true, was selective – a lucky family here, a fortunate Oxbridge college or public school there – but altogether, when the ...

Dreams of Fair Game

George Woodcock, 20 May 1982

Maps and Dreams 
by Hugh Brody.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 297 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 906908 76 0
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... large supply of meat, and a household that experiences the remorseless and debilitating effects of urban poverty.’ As Brody demonstrates, up to now the Beavers have always had ‘a reliable and large supply of meat’: depending on the reservation and its closeness to good hunting grounds, they consume between one and two pounds of meat per day per ...

Eurocommunism

Peter Sedgwick, 17 September 1981

The Changing Face of Western Communism 
edited by David Childs.
Croom Helm, 288 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 85664 734 9
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The Politics of Eurocommunism: Socialism in Transition 
edited by Carl Boggs and David Plotke.
Macmillan, 476 pp., £12.50, June 1980, 0 333 29546 3
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Power and the Party: Changing Faces of Communism in Western Europe 
by Keith Middlemas.
Deutsch, 400 pp., £14.95, July 1980, 0 233 97151 3
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... a common enough formulation among the interpreters of Western Communist behaviour nowadays: thus George Urban, in prefacing a series of interviews with PCI leaders which he conducted for Encounter and Radio Free Europe, has concluded that ‘Eurocommunism is a freak which must either end in Social Democracy or revert to some form of Leninism.’ On the ...

Perestroika and its Discontents

John Lloyd, 11 July 1991

Moscow and Beyond: 1986-1989 
by Andrei Sakharov.
Hutchinson, 168 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 09 174972 7
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Fatal Half-Measures: The Allure of Democracy in the Soviet Union 
by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, edited and translated by Antonia Bovis.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 316 96883 8
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... same time as Mrs Kennedy’s stockings were drying, observed in a 1988 Encounter interview with George Urban that to equate Nazism and Communism was the reflex of the country club bar. Marxism, in its various transformations and dilutions, provides no excuse for the falsifications, compromises and self-deceit which Communists had to practise, but it ...

The Need for Buddies

Roy Porter, 22 June 2000

British Clubs and Societies 1580-1800: The Origins of an Associational World 
by Peter Clark.
Oxford, 516 pp., £60, January 2000, 0 19 820376 4
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... or Athenaeum, before sorting out the world’s evils. But as Peter Clark, Britain’s leading urban historian, notes in a characteristically fact-packed but thoughtful study, that most English of institutions was going strong long before then. Indeed, Sam Johnson’s beloved ‘clubbable’ men must have been in clover in 18th-century England. In those ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... A folk memory of industrial squalor and urban overcrowding persists in the minds of public and planners alike,’ Richard Rogers and Anne Power argue in Cities for a Small Country, ‘and fuels an almost obsessive desire for low-density, suburban homes.’ What happened, they ask, to ‘the English love of cities’? Should we blame the town planner Ebenezer Howard for the love affair with suburbia that replaced it? Howard imagined that the problem of London could be solved only by its extinction ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele, 6 April 1995

‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... to the building trades, could suddenly find himself responsible for constructing such a complex urban environment. He was fortunate to find early masters, Robert Foote and then John Baird, and in all likelihood they introduced the aspiring architect to the ideas that were to transform his art and profession: historicism and comparative architectural ...

No Bottle

Rose George: Water, 18 December 2014

Drinking Water: A History 
by James Salzman.
Overlook Duckworth, 320 pp., £9.99, October 2013, 978 0 7156 4528 4
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Parched City: A History of London’s Public and Private Drinking Water 
by Emma Jones.
Zero Books, 361 pp., £17.99, June 2013, 978 1 78099 158 0
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Water 4.0: The Past, Present and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource 
by David Sedlak.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, March 2014, 978 0 300 17649 0
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... which Sedlak defines as a revolution in which sewage treatment plants became a standard feature of urban water systems. He doesn’t mention Milan, but like Salzman and Jones, he does confine his attention to the industrialised urban model of drinking water. I am sympathetic to this narrow vision, since outside cities things ...

Successive Applications of Sticking-Plaster

Andrew Saint: The urban history of Britain, 1 November 2001

The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. Vol. III: 1840-1950 
edited by Martin Daunton.
Cambridge, 944 pp., £90, January 2001, 0 521 41707 4
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... Do the authors of this volume of the Cambridge Urban History know how gloomy a book they have written? Pessimism suffuses these pages from start almost to finish. ‘Why have so many of Britain’s great cities fared so badly in the 20th century?’ Peter Clark, the general editor of the series, asks in his preface ...

Homely Virtues

David Cannadine, 4 August 1983

London: The Unique City 
by Steen Eiler Rasmussen.
MIT, 468 pp., £7.30, May 1982, 0 262 68027 0
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Town Planning in London: The 18th and 19th Centuries 
by Donald Olsen.
Yale, 245 pp., £25, October 1982, 0 300 02914 4
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The English Terraced House 
by Stefan Muthesius.
Yale, 278 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 300 02871 7
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London as it might have been 
by Felix Barker and Ralph Hyde.
Murray, 223 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 7195 3857 2
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... finance, fashion and culture, thereby concentrating in one swollen metropolis all those diverse urban functions which, in the United States, were divided up between Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, and in France were shared by Paris, Versailles, Lyons, Marseilles and Bordeaux. So, as Henry James explained, ‘one has not the alternative of ...

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