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Natural Species

D.J. Enright

6 August 1981
... There’s a law these days against the extirpation of a Natural species ... So JohnBrown assures himself As he moves with care down the Underground corridors. A poster for panties carries a sticker:     ‘This degrades women.’ For Brown himself is the sole survivor of one such ...


John Brown

18 November 1982
Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Richard Layman.
Junction, 285 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 86245 027 6
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... Maltese Falcon took place on either the sixth or 13th of December 1928, and gives two paragraphs to a repetition of Hammett’s account, via the character of Casper Gutman, of the Hospitalers of St John – the purpose of which, it seems, is to allow Layman to observe that, contrary to what Hammett/Gutman says, the Hospitalers refused to move from Rhodes to Malta and were given four islands by ...

Better and Worse Worsts

Sadakat Kadri: American Trials

24 May 2007
The Trial in American Life 
by Robert Ferguson.
Chicago, 400 pp., £18.50, March 2007, 978 0 226 24325 2
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... On 16 October 1859, a white anti-slavery agitator called JohnBrown led 21 followers in a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. A previous expedition against a Kansas slave-owning settlement had ended in five deaths, but Brown had far grander hopes ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine

16 August 1990
Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... it never did so completely). She refused to perform the ceremonial duties associated with monarchy, and virtually absented herself from London altogether. She found consolation in the company of JohnBrown, and Thompson suggests that there was more to Victoria’s involvement with her Highland servant than it has been usual to suppose. Inevitably, there was widespread and growing dissatisfaction ...

Farewell Hong Kong

Penelope Fitzgerald

24 February 1994
The Mountain of Immoderate Desires 
by Leslie Wilson.
Weidenfeld, 374 pp., £15.99, February 1994, 0 297 81371 4
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... Pink is brought up in an English country rectory in the 1880s. He knows that the Pinks are not his real father and mother. He believes that he is the illegitimate son of Queen Victoria by her servant JohnBrown, who must have ‘lifted his kilt’ on some unrecorded occasion. Everywhere, on tea-caddies and biscuit-tins, he looks proudly at images of his mother’s face. Samuel believes it, but we don ...
13 May 2010
The English Opium-Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey 
by Robert Morrison.
Weidenfeld, 462 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 297 85279 7
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... of his own motives. Furthermore, the notion that opium had the power to confer pleasant states of dream and reverie was already familiar. As far back as 1701, the doctor and opium enthusiast John Jones said of the intoxicated (and intoxicating) state it brought about that ‘people do commonly call it a heavenly condition, as if no worldly Pleasure was to be compared with it’; and indeed ...


Ian Hamilton

25 January 1996
Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost 
by David Bennie.
Mainstream, 221 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 85158 757 8
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Achieving the Goal 
by David Platt.
Richard Cohen, 244 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 1 86066 017 7
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Captain’s Log: The Gary McAllister Story 
by Gary McAllister and Graham Clark.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 9781851587902
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Blue Grit: The John Brown​ Story 
by John Brown and Derek Watson.
Mainstream, 176 pp., £14.99, November 1995, 1 85158 822 1
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Kicking and Screaming: An Oral History of Football in England 
by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward.
Robson, 370 pp., £16.95, October 1995, 0 86051 912 0
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A Passion for the Game: Real Lives in Football 
by Tom Watt.
Mainstream, 316 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 1 85158 714 4
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... colloquially as ‘Arabs’). This muddle of transdisciplinary pretentiousness comes from a book called Not Playing for Celtic: Another Paradise Lost, and, yes, the paradise in question is indeed John Milton’s – or Big John’s (as he is called here):    Beating Airdrie in this year’s final has hardly sent warning shock-waves reverberating around the football giants of Europe, but having ...

An Attic Full of Sermons

Tessa Hadley: Marilynne Robinson

21 April 2005
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 282 pp., £14.99, April 2005, 1 84408 147 8
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... rather than as failed. If I had my way I would not leave one stone upon another. Gilead is narrated by the Congregationalist minister of just such a small, left-behind community, in Iowa in 1956. John Ames is in his seventies, married to a much younger second wife, Lila, and with a seven-year-old son; the novel is written in the form of a letter for the boy to read when he is an adult. Ames adds ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher Hitchens

17 August 1989
Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John​ Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... national resentment against Thatcherism as well as a more or less conventional Labourist one. Both men are of an age, and both have backgrounds in a harder Left than the one they now espouse. Gordon Brown was one of the convenor/editors of the Red Paper for Scotland in the early Seventies, and John Lloyd saw the inside of the Communist Party before helping to found a pro-European Marxist tendency at ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment

5 April 2007
The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... the Scottish printers and booksellers of the second half of the century, such as Andrew Millar, William Strahan, Thomas Cadell (father and son) and George Robinson in London, and Alexander Kincaid, John Balfour, John Bell and William Creech in Edinburgh, were not ‘mechanicks’ as Strahan once complained, but collaborators in a London-Edinburgh publishing enterprise that put Scotland on the ...
30 January 1992
The Birthday Boys 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
Duckworth, 189 pp., £12.99, December 1991, 0 7156 2378 8
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... out into the blizzard – a small step for him, a large one for myth – and, in a recall of a picture that had hung in his nursery, he meets Queen Victoria, seated on a piebald pony and attended by JohnBrown. (The expedition’s ponies had suffered atrociously.) ‘ “Happy Birthday,” sang the man holding the bridle. And oh, how warm it was.’ This may strike us as well over the top ...

Brown​ v. Salmond

Colin Kidd: The Scottish Elections

26 April 2007
... a small stateless nation such as Scotland had produced not so much a nationalist reaction to socialism as a nationalist alternative. Nothing exemplified the new political culture more tellingly than John McGrath’s play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (1973), which the 7:84 theatre company took on tour round Scotland. The play itself was impeccably socialist; but audiences were more ...
25 April 1991
... come in? Pinkie, the young gangster of Brighton Rock, has none of its necessary banality, and is designed to be merely Satanic, in the spirit of Conrad’s melodramatic characters, like Gentleman Brown or Mr Jones. Pinkie is strictly for the book. When the famous record to which the heart-broken Rose listens has stopped playing, he vanishes into limbo. Greene was less than ingenuous when he ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown

19 February 1998
Gordon BrownThe Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... from afar.’ Judging from this hagiography, the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be very unhappy. The guiding star of his youth has entirely vanished from his firmament. In 1975 the young Gordon Brown compiled, edited and published a socialist manifesto entitled Red Paper for Scotland. At 24, he had just completed a three-year term as rector of Edinburgh University and chaired the University Court ...

Short Cuts

John​ Lanchester: Climate Change

5 April 2007
... Since the LRB went to press with the last issue, climate change has made one of its periodic appearances in the headlines, with David Cameron and Gordon Brown each making announcements about what he will do when in office. This amounts to a green beauty contest, with the public in the position of the pen-sucking judges. Cameron first. The Tory leader has ...

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