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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.’ ...

The New Grunge

Lauren Oyler, 23 May 2019

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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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... the headwords with a view to eliminating wrong pronunciations, a method followed also by John Walker 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 corn. In ...

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...

Naming the Graces

Charles Hope, 15 March 1984

The Art of Humanism 
by Kenneth Clark.
Murray, 198 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 0 7195 4077 1
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The Eloquence of Symbols: Studies in Humanist Art 
by Edgar Wind, edited by Jaynie Anderson.
Oxford, 135 pp., £25, January 1984, 0 19 817341 5
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... the discussion of Donatello, in particular, is marred by the fact that one crucial work, the St John in Venice, is misdated by 15 years. Even John Walker, in his preface, is hard put to find anything very remarkable in the text. The best he can do is to claim that ‘Italian 15th-century art needs an apologist like ...

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 ...

No More Scissors and Paste

Mary Beard: R.G. Collingwood, 25 March 2010

History Man: The Life of R.G. Collingwood 
by Fred Inglis.
Princeton, 385 pp., £23.95, 0 691 13014 0
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... family home. Inglis, in fact, hazards a guess that R.G. was the inspiration for the elder brother, John Walker, in Ransome’s We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea. True or not, it reminds us that when Collingwood set out, single-handed, on his ill-fated voyage into the English Channel in 1938, he had a lifetime of risky sailing experiences behind him. Inglis is ...

Gaelic Communist

Graham Walker, 12 October 1989

James Connolly: A Political Biography 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 244 pp., £9.95, October 1989, 0 7190 2958 9
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James Connolly: Selected Writings 
edited by P. Beresford Ellis.
Pluto, 256 pp., £8.95, April 1988, 9780745302676
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... bound up with the Empire. This, too, was the belief held by Belfast Labour leaders such as William Walker, with whom Connolly clashed polemically in 1911, on the question of whether Irish Labour should be integrated with the British Labour movement. Morgan deals competently with this well-known controversy and with Connolly’s failure to convince Protestant ...

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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... 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 ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 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 ...

Can Gorbachev succeed?

John Barber, 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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