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Wars and Revolutions: Britain 1760-1815 
by Ian Christie.
Arnold, 359 pp., £17.50, June 1982, 0 7131 6157 4
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Augustan England: Professions, State and Society 1680-1730 
by Geoffrey Holmes.
Allen and Unwin, 323 pp., £18.50, November 1982, 0 04 942178 6
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... military and diplomatic historian to treat his subject in vacuo. It is the great strength of both Ian Christie’s Wars and Revolutions and Geoffrey Holmes’s discussion of the Augustan professions that they each, in their different ways, avoid any such insularity of approach. Christie’s book is a ...

Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies, 10 September 2009

The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... about its audiences, buildings, distributors and publicists as it is about the films themselves. Ian Christie notes in The Last Machine (1994) that until around 1907 people didn’t visit the cinema with the idea of seeing a particular film. Audiences were captivated by the novelty of moving pictures: a baby having breakfast, a train arriving at a ...

No more pretty face

Philip Horne, 8 March 1990

Emotion Pictures: Reflections on the Cinema 
by Wim Wenders, translated by Sean Whiteside and Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 148 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15271 6
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Scorsese on Scorsese 
by Martin Scorsese, edited by David Thompson and Ian Christie.
Faber, 178 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571141036
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... Wim Wender’s very pleasurable Paris, Texas (1984) is both an American movie and a European film. Its creative pedigree is mixed – all through the credits: the German Wenders as director, the American Sam Shepard as writer; the German Robby Müller as cinematographer, the American Ry Cooder as composer/performer of the music; the American actors Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell as the central Henderson brothers, the French Aurore Clément and the German Nastassia Kinski as their wives ...

Vindicated!

David Edgar: The Angry Brigade, 16 December 2004

The Angry Brigade: The Cause and the Case 
by Gordon Carr.
ChristieBooks, 168 pp., £34, July 2003, 1 873976 21 6
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Granny Made Me an Anarchist 
by Stuart Christie.
Scribner, 423 pp., £10.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5918 1
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... quality and rigour of a 2003 TV drama-documentary can be judged from a statement by its director, Ian Lilley, that ‘it was hard to pin down what the Angry Brigade stood for because their communiqués were quite unintelligible.’ One reputable and another considerable book have now been produced, however, or more accurately reproduced, which deal with what ...

Retripotent

Frank Kermode: B. S. Johnson, 5 August 2004

Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson 
by Jonathan Coe.
Picador, 486 pp., £20, June 2004, 9780330350488
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‘Trawl’, ‘Albert Angelo’ and ‘House Mother Normal’ 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 472 pp., £14.99, June 2004, 0 330 35332 2
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... have gone in for ‘experiment’, from James, Ford and Conrad and Joyce to, say, Golding and Ian McEwan. Lawrence saw how much might be done in a novel, how free it could be of constraints, how apt to the business of making it new; the novel was protean, insisting on its own virtually infinite possibilities, experimental in its very nature. Johnson was ...

Well done, you forgers

John Sutherland, 7 January 1993

The Two Forgers: A Biography of Harry Buxton Forman and Thomas James Wise 
by John Collins.
Scolar, 317 pp., £27.50, May 1992, 0 85967 754 0
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Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship 
by Anthony Grafton.
Princeton, 157 pp., £10.75, May 1990, 0 691 05544 0
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... it, ‘a classic of bibliographical detection, a thousandfold more exciting than anything Agatha Christie and her kind ever penned’. It’s a generous compliment, but inexact. In the first place, as I have said, it is not clear what crime Wise committed by uttering his forgeries, or by making money out of them. Secondly, Agatha ...

The Sovereign Weapon

Francis FitzGibbon: The Old Bailey, 5 March 2020

Court Number One: The Old Bailey Trials that Defined Modern Britain 
by Thomas Grant.
John Murray, 448 pp., £10.99, April, 978 1 4736 5163 0
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... his baby daughter, who had in fact been killed, as had Evans’s wife, by the serial killer John Christie – Evans would now be recognised as a vulnerable defendant – to the more humane spirit in which trials are conducted today. There is still rhetoric, but the register of persuasive speech is more often conversational than grandiloquent (although I have ...

Napoleon was wrong

Ian Gilmour, 24 June 1993

Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... in any such sub-Freudianisms. I even have some trouble with Ludovic Kennedy’s theory that Christie, the multiple sex-killer, was influenced by the phallic factory chimneys opposite his childhood bedroom in Halifax and then adjacent to 10 Rillington Place, where he murdered and buried his victims. But the professor would surely acknowledge ...

