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5 May 1983
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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... taxes funded the armed forces, and their heroes were the leading soldiers and sailors whose valiant deeds attested to the power of the armigerous nation. War was the norm, peace an aberration – a pause when the great and little powers drew breath and prepared to continue the fight. Thus the period from the Glorious Revolution to the end of the Napoleonic ...


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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... The long shadow of the urban guerrilla falls across Europe too. Former members of the Italian paramilitary left, granted sanctuary by Mitterrand, are now threatened with extradition to face trial in their homeland. One of the lawyers for the Red Army Faction (the Baader-Meinhof gang) is now a Green member of the German parliament, another is the ...
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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... Walt, is summoned from Los Angeles to collect him: he answers his portable phone in front of a giant painted image of Barbra Streisand – one of the billboard signs he manufactures. Walt, a nice, normal guy, flies off to get his brother out of a jam. The disturbed Travis, however, is obstinately mute, and keeps wandering off again whenever Walt leaves him ...

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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... and Eliot, critics have tended to associate modernist literature with montage, a term used by Russian film-makers of the 1920s to indicate a quick succession of images, not unlike the jumble of impressions in The Waste Land. But, as Trotter then points out, Eliot would not have seen any Russian formalist cinema until the ...


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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... on them, he would hold the author to his promise to remedy the situation by producing ‘a brilliant bunch of lies’. But he knew that Johnson would consider such fiction ‘a vulgar pandering to an ill-informed public’. Johnson went his own way, not only in novels but also in film and television scripts. Convinced of his stature, he grew more and more ...
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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... of criminal advocates, in the defence of Madame Fahmy, on trial in 1923 for the murder of her Egyptian husband in the Savoy hotel’: She discovered for the first time that he had not only the vilest of vile tempers, but was vile himself with a filthy perverted taste [i.e. anal sex]. From that day onwards to the very night, within a few moments of the time ...

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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... Surely, it can’t just be the absence of T.A. Critchley’s guiding hand? Or the weird Balkan alliances of Liberal Democrats, property developers, hotshot essayists and art brokers that have, in the intervening years, stomped the riverside? This emphysemic essay in historical revisionism, the acceptable face of entropy, is a pantomime that’s all Dame and ...

Bad News

Iain Sinclair

6 December 1990
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 ...
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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... seem decidedly quaint. One might guess them to be the outpourings of some slightly deranged politician of the Far Right ranting against Maastricht or dismiss them as the post-prandial ruminations of the sort of men who select the English cricket team or oversee the starting arrangements for the Grand National. In fact, they were written by W.D. Rubinstein, who ...

The Candidates

Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb

17 June 2015
... Cuban immigrants, he scaled the heights of the American meritocracy. He had a youthful dalliance with Mormonism à la Mitt Romney, played college football, and even married an ex-Miami Dolphins cheerleader – all before finding his voice as an angry prophet of Tea Party rebellion. But Rubio’s roster of actual achievements is notably thin – and ...

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 ...

Rumour Is Utterly Unfounded

Jenny Diski: Family Newspapers

8 October 2009
Family Newspapers?: Sex, Private Life and the British Popular Press 1918-78 
by Adrian Bingham.
Oxford, 298 pp., £55, February 2009, 978 0 19 927958 6
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... who tuned in to the BBC for the 6.30 evening news bulletin heard: ‘There is no news tonight.’ Piano music filled the hiatus before the next programme. In the same year the BBC’s Variety Programmes and Policy Guide for Writers and Producers stated: Programmes must at all costs be kept free of crudities. There can be no compromise with doubtful ...

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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... high living: dinner jackets and inverted pentangles; Imperial Tokay, Hoyo de Monterrey cigars and giant spiders; a menacing black servant with eyes glowing like coals; a naked young woman supine on a stone altar, breasts heaving, knife raised over her throat. But only a minority of his novels involve devil-worship; Baker’s title ties together the thing that ...

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