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20 March 1997
Why Vote Conservative? 
by David Willetts.
Penguin, 108 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026304 7
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Why Vote Liberal Democrat? 
by William Wallace.
Penguin, 120 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026303 9
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Why Vote Labour? 
by Tony Wright.
Penguin, 111 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026397 7
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... the general election without being overtaken by it. Over the last half-century, Penguin have intermittently filled this kind of slot, beginning in 1947, when they commissioned the Labour MP JohnParker and the Conservative MP Quintin Hogg, now Lord Hailsham, to produce books of a couple of hundred pages each. ‘When the manuscripts were received,’ the publishers were forced to reveal, ‘it was ...

An Even Deeper Bunker

Tom Vanderbilt: Secrets and spies

7 March 2002
Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World 
by James Bamford.
Century, 721 pp., £20, May 2001, 0 7126 7598 1
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Total Surveillance: Investigating the Big Brother World of E-Spies, Eavesdroppers and CCTV 
by John Parker.
Piatkus, 330 pp., £10.99, September 2001, 0 7499 2226 5
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... circuit TV systems; their car-renting histories have been tracked; we even know that one of them rented an adult film on motel pay-per-view. They were the victims of ‘total surveillance’, as JohnParker calls it. Yet it mattered little – Atta’s driver’s licence may not have been in order but there were some 200,000 outstanding traffic warrants in Broward County. The attacks of 11 ...

I am a cactus

John​ Sutherland: Christopher Isherwood and his boys

3 June 2004
Isherwood 
by Peter Parker.
Picador, 914 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 330 48699 3
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... 1931, ‘is a cactus.’ Prickly, solitary, self-sufficient, hard to handle and difficult to love. How to get to grips with ‘Isherwood’ (as he has chosen to address him) was a problem for Peter Parker: something that perhaps explains the 12 years this usually brisk biographer has spent on his task. A main difficulty is that Isherwood (‘I am a camera’) is himself so intent a watcher of things ...

Self-Effacers

John​ Lanchester

24 May 1990
Chicago Loop 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 183 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 241 12949 4
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Lies of Silence 
by Brian Moore.
Bloomsbury, 194 pp., £12.99, April 1990, 0 7475 0610 8
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Amongst Women 
by John​ McGahern.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.99, May 1990, 0 571 14284 2
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The Condition of Ice 
by Christopher Burns.
Secker, 170 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 436 19989 0
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... mentioned coolness and lucidity of his style. A prose more intensely wrought would have injected an element of the energy which makes attractive fictional monsters as disparate as Richard III and John Self. Chicago Loop (terrific title) is another book that has a cold, clear surface and a lurking nastiness underneath. Its central character, Parker Jagoda (terrific name), is a 37-year old architect ...
18 April 1985
The Thirty Years’ War 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Routledge, 340 pp., £20, January 1985, 0 7100 9788 3
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... Geoffrey Parker’s new book on the Thirty Years’ War is the first major study of the subject to appear in English for nearly half a century. To be more exact, it is now 47 years since the publication of a book on ...

Sad Century

David Parrott: The 17th-Century Crisis

5 March 2015
Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 871 pp., £16.99, August 2014, 978 0 300 20863 4
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... a series of events that were geographically dispersed but chronologically contemporary led to another set of essays, The General Crisis of the 17th Century, published in 1978 and edited by Geoffrey Parker and Lesley Smith. Thanks particularly to the editors’ introduction and John Eddy’s essay on the effect of sunspots, the debate was pushed in a new direction: climate change and its impact on the ...

Hunter-Capitalists

Roger Hodge: The Comanches

15 December 2011
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker​ and the Rise and Fall of the Comanche Tribe 
by S.C. Gwynne.
Constable, 483 pp., £9.99, July 2011, 978 1 84901 703 9
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... On 19 May 1836, less than a month after the Texan Republic won independence from Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto, a large group of Indians rode up to the gate of Parker’s Fort, near present-day Mexia, east of Waco. The Parker clan had travelled from Illinois to the extremities of the Texas frontier three years earlier, with 30 oxcarts of belongings and a religious ...