The Cadaver Club

Iain Sinclair, 22 December 1994

Original Sin 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 426 pp., £14.99, October 1994, 0 571 17253 9
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Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 282 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 1 85619 507 4
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The Hidden Files: An Autobiography 
by Derek Raymond.
Warner, 342 pp., £5.99, December 1994, 0 7515 1184 6
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Not till the Red Fog Rises 
by Derek Raymond.
Little, Brown, 248 pp., £15.99, December 1994, 0 316 91014 7
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... of deaths and suicides announces the final surrender of the Golden Age Murder Mystery: Agatha Christie force-fed on Pevsner and the humbug of Kenneth Baker’s latest flag-waving anthology. A sub-genre that has always been profoundly conservative (hence its popularity, up there with P.G. Wodehouse, in America) is reduced to editorialised sound-bites from ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair, 6 December 1990

Weather 
by John Farrand.
Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 239 pp., $40, June 1990, 1 55670 134 9
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Weather Watch 
by Dick File.
Fourth Estate, 299 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 1 872180 12 4
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Climate Change: The IPCC Scientific Assessment 
edited by J.T. Houghton, G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums.
Cambridge, 365 pp., £40, September 1990, 9780521403603
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Crop Circles: The Latest Evidence 
by Pat Delgado and Colin Andrews.
Bloomsbury, 80 pp., £5.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0843 7
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The Stumbling Block, Its Index 
by B. Catling.
Book Works, £22, October 1990, 9781870699051
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... inflation of Dimblebys, a lobotomy of Heavy Metal percussionists, Daphne du Maurier, Dame Agatha Christie – then, finally, his voice rasping with emotion, a raven’s croak of intensely local pride ... the birthplace of Bill Giles, television weatherman, cold front pundit, guru of the wind-chill factor. A meaningful silence advects along the deck as we ...

The Candidates

Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb, 17 June 2015

... of state public employees, Walker responded with sycophantic alacrity to a prank call placed by Ian Murphy, a reporter for the Buffalo Beast, who convinced Walker that he was David Koch, the mega-billionaire funder of the Tea Party. The faux-Koch suggested an outlandish series of Nixonian stunts to attack the unions, including the planting of pro-Walker ...

Disorientation

Jonathan Coe, 5 October 1995

The Island of the Day Before 
by Umberto Eco.
Secker, 513 pp., £16.99, October 1995, 0 436 20270 0
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... As an example of this kind of text, he cited the James Bond novels. Eco’s approach to Ian Fleming in this book was welcome for its critical gusto and its sense that he had really enjoyed the novels (by a sweet irony, Sean Connery would later take the lead in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s film of The Name of the Rose). But he maintained, nonetheless, a ...

Hindsight Tickling

Christopher Tayler: Disappointing sequels, 21 October 2004

The Closed Circle 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 433 pp., £17.99, September 2004, 0 670 89254 8
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... or eighty years’. For a while he made one exception: Beckett. Then he discovered Johnson, whose Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry bore a puff from ‘the great man’. ‘Knowing almost nothing about contemporary British writing’, Coe was ‘more than ready to concur with B.S. Johnson’s theories about the modern novel. Yes, of course it was all ...

Michael Gove recommends …

Robert Hanks: Dennis Wheatley, 20 January 2011

The Devil Is a Gentleman: The Life and Times of Dennis Wheatley 
by Phil Baker.
Dedalus, 699 pp., £25, October 2009, 978 1 903517 75 8
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... a reputation in Whitehall as a generous luncheon host and found a new circle of friends, including Ian Fleming and at least one duke (Bond’s enthusiasm for luxury brands seems to owe something to Wheatley’s style). He proudly related that the king, a professed fan of his fiction, had asked to see a copy of every report he wrote: all in all, a good war. His ...

Laertes has a daughter

Bee Wilson: The Redgraves, 6 June 2013

The Redgraves: A Family Epic 
by Donald Spoto.
Robson, 361 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84954 394 1
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The House of Redgrave: The Lives of a Theatrical Dynasty 
by Tim Adler.
Aurum, 336 pp., £20, July 2012, 978 1 84513 623 9
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... Leo Colston, who recalls his summer as the little boy running between the secret lovers, Julie Christie and Alan Bates. Redgrave’s gaze in that film is watery and blank, which seems right for a man so psychologically traumatised by childhood memories that he had shut down his emotions. In retrospect, though, this had less to do with acting than with the ...

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