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Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... must be long gone, but what happened to his scapegrace son, Nelson? Are the village shop and post office still open, or does everyone in Ambridge have to drive to Borchester to shop at Tesco? Is The Bull now part of the portfolio of Punch Taverns plc? I ask these important questions because, last week, clicking on the podcast of another Radio 4 ...

Tact

Jonathan Coe, 20 March 1997

The Emigrants 
by W.G. Sebald, translated by Michael Hulse.
Harvill, 237 pp., £14.99, June 1996, 1 86046 127 1
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... there is no shortage of bad novels which purport to concern themselves with the Holocaust and its post-traumatic effects, and then grimly fail to rise to the occasion. To take only one of the most recent and wretched examples, D.M. Thomas’s Pictures at an Exhibition, a lurid tale of concentration camp abuse and its psychosexual fall-out among the victims in ...

Don’t laugh

Amit Chaudhuri: Hari Kunzru, 8 August 2002

The Impressionist 
by Hari Kunzru.
Hamish Hamilton, 435 pp., £12.99, April 2002, 0 241 14169 9
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... to exchange one identity for another. Towards the end of the section we find Bobby walking with Jonathan Bridgeman, a bibulous young man who has grown up in the colonies. His parents are dead and he has no other family to speak of. He is soon to sail to England, to attend a public school and then Oxford. His financial arrangements are in the hands of a ...

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 ...

Gobsmacked

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare, 16 July 1998

Lyric Wonder: Rhetoric and Wit in Renaissance English Poetry 
by James Biester.
Cornell, 226 pp., £31.50, May 1997, 0 8014 3313 4
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Reason Diminished: Shakespeare and the Marvellous 
by Peter Platt.
Nebraska, 271 pp., £42.75, January 1998, 0 8032 3714 6
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Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder 
by T.G. Bishop.
Cambridge, 222 pp., £32.50, January 1996, 0 521 55086 6
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The Genius of Shakespeare 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 386 pp., £20, September 1997, 0 330 35317 9
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... the key to Renaissance courtly poetry in its strategies for eliciting astonishment. Back home, Jonathan Bate is gobsmacked by the sheer Genius of Shakespeare. It’s perhaps as well to remember that in cooler moments Jonson complained that ‘Shakespeare wanted Art’ and Milton berated Charles I for preferring the Bard to more serious ...
The Economic Legacy 1979-1992 
edited by Jonathan Michie.
Academic Press, 384 pp., £25, March 1992, 0 12 494060 9
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The Godley Papers: Economic Problems and Policies in the 1980s and 90s 
by Wynne Godley.
New Statesman and Society, £2
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Full Employment in the 1990s 
by John Grieve Smith.
Institute for Public Policy Research, 68 pp., £7.50, March 1992, 1 872452 48 5
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... nearly three million; growth is slow and uneven, inflation is stubbornly higher than in the early post-war period; the provision of public services has markedly deteriorated; and new disparities in the distribution of income and wealth have opened up. Instead of being shocked by these changes, many people seem disposed to think that they are all for the ...

To Serve My Friends

Jonathan Parry, 27 January 2022

Trust and Distrust: Corruption in Office in Britain and Its Empire, 1600-1850 
by Mark Knights.
Oxford, 488 pp., £35, December 2021, 978 0 19 879624 4
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... and triggered by controversy about financial rewards given to two Tory MPs, Neil Hamilton and Jonathan Aitken. This was when the select committee and the role of parliamentary commissioner were established, together with an extra-parliamentary Committee on Standards in Public Life. The latter drew up seven principles of public life ...

What does China want?

Jonathan Steele: China in the Stans, 24 October 2013

Restless Valley: Revolution, Murder and Intrigue in the Heart of Central Asia 
by Philip Shishkin.
Yale, 316 pp., £20, June 2013, 978 0 300 18436 5
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The Chinese Question in Central Asia: Domestic Order, Social Change and the Chinese Factor 
by Marlène Laruelle and Sébastien Peyrouse.
Hurst, 271 pp., £40, October 2012, 978 1 84904 179 9
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... had headed the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences until he emerged as the compromise candidate for the new post of president of the republic in 1990 and was voted into the job by the Supreme Soviet. In his first decade in power, he was thought of by Western diplomats as a liberal, and with its mountains and lakes Kyrgyzstan was said to be on the way to becoming the ...

