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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 ...


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 ...

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 ...

No Strings

Bee Wilson: Pinocchio, 1 January 2009

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 ...

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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... he was to have an abiding affection. The Standard then was no mere rag: Foot was to recruit Jon Kimche, Arthur Koestler and Isaac Deutscher to write for it, and it provided Foot with a secure and happy base. Over the years Beaverbrook showered him with gifts, right-wing opinions, money, and a friendship which, given their opposed views, did both men ...

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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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 ...

Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel

Charles Glass: Palestine, 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 ...

Bastard Foreigners

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare v. the English, 2 July 2020

Shakespeare’s Englishes: Against Englishness 
by Margaret Tudeau-Clayton.
Cambridge, 245 pp., £75, October 2019, 978 1 108 49373 4
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... true children of the English, and suborning inkehorne changlings in their steade’) and Thomas Wilson, who invented the phrase ‘the King’s English’ in his Arte of Rhetorique (1553), thereby invoking royal sanction for the ‘plainness’ he prescribed. Their campaign inevitably had particular problems with the cultural legacies of the Norman ...

You have to take it

Joanne O’Leary: Elizabeth Hardwick’s Style, 17 November 2022

A Splendid Intelligence: The Life of Elizabeth Hardwick 
by Cathy Curtis.
Norton, 400 pp., £25, January, 978 1 324 00552 0
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The Uncollected Essays 
by Elizabeth Hardwick, edited by Alex Andriesse.
NYRB, 304 pp., £15.99, May, 978 1 68137 623 3
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... daughter, Harriet, Lowell began seeing a young poetry student who looked, according to Edmund Wilson, ‘like a Renoir’. On one occasion, the girl played hostess at their house in Boston, while Hardwick retreated upstairs to cry. Bishop cut short a visit in the summer of 1947 after Lowell began declaring that he was in love with her. When the couple ...


Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007, 3 January 2008

... what I was planning to do instead might have seemed inappropriate. On the train back I run into Jon Snow, who is returning from Bradford where he has been making a programme about the decline of the city. I note that at Kings Cross, unlike me, he goes home by Tube, whereas after the rigours of Nidderdale I feel I’m entitled to a cab. Still, as Anthony ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 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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