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Enjoying every moment

David Reynolds: Ole Man Churchill, 7 August 2003

Churchill 
by John Keegan.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £14.99, November 2002, 0 297 60776 6
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Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend since 1945 
by John Ramsden.
HarperCollins, 652 pp., £9.99, September 2003, 0 00 653099 0
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Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography 
by Mary Soames.
Doubleday, 621 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 385 60446 7
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Churchill at War 1940-45 
by Lord Moran.
Constable, 383 pp., £9.99, October 2002, 1 84119 608 8
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Churchill’s Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy 
by Klaus Larres.
Yale, 583 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 300 09438 8
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... have been massive: Roy Jenkins’s weighed in at 1.5 kilos and a thousand pages. A great virtue of John Keegan’s is its brevity. Here is the saga in miniature. Keegan’s Churchill is pre-eminently a man of war and a man of words. The Army made him physically, intellectually and morally – Sandhurst and the years in India and Africa ‘must be ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... John Stuart Mill labelled the Conservatives ‘the stupid party’. They have certainly been stupid since 1997, and one wonders if their stupidity will persist. But a related and more interesting question is: ‘Are the Conservatives any longer a serious party?’ A serious party can be one of two things. It can, like the Greens, be concerned with only one issue or one group of issues ...

Middle Way

Paul Addison, 6 December 1979

Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918-1922 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 436 pp., £15
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... were divided, the old party divisions were not yet effaced, but ran through the Coalition (as John Ramsden argues), over Ireland, India and Russia. The politics of the ‘Centre’ were a fiction to which they clung with desperation. Dr Morgan’s history of the Coalition is a stylish and powerful challenge to old orthodoxies. But I remain somewhat ...

I Should Have Shrieked

Patricia Beer, 8 December 1994

John Betjeman: Letters, Vol. I, 1926-1951 
edited by Candida Lycett Green.
Methuen, 584 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 413 66950 5
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... I was less than fifty pages into this first volume of John Betjeman’s Letters when I felt I must be in for an attack of tinnitus. I kept hearing shrieks of laughter. This condition was caused not by the poet himself but by the editor or Candida Lycett Green, his daughter, who seems to value nothing so much about her father as his ability to make people split their sides ...

Golden Dolly

John Pemble: Rich Britons, 24 September 2009

Who Were the Rich? A Biographical Directory of British Wealth-Holders. Vol. I: 1809-39 
by William Rubinstein.
Social Affairs Unit, 516 pp., £20, May 2009, 978 1 904863 39 7
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... million, at the age of 91. And the oldest person in Britain was also among the richest. Elizabeth Ramsden died in 1817, worth £140,000, at the age of 106. The average age at death of the whole adult population was probably 50 at most. In Britain 200 years ago, the more you got the longer you lived; and the longer you lived the more you got. This isn’t ...

Where am I?

Greg Dening, 31 October 1996

Far-Fetched Facts: The Literature of Travel and the Idea of the South Seas 
by Neil Rennie.
Oxford, 330 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 19 811975 5
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... facts. Cook’s Endeavour was packed with the finest instruments of the day, made by Jesse Ramsden, Thomas Earnshaw, John Bird, John Dollund and John Shelton. Cook would have shared the satisfaction of these artisans that their hands could make ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones, 21 November 1985

The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... a New Zealand-based feminist collective consisting of Marian Evans, Miriama Evans and Irihapeti Ramsden ... The Bone People has won the New Zealand Book Award and the Mobil Pegasus Award for Maori Literature and was shortlisted for the prestigious Wattie Awards ... Now, with the further endorsement of the Booker-McConnell Prize judges, Keri Hulme ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair, 21 February 2013

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... military establishment and the new government in Washington, a town presided over by another John/Jack the lad. Profumo’s go-getting reputation and unstuffy demeanour made him attractive to the men around JFK, who liked that he didn’t seem like a typical Brit, never mind a typical Tory. He was extremely sociable, and well suited to the work ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... available to those running the administration. In the play Sir Boothby Skrymshir and his nephew Ramsden are a ridiculous pair, but as Sheridan says (though the phrase was actually used by Fox), they are the ‘marketable flotsam’ out of which a majority was constructed. At the head of the pyramid was the King. All appointments flowed from him. If he was ...

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