Lethal Pastoral

Paul Keegan: Housman’s Lethal Pastoral

17 November 2016
Housman Country: Into the Heart of England 
by Peter Parker.
Little, Brown, 446 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 4087 0613 8
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... but do as Housman exhorts in one of his blasphemous squibs: ‘Mary-Jane the train is through yer:/Hallelujah, Hallelujah!/We will gather up the fragments that remain.’ In Housman Country, Peter Parker does it by writing the life and times not of the man but of his most famous book: the growing pains of A Shropshire Lad, the vicissitudes of its reception, its cultural ‘aftermaths’. The word ...

Zeus Be Nice Now

James Davidson: Ancient Cults

19 July 2007
Thesaurus Cultus et Rituum Antiquorum 
Getty, 3014 pp., $1,215, March 2007, 978 0 89236 787 0Show More
Polytheism and Society at Athens 
by Robert Parker.
Oxford, 544 pp., £27.50, March 2007, 978 0 19 921611 6
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... organised according to occasion and daily life. The problem is that the contributors never seem to have reached agreement on some basic questions of what the Thesaurus was supposed to achieve. John Boardman’s introduction claims it is a ‘comprehensive guide’ but he admits that while some of the collections of evidence are nearly complete, ‘in many cases they are highly selective ...
16 February 1984
Justice at Nuremberg 
by Robert Conot.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 297 78360 2
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The Nuremberg Trial 
by Ann Tusa and John​ Tusa.
Macmillan, 519 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 27463 6
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... and when the tribunal deliberated the alternates spoke and voted as judges. The US judges were Francis Biddle, an aristocratic New Deal Democrat who had been Roosevelt’s Attorney-General, and John J. Parker, a US circuit court judge, who had been nominated to the Supreme Court in 1930 by President Hoover, but rejected by the Senate owing to opposition by labour and blacks. Although the ...

At the Foundling Museum

Brian Dillon: Found

10 August 2016
... by Reynolds and Gainsborough as well as Hogarth himself. Artistic connections remain: every two years an artist, a writer and a musician are invited to create projects. The result of Cornelia Parker’s fellowship is Found (until 4 September), for which, in the spirit of Hogarth’s improving curatorial impulse, she asked almost seventy people, mostly visual artists, to submit objects or works ...

The Amazing …

Jonathan Lethem: My Spidey

6 June 2002
Spider-Man 
directed by Sam Raimi.
May 2002
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... or picture book-isation of the movie – an advertising source in an only slightly subtler sense. ‘It’s always like that for him,’ the child mused when, in the film’s opening sequence, Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s ‘real’ teenage self, missed the school bus. In that one remark the child encapsulated what the director and producers had got so right in casting Tobey Maguire as the misfit ...

The World of School

John​ Bayley

28 September 1989
The Brideshead Generation: Evelyn Waugh and his Friends 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 523 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 297 79320 9
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Osbert: A Portrait of Osbert Lancaster 
by Richard Boston.
Collins, 256 pp., £17.50, August 1989, 0 00 216324 1
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Ackerley: A Life of J.R. Ackerley 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 465 pp., £16.95, September 1989, 0 09 469000 6
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... Widmerpool, Waugh can be seen as striving to set up the world of school in a waste land of permissiveness and democratic vulgarity. J.R. Ackerley’s world was in its own way not so different. Peter Parker has already written a searching book, The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public School Ethos, and his long and thorough account of Ackerley’s career is even better, still more revealing. Ackerley ...

At Home in the Huntington

John​ Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive

10 June 1999
... and the Huntington. Three of the (alleged) competitors were within a thirty-mile radius of Isherwood’s home in Santa Monica. The Ransom Center has dovetailing collections of Spender, Connolly and John Lehmann material. NYPL is a main deposit of Auden’s literary remains. Of the five, only the Huntington is a private institution without a university affiliation. Since its foundation in 1929 it has ...
7 March 1996
Leaving Las Vegas 
directed by Mike Figgis.
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... to Margot Channing’s theatrical salon in All about Eve, to any Western saloon, booze is the magnifier for all that 30-foot-tall emoting. As Alan Rudolph’s lugubrious 1995 biopic of Dorothy Parker, Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle, illustrates, it was Prohibition that made boozing an essential act of transgression among the Hollywood crowd of the Twenties and Thirties, matching the literary ...

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