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On the Make

Thomas Jones: Jonathan Lethem, 6 September 2001

Gun, with Occasional Music 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Faber, 262 pp., £5.99, August 2001, 0 571 20959 9
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... Jonathan Lethem’s first novel is set at an indeterminate time in the not too distant future. The United States – and possibly the whole world – is now run by the Inquisition, also known as the Office. You need a licence to ask questions. Everyone has to carry a card which registers how much ‘karma’ they have: the level can be increased or reduced at the discretion of an Office inquisitor – once it drops below zero, you’re taken off to the deep freeze ...

Worse than a Defeat

James Meek: Shamed in Afghanistan, 18 December 2014

The Good War: Why We Couldn’t Win the War or the Peace in Afghanistan 
by Jack Fairweather.
Cape, 488 pp., £20, December 2014, 978 0 224 09736 9
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Investment in Blood: The True Cost of Britain’s Afghan War 
by Frank Ledwidge.
Yale, 287 pp., £10.99, July 2014, 978 0 300 20526 8
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British Generals in Blair’s Wars 
edited by Jonathan Bailey, Richard Iron and Hew Strachan.
Ashgate, 404 pp., £19.95, August 2013, 978 1 4094 3736 9
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An Intimate War: An Oral History of the Helmand Conflict 1978-2012 
by Mike Martin.
Hurst, 389 pp., £25, April 2014, 978 1 84904 336 6
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... died. British Generals in Blair’s Wars kicks off with a vigorous attack on Tony Blair by Jonathan Bailey, who retired from the army as head of doctrine in 2005.2 But towards the end of the book, as the commanders who served in Afghanistan get their say, the dominant tone is of anger towards the Ministry of Defence and the army itself, which ...

Who they think they are

Julian Symons, 8 November 1990

You’ve had your time 
by Anthony Burgess.
Heinemann, 391 pp., £17.50, October 1990, 0 434 09821 3
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An Immaculate Mistake: Scenes from Childhood and Beyond 
by Paul Bailey.
Bloomsbury, 167 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 7475 0630 2
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... he sends a postcard of shitting camels with the message ‘Thinking of you here,’ and a joke of Jonathan Raban’s about a Burgess fiction brings the comment: ‘This is what British criticism has descended to.’ Geoffrey Grigson’s dislike of his ‘coarse and unattractive personality’ is mentioned, repeated, finally repaid by a feeble satirical ...

Sightbites

Jonathan Meades: Archigram’s Ghost, 21 May 2020

Archigram: The Book 
edited by Dennis Crompton.
Circa, 300 pp., £95, November 2018, 978 1 911422 04 4
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... generation that did National Service, just too young to have fought in the Second World War. David Bailey once said that ‘Swinging London’ was ‘just national servicemen gone demob happy’. They were radical materialists who believed exclusively in what they could see and what their imaginations delivered them. Transcendence was not on the ...

White Boy Walking

Evan Hughes: Jonathan Lethem, 5 July 2007

You Don’t Love Me Yet 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, May 2007, 978 0 571 23562 9
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... When Jonathan Lethem was born, in 1964, his mother had dropped out of college and was piercing ears with a pin and ice-cube in Greenwich Village, where she ran with a crowd of folksingers including Tuli Kupferberg, Dave Van Ronk and Phil Ochs. His father, in an early phase of his career as an artist, was painting basketball hoops, vices and stereopticons ...

F for Felon

Roy Porter: Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror by J.M. Beattie., 4 April 2002

Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750: Urban Crime and the Limits of Terror 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 491 pp., £48, July 2001, 0 19 820867 7
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... crime committed in the City of London (not the metropolis as a whole) which came before the Old Bailey sessions during the course of almost a century. The result is no narrow study of court procedures and verdicts, but a comprehensive account of crime and punishment at every stage, explaining how defendants ended up at the Old ...

Newton reinvents himself

Jonathan Rée, 20 January 2011

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist 
by Thomas Levenson.
Faber, 318 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22993 2
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... head and our country repeopled with foreigners’. He did not miss a trick in turning himself, as Jonathan Israel once put it, into an object of ‘national detestation’. The only comfort he could offer his subjects was the exhilaration of war. Within a few days of the coronation, the English fleet engaged the French off the coast of Ireland, and at the end ...

At Tate Britain

Peter Campbell: How We Are, 5 July 2007

... in prints of exquisite quality taken with large-format cameras. Examples in How We Are include Jonathan Olley’s photograph of an oil storage depot and caravan site on Canvey Island from his book Sea Walls, and one of a scrap of fatty meat from Keith Arnatt’s Pictures from a Rubbish Tip. The get-it-all-in banality of crime-scene photographs is another ...

