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Phantom Gold

John Pemble: Victorian Capitalism, 7 January 2016

Forging Capitalism: Rogues, Swindlers, Frauds and the Rise of Modern Finance 
by Ian Klaus.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.99, January 2015, 978 0 300 18194 4
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... but of need weakened the pull of fear. Credulity was no doubt a part of the equation; but, as Ian Klaus’s Forging Capitalism makes clear, in the Victorian City of London if you weren’t credulous you were very smart indeed. Klaus swims against the current of neoliberal vindication of Adam Smith. He sees the ...


Neal Ascherson: Scotophobia, 5 April 2007

... But the motive power for the split – the agency – was provided by the Czech politician Václav Klaus. An ambitious and crafty neoliberal, Klaus concluded that Slovak needs and demands would always obstruct his own plans in a federal Czechoslovakia. In an independent Czech state, on the other hand, he would be relatively ...


Ian Hamilton, 2 July 1981

Charles Charming’s Challenges on the Pathway to the Throne 
by Clive James.
Cape, 103 pp., £4.95, June 1981, 0 224 01954 6
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... of Peregrine Prykke was in the detail of its little world (who is Terry Towelling, Hugo Harsfried, Klaus Mauler?). Most readers couldn’t know about the true-to-life-ness of his characters, and could therefore respond to them as if they were James’s own ribald inventions. The tiniest of cameos had to be strong enough to raise non-knowing chuckles. More ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... In Hamburg the Beatles met a group of German art students (notably Astrid Kirchherr and Klaus Voormann) who had picked up things in Paris about the praxis of fashion. They called themselves ‘exis’ – existentialists – and their casual Left Bank aesthetic gave the Beatles their first real model of visual presentation and flair. Hamburg, like ...

Wild and Tattered Kingdom

Owen Hatherley: Fassbinder and His Friends, 29 June 2023

Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors 
by Ian Penman.
Fitzcarraldo, 185 pp., £12.99, April, 978 1 80427 042 4
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... German film – beautiful and extravagant and fantastic, and nevertheless go against the grain.’ Ian Penman’s Fassbinder Thousands of Mirrors is in large part a book about dreams, and about interrupting them. Fassbinder belonged to a generation of left-wing artists, musicians and filmmakers whose aim was to shake their audience out of a slumber. You ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... sink to his Jewish knees and join Richard Nixon in prayer on the Oval Office carpet, and complied. Klaus Barbie was plucked from the SS ‘Most Wanted’ list and, with many of his confrères, given a second career in American Intelligence. J. Edgar Hoover amassed tapes of sexual indiscretion in Washington, partly for his own prurient needs and partly for the ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... for the construction of a shelf of towers. Michael Heseltine, a wild-haired, mad-eyed visionary (Klaus Kinski to Margaret Thatcher’s Werner Herzog), pushed Docklands across the Thames to the East Greenwich Peninsula, Bugsby’s Marshes. The obsessive, neurotic and delusional Millennium Dome concept was a remake of Fitzcarraldo, a film in which suborned ...

Old Europe

Jeremy Harding: Britain in Bosnia, 20 February 2003

Indictment at The Hague: The Milosevic Regime and the Crimes of the Balkan Wars 
by Norman Cigar and Paul Williams.
New York, 339 pp., $24.95, July 2002, 0 8147 1626 1
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Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia 
by Brendan Simms.
Penguin, 464 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 14 028983 6
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Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo 
by Fred Abrahams.
Human Rights Watch, 593 pp., £18, October 2001, 1 56432 264 5
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Milosevic: A Biography 
by Adam LeBor.
Bloomsbury, 386 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 7475 6090 0
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... wars in Bosnia and Croatia. Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia; Milosevic told the Nato General Klaus Naumann in 1998 that he ‘could not give it up’. And so the province which had been the making of him at the end of the 1980s was his undoing a decade later. By the time the US negotiator Richard Holbrooke met him days before the bombing began, there was ...

A Ripple of the Polonaise

Perry Anderson: Work of the Nineties, 25 November 1999

History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the Nineties 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... New York Review of Books: Neal Ascherson and Timothy Garton Ash (spurs won in Eastern Europe) and Ian Buruma (in East Asia). United by common liberal convictions, the trio are otherwise quite distinct. Garton Ash, a generation younger than Ascherson, followed his path from Germany to Poland as lands of primary reportage. In 1982-83, both wrote passionately ...

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