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Sly Digs

Frank Kermode: E.M. Forster as Critic, 25 September 2008

‘The Creator as Critic’ and Other Writings 
by E.M. Forster, edited by Jeffrey Heath.
Dundurn, 814 pp., £45, March 2008, 978 1 55002 522 4
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... the same moment as this one.* It is equally scrupulous though perhaps less arduously discursive. Jeffrey Heath’s collection, animated throughout by his reverence for Forster, is not easy to read. The contents are miscellaneous in character, but readers of Forster are used to that. There has been a conscientious attempt to give the contents a helpful ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

Swallow 
by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... MP whose ‘swallow’ is described as ‘a half-caste tart in India’. In First Among Equals, Jeffrey Archer introduces a Labour MP who is likewise endangered by a young black girl ‘in a white leather mini skirt so short it might have been better described as a handkerchief’. But, unlike D.M. Thomas, both Raven and Archer are accomplished ...

Prodigals

John Sutherland, 19 August 1982

A Prodigal Child 
by David Storey.
Cape, 319 pp., £7.50, June 1982, 0 224 02027 7
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The Prodigal Daughter 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 447 pp., £7.95, July 1982, 0 340 27687 8
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Ralph 
by John Stonehouse.
Cape, 318 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 224 02019 6
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The Man from St Petersburg 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 292 pp., £7.95, May 1982, 0 241 10783 0
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The Patriot Game 
by George Higgins.
Secker, 237 pp., £7.50, July 1982, 0 436 19589 5
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... than reading. Titles and general category apart, there is little to link A Prodigal Child with Jeffrey Archer’s blockbusting latest, The Prodigal Daughter (number 1 on the New York Times best-seller list as I write). Thematically, it carries on Archer’s fascinated depiction of success, as measured in supreme political office and millions. More ...

Oh God, can we face it?

Daniel Finn: ‘The BBC’s Irish Troubles’, 18 May 2016

The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles’: Television, Conflict and Northern Ireland 
by Robert Savage.
Manchester, 298 pp., £70, May 2015, 978 0 7190 8733 2
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... that would address nationalist grievances, especially in the field of policing, eased after Heath replaced Wilson in 1970. The emergence of the Provisional IRA, which put itself forward as a defender of the Catholic ghettos before launching its first attacks on British soldiers in the spring of 1971, led government ministers in London and Belfast to ...

Nerds, Rabbits and a General Lack of Testosterone

R.W. Johnson: Major and Lamont, 9 December 1999

The Autobiography 
by John Major.
HarperCollins, 774 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 00 257004 1
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In Office 
by Norman Lamont.
Little, Brown, 567 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 316 64707 1
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... up a petty criminal, a copper’s nark, a seller of iffy cars – rather than the man who made Jeffrey Archer a life peer. Major feels he was let down by ‘the bastards’ in his own party, while Lamont feels he was badly treated all round. It is Lamont, curiously, who puts his finger on the things that matter: the controversy over Europe and the great ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... the second half of the century they were Churchill again, Eden, Macmillan, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Heath, Thatcher and John Major – a more mixed bunch, admittedly, but still mostly distinguished and competent. That the names of William Hague at the age of 36 and Iain Duncan Smith at any age should now be added to that illustrious roll is bizarre. How did ...

Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... doors, suggesting that they might do better to walk along the platform to the restaurant car. Jeffrey Archer may have dreamed of routes as straight as an executive jet’s runway, but McKie knows that a true bus journey is a wandering, much interrupted affair that takes for ever to arrive at anything resembling a destination. Characterised by ...

Fiery Participles

D.A.N. Jones, 6 September 1984

Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic 
by David Bromwich.
Oxford, 450 pp., £19.50, March 1984, 0 19 503343 4
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William Godwin: Philosopher, Novelist, Revolutionary 
by Peter Marshall.
Yale, 496 pp., £14.95, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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Burke, Paine, Godwin and the Revolution Controversy 
edited by Marilyn Butler.
Cambridge, 280 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 521 24386 6
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... of political action topography has its place. There was a difference between Hounslow, a wild heath of gibbets, enclosures and a cavalry barracks, and Windsor, a seat of royal authority. David Bromwich will take the point about Windsor, for he has an excellent discussion of Burke’s Tory eulogy of Windsor, explaining why Hazlitt liked it so much and how ...

Schadenfreude

R.W. Johnson, 2 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... and Peter Lilley and a strange breed of suburban Brylcreem boys – John Moore, Kenneth Baker, Jeffrey Archer and, pre-eminently, Cecil Parkinson. What they have in common is a dreadful smarminess, a smoothly blatant insincerity which apparently nothing can puncture – Baker’s own recent memoirs are one long purr of bland self-satisfaction.* It is ...

Diary

Tom Paulin: Trimble’s virtues, 7 October 2004

... they did not return. Trimble’s political career began with the prorogation of Stormont by Edward Heath on 24 March 1972 – ‘I am,’ he says, ‘the product of the destruction of Stormont’ – but it was fuelled by grief and anger along the way. Grief especially at the murder by the IRA of his close friend and colleague in the Queen’s University law ...

Germs: A Memoir

Richard Wollheim: Childhood, 15 April 2004

... accounts of petrol and the hours he had worked, and my father, misreading his name, called him ‘Heath’. It was a sign of the times, either of the prevalence of respect, or of the scarcity of jobs, that the mistake was never pointed out to my father until Keith came to leave us and asked for a reference. He was a pale, sickly young man, with a moustache ...

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