No Bottom to Them

Freya Johnston: Pockets, like Novels, 25 November 2019

The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives, 1660-1900 
by Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux.
Yale, 264 pp., £35, May 2019, 978 0 300 23907 2
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... do wisely … when in a Crowd, to amuse the Mob by Quarrels,’ Henry Fielding’s master-criminal Jonathan Wild advises his gang, ‘that while they are listening to your Jargon, you may with the greater Ease and Safety, pick their Pockets.’ In The Beggar’s Opera (1728), Peachum, a thief-catcher, surveys with Lockit the jail-keeper their cache of stolen ...

Everybody knows

Christina Gombar: Kate Jennings, 22 August 2002

Moral Hazard 
by Kate Jennings.
Fourth Estate, 180 pp., £10, April 2002, 1 84115 737 6
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... life run side by side, barely touching for most of the book. Scenes with the afflicted husband, Bailey, are separated from the office narrative, reflecting the absolute division between work and private life. In the chapters dealing with Alzheimer’s, Jennings uses a more heightened language: her husband ‘would erode like a sandstone statue’, leaving ...

Freaks, Dwarfs and Boors

Thomas Keymer: 18th-Century Jokes, 2 August 2012

Cruelty and Laughter: Forgotten Comic Literature and the Unsentimental 18th Century 
by Simon Dickie.
Chicago, 362 pp., £29, December 2011, 978 0 226 14618 8
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... crop up in both jestbooks and trial reports. In 1772 an anthology called The Humours of the Old Bailey; or, Justice Shaking Her Sides – a single copy survives in the Guildhall Library – lifted its material from the Old Bailey Sessions Papers, with no changes needed to indicate the comedy. Then there are the rape ...

Uneasy Listening

Paul Laity: ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, 8 July 2004

Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ 
by Mary Kenny.
New Island, 300 pp., £17.99, November 2003, 1 902602 78 1
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Lord Haw-Haw: The English Voice of Nazi Germany 
by Peter Martland.
National Archives, 309 pp., £19.99, March 2003, 1 903365 17 1
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... Mosleyite mob-orator, had returned to the Galway of his youth. His trial for treason at the Old Bailey was a sensation. Crowds gathered outside, desperate to catch a glimpse of their would-be destroyer. In 1940, two-thirds of the population had tuned in at least occasionally to hear Lord Haw-Haw gloat when British ships were sunk and pronounce the ...

Mirror Images

Jenny Diski: Piers Morgan, 31 March 2005

The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade 
by Piers Morgan.
Ebury, 484 pp., £17.99, March 2005, 0 09 190506 0
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... after legend’ arrived at the table. He counts them in: Alan Sugar, Carol Vorderman, Jonathan Ross, Miriam Stoppard, Tony Parsons. Even for someone who started his career in national journalism as a showbiz reporter on the Sun, these are pitifully undemanding exemplars of legends. At one party he is quite near to someone who might just ...

Who Cares?

Jean McNicol, 9 February 1995

The Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis 
by Jean Ritchie, Donald Dick and Richard Lingham.
HMSO, 146 pp., £9.50, February 1994, 0 11 701798 1
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Creating Community Care: Report of the Mental Health Foundation into Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness 
by William Utting.
Mental Health Foundation, 76 pp., £9.50, September 1994, 0 901944 17 3
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Finding a Place: A Review of Mental Health Services for Adults 
HMSO, 94 pp., £11, November 1994, 0 11 886143 3Show More
The Falling Shadow: One Patient’s Mental Health Care. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Events Leading up to and Surrounding the Fatal Incident at the Edith Morgan Centre, Torbay, on 1 September 1993 
by Louis Blom-Cooper, Helen Hally and Elaine Murphy.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 7156 2662 0
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... Parashar realised that the man who had frightened her was Christopher Clunis, on trial at the Old Bailey for murdering Jonathan Zito on the northbound Piccadilly Line platform at Finsbury Park tube station on 17 December 1992. According to his solicitor, Christopher Clunis, who was found guilty of manslaughter and sent to ...

Miracle on Fleet Street

Martin Hickman: Operation Elveden, 7 January 2016

... public officials had pleaded guilty to misconduct. The first big Elveden trial began at the Old Bailey in October 2013. Commonly known as the ‘phone hacking trial’, it put Coulson, Brooks and Goodman in the dock for the alleged corruption of public officials. Jurors were shown the emails that started Elveden. In January 2003 Goodman asked Coulson for ...

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