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Christopher Ricks, 6 June 1985

The English Language Today 
edited by Sidney Greenbaum.
Pergamon, 345 pp., £12.50, December 1984, 0 08 031078 8
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The English Language 
by Robert Burchfield.
Oxford, 194 pp., £9.50, January 1985, 9780192191731
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A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language 
by Randolph Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik.
Longman, 1779 pp., £39.50, May 1985, 0 582 51734 6
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Words 
by John Silverlight.
Macmillan, 107 pp., £17.50, May 1985, 9780333380109
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Faux Amis and Key Words: A Dictionary-Guide to French Language, Culture and Society through Lookalikes and Confusables 
by Philip Thody, Howard Evans and Gwilym Rees.
Athlone, 224 pp., £16, February 1985, 0 485 11243 4
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Puns 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 234 pp., £14.95, October 1984, 0 631 13793 9
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Fair of Speech: The Uses of Euphemism 
edited by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 222 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 19 212236 3
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... is then enlivened by the regular appearance of Wittgenstein on wheels. Philip Thody and Howard Evans, in their bonhomous Faux Amis and Key Words, are happy to have Wittgenstein say, just like that, that the meaning of a word is its use. But Wittgenstein did not think the matter that simple. Burchfield prefers the more ample and flexible ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Awaiting the Truth about Hanratty, 11 December 1997

... had stayed in her house on the night of the murder, 22 August 1961. She was backed up by Terry Evans, whom Hanratty had met in Rhyl some months before the murder. Evans had not been in Rhyl on 22 August but he had heard later from several people that a young Londoner had been looking for him that night. Could he find any ...

Memoriousness

E.S. Turner, 15 September 1988

Memories of Times Past 
by Louis Heren.
Hamish Hamilton, 313 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 241 12427 1
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Chances: An Autobiography 
by Mervyn Jones.
Verso, 311 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 0 86091 167 5
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... when Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper. Heren was told that, at 61, he was too old. Under Harold Evans he failed to flourish (‘Evans trashes me, to use the US Army expression, and most of my former colleagues in his book Good Times, Bad Times’), so he took his redundancy money and settled for writing books. His ...

Something of Importance

Philip Williamson, 2 February 1989

The Coming of the First World War 
edited by R.J.W. Evans and Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann.
Oxford, 189 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 19 822899 6
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The Experience of World War One 
by J.M. Winter.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 333 44613 5
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Russia and the Allies 1917-1920. Vol II: The Road to Intervention, March-November 1918 
by Michael Kettle.
Routledge, 401 pp., £40, June 1988, 0 415 00371 7
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Douglas Haig 1861-1928 
by Gerald De Groot.
Unwin Hyman, 441 pp., £20, November 1988, 0 04 440192 2
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Nothing of Importance: A Record of Eight Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion 
by Bernard Adams.
The Strong Oak Press/Tom Donovan Publishing, 324 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 9781871048018
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1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War 
by Lyn Macdonald.
Joseph, 346 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 0 7181 3188 6
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... subjects, professional historians can hope to reach a substantial ‘general’ readership: the Evans and Pogge von Strandmann, Winter and De Groot books each have this audience in mind. The subject also attracts many non-academic writers, editors and compilers, contributing a large literature of ‘popular history’. The war has stimulated some of the ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J. Evans: Michael Gove, 12 September 2019

Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... We’ve​ got form, Michael Gove and I. ‘Richard Evans may hold a professorship,’ he told the Daily Mail in 2014, after I had attacked him for claiming that Britain had fought the First World War for democracy, ‘but these arguments, like the interpretations of Oh! What a Lovely War! and Blackadder, are more reflective of the attitude of an undergraduate cynic playing to the gallery in a Cambridge Footlights revue rather than a sober academic contributing to a proper historical debate ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... and the people she met in their living room in New York: Edmund Wilson, James Thurber, Walker Evans, James M. Cain, Nunnally Johnson, S.J. Perelman, Dawn Powell, Joseph Mitchell and John O’Hara. Many of these celebrated figures, artists and authors approaching fifty at the start of the decade or only lately past it, grew up in small provincial ...

Buy birthday present, go to morgue

Colm Tóibín: Diane Arbus, 2 March 2017

Diane Arbus: Portrait of a Photographer 
by Arthur Lubow.
Cape, 734 pp., £35, October 2016, 978 0 224 09770 3
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Silent Dialogues: Diane Arbus and Howard Nemerov 
by Alexander Nemerov.
Fraenkel Gallery, 106 pp., $30, March 2015, 978 1 881337 41 6
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... a world as distant as possible from the one in which she was raised. Arbus’s brother, the poet Howard Nemerov, wrote that her ‘pictures are spectacular, shocking, dramatic and concentrate on subjects perverse and queer (freaks, professional transvestites, strong men, tattooed men, the children of the very rich)’. He and Diane were the children of ...

