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Defeated Armies

Scott Sherman: Castro in the New York Times

5 July 2007
The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews​ of the ‘New York Times’ 
by Anthony DePalma.
PublicAffairs, 308 pp., £15.99, September 2006, 1 58648 332 3
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... On the evening of 15 February 1957, the New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews stepped into a jeep with some anti-government activists and went to meet the young Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra. Castro was supposed to be dead: sailing from Mexico a few months earlier, he had ...
21 February 1991
About Turn. The Communist Party and the Outbreak of the Second World War: The Verbatim Record of the Central Committee Meetings 1939 
edited by Francis King and George Matthews.
Lawrence and Wishart, 318 pp., £34.95, November 1990, 9780853157267
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... In December 1989, as Nicolae Ceausescu was led out from the courtroom in Tirgoviste to his summary execution, he began to hum the opening bars of the ‘Internationale’. More than four decades earlier, Primo Levi recalled that as the Red Army speechlessly liberated the fortunate few from Auschwitz, a fellow survivor, a German named Thylle, sat on his bunk and sang the ‘Internationale’ too: ‘in ...

The Unrewarded End

V.G. Kiernan: Memories of the CP

17 September 1998
The Death of Uncle Joe 
by Alison Macleod.
Merlin, 269 pp., £9.95, May 1997, 0 85036 467 1
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Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party 
by Francis Beckett.
Merlin, 253 pp., £9.95, August 1998, 0 85036 477 9
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... sorry to be leaving him. Of the younger men coming to the fore, John Gollan, Pollitt’s successor – though the latter continued to dominate, she believes – was a likeable character; and GeorgeMatthews (still active today) seemed, as he did to everyone, a man full of ‘earnest honesty’. The Party set up in 1920 was designed to be ready for immediate action. Its modes of speech might suggest that ...

Cadres

Eric Hobsbawm: Communism in Britain

26 April 2007
The Lost World of British Communism 
by Raphael Samuel.
Verso, 244 pp., £19.99, November 2006, 1 84467 103 8
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Communists and British Society 1920-91 
by Kevin Morgan, Gidon Cohen and Andrew Flinn.
Rivers Oram, 356 pp., £16.99, January 2007, 978 1 85489 145 7
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Bolshevism and the British Left, Part One: Labour Legends and Russian Gold 
by Kevin Morgan.
Lawrence and Wishart, 320 pp., £18.99, March 2007, 978 1 905007 25 7
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... and formal education, both forces de-proletarianising what had been an essentially working-class body. In the 1950s, Harry Pollitt could still veto the appointment of the middle-class former student GeorgeMatthews as his successor and insist on the worker John Gollan. Some twenty years later the industrial organisers of the Party were a Canadian lawyer and the son of an academic, and no adequately ...

Carry on up the Corner Flag

R.W. Johnson: The sociology of football

24 July 2003
Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War 
by Simon Kuper.
Orion, 244 pp., £14.99, January 2003, 0 7528 5149 7
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Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 342 pp., £17.99, February 2003, 9780743220798
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... FA secretary, had decided this would be a good thing – after all, they had given the Fascist salute in Rome and that had gone down well. Kuper quotes extensively from the autobiographies of Stanley Matthews and the England captain, Eddie Hapgood, who insist that the team stoutly resisted the idea of giving the salute: Hapgood (so they say) even wagged his finger at the FA official who instructed them to ...

Higher Man

John Sutherland

22 May 1997
The Turner Diaries 
by ‘Andrew Macdonald’.
National Vauguard Books, 211 pp., $12.95, May 1978, 0 937944 02 5
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... in 1962. He taught at Oregon State University from 1962 to 1965, before giving up his academic career ‘to devote himself to the service of his people’. In the mid-Sixties he was an aide to George Lincoln Rockwell, editing the American Nazi Party’s magazine, National Socialist World. In late 1967 the ‘American Führer’ (as Rockwell called himself) was assassinated by a disaffected ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Stirrers Up of Strife

17 March 2016
... anti-immigrant prejudice with appalling consistency, but he has also said the Iraq War brought more harm than good and that the avoidable attack of 11 September 2001 stemmed from the incompetence of George W. Bush. Sanders, for his part, mentions with pride his vote against the Iraq War and his aim of delivering national healthcare to all Americans. The extreme positions and the truths that can’t be ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake

20 August 1981
The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... the repeal of stamp duty in 1855 and, above all, the removal of the tax on paper – an episode which produced a clash between Lords and Commons that prefigured the great row about the Lloyd George Budget in 1909. These financial restrictions dated back to 1712. In the early 18th century journalism was vituperative, venomous and virulent, as well as being frequently obscene and licentious. The ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937

24 September 2009
Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... in Barcelona and may have accounted for her charm in Charles and Lois’s eyes. For all their zeal, they were a lively, sociable couple. The fourth member of the party on that bucolic outing was George Tioli, an ‘Italian boy . . . quite a civilised and interesting person’. Tioli was a ‘child-psychologist’ according to Lois, who disapproved of all psychology, and according to Charles ‘a ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett

30 January 1992
... I’ve always had a soft spot for George III, starting all of forty years ago when I was in the sixth form at Leeds Modern School and reading for a scholarship to Cambridge. The smart book around that time was Herbert Butterfield’s The ...
4 December 1980
My Life with Nye 
by Jennie Lee.
Cape, 277 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 224 01785 3
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Debts of Honour 
by Michael Foot.
Davis-Poynter, 240 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7067 6243 6
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... I possess ... ’ There is a time to be very dry and a time to let it all hang out, especially if you wish to argue without wounding. Foot tells the tale of Russell receiving the Order of Merit from George VI – who remarked: ‘You have sometimes behaved in a way which would not do if generally adopted.’ Russell wanted to reply: ‘Like your brother!’ But that would have been hitting below the ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce

22 October 1992
Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... ten-pound notes’, he was nevertheless a superior article in every imaginable way to the brutish units of accountancy constituting the present. All the successors, the amiable if cack-handed Victor Matthews, his feverish mayor of the palace, Jocelyn Stevens, and subsequent persons deepening the descent, still aspired to Beaverbrook’s peremptory ways, his habit of punting enthusiasms and nominating ...
10 May 1990
The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... Christian values and the family as the basis of civilised life’. But this is not to say that there is any general reluctance to tick off the dead. Dick Emery was ‘a talent sadly unfulfilled’, George Brown’s career was ‘hampered’ by ‘his explosive temperament, often aggravated by alcohol’, Enid Bagnold was ‘too fond of the great and the grand to be taken seriously by the literary ...

Not Pleasing the Tidy-Minded

Ross McKibbin: Postwar Britain

24 April 2008
Austerity Britain, 1945-51 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 692 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 7475 7985 4
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... and attitudes of everyday life. But it is also a problematic source: it is hard to capture the everyday. The mass observers tend either to emphasise the extraordinary and odd (as in the study of King George VI’s coronation day) and the quirky gripe – like the observer quoted here who noted that in his neighbourhood the black market was based ‘in the local Conservative Clubs’ – or the reverse ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Sport Poetry

23 January 1986
... footballers which, sad to say, are now looking a bit long in the shorts. From time to time, this poet sounds like Ezra Pound addressing his first publisher:The greatest of all time, veraglioso,   Matthews,Stoke City, Blackpool and England.His first game, though, is cricket, and it is usually Sussex CCC he has in mind when he is musing on the heroic possibilities of ‘poetry in action’. He himself ...

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