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Cheering us up

Ian Jack, 15 September 1988

In for a Penny: The Unauthorised Biography of Jeffrey Archer 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Hamish Hamilton, 264 pp., £11.95, July 1988, 0 241 12478 6
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... in the sense that Archer first agreed to see the author and then thought better of it – Jonathan Mantle sets out to scrutinise Archer’s career. Together with Justice Caulfield he asks, ‘What is his history?’ and then proceeds to unearth information which was never aired in the High Court. There are some interesting passages. ...


Kathleen Burk, 9 July 1992

The Barlow Clowes Affair 
by Lawrence Lever.
Macmillan, 278 pp., £17.50, February 1992, 0 333 51377 0
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For whom the bell tolls: The Lesson of Lloyd’s of London 
by Jonathan Mantle.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 358 pp., £18, June 1992, 1 85619 152 4
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The City of London: Continuity and Change, 1850-1990 
by Ranald Michie.
Macmillan, 238 pp., £30, January 1992, 0 333 55025 0
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... of no confidence in the chairman, David Coleridge, and the ruling council. It is clear, then, that Jonathan Mantle has a riveting tale to tell in For whom the bell tolls, and it is a matter of some regret that he tells it so maladroitly. The book is jerky and anecdotal and unstructured. He has tried to combine analysis with prosopography, interweaving the ...

In Praise of Follett

John Sutherland, 16 October 1980

The Key to Rebecca 
by Ken Follett.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 241 10492 0
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Joshua Then and Now 
by Mordecai Richler.
Macmillan, 435 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 333 30025 4
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Loosely Engaged 
by Christopher Matthew.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 09 142830 0
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Imago Bird 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 185 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 9780436288463
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A Quest of Love 
by Jacquetta Hawkes.
Chatto, 220 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 7011 2536 5
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... will sell most. Over the last five years the author has assumed Forsyth’s fitfully-worn mantle and established himself as the world-wide super-seller. The Key to Rebecca will follow Eye of the Needle (1978) and Triple (1979) as a surefire triumph. He is now one of a select band of novelists – Forsyth, Maclean and Higgins are others – at the ...


Jonathan Lethem: Theatre of Injury, 15 December 2016

... resisted better, back when Trump’s hand seemed not actually to have access to the gas lamp’s mantle. It’s only now, after the shock of his election, that we’re all actually married to him, and living inside his house. In John Ford’s morbid late Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the sociopathic highwayman Liberty Valance, played by Lee ...

Is there hope for U?

Christopher Tayler: Tom McCarthy, 21 May 2015

Satin Island 
by Tom McCarthy.
Cape, 192 pp., £16.99, March 2015, 978 0 224 09019 3
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... remained the property of American writers working more from indigenous than from European models. Jonathan Franzen, an apostate from their ranks, helped make the ex-theorist schlub a stock character. David Foster Wallace, a true believer of sorts, envied Dostoevsky’s pre-postmodern sincerity. Then everything seemed to get turned round and I was suddenly too ...

Would he have been better?

John Gittings: Chiang Kai-shek, 18 March 2004

Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost 
by Jonathan Fenby.
Free Press, 562 pp., £25, November 2003, 0 7432 3144 9
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... China and – in the phrase of anguished Americans who backed the wrong horse – he lost China. Jonathan Fenby starts his important new biography, the first of substance for a quarter of a century, in Xi’an in 1936 when Chiang, after his 50th birthday, was preparing to bash the Communists. Having ignored the local armed forces’ evident reluctance to ...

The Labile Self

Marina Warner: Dressing Up, 5 January 2012

Dressing Up: Cultural Identity in Renaissance Europe 
by Ulinka Rublack.
Oxford, 354 pp., £30, October 2011, 978 0 19 929874 7
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... growing interest, including ‘the things things say’ (to borrow the title of a recent study by Jonathan Lamb), a culture’s techne or craft as an index of its level of civilisation, and the nature of self-consciousness before mirrors were commonly available. She wants to find out, she writes, what it felt like to be someone who wore these clothes. She ...

Tory History

Alan Ryan, 23 January 1986

English Society 1688-1832 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 439 pp., £30, November 1985, 0 521 30922 0
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Virtue, Commerce and History 
by J.G.A. Pocock.
Cambridge, 321 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 521 25701 8
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... History’ is a case in point. Herbert Butterfield slew it in 1931, and here come John Pocock and Jonathan Clark to slay it again. There is next to nothing in common between them, save their opposition to the Whig Interpretation and its offspring: but it is that opposition which provides both of them with the structure of their argument and the dramatic ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... window and spit on the other children. 12 February. A shoddy programme about the conviction of Jonathan King for offences against young men dating back twenty-five years and more. While it features some of the police involved, it manages not to ask the pertinent question: if these 15-year-old boys had been 15-year-old girls and romping round in ...


David Craig: Barra Microcosm, 24 May 2001

... a dream of green, shaped like a Chinese ideogram, its slender neck flanked by blond beaches, its mantle of grass grazed by over a hundred cattle. These and the unusual number of ploughed fields give it the look of the Highlands two generations ago. We walk southeastward, letting the rising and hollowing of the ground steer our feet deeper into the green ...

Clubs of Quidnuncs

John Mullan, 17 February 2000

The Dunciad in Four Books 
by Alexander Pope, edited by Valerie Rumbold.
Longman, 456 pp., £55, August 1999, 0 582 08924 7
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... abuse which were the lot of the embattled satirist. Johnson had heard the son of Pope’s friend Jonathan Richardson give an account of the poet greeting an attack by Colley Cibber, who was to be crowned King of the Dunces in the final version of The Dunciad. I have heard Mr Richardson relate that he attended his father the painter on a visit, when one of ...

Peace without Empire

Perry Anderson, 2 December 2021

Conquering Peace: From the Enlightenment to the European Union 
by Stella Ghervas.
Harvard, 528 pp., £31.95, March, 978 0 674 97526 2
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... between the rival realms of Europe, an idea developed in England by Charles Davenant and Jonathan Swift; on the other, in the ideal of a federation of states to secure the peaceful unity of the continent, as proposed by the Abbé de Saint-Pierre in France. The first became canonical in the diplomatic chancelleries of the time. The second inspired ...

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