Openly reticent

Jonathan Coe, 9 November 1989

Grand Inquisitor: Memoirs 
by Robin Day.
Weidenfeld, 296 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 297 79660 7
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Beginning 
by Kenneth Branagh.
Chatto, 244 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 0 7011 3388 0
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Storm over 4: A Personal Account 
by Jeremy Isaacs.
Weidenfeld, 215 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 297 79538 4
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... Renaissance Theatre Company than he decides to direct and star in a film of Henry V; he combines post-production on Henry V with writing his autobiography. He whizzes from meeting to meeting and deal to deal, occasionally dropping by at the theatre at seven o’clock to knock off a quick performance of Hamlet. ‘I must never play Hamlet under these ...

Like Beavers

Wyatt Mason: Safran Foer’s survival stories, 2 June 2005

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 
by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Hamish Hamilton, 320 pp., £14.99, June 2005, 9780241142134
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... in an introductory note by a Conjunctions associate editor, an unknown 22-year-old American called Jonathan Safran Foer. ‘These pages of Singer’s are not great literature,’ Foer wrote. ‘Surely they were never intended to be published’: But like all great literature, like the stories, plays and poems by which these 18 days are now surrounded, they ...

The Lobby Falters

John Mearsheimer: Charles Freeman speaks out, 26 March 2009

... which he maintains an extremely close relationship’. Prominent pro-Israel journalists such as Jonathan Chait and Martin Peretz of the New Republic, and Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, quickly joined the fray and Freeman was hammered in publications that consistently defend Israel, such as the National Review, the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly ...

The Biographer’s Story

Jonathan Coe, 8 September 1994

The Life and Death of Peter Sellers 
by Roger Lewis.
Century, 817 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 7126 3801 6
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... you had to be there at the time) but routinely credited with having ‘revolutionised British post-war comedy’ – unless that was Monty Python or Beyond the Fringe. He moved slowly but surely into film comedy, was outstandingly good in such low-key successes as The Naked Truth and I’m All Right, Jack, and even turned in memorable performances in a ...

Et in Alhambra ego

D.A.N. Jones, 5 June 1986

Agate: A Biography 
by James Harding.
Methuen, 238 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 413 58090 3
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Subsequent Performances 
by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 253 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 571 13133 6
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... remarks, though they will seem truisms to many actors, are distanced, as in a time-warp, from Jonathan Miller’s handsome, thoughtful book about ‘directors’ theatre’, Subsequent Performances. This book is, among other things, an apologia for Miller’s own work as a drama director and an essay on the effects of Time upon the Drama. He is always ...

When you’d started a world war

Blake Morrison: Walter Kempowski, 20 June 2019

Homeland 
by Walter Kempowski, translated by Charlotte Collins.
Granta, 240 pp., £14.99, November 2018, 978 1 78378 352 6
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... it’s not about his ancestors and it’s set at the time he was writing it, in the late 1980s. Jonathan Fabrizius, its central figure, is 43 years old and lives comfortably enough, in small part thanks to his earnings as a freelance journalist but chiefly thanks to the uncle who brought him up after the death of his parents and who still sends him a ...

Gabble, Twitter and Hoot

Ian Hacking: Language, deafness and the senses, 1 July 1999

I See a Voice: A Philosophical History of Language, Deafness and the Senses 
by Jonathan Rée.
HarperCollins, 399 pp., £19.99, January 1999, 0 00 255793 2
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... Jonathan Rée takes some tomfoolery from Shakespeare for his title and uses it to create his own striking metaphor. The middle part of his book is about sign languages for the deaf: voices that one sees. The same trope served Oliver Sacks in Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf (1989), but there is more to it than that for Rée ...

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