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Susan McKay: Breakdown in Power-Sharing, 8 March 2018

... of the Good Friday Agreement is marked at the beginning of April. The Clintons, Tony Blair, George Mitchell and Bertie Ahern were all expected to make an appearance. Recently it seemed that a deal was about to be made. May and Varadkar flew in to Belfast on 12 February, ready to welcome it. But it soon became clear that the talks were in deep trouble, so the ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... readers, encouraged some novelists almost to usurp the short story’s usual dimensions. When Ian McEwan moved on from short-story writing, it was to produce a first "novel", The Cement Garden (1978), not much in excess of one hundred pages.’ Ah, so that is why McEwan’s novels are so short. What layers of evasion are hidden in that careful verb ...

Very like St Paul

Ian Sansom: Johnny Cash, 9 March 2006

The Man Called Cash: The Life, Love and Faith of an American Legend 
by Steve Turner.
Bloomsbury, 363 pp., £8.99, February 2006, 0 7475 8079 0
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Walk the Line 
directed by James Mangold.
November 2005
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... in Nashville, the home of the Grand Ole Opry, the opening programme featured Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell; other guests included Merle Haggard, Mama Cass, Odetta, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Charles, Judy Collins, Burl Ives and Kris Kristofferson. The show first aired in September 1969; in February of that year Cash was busy recording with Dylan (they duet, kind ...

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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... a prospect. ‘The country presented upon the whole a repulsive appearance,’ the Reverend John Mitchell wrote of Ayrshire in 1780, recalling a rural world, not that long gone, of clogged ditches and treeless scrub, with rough tracks that led across bog and moor to scatterings of cottages with turf roofs and unglazed holes for windows.These ...

Bevan’s Boy

John Campbell, 20 September 1984

The Making of Neil Kinnock 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13266 9
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Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership 
by G.M.F. Drower.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 297 78467 6
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... throughout the party: he was elected to the NEC in 1978, ahead of Barbara Castle and displacing Ian Mikardo. He deliberately eschewed office, beyond serving with mutual embarrassment for a year as Michael Foot’s PPS in 1974, and when Callaghan offered him a job (under Hattersley!) he preferred to hold himself free to oppose the Government’s devolution ...

The Party and the Army

Ronan Bennett, 21 March 1996

... cause to resort to arms, and always found the arguments to justify it. It is not so long ago that Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, invited the media to a night-time parade of hundreds of his supporters as they waved their gun licences and threatened, in the name of democracy and the Protestant people, to use their weapons if Britain tried ...

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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... picked them up from school or got them up for breakfast: these jobs were done for a while by Bob Mitchell, Michael’s ‘friend’, an American with the whitest teeth Corin had ever seen. Perhaps the strange atmosphere Michael Redgrave created in the household, the moodiness and semi-secrecy, was a good education for an actor. Corin’s first ...

An Escalation of Reasonableness

Conor Gearty: Northern Ireland, 6 September 2001

To Raise up a New Northern Ireland: Articles and Speeches 1998-2000 
by David Trimble.
Belfast Press, 166 pp., £5.99, July 2001, 0 9539287 1 3
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... of violence was itself problematic, though not all of them would have been as shameless as Ian Paisley was when the first ceasefire was announced, claiming that Protestants now faced ‘the worst crisis in Ulster’s history since the setting up of the state’. Trimble puts it well in one of the many excellent speeches and articles in this ...

The Question of U

Ian Penman: Prince, 20 June 2019

Prince: Life and Times 
by Jason Draper.
Chartwell, 216 pp., £15.99, February 2017, 978 0 7858 3497 7
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The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince 
by Mayte Garcia.
Trapeze, 304 pp., £9.99, April 2018, 978 1 4091 7121 8
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... the one Prince song that might fit comfortably in the catalogue of his long-term muse, Joni Mitchell. You can easily imagine mid-1970s Joni using the line ‘a long-fought civil war’ to describe some wounding amour. On 16 April 2016, five days before his death, Prince stopped off at a local record store and bought new copies of Stevie Wonder’s ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... might have taken the heat out of the situation. Shortly after leaving Number Ten, Churchill told Ian Gilmour that immigration from the West Indies was ‘the most important subject facing this country but I cannot get any of my ministers to take any notice’ – although quite a few were no keener on Britain becoming ‘a magpie nation’ than Churchill ...


Philip French, 6 June 1996

The Fatal Englishman: Three Short Lives 
by Sebastian Faulks.
Hutchinson, 309 pp., £16.99, April 1996, 0 09 179211 8
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... Jeremy in December 1954, at the end of our first term, when the editor-designate of Isis, Adrian Mitchell, appointed me as the next term’s deputy news editor and Jeremy as one of his two Union reporters (the other being Christopher Driver). I knew him by reputation. There were people quite as clever as Jeremy, several of them his friends, but somehow word ...

A Lethal Fall

Barbara Everett: Larkin and Chandler, 11 May 2006

... Eliot). As a reviewer and essayist, he gave respect and appreciation to such various talents as Ian Fleming and Dick Francis, Michael Innes and Gladys Mitchell – all British writers. It is hard to believe that he hadn’t read, at some time between its first British publication in 1943 and the writing of ‘High ...


John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa, 11 July 2002

... I watched it on my own. When you do that you concentrate harder and it takes more out of you, as Ian Hamilton said: ‘I don’t play football any more, but you should see me watch it.’ Underlying this is the point that a football match isn’t a spectacle but an experience: you don’t look at it, you live through it. This was England’s best performance ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson, 14 January 2002

... This is the first part of a two-part interview. Part 2: ‘The Price’. Ian Hamilton died of cancer on 27 December 2001, aged 63. It was a death that the ‘LRB’ has especial cause to lament. He was a great support to this paper, helping to get it going in 1979, serving ever since on its editorial board, and above all contributing many exact, unsparing and funny pieces on poetry, on novels – and on football ...

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