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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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... of a war 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Is it just me?, 1 December 2005

... though it features in what they have to say about ‘common sense’, where they quote Michael Howard: ‘Whenever there is a conflict between political correctness and common sense, let me tell you where I stand – firmly on the side of common sense!’ ‘Common sense’ here being a Tory euphemism, as Lowe and McArthur point out, for ‘hating ...

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Thomas Jones: Alastair Campbell, Good Bloke, 18 March 2004

... what they had done to Kinnock) with a few crowd-pleasing jibes at uncontroversial targets (Michael Howard, racist football fans, the Mail) and several preening anecdotes, dressed up as self-deprecation. He once went to the help of a man who’d been mugged on Hampstead Heath. When the man realised who the good bloke who’d saved him was, he said: ‘You’re ...

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Thomas Jones: Politicians and the Press, 26 January 2006

... Dems, including Kennedy’s enemies and rivals, to cause havoc by speaking up. And then Michael Howard announced his intention to stand down as Conservative leader the day after the election, when there were still a few seats not declared. So any Lib Dems eager to stab Kennedy in the back would have to wait until after the Tories sorted themselves out, if ...

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Thomas Jones: Blair’s nuptials, 3 March 2005

... to sit down and decide’ whether to stay with him or ‘go off with Mr Kennedy’ or Mr Howard. Even those who’ve so far restrained themselves from hurling plates at him might feel tempted to by the cringeing hi-honey-I’m-hominess of ‘I’m back. And it feels good.’ Back from where, precisely? On one level, from ‘a tremendous time on ...

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Thomas Jones: The Quiet American, 14 November 2002

... tell the story from the perspective of Major Calloway, the character played in the film by Trevor Howard, is a major flaw in the written version.) Fowler provides a voiceover, and there’s the occasional point-of-view shot, but these effects are largely cosmetic: for most of the film, we’re looking at Michael Caine. And because the story is told on ...

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Thomas Jones: The life expectancy of a Roman emperor, 3 June 2004

... Gordon Brown wouldn’t be the only disappointed person were Tony Blair to be succeeded by Michael Howard. Caracalla was succeeded by Macrinus, a co-conspirator of Martialis, the man who did the actual stabbing and was shortly afterwards caught and impaled. Macrinus, thoroughly incompetent, was dead within 14 months, to be replaced by Heliogabalus, a high ...

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Thomas Jones: Dead Babies, 16 November 2000

... other films, a more or less obligatory practice these days. Giles’s mad mother lives at Castle Howard (a.k.a. Brideshead), and at one point Johnny the psycho is about to blow the lock off a door with a shotgun when he thinks better of it and instead smashes in one of the panels with a handy statuette of the Virgin. He then fools the audience by not ...


D.A.N. Jones, 18 September 1986

Search Sweet Country 
by B. Kojo Laing.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 434 40216 8
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The Jewel Maker 
by Tom Gallagher.
Hamish Hamilton, 180 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 241 11866 2
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The Pianoplayers 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 208 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 09 165190 5
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An After-Dinner’s Sleep 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 224 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 09 163620 5
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Coming Home 
by Mervyn Jones.
Piatkus, 263 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 86188 525 2
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... a personal appearance in the final story, ‘To die in Copenhagen’. The narrator of the tales is Howard Murray, a Scottish playwright, who travels to Denmark, as well as Dublin, London and New York in the course of the book. Tom Gallagher is himself a Scottish playwright, best-known as the author of Mr Joyce is leaving Paris: he has written other plays, two ...

‘I worry a bit, Joanne’

Adam Mars-Jones: ‘The Casual Vacancy’, 25 October 2012

The Casual Vacancy 
by J.K. Rowling.
Little, Brown, 503 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 4087 0420 2
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... the seething id that genteel Pagford doesn’t want to admit to. Old-guard Pagford, led by Howard Mollison, a delicatessen owner, wants the jurisdiction of the Fields handed back to Yarvil, and the addiction clinic there (a parish matter because it’s housed in what was a church) shut down. Mollison, exploiting the opportunity that death has ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dissed, 2 June 2005

... things that matter and sends a clear message to his backbenches, we will support him’, Michael Howard said. Whatever happened to political parties? Adopting ‘respect’ as a watchword may also be an attempt to take the wind out of the sails of one of Blair’s loudest enemies on the left, George Galloway, the newly elected MP for Bethnal Green and Bow ...

Sour Notes

D.A.N. Jones, 17 November 1983

Peter Hall’s Diaries: The Story of a Dramatic Battle 
edited by John Goodwin.
Hamish Hamilton, 507 pp., £12.95, November 1983, 0 241 11047 5
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... opposition from his wiser friends, Hall insists on presenting The Romans in Britain, a play by Howard Brenton, allegedly about contemporary Northern Ireland, which begins with a swearing Roman attempting to bugger a Druid but being frustrated by haemorrhoids. This is thought to be left-wing – but Hall is confused about left-wingers. He fears that ...

Musical Beds

D.A.N. Jones, 30 December 1982

On Going to Bed 
by Anthony Burgess.
Deutsch, 96 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 233 97470 9
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The End of the World News 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 398 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 09 150540 2
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This Man and Music 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 09 149610 1
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... but he concluded, tutorially: ‘What is a suite but a museum of dead dances? Next time, Mr Jones must try sonata form!’ Since I like museums and ancient dances, it pleases me to respond that On Going to Bed resembles a good, old-fashioned suite (with a pictorial musée) – and that it might be over-ambitious, hubristic, to attempt sonata-form with ...


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

... Isaacs), to the guest-house in Rhyl where Hanratty said he’d stayed. The landlady, Mrs Grace Jones, was not at all diverted by the pulverising she’d got from the prosecution at the trial. She was more sure than ever that Hanratty 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 ...

Loaded Dice

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Ta-Nehisi Coates, 3 December 2015

Between the World and Me 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Text, 152 pp., £10.99, September 2015, 978 1 925240 70 2
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... classroom was a jail of other people’s interests’), he did well enough to enrol at Howard University, a historically black institution in Washington DC, which he describes as ‘a machine, crafted to capture and concentrate the dark energy of all African peoples and inject it directly into the student body’. There, Coates first encountered a ...

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