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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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... BBC2 viewers last November voted him the greatest Briton of all time. Most Churchill biographies 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 ...

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 ...

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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... themselves in a minority within the Government. Perhaps their tragedy was that although the Liberals were divided, the old party divisions were not yet effaced, but ran through the Coalition (as JohnRamsden 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 ...
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 ...

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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... richest woman in Britain, Jane Innes, was also one of the oldest. She died in 1839, worth more than a 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 ...

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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... stars. Over the years, Maskelyne went through 25 assistants, demanding perfect accuracy for his far-fetched 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 instruments calibrated to one four-thousandth of an ...

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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... Twelve years in the making, Keri Hulme’s extraordinary novel was first published in 1984 by Spiral, 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 ...

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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... In the early 1960s Profumo had two basic roles to fulfil. The first was as a point man between the British 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 ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett

30 January 1992
... alliance was the uninterrupted flow of political patronage, the network of offices and appointments 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 ...

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