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Umbrageousness

Ferdinand Mount: Staffing the Raj

7 September 2017
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India 
by Shashi Tharoor.
Hurst, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 808 8
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The Making of India: The Untold Story of British Enterprise 
by Kartar Lalvani.
Bloomsbury, 433 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 1 4729 2482 7
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India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire 
by Jon Wilson.
Simon & Schuster, 564 pp., £12.99, August 2017, 978 1 4711 0126 7
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... to be the watchword. Or as the historian Ranajit Guha called it, ‘dominance without hegemony’. Jon Wilson’s India Conquered could be described as a rewriting of Guha from a British viewpoint. Or you could call it a history of aloofness. From the start, the British saw themselves, in another pithy phrase of Guha’s, as ‘an absolute ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones

10 July 2003
... out of vanity. No doubt I’ll come round: 40 million of us have got used to the audio-only kind. Jon Agar’s Constant Touch: A Global History of the Mobile Phone (Icon, £9.99) considers the social as well as technological aspects of the phenomenon. The conceptual breakthrough that makes mobiles possible was the work of D.H. Ring – born, you might ...

Community Relations

Daniel Finn: In Belfast

27 August 2009
... there are real foreigners to hassle, and respectable politicians happy to provide cover. Sammy Wilson of the DUP weighed in this January: ‘When it comes to a downturn, I think if jobs are becoming vacant . . . preference should be given to people from Northern Ireland.’ Wilson’s colleague Jeffrey Donaldson backed ...

Lunch

Jon Halliday

2 June 1983
In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... and secrecy: the prime ministers and the royals. The prime ministers do not come off too well. Wilson is not only an admirer of the Shah, but a crashing bore. Callaghan is described by Marcia Falkender as a ‘bent copper’. Heath is portrayed as unable to make contact with people. When the Thatchers come to dinner, ‘every time Mr Thatcher tries to say ...

On the Coalition

LRB Contributors

10 June 2010
... electoral approval, seems both comic and mildly outrageous here. Much space has been given to Jon Stewart’s quip on the Daily Show: ‘Your country’s been around, what, a couple thousand years and you never got around to writing down your constitution?’ That the British executive is able to claim such an extraordinary degree of improvisatory leeway ...

Bevan’s Boy

R.W. Johnson

24 March 1994
Michael Foot 
by Mervyn Jones.
Gollancz, 570 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 575 05197 3
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... for his stewardship of the Party. ‘I am deeply ashamed,’ he began. Unfortunately for Mervyn Jones, who both loves and admires his subject and would have us dwell on other things, it is the freeze-frame of that moment which lives on. For Foot had led Labour to its worst defeat since 1922, a defeat so bad that it handicaps Labour still. In almost exactly ...

77 Barton Street

Dave Haslam: Joy Division

3 January 2008
Juvenes: The Joy Division Photographs of Kevin Cummins 
To Hell with Publishing, 189 pp., £200, December 2007Show More
Joy Division: Piece by Piece 
by Paul Morley.
Plexus, 384 pp., £14.99, December 2007, 978 0 85965 404 3
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Control 
directed by Anton Corbijn.
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... and refine. ‘Joy Division’s themes are a perfect reflection of Manchester’s dark places,’ Jon Savage wrote in Melody Maker in July 1979, and in the NME Paul Morley championed the band’s ‘blurred depictions of desperation and desolation’. Cummins, who often worked alongside Morley, writes in his introduction to Juvenes, a collection of his Joy ...

No Strings

Bee Wilson: Pinocchio

1 January 2009
Pinocchio 
by Carlo Collodi, translated by Geoffrey Brock.
NYRB, 189 pp., £8.99, November 2008, 978 1 59017 289 6
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... in which nursery stories are upturned – The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith (1993) is a good example – than it does with fairy tales themselves. The narrative – which teems with talking animals – constantly plays with fairy-tale convention. Cinderella’s carriage pulled by mice-horses is reconfigured as ...
7 June 2001
One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... tended to portray the Zionist pioneers waging a war of independence against the British oppressor. Jon and David Kimche provided a good example of the conventional Israeli analysis of British policy in Both Sides of the Hill: Britain and the Palestine War (1960). ‘It was a mixture of ignorance, blundering, indecision and local bias against the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007

3 January 2008
... pretty curt. In one house in the street, though, they are assured of a warmer welcome, as Jonathan M. is never wont to turn down the chance of a debate and likes nothing better than a brisk canter through the arguments against the existence of God and the literal truth of the Bible. Two hapless evangelists had just had half an hour of this and were ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan

29 June 2016
... and accuse each other of all sorts of things while not really settling the problem.’ ‘Edmund Wilson says somewhere that the reason poets dislike each other’s books is because they seem wrong, false – a kind of lie,’ John replied. ‘If you were telling the truth you would be writing the same poems as me.’ So the world that Wright knew best ...

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