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The Lesson of Swaffham Down

W.R. Mead, 5 March 1981

The Theft of the Countryside 
by Marion Shoard.
Temple Smith, 269 pp., £9, October 1980, 0 85117 200 8
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Britain’s Wasting Acres 
by Graham Moss.
Architectural Press, 230 pp., £13.50, February 1981, 0 85139 078 1
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... are being wasted. He contrasts the neglect of the inner city with the continuing expansion of the urban area over so much of the country’s highest-quality farmland. He estimates that between 3 and 4 per cent of the country’s surface area is wasted, that wasted land in urban areas alone is as extensive as the area ...

Neo-Catastrophism

Eric Klinenberg: Sinful Cities?, 9 October 2003

The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea 
by Thomas Bender.
New Press, 287 pp., $30, September 2002, 1 56584 736 9
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Dead Cities: and Other Tales 
by Mike Davis.
New Press, 448 pp., $16.95, October 2003, 1 56584 844 6
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... In the 1990s New York was the capital city of America’s economic boom: now it is the epicentre of urban insecurity. The city is familiar with crisis, however, and no one could say it had surrendered to the new and old dangers it faces. Although disaster experts warn that a dirty bomb could result in the evacuation of millions of panicked residents and require the demolition of contaminated buildings and streets, the demand for real estate continues to escalate and housing prices are higher than they were in 2001 ...

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 ...

Biogspeak

Terry Eagleton, 21 September 1995

George Eliot: A Biography 
by Frederick Karl.
HarperCollins, 708 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 00 255574 3
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... ephemeral enthusiast of Comtean Positivism, assistant editor of the Westminster Review, George Eliot had, from a typically English standpoint, exactly the wrong credentials for launching herself, fairly late in the day, as a writer of imaginative fiction. One might add that she had the wrong sort of body, too; but to recall her sex is to resolve the ...

Give me calf’s tears

John Sturrock, 11 November 1999

George Sand: A Woman’s Life Writ Large 
by Belinda Jack.
Chatto, 412 pp., £20, August 1999, 0 7011 6647 9
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... in A la recherche du temps perdu – and also the last, one complete, 2500-page orbit later – is George Sand’s François le champi, the first ‘real’ novel the narrator remembers having read. Or rather, remembers having had read to him, by his mother on that seminal evening of anxiety when she fails to come up and give him a goodnight kiss. The ...

Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997

New cloak, Old dagger: How Britain’s Spies Came in from the Cold 
by Michael Smith.
Gollancz, 338 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 575 06150 2
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Intelligence Power in Peace and War 
by Michael Herman.
Cambridge, 436 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 521 56231 7
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UK Eyes Alpha 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 320 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 571 17689 5
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... Duff became head of MI5 in 1984 he was keen to reduce the importance of F Branch. As he told Mark Urban, he was supported by the majority of his staff ‘except for a handful of old sweats in middle management’. Duff seems to have been a new force within MI5: one intelligence officer told Urban admiringly that ‘he could ...

Purges and Paranoia

Ella George, 24 May 2018

... Turkifying, state-centric ideology of the founding vanguard came to be known, was supported by the urban elites of the country’s western cities, but elsewhere – in the Anatolian provinces and the south-east, the area closest to the Middle East – the reforms achieved at best a superficial penetration. Nearly a century later, a new cultural revolution is ...

The Bloody Sixth

Joshua Brown: The Real Gangs of New York, 23 January 2003

The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld 
by Herbert Asbury.
Arrow, 366 pp., £6.99, January 2003, 0 09 943674 4
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Gangs of New York 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
December 2002
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... harbour (which never happened), is a confused mess, but is intended to show that this semi-feudal urban world ended in 1863. The few historical figures introduced to bolster the movie’s plot – the future Tammany Hall boss William M. Tweed, Archbishop John Hughes and the showman P.T. Barnum – are either transported backwards in time or engage in ...

America Explodes

Adam Shatz, 18 June 2020

... paths with a white woman and her dog in Central Park on the morning of 25 May, the same day George Floyd was killed when a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for nine minutes. There are ‘white spaces’ in Central Park, and the Ramble, a wooded area popular with birdwatchers, is one of them. Cooper is 57 – almost exactly the age Joe ...

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

Peter Clarke, 18 May 1989

The Pleasures of the Past 
by David Cannadine.
Collins, 338 pp., £17.50, March 1989, 0 00 215664 4
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... He is, of course, an immensely prolific writer, who has published one well-regarded monograph on urban landlords, a sheaf of learned articles on cognate aspects of economic history, and a mixed handful of speculative and wide-ranging essays. But he is not chiefly renowned for his own research: instead his reputation is sustained by his literary talents. This ...

Diary

Peter Campbell: In the Park, 19 August 2004

... moralists who thought façade painting as disreputable as face painting. The great protagonist of urban stucco, the designer whose fresh-as-paint parks and park-side buildings are most generous to the changing appearance of the people around them, is John Nash. His career can be followed in the pictures in the late Michael Mansbridge’s illustrated catalogue ...

At Pallant House

Rosemary Hill: Victor Pasmore, 20 April 2017

... Burra. Burra’s big watercolour The Straw Man (1963) – showing a group of male figures on urban wasteland, involved in some kind of ritual dance or game with a sinister undertow – has qualities Pasmore lacks: energy, wit and particularity. The last section of Towards a New Reality is the most satisfying. Covering Pasmore’s Constructivist phase and ...

Diary

Rose George: Travels in the Sewers, 11 May 2006

... by rats. But these men report only goldfish and terrapins. There are no alligators: that’s an urban myth. Apart from the hand grenade, they’ve never found any explosives either. ‘There are sewers,’ Smith says later, standing in front of a huge sewer map in his office, ‘that run very close to places you couldn’t otherwise get access to.’ He ...

Where are all the people?

Owen Hatherley: Jane Jacobs, 27 July 2017

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 512 pp., £34, September 2016, 978 0 307 96190 7
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Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs 
edited by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring.
Random House, 544 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 0 399 58960 7
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... to live in the city would have been seen as just a little weird’. She gathered the dominant urban ideas of the era together into a scathing portmanteau: ‘Radiant Garden City Beautiful’. Its components were Le Corbusier’s mid-1930s ‘Radiant City’, a vision of a city of towers in landscaped parkland, where housing was rigorously zoned to ...

Questions of Chic

Michael Mason, 19 August 1993

City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London 
by Judith Walkowitz.
Virago, 353 pp., £16.99, November 1992, 1 85381 517 9
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Cruelty and Companionship: Conflict in 19th-century Married Life 
by James Hammerton.
Routledge, 236 pp., £37.50, November 1992, 0 415 03622 4
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Victorian Scandals: Representations of Gender and Class 
edited by Kristine Ottersen Garrigan.
Ohio, 337 pp., $34.99, August 1992, 0 8214 1019 9
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... illustrations. The result was a book which is still full of important insights about 19th-century urban Britain that remain to be explored, and of ideas for factual enquiry that remain to be exploited. Here is what Dyos and Wolff had to say about their subtitle: We do not see in one camp the historians of fact all brimming with realities and in another the ...

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