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D.A.N. Jones

8 January 1987
The Old School: A Study 
by Simon Raven.
Hamish Hamilton, 139 pp., £12, September 1986, 0 241 11929 4
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The Best Years of their Lives: The National Service Experience 1945-63 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 7181 2459 6
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Murder without Conviction: Inside the World of the Krays 
by John Dickson.
Sidgwick, 164 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780283994074
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Inside ‘Private Eye’ 
by Peter McKay.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 947795 80 4
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Malice in Wonderland: Robert Maxwell v. ‘Private Eye’ 
by Robert Maxwell, John​ Jackson, Peter Donnelly and Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 191 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 356 14616 2
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... By the Sixties all we conscripts had emerged from the mob, ready to face private enterprise, the gang life of Civvy Street, when the Kray Twins ruled London – or so the timorous newspapers claimed. JohnDickson, a former member of the Krays’ firm, has somehow produced a well-written book, Murder without Conviction. ‘We looked like any normal businessmen in our pin-striped suits,’ he says ...

Shovelling Clouds

Adam Mars-Jones: Fred Vargas

22 April 2015
Temps glaciaires 
by Fred Vargas.
Flammarion, 490 pp., €19.90, March 2015, 978 2 08 136044 0
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... on this level still counts as an imported luxury. British detective fiction of the Golden Age in the 1920s and 1930s was primitive in its sexual psychology, never more so than in the novels of JohnDickson Carr. Carr, a naturalised American, could ventriloquise British understatement almost too well, as his biographical note on the back of vintage green Penguins demonstrates, noting his ‘slight ...

Gloomy Sunday Afternoons

Caroline Maclean: Modernists at the Movies

10 September 2009
The Tenth Muse: Writing about Cinema in the Modernist Period 
by Laura Marcus.
Oxford, 562 pp., £39, December 2007, 978 0 19 923027 3
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... feet off the ground as they gallop. Muybridge was not a projection man, but he did invent the Zoopraxiscope, a rotating version of the 19th-century magic lantern. Thomas Edison, along with William Dickson, invented the Kinetoscope, the machine that launched the commercial film industry, in 1891; in Edison’s Kinetoscope Parlours viewers peeped through a hole in the top of a wooden box to watch ...
24 August 1995
John​ Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... extensive interests of the country he is altogether incapable of judging.’ Anyone who has dined recently with a Cabinet Minister will know that it is not just the labourer who is thus incapable. John Buchan, whose grandson I am, was a late and flesh-and-blood representative of that lost epoch before economic expediency: a writer who not so much rejected the division of labour (Baudelaire and the ...


J.D.F. Jones: Novels on South Africa

11 November 1999
by Giles Foden.
Faber, 366 pp., £9.99, September 1999, 0 571 19733 7
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Manly Pursuits 
by Ann Harries.
Bloomsbury, 340 pp., £15.99, March 1999, 0 7475 4293 7
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... in by British soldiers from farms close to Ladysmith.’ There is also ‘the Biographer’, who is recording the war on a prototype cine-camera: although he remains anonymous, he must be W.K.-L. Dickson, the pioneering filmmaker – Foden’s failure to name him may have something to do with the fact that he has an intimately described homosexual relationship with a soldier. To these men, and a ...

Ireland’s Invisibilities

Owen Dudley Edwards

15 May 1980
Ireland in the Age of Imperialism and Revolution 1760-1801 
by R.B. McDowell.
Oxford, 740 pp., £28, December 1979, 9780198224808
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... for his answer to Paine by the board of Trinity College’ on page 199, with the exact words repeated (apart from the belatedly respectful capitalisation of ‘Board’) in the ensuing footnote; John Fitzgibbon, Earl of Clare, is variously Clared and Fitzgibboned all over pages 602-3 with maximum confusion for readers who do not know he was both; and, as Bertie Wooster would say, so the long day ...

I met murder on the way

Colin Kidd: Castlereagh

24 May 2012
Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny 
by John​ Bew.
Quercus, 722 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 85738 186 6
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... south. Needless to say, the London media tend to focus on the outlandish elements in the loyalist worldview. Few books have done as much to reveal the latent liberalism of the Unionist tradition as John Bew’s The Glory of Being Britons: Civic Unionism in 19th-Century Belfast (2009). Bew challenged the prevalent notion that Unionism was at best a reflex response to Irish nationalism and at worst ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey Parker

4 September 1980
Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... To be sure, the standard general works have been thoroughly used – Ashton, Gras, Mathias and the rest; so have some major studies on important sectors of economic activity – such as P. G. M. Dickson on finance and T. S. Willan on inland trade and trade-routes. But Braudel is seldom able to add anything to what these scholars have already said. In an attempt to do so, he turns repeatedly to the ...

Shaky Do

Tony Gould

5 May 1988
Mary and Richard: The Story of Richard Hillary and Mary Booker 
by Michael Burn.
Deutsch, 249 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 233 98280 9
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... is that he was driven to it by an unhappy love affair. The letters themselves disprove the latter; the former, however, is a more complicated matter. Mr Burn blames Arthur Koestler and, even more, John Middleton Murry for putting about the suicide theory. Koestler had taken Hillary up after he had written The Last Enemy and Hillary greatly admired him (Mary was less enthusiastic about the author of ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories

26 April 2007
... Conservative Party spent most of its time ‘banging on about Europe’, as Cameron has put it. The UK’s forced departure from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992 had condemned John Major’s government to nearly five years of public disintegration, years in which the party’s anti-European ‘bastards’, as Major described them, reacted to the abrupt end of belief in Tory ...

Collected Works

Angus Calder

5 January 1989
Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 
by Mary Blewett.
Illinois, 444 pp., $29.95, July 1988, 0 252 01484 7
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Men’s Lives 
by Peter Matthiessen.
Collins Harvill, 335 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 00 272519 3
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On Work: Historical, Comparative and Theoretical Approaches 
edited by R.E. Pahl.
Blackwell, 752 pp., £39.95, July 1988, 9780631157625
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Slavery and Other Forms of Unfree Labour 
edited by Léonie Archer.
Routledge, 307 pp., £28, August 1988, 0 415 00203 6
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The Historical Meanings of Work 
edited by Patrick Joyce.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £27.50, September 1987, 0 521 30897 6
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Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590-1710 
by David Stevenson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 521 35326 2
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... Work for the night is coming’ (1868): Fill brightest hours with labour; Rest comes sure and soon. The American author of the words, Anna Walker, is invoking the declaration of Christ himself (John 9:4): ‘I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.’ Good works in this general sense could be performed by an invalid Evangelical lady ...


Colm Tóibín: The Great Irish Famine

30 July 1998
... years. Lady Gregory made herself useful to Yeats, as Roy Foster shows in his biography of the poet, because of her interest in folklore and her knowledge of the area around Coole and its people. ‘John Synge, I and Augusta Gregory, thought/All that we did, all that we said or sang/Must come from contact with the soil.’ Much of Yeats’s work on Irish folklore was, as Foster points out, a ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004

6 January 2005
... have at L’Etoile we always told each other the same stories. They were generally of Alan’s romantic escapades or of other people’s bad behaviour, a favourite being how, after a performance in John Osborne’s A Patriot for Me at Chichester for which he had been much praised, Alan was sitting in his dressing-room when there was a tentative knock on the door. It was Alec Guinness. He shook Alan ...

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