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Shining Pink

Tam Dalyell, 23 May 1985

Death of a Rose-Grower: Who killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Graham Smith.
Cecil Woolf, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1985, 0 900821 76 0
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... operation, apart from the one set up in the wake of the Brighton bombing. This 96-page book, by Graham Smith, tackles the mystery in an unusual and imaginative way. We have ‘Hilda’s Tale’: the background of her life until she sold her garden to Percy Thrower. There follows the ‘Detective’s Tale’: a factual account of the original police ...

Disgrace Abounding

E.S. Turner, 7 January 1988

A Class Society at War: England 1914-18 
by Bernard Waites.
Berg, 303 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 907582 65 6
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Working for Victory? Images of Women in the First World War 
by Diana Condell and Jean Liddiard.
Routledge, 201 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7102 0974 6
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The Countryside at War 1914-18 
by Caroline Dakers.
Constable, 238 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 0 09 468060 4
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When Jim Crow met John Bull: Black American Soldiers in World War Two Britain 
by Graham Smith.
Tauris, 265 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 9781850430391
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... racial pride and the fabric of Empire.) The colour problem returned with a vengeance in 1942, as Graham Smith unsparingly describes in When Jim Crow met John Bull. The British Cabinet groaned at the prospect of an invasion of black troops. Anthony Eden wanted them sent elsewhere and claimed they would be unable to withstand the British weather. It was ...

The Bart

Gabriele Annan, 10 December 1987

Broken Blood: The Rise and Fall of the Tennant Family 
by Simon Blow.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 571 13374 6
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... was administered by the girls: Charlotte, who married Lord Ribblesdale; Lucy, who married Thomas Graham-Smith; Laura, who married Alfred Lyttelton; and Margot, who considerably later married Asquith and had the highest profile of them all. The male Tennants of that generation were not conspicuous for profiles. Laura and ...

What happened to Gorbachev

John Lloyd, 7 March 1991

Gorbachev: The Making of the Man who Shook the World 
by Gail Sheehy.
Heinemann, 468 pp., £16.99, December 1990, 0 434 69518 1
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Gorbachev: Heretic in the Kremlin 
by Dusko Doder and Louise Branson.
Macdonald, 430 pp., £14.95, December 1990, 0 356 19760 3
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The Nationalities Question in the Soviet Union 
edited by Graham Smith.
Longman, 389 pp., £22.50, January 1991, 0 582 03953 3
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... per cent are Latvians facing large minorities of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians and others. As Graham Smith notes in an essay on Latvia in the volume he edits, ‘the more ethnic politics becomes an issue, the greater the difficulty the Popular Front has in appealing to an audience beyond its titular nationality.’ Alksnis was himself, he says, a ...

And what did she see?

Graham Robb: The Bête du Gévaudan, 19 May 2011

Monsters of the Gévaudan: The Making of a Beast 
by Jay Smith.
Harvard, 378 pp., £25.95, March 2011, 978 0 674 04716 7
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... In the summer of 2007, Jay Smith, who teaches history at the University of North Carolina, was in Paris collecting information for a book about a mysterious beast that terrorised the remote French province of the Gévaudan between 1764 and 1767. One day, while lunching on the place de la Sorbonne, he was warned of a terrible danger ...

Scots wha hae gone to England

Donald Davie, 9 July 1992

Devolving English Literature 
by Robert Crawford.
Oxford, 320 pp., £35, June 1992, 9780198112983
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The Faber Book of 20th-Century Scottish Poetry 
edited by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 424 pp., £17.50, July 1992, 9780571154319
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... to English poets, but to Scottish ones too. Nowhere does he mention (nor did Kenner) W.S. (Sydney) Graham, who took, perhaps at greater cost, the same decision that Tomlinson and Bunting made. Douglas Dunn, whose anthology is blessedly free of the prejudices that constrict Crawford, allows Graham 20 pages (as against 35 for ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Second Novel Anxiety Syndrome, 22 August 2002

... footballers and movie stars, or even TV historians.) It wasn’t always like this. The 25-year-old Graham Greene didn’t get much for The Man Within (1929), his first novel, or rather his first published novel (he’d already had two rejected). On the back of it, however, William Heinemann offered Greene a three-book contract that was lucrative enough for him ...

