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Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens, 7 February 2013

Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... ladies the gardens could never be fashionable. All this was to change under the proprietorship of Jonathan Tyers, a Bermondsey tradesman who managed to conceal his background in the leather industry and project himself as a man of learning and culture, establishing his family as lesser gentry in Surrey. He took on the Vauxhall lease in 1729, at the age of ...


Christopher Turner: The controversial Alfred Kinsey, 6 January 2005

... first employee at the nascent Institute for Sex Research. According to Paul Gebhard, quoted in Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy’s biography of Kinsey, Martin was also the last person Kinsey fell in love with. He was a student at Indiana, and met Kinsey when he was working part-time as a librarian in the zoology department. They sheltered from a rainstorm on the ...

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 ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2013, 9 January 2014

... stepping fastidiously round the garden expecting to be fed. 16 July. A book review in the LRB by Jonathan Coe of The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson edited by Harry Mount kicks off with some remarks about the so-called satire boom of the early 1960s. It recalls John Bird’s The Last Laugh, the Cambridge Footlights revue of 1959 (which I saw) and while ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2004, 6 January 2005

... the front door (salad of lettuce, beetroot, tomato and brown bread spread with olive paste) when Jonathan Miller passes en route for rehearsals at Covