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Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops, 5 June 2014

Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... in the dissemination of news. The Cold War was just around the corner. What more could a scoop-hunter want? In Pincher’s words, The three services quickly appreciated that anyone with such access to mass-circulation publicity could be helpful in the defence revolution occasioned by the arrival of the atomic bomb and the ballistic missile. The chiefs of ...

A Country Emptied

Ian Jack: The Highland Clearances, 7 March 2019

The Scottish Clearances: A History of the Dispossessed 1600-1900 
by T.M. Devine.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 0 241 30410 5
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... influential in the movies, but since the 1950s the work of scholars such as T.C. Smout and James Hunter has shooed them from serious history. Devine’s books have arguably done most of all to deepen Scotland’s sense of its past, particularly as a country that reached out into the world and, for good or bad, did more to change it than perhaps any other ...

Cubist Slugs

Patrick Wright: The Art of Camouflage, 23 June 2005

DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material; An Encyclopedia of Camouflage: Nature – Military – Culture 
DPM, 2 vols, 944 pp., £100, September 2004, 9780954340407Show More
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... constituents, camouflage carried military symbolism into civilian life. It was favoured by the hunter, the code-scrambling hippy, the survivalist, the anti-federalist fantasist. It became the unofficial uniform of diverse malcontents who went off to build shelters, real or symbolic, in the woods of the late 20th century. The reader of these volumes first ...

Sex is best when you lose your head

James Meek, 16 November 2000

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition and Sexual Conflict 
by Tim Birkhead.
Faber, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 571 19360 9
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... and their pictures over the pages of the science journals. It doesn’t always work out. Fiona Hunter and a colleague, later to expose what the mainstream media dubbed ‘penguin prostitution’ in the Antarctic, once watched a colony of fulmars on Fair Isle for 56 days on the trot, 18 hours a day, only to find the species relatively faithful: a mere 16 ...

Maschler Pudding

John Bayley, 19 October 1995

À la Pym: The Barbara Pym Cookery Book 
by Hilary Pym and Honor Wyatt.
Prospect, 102 pp., £9.95, September 1995, 0 907325 61 0
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... the grub as grub would probably be far better at home, but the mind wants a change. In several of Ian Fleming’s thrillers James Bond (who is much more interested in food and drink than in sex and killing people) derides the lyric menus of the American eatery, promising flaky-fresh sole and dawn-tender steak: he never orders anything with his bourbon but ...

Rubbing Shoulders with Unreason

Peter Barham: Foucault's History of Madness, 8 March 2007

History of Madness 
by Michel Foucault, edited by Jean Khalfa, translated by Jonathan Murphy and Jean Khalfa.
Routledge, 725 pp., £35, April 2006, 0 415 27701 9
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... but over the years, the subtitle clambered into first place and usurped the incumbent. As Ian Hacking remarks in a witty and astute foreword, this is rather like the Cheshire Cat leaving behind only its grin. Hacking suggests that the disappearance or suppression of the déraison is a sign that Foucault had changed his mind about ...

Episteme, My Arse

Christopher Tayler: Laurent Binet, 15 June 2017

The Seventh Function of Language 
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 390 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 910701 58 4
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... socialist candidate for the presidency. Still, as Barthes said of his meal with Giscard, ‘a myth hunter … must hunt everywhere.’ That lunch, which took place in a flat in the Marais on 25 February 1980, with Lang doing the cooking, apparently went quite well. But then Barthes, en route back to his office, walked into the path of a laundry van, which left ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... way. ‘To begin with, she imagined the Barbarians as a biker gang, and read Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson,’ Gordon tells us. But then she became hugely absorbed by events in the world outside, in particular the événements in Paris, and upped the calibre of her reading to Lévi-Strauss and Adorno. ‘One felt one was living on the edge of the ...

Falklands Title Deeds

Malcolm Deas, 19 August 1982

The Struggle for the Falkland Islands 
by Julius Goebel, introduced by J.C.J. Metford.
Yale, 482 pp., £10, June 1982, 0 300 02943 8
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The Falklands Islands Dispute: International Dimensions 
edited by Joan Pearce.
Chatham House, 47 pp., £2.75, April 1982, 0 905031 25 3
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The Falkland Islands: The Facts 
HMSO, 12 pp., £50, May 1982, 0 11 701029 4Show More
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... kept up a fair rate of protest: it is not true that the whole issue was revived by Peron. E. N. Hunter Christie’s The Antarctic Problem of 1951 (the author dealt with Falklands issues in our Buenos Aires Embassy in the late 1940s and has been much concerned with the islands and dependencies since) says that, formally revived in 1884, ‘since ...

His Bonnet Akimbo

Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson, 3 November 2011

Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 416 pp., £14.99, May 2009, 978 1 84697 132 7
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Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
Polygon, 395 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 1 84697 063 4
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... And that was what he set out to prove over the decades that followed. He became a passionate song hunter whose research tools included a Rudge 500cc motorbike, a tent, innumerable bottles and a habit of testing the ‘human will’ of his compatriots by ‘doing a Henderson’: a method of sponging that prompted one victim into reviving an obsolete Scots word ...

Promenade Dora-Bruder

Adam Shatz: Patrick Modiano, 22 September 2016

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood 
by Patrick Modiano, translated by Euan Cameron.
MacLehose, 160 pp., £8.99, September 2016, 978 0 85705 499 9
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... decision as much as a political one. As a child of 1945 – Year Zero of the postwar period, as Ian Buruma has called it – Modiano was insisting on the unbridgeable distance between himself and his protagonist. The apparent naturalism of the film’s style, too, was quietly defamiliarising, particularly in the last scenes, in which Lucien and France ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... V8 Land Rover, lightly armoured – which would travel the road out of Amara in the dark. Sergeant Ian Blackett was in the patrol’s first vehicle and had known Wakefield for five months. There were 14 men in the patrol and Wakefield was one of the most experienced. ‘He was a professional soldier,’ Blackett says. Some soldiers seem not to do much except ...

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