The Strange Case of Peter Vansittart

Martin Seymour-Smith, 6 March 1986

Aspects of Feeling 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 251 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 7206 0637 3
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... well-connected. The brief section devoted to the adolescence of the children – Della, Bayard and Graham – is ironically presented as idyllic in the traditional sense. It is this, but it is also haunted by past horrors and disasters – pervasive images in all Vansittart’s fiction – such as the sinking of the Titanic and a picture of a First World War ...

Woman/Manly

Kristin Dombek: Kim Gordon, 19 March 2015

Girl in a Band 
by Kim Gordon.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2015, 978 0 571 31383 9
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... in art school in LA – the New York of Judson Church and Yvonne Rainer, of Andy Warhol and Patti Smith and Lou Reed. It was disappearing as she arrived, as cities do. She wasn’t sure whether she should be a dancer or artist or filmmaker or writer or musician; what mattered was less what kind of artist than to be one, there. Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen ...

Short Cuts

Paul Laity: Alternative Weeping, 7 September 2000

... bookshop reading is, of course, the chance to see and hear David Starkey cheek by jowl with Zadie Smith, Roy Strong, Terry Jones, Michael Holroyd and all the other writers showcasing their various talents this year. Such events certainly seem to be increasing rapidly in number and variety. Cheltenham and Hay-on-Wye (Tony Benn: ‘In my mind, it has replaced ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones, 10 July 2003

... that makes mobiles possible was the work of D.H. Ring – born, you might think, like Alexander Graham Bell, to make telephonic history – at Bell Laboratories, New Jersey. There are only so many radio frequencies available; Ring’s brilliant notion was to see that the same frequencies could be used over and over again if each covered only a small ...

All together

Humphrey Carpenter, 7 December 1989

The Safest Place in the World: A Personal History of British Rhythm and Blues 
by Dick Heckstall-Smith.
Quartet, 178 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7043 2696 5
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Mama said there’d be days like these: My Life in the Jazz World 
by Val Wilmer.
Women’s Press, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 7043 5040 8
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Lenya: A Life 
by Donald Spoto.
Viking, 371 pp., £15.95, September 1989, 0 670 81211 0
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... appearance), and left one wondering how they had managed to stay together so long. Dick Heckstall-Smith defines a band as ‘a passengerless collective’, but he doesn’t say ‘driverless’, and his often rivetingly interesting book, which deals largely with the breakup of bands, frequently demonstrates that conflict is bound to occur between a collective ...

An Outline of Outlines

Graham Hough, 7 May 1981

... with short useful bibliographies to take things farther. In Fifty European Novels Martin Seymour-Smith redeems himself for the awfulness of Novels and Novelists. He is a man of immense reading in several languages, and without aiming at critical profundity, a lively, vigorous and intelligent commentator on all that he has read. Fifty European Novels begins ...

Matters of Taste

Peter Graham, 4 December 1986

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen 
by Harold McGee.
Allen and Unwin, 684 pp., £20, September 1986, 9780043060032
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The French Menu Cookbook 
by Richard Olney.
Dorling Kindersley, 294 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 86318 181 3
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Out to Lunch 
by Paul Levy.
Chatto, 240 pp., £10.95, November 1986, 0 7011 3091 1
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The Good Food Guide 1987 
edited by Drew Smith.
Consumers’ Association/Hodder, 725 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 340 39600 8
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... More and more cooks, and more and more people who like their food (gourmets, gourmands and gastronomes – but please not that appalling neologism, ‘foodies’), are showing an interest in the scientific basis of cooking techniques and the mechanics of taste. Why and how do certain dishes come to taste as they do? The latest edition of The Good Food Guide, which remains, for all its shortcomings (such as an excessive reliance on consumer feedback), the most reliable guide to British restaurants, has an interesting article by two scientists on their work with trained ‘taste panels ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Anglocentric: Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is in facing-page English, but Sorley MacLean and Iain Crichton Smith, for example, occur only in English, and there is no Welsh-language poetry at all. On the other hand, O’Brien’s selection of English-language poetry casts a wider and more ambitious net. ‘Even as we study it, the map changes and discloses a larger ...

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