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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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... constitutional arrangements. Of course there are people – like Willie Hamilton – to whom the constitution itself is a scandal. Their disapproval of the honours system must be taken for granted. JohnWalker 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 ...

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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... vital. The critics of abstraction in the Fifties included those who felt that non-figurative painting 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 New Grunge

Lauren Oyler

23 May 2019
by John​ Wray.
Canongate, 228 pp., £14.99, January, 978 1 78211 962 3
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... In the late​ 1990s a white teenager called JohnWalker 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 ...

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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... has edited; he is also the co-author of a biography of Cunninghame Graham. It is indicative of the 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 ...

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 ...

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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... In 1780, Thomas Sheridan went furthest of all in his General Dictionary of the English Language, by respelling the headwords with a view to eliminating wrong pronunciations, a method followed also by JohnWalker in his Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, which went through more than a hundred editions, and by William Cobbett in his survey of the regional possibilities when it came to pronouncing the word ...


Rory Stewart: In Afghanistan

11 July 2002
... or al-Qaida to US Forces. But the public in the West only really noticed when the victims were foreign. The bombing of four Canadians made them aware of errors in targeting, while the trial of JohnWalker, 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 ...

Garbo’s Secret

Brenda Maddox

6 November 1980
by Alexander Walker.
Weidenfeld, 191 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 297 77799 8
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... Why did the most beautiful and adored 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 ...

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, 978 1 78816 042 1
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... including Gulbenkian’s feelings for his adopted country (he rejected a knighthood in 1951). He next set his sights on the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, courted by its director, JohnWalker, 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 ...
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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...  and even a countess will seem like an extinct volcano in the Lords. Her allies in the press are 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 ...

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.’ We are certainly more able than many of our predecessors to accept ...

‘A Being full of Witching’

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

18 May 2000
... have called it, infamy. Even at her death, so long after the event, there were few in the literary 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 ...

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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... was born on the north-east coast of Scotland. He can write wonderfully about Scottish coasts and 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 ...


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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... reanimating familiar fears. Why didn’t the film feel safely trapped in history? Part of the answer 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 ...
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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... of Gorbachev’s impact on the Soviet Union make valuable contributions to assessing the prospects 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 ...

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