Chatwin and the Hippopotamus

Colin Thubron, 22 June 1989

What am I doing here 
by Bruce Chatwin.
Cape, 367 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 224 02634 8
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... understood and was drawn to people. There are telling essays on an old friend, the English painter Howard Hodgkin, and the miniaturist Donald Evans. Chatwin understood the aesthete; and even the humbler inhabitants of What am I doing here may be pinioned by a description of dress, from the Chinese who ‘wore a blue ...

Princess Diane

Penny Boumelha, 21 February 1985

Diane Arbus: A Biography 
by Patricia Bosworth.
Heinemann, 367 pp., £14.95, January 1985, 0 434 08150 7
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Inside the Onion 
by Howard Nemerov.
Chicago, 63 pp., £8.45, April 1984, 0 226 57244 7
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... tracks, holding the hand of one’s governess’. Her closest relationship was with her brother Howard Nemerov, who was to become a distinguished poet. The younger sister Renée seems an isolated figure by comparison. There appear to have been incipiently incestuous tensions within the family; in Howard’s poem ‘An Old ...

Mad Monk

Jenny Diski: Not going to the movies, 6 February 2003

The New Biographical Dictionary of Film 
by David Thomson.
Little, Brown, 963 pp., £25, November 2002, 0 316 85905 2
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Nobody’s Perfect: Writings from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Anthony Lane.
Picador, 752 pp., £15.99, November 2002, 0 330 49182 2
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Paris Hollywood: Writings on Film 
by Peter Wollen.
Verso, 314 pp., £13, December 2002, 1 85984 391 3
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... mostly long gone and others not notable for their movie credits – Karl Lagerfeld, Walker Evans, Ernest Shackleton and Lego. In Thomson’s view film ought to be enough to detain a film-loving writer, but it isn’t. Perhaps Lane is merely keeping his options open and, who knows, doesn’t want to be a writer exclusively on film. The diversity is ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee, 7 September 2006

‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... to literate businessmen. Sent on assignment to Alabama in 1936, with the photographer Walker Evans, to do an article on tenant farmers, he returned with unorganised pages and sections of finished prose, prose-in-the-rough, poetry, extended captions and descriptions, none of them reducible to an article in Fortune. Agee’s manuscript kept soaking up new ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... tenure as leader was brought to an end a year later, she was moved on by his successor, Michael Howard, who restored her to the ranks of heavy-lifters rather than heavy-hitters by making her shadow secretary of state for transport and the environment. In 2004 two members of the intake of 2001, Cameron and George Osborne, joined her in the shadow ...

1086, 1886, 1986 and all that

John Dodgson, 22 May 1986

Domesday: 900 Years of England’s Norman Heritage 
edited by Kate Allen.
Millbank in association with the National Domesday Committee, 192 pp., £3, March 1986, 0 946171 49 1
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The Normans and the Norman Conquest 
by R. Allen Brown.
Boydell, 259 pp., £19.50, January 1985, 0 85115 427 1
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The Domesday Book: England’s Heritage, Then and Now 
edited by Thomas Hinde.
Hutchinson, 351 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 09 161830 4
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Domesday Heritage 
edited by Elizabeth Hallam.
Arrow, 95 pp., £3.95, February 1986, 0 09 945800 4
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Domesday Book through Nine Centuries 
by Elizabeth Hallam.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £12.50, March 1986, 0 500 25097 9
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Domesday Book: A Reassessment 
edited by Peter Sawyer.
Arnold, 182 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 7131 6440 9
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... view of the Anglo-Saxon world and by a contemporary pursuit of social and political reform. Thomas Evans, cited by Hallam, wrote in 1816: ‘Our divine institutions, our real constitution, established by our Anglo-Saxon ancestors, was destroyed by the tyranny of the Norman Conquest. If conquest gives right, and right is the best title to the possession of ...

Other People’s Mail

Bernard Porter: MI5, 19 November 2009

The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 
by Christopher Andrew.
Allen Lane, 1032 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 7139 9885 6
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... another explanation, however. It was just a ‘taboo’, he writes (quoting the historian Michael Howard), like ‘intra-marital sex’. Everyone knew it went on, and was ‘quite content that it should, but to speak, write or ask questions about it’ was ‘regarded as extremely bad form’. But that was not so, certainly at the start, and in connection ...

Wrath of the Centurions

Max Hastings: My Lai, 25 January 2018

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent into Darkness 
by Howard Jones.
Oxford, 504 pp., £22.99, June 2017, 978 0 19 539360 6
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... I was involved in. And so​ to My Lai, the subject of this authoritative new account by Howard Jones. The ghastly story burst on the world on 12 November 1969, when Associated Press wires carried the first report by the freelance investigator Seymour Hersh indicating that men of the 23rd Americal Division had carried out a massacre of civilians at ...

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