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C.H. Sisson

6 February 1986
The Queen has been pleased: The British Honours System at Work 
by John Walker.
Secker, 216 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 436 56111 5
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... itself is a scandal. Their disapproval of the honours system must be taken for granted. John Walker is presumably more open-minded, and willing to speak as he finds, though what exactly an enquirer finds must depend on his general perspectives. ‘This book started,’ we are told, ‘as an article for Labour Research.’ ...

Political Purposes

Frances Spalding: Art in postwar Britain

15 April 1999
New Art New World: British Art in Postwar Society 
by Margaret Garlake.
Yale, 279 pp., £35, July 1998, 0 300 07292 9
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Cultural Offensive: America’s Impact on British Art since 1945 
by John Walker.
Pluto, 304 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 7453 1321 3
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... and sculpture undermined art’s humanity. ‘Painting is made out of a love for the subject,’ John Minton repeatedly told his students at the Royal College of Art, in defiance of an abstract tradition that had resurfaced with Victor Pasmore’s 1948 abstracts. Pasmore became a leading member of the Constructionists: abstract artists who abandoned nature ...

The New Grunge

Lauren Oyler

23 May 2019
Godsend 
by John Wray.
Canongate, 228 pp., £14.99, January 2019, 978 1 78211 962 3
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... In the late​ 1990s a white teenager called John Walker Lindh converted to Islam and began worshipping at the Islamic Centre of Mill Valley in Marin County, California. Brought up as a Catholic, he studied many world religions but was attracted to Islam after seeing Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. He soon found himself out of place in his American suburb – according to a family friend, he wore ‘the long robes and pillbox hat’ and grew a beard – so instead of university he went to Yemen to learn Arabic and then to a madrasa in Pakistan, where he intended to memorise the Quran ...

Don Roberto

David Daiches

17 February 1983
Selected Writings of Cunninghame Graham 
edited by Cedric Watts.
Associated University Presses, 212 pp., £13.50, August 1982, 0 8386 3087 1
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The Scottish Sketches of R.B. Cunninghame Graham 
edited by John Walker.
Scottish Academic Press, 204 pp., £8.75, August 1982, 0 7073 0288 9
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... many-sidedness of this writer that the other evidence of the revival of interest in him, Professor Walker’s selection of the writings concerned with Scotland, is the work of a Scots-born professor of Spanish in Canada. There is no section on the political and polemical writings and speeches on Scotland. Two stories, the much-anthologised ‘Beattock for ...

Better and Worse Worsts

Sadakat Kadri: American Trials

24 May 2007
The Trial in American Life 
by Robert Ferguson.
Chicago, 400 pp., £18.50, March 2007, 978 0 226 24325 2
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... On 16 October 1859, a white anti-slavery agitator called John Brown led 21 followers in a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. A previous expedition against a Kansas slave-owning settlement had ended in five deaths, but Brown had far grander hopes for his new enterprise – to start an insurrection across the South ...

Call Her Daisy-Ray

John Sturrock: Accents and Attitudes

11 September 2003
Talking Proper: The Rise of Accent as Social Symbol 
by Lynda Mugglestone.
Oxford, 354 pp., £35, February 2003, 0 19 925061 8
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... spelling. In the middle of the 18th century, however, lexicographers became more ambitious. Samuel Johnson, uneasily aware that ‘sounds are too volatile and subtile for legal restraints,’ limited himself in his great dictionary to indicating stress ‘by printing an accent upon the acute or elevated syllable’. Subsequent dictionary-makers went ...

Diary

Rory Stewart: In Afghanistan

11 July 2002
... foreign. The bombing of four Canadians made them aware of errors in targeting, while the trial of John Walker, a white American Muslim, for taking up arms against the United States, highlighted the significance of the confusion. Walker’s defence was that he had joined a Taliban-led jihad against ‘un-Islamic ...

Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox

6 November 1980
Garbo 
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... of early movie queens walk out at the height of her career and become a virtual recluse? Alexander Walker treats Garbo as a mystery to which he at last can offer an answer. Indifference to the prize, he says; the same detachment that enabled her, at 20 and just arrived in Hollywood, with little English, to defy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the most powerful of ...

Affronts he never forgave

Christina Riggs: ‘Mr Five Per Cent’

18 April 2019
Mr Five Per Cent: The Many Lives of Calouste Gulbenkian, the World’s Richest Man 
by Jonathan Conlin.
Profile, 402 pp., £25, January 2019, 978 1 78816 042 1
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... He next set his sights on the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, courted by its director, John Walker, with plans for a new building and murmurs of favourable tax rates. In 1949 and 1950, Gulbenkian sent a selection of his paintings to Washington, together with his Egyptian collection, which had been on loan to the British Museum since the ...
5 December 1991
Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... falling away. The Sunday Telegraph has ceased its passionate flirtations with nostalgia. Besides, John Major is either dismantling some of what she did or failing to conceal his embarrassment at the consequences of what he cannot undo. In the balance between exalting the Thatcher years and distancing itself from them, the Major Government has slowly but ...

Wadham and Gomorrah

Conrad Russell

6 December 1984
The Poems of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
edited by Keith Walker.
Blackwell, 319 pp., £35, September 1984, 0 631 12573 6
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... John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, one of the original ‘amorous sons of Wadham’, perhaps took part in writing an obscene farce called Sodom. Dr Walker drily observes that ‘to assert this twenty years ago would have damaged Rochester’s reputation as much as to deny it today ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

Charles Nicholl: The ‘poor half-harlot’ of Hazlitt’s affections

18 May 2000
... world who would not have recognised her by her former name. For Sarah Tomkins had once been Sarah Walker, also known as Sally Walker; and she was that little ‘lodging-house hussy’ (or ‘poor half-harlot’ or ‘callous jilt’) with whom the great Hazlitt had fallen so hopelessly in love, for whom he had divorced his ...

Slice of Life

Colin Burrow: Robin Robertson

30 August 2018
The Long Take 
by Robin Robertson.
Picador, 256 pp., £14.99, February 2018, 978 1 5098 4688 7
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... myths, and is temperamentally a northern island or isthmus dweller. In that respect he’s like John Burnside, to whom he dedicated his best poem so far, ‘At Roane Head’ (LRB, 14 August 2008), in which there is not just a selkie at the bottom of the garden but there might be a selkie in the bedroom that could cuckold you, or make you kill your children ...

Dry-Cleaned

Tom Vanderbilt: ‘The Manchurian Candidate’

21 August 2003
The Manchurian Candidate: BFI Film Classics 
by Greil Marcus.
BFI, 75 pp., £8.99, July 2002, 0 85170 931 1
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... is to do with its still shimmering quality. The film was an alchemical success: Frank Sinatra, John Frankenheimer, Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey would never better their performances here. ‘Something in the story, something in the times,’ Marcus writes, ‘that had to have been sensed, felt, but never thought out, never shaped into a theory or a ...
4 December 1986
Crisis in the Kremlin: Soviet Succession and the Rise of Gorbachev 
by Richard Owen.
Gollancz, 253 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 575 03635 4
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The Waking Giant: The Soviet Union Under Gorbachev 
by Martin Walker.
Joseph, 282 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 7181 2719 6
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The Artful Albanian: The Memoirs of Enver Hoxha 
edited by Jon Halliday.
Chatto, 394 pp., £5.95, May 1986, 0 7011 2970 0
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... for change. Richard Owen was the Times correspondent in Moscow from 1982 to 1985, while Martin Walker has been the Guardian’s correspondent since 1984. Their approaches provide an interesting contrast. Owen’s, as his title indicates, is avowedly Kremlinological, and the chapter headings reflect the personal, power-politics focus: ‘Andropov undermines ...

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