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Staying at home

Ronald Fraser, 27 July 1989

Federico Garcia Lorca 
by Ian Gibson.
Faber, 542 pp., £17.50, July 1989, 0 571 14815 8
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... In 1973 Ian Gibson published The Death of Lorca, his outstanding investigation into the circumstances, silenced for forty years by the Franco regime, of the poet’s assassination at the insurgent military’s hands in the first month of the Civil War. It is highly fitting, therefore, that Gibson should have now written the life of Lorca, as close to a definitive biography as we are likely to get ...

I’m not a happy poet

John Butt: Lorca, 1 April 1999

Lorca: A Dream of Life 
by Leslie Stainton.
Bloomsbury, 568 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7475 4128 0
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... imaginative life, but Spaniards of his generation are cagey about such things and Stainton, like Ian Gibson before her, has obviously had to move mountains to get at what few facts are known. Her book contains some details missing from Gibson’s Federico García Lorca (1985). She reports a titbit from one quidnunc ...


Lorna Scott Fox: Salvador Dali, 2 April 1998

The Shameful Life of Salvador Dali 
by Ian Gibson.
Faber, 764 pp., £30, November 1997, 0 571 16751 9
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... the paintings: one problem for the biographer is that Dalí said it all, quite wittily, himself. Gibson does the exhaustive job of slotting every fact into place for the first time, dispelling a few confusions and taking us up to the last days, with the wrangles between Spain and Catalunya over the legacy of what was by then a ghastly, petrified human ...

Looking back

Hugh Thomas, 7 July 1983

The Spanish Civil War 
by David Mitchell.
Granada, 208 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 246 11916 0
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... Youth, but that Andres Nin was indeed murdered ‘on our side’. Even the recent book by Ian Gibson has, however, failed to establish his responsibility, or freedom from blame, for the murder of two thousand Republican prisoners at Paracuellos – probably the biggest single atrocity of the Spanish war. In Blood of Spain Ronald Fraser made a ...


Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... would not be permitted to contest the next election: three of them are going quietly, but Ian Gibson, who still has the backing of his local party, protested loudly and with some justification. As someone remarked, in his case it looks like a contract killing of someone who was a thorn in the side of the regime.  A chat with a prominent ...


Ian Stewart, 4 November 1993

The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier 
by Bruce Sterling.
Viking, 328 pp., £16.99, January 1993, 0 670 84900 6
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The New Hacker’s Dictionary 
edited by Eric Raymond.
MIT, 516 pp., £11.75, October 1992, 0 262 68079 3
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Approaching Zero: Data Crime and the Computer Underworld 
by Bryan Clough and Paul Mungo.
Faber, 256 pp., £4.99, March 1993, 0 571 16813 2
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... and the right phone numbers can dial up, read or write. They inhabit what the SF writer William Gibson calls ‘cyberspace’, the linked electronic interiors of the world’s computers. Cyberspace is real, even though it has no overt physical presence. The American telephone system lives in cyberspace. Its ‘switches’ are enormously complex ...

Somebody Shoot at Me!

Ian Sansom: Woody Guthrie’s Novel, 9 May 2013

House of Earth: A Novel 
by Woody Guthrie.
Fourth Estate, 234 pp., £14.99, February 2013, 978 0 00 750985 0
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... machine kills fascists,’ the phrase stickered by Guthrie onto his beautiful old black Gibson L-00 and later onto his sunburst Southern Jumbo, guitars full of both threat and promise. Alas, my machine – a dirt-cheap Yamaha dreadnought with plastic machine heads coated to look silver, a terrible action and tooth-rattling fret buzz – merely ...

Gabble, Twitter and Hoot

Ian Hacking: Language, deafness and the senses, 1 July 1999

I See a Voice: A Philosophical History of Language, Deafness and the Senses 
by Jonathan Rée.
HarperCollins, 399 pp., £19.99, January 1999, 0 00 255793 2
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... The dramatisation of Keller’s story, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Miracle Worker by William Gibson, has not a trace of these concerns. I discovered that you can find many of her political speeches in a rare volume published by a radical press, but a 1998 book about Keller’s public speaking, which does include three political lectures, conveys her firm ...


Eric Evans, 26 July 1990

Scottish Society 1500-1800 
edited by R.A. Houston and I.D. Whyte.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, February 1989, 0 521 32522 6
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... about a society with no official census and very partial and selective computations of any kind. Gibson and Smout present an appetising hors d’ oeuvre to their projected book on prices, wages and the standard of living. They argue that famines and specific crises apart, the Scottish diet was impoverished between the 16th century and the beginning of the ...

Vous êtes belle

Penelope Fitzgerald, 8 January 1987

Alain-Fournier: A Brief Life 1886-1914 
by David Arkell.
Carcanet, 178 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 85635 484 8
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Henri Alain-Fournier: Towards the Lost Domain: Letters from London 1905 
translated by W.J. Strachan.
Carcanet, 222 pp., £16.95, November 1986, 0 85635 674 3
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The Lost Domain 
by Henri Alain-Fournier, translated by Frank Davison.
Oxford, 299 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 212262 2
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... by an Afterword by John Fowles, less sensitive, but more enthusiastic. Fowles, who follows Robert Gibson* in taking Seurel as the central character, tells us that he was once under the influence of Alain-Fournier, and is still ‘a besotted fan’. He deserts the text, however, when he says that Frantz de Galais, like Meaulnes, ‘strives to maintain a ...

The Body in the Library Is Never Our Own

Ian Patterson: On Ngaio Marsh, 5 November 2020

... with the thing itself! It’s as if a tractor had rolled over us. We’re nothing. Superintendent Gibson is there instead to put it all on a sensible, factual basis.’Fortunately Alleyn is well-versed in Shakespeare, and able to go beyond the factual to enter the curtained world inhabited by the novel’s characters, unlike the rest of the ...

On Spanking

Christopher Hitchens, 20 October 1994

AGuide to the Correction of Young Gentlemen or, The Successful Administration of Physical Discipline to Males, by Females 
by a Lady, with illustrations by a Former Pupil.
Delectus, 140 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 1 897767 05 6
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... that I had read this, or something like it, before. On your behalf, gentle reader, I went back to Ian Gibson’s classic study The English Vice: Beating, Sex and Shame in Victorian England and After. In a riotous House of Commons debate on the cat and the birch in February 1953, there was the following intervention from Captain ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... takes its title from this Congressional medal. Once you start to look for him, he’s everywhere. Ian MacGregor, the man who helped Thatcher crush the miners, is ‘John Wayne with a Scottish brogue and a pinstripe suit’. ‘Now we don’t want to see no John Wayne performances out here,’ a sergeant tells his platoon in Vietnam. We see them ...

Whisky and Soda Man

Thomas Jones: J.G. Ballard, 10 April 2008

Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton – An Autobiography 
by J.G. Ballard.
Fourth Estate, 278 pp., £14.99, February 2008, 978 0 00 727072 9
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... now that’s any good, either, which is to overlook not only the work of such writers as William Gibson and Jonathan Lethem, but also Ronald Moore’s remake of Battlestar Galactica, a TV series that’s as intelligent, nuanced and unflinching an examination of the United States’ post-9/11 militarism, foreign policy and relation to the un-American other as ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... than three hundred staff were deployed immediately. Or that the council’s director of education, Ian Heggs, was in discussion on the morning of 14 June with the heads of eight local schools (I’ve seen the emails) about pupils from the tower. Nor that the education officers met with school heads and arranged for pupils to have psychological support and to ...

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