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Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... province by leftists (Guy Mollet/Harold Wilson) or weak-minded centrists (Pierre Pflimlin/Edward Heath), the military must ensure that the right sort of government came to power in the metropole. Operation Clockwork Orange was precisely this: an attempt to smear and undermine Labour leaders and Tory wets alike, the short-term aim being to prevent Labour ...

A Scrap of Cloth

John Borneman: The History of the Veil, 18 December 2008

The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore and Politics 
by Jennifer Heath.
California, 346 pp., £12.95, April 2008, 978 0 520 25518 0
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... to hide their identity. Neither variety of male veiling provokes much controversy. As Jennifer Heath writes in her introduction, veiling attracts attention to women’s faces, to the eyes, the mouth and the hair. Veils don’t hide the face so much as frame it. They illuminate one part of the face by setting it in relief to the part they conceal. At the ...

English Words and French Authors

John Sturrock, 8 February 1990

A New History of French Literature 
edited by Denis Hollier.
Harvard, 1280 pp., £39.95, October 1989, 0 674 61565 4
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... we have to wait indeed for the New History’s brutally downputting last chapter, by Stephen Heath, who picks on Apostrophes and on Bernard Pivot as his example of everything that is neutered and intellectually contemptible in a country whose literary radicals have all sold out and whose once subversive literature has finally collapsed into a tame ...

Incompetence at the War Office

Simon Jenkins: Politics and Pistols at Dawn, 18 December 2008

The Duel: Castlereagh, Canning and Deadly Cabinet Rivalry 
by Giles Hunt.
Tauris, 214 pp., £20, January 2008, 978 1 84511 593 7
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... morning on 21 September 1809, two men set out from London in two carriages and headed for Putney Heath. They brought two seconds, two sets of pistols, two hatreds and a total misunderstanding about what had recently passed between them. They then fought a duel. One was unscathed and the other received a flesh wound to his thigh, narrowly avoiding an ...

Bitten by an Adder

Tim Parks: ‘The Return of the Native’, 17 July 2014

The Return of the Native 
by Thomas Hardy, edited by Simon Avery.
Broadview, 512 pp., £9.50, April 2013, 978 1 55481 070 3
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... making them so? Why do people have an appetite for this? The Return of the Native is set on Egdon Heath. A ‘vast tract of unenclosed wild’, infertile and intractable, its community left behind by 19th-century progress, without even a church, Egdon is at once overwhelmingly real and a place of the mind, a landscape of ancient burial mounds and prehistoric ...

Diary

R.W. Johnson: Major Wins the Losership, 3 August 1995

... of things like that. The upheavals in the Tory Party show a different face of the same reality. John Major’s leadership has been under almost intolerable stress ever since the collapse of British EMS membership in late 1992. The better the economy did thereafter – and not since the Fifties have we experienced such a protracted period of high growth and ...

It was sheer heaven

Bee Wilson: Just Being British, 9 May 2019

Exceeding My Brief: Memoirs of a Disobedient Civil Servant 
by Barbara Hosking.
Biteback, 384 pp., £9.99, March 2019, 978 1 78590 462 2
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... Cornish scholarship girl and rose to become a senior civil servant under Harold Wilson and Edward Heath and, later, a top executive at breakfast television – has written a memoir of her rise to the top of the British establishment. Sentence by sentence, her story is likeable and impressive but never very exciting to read. Most of the great turning points in ...
Whatever Happened to the Tories: The Conservatives since 1945 
by Ian Gilmour and Mark Garnett.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £25, October 1997, 1 85702 475 3
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... is not a conventional history. It is not, for example, meant to compete with the standard work, John Ramsden’s volumes in the history of the Conservative Party, or with other histories which carry the story forward to the present day. It is rather an essay, or series of essays, on themes and issues with which Ian Gilmour was and is himself involved ...

Dream on

C.K. Stead, 3 December 1992

A World of My Own: A Dream Diary 
by Graham Greene.
Reinhardt, 116 pp., £12.99, October 1992, 1 871061 36 9
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... he was always a storyteller for boys, in the tradition (a very good one) of R.L. Stevenson and John Buchan. In A Sort of Life, which was as near to an autobiography as he was ever prepared to go (and itself the result of psychotherapy for a period of writer’ block), Greene tells how he first came to keep a record of his dreams. Though it’ not at all ...

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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... An MP and financier​ dead from poison on Hampstead Heath; the secretary of a life insurance company in his office with his brains blown out; a stockbroker with his throat cut in a railway carriage in Grosvenor Road Station; a diamond magnate jumping overboard from a passenger liner in the mid-Atlantic: lurid with suicide, Victorian capitalism got a very bad press ...
Carrington: A Life and a Policy 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Dent, 182 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 460 04691 8
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Thatcher: The First Term 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 240 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 370 30602 3
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Viva Britannia: Mrs Thatcher’s Britain 
by Paolo Filo della Torre.
Sidgwick, 101 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 283 99143 7
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... played Boswell to Margaret Thatcher’s Johnson, having come in from the cold, as it were, of the Heath years. He has now written a book about Peter Carrington, who resigned, of course, as Foreign Minister after the Argentines invaded the Falklands in April 1982. The book may sell: but not to Lord Carrington. Mrs Thatcher’s England is also the theme of a ...

I am a classical scholar, and you are not

Peter Clarke: Enoch Powell, 7 March 2013

Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell 
edited by Lord Howard of Rising.
Biteback, 320 pp., £25, June 2012, 978 1 84954 310 1
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... John Enoch Powell was an eminent classical scholar, as his entry in Who’s Who proclaimed: Craven Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1931; First Chancellor’s Classical Medallist; Porson Prizeman; Browne Medallist, 1932; fellow of Trinity, 1934-38; professor of Greek at the University of Sydney, 1937-39. He was 25 when he was appointed to the chair at Sydney ...

Help Yourself

R.W. Johnson: The other crooked Reggie, 21 April 2005

Reggie: The Life of Reginald Maudling 
by Lewis Baston.
Sutton, 604 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7509 2924 3
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... In the spring of 1974, as reports multiplied of his involvement with crooks such as John Poulson and T. Dan Smith, Reginald Maudling disappeared to Paris with his wife, Beryl. The Daily Mail’s Harry Longmuir had little difficulty locating him in the ‘Président’ suite of the George V. Checking in himself, Longmuir spent a whole Sunday morning with a confused, disorientated Maudling in his dressing-gown ...

All that matters is what Tony wants

John Vincent: Reforming the Lords, 16 March 2000

Reforming the House of Lords: Lessons from Overseas 
by Meg Russell.
Oxford, 368 pp., £18.99, January 2000, 0 19 829831 5
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... which uses the Upper House as a clerk might use Tippex. The ‘sober second thought’ which Sir John Macdonald, the first Canadian premier (and a notable inebriate) attributed to senates is largely the stuff of legend. To see what lessons may be learned from abroad, Meg Russell has examined seven upper houses in modern democracies. Rather oddly, she omits ...

The British Disease

Peter Jenkins, 21 August 1980

Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience 1964-79 
by Denis Barnes and Eileen Reid.
Heinemann, 240 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 435 83045 7
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... for the last two decades. It has been the downfall of three governments – Wilson’s in 1970, Heath’s in 1974 and Callaghan’s in 1979. During that time, full employment and free collective bargaining became at last incompatible, and the former was in effect abandoned in 1968. As the union problem grew more acute, the relative decline of the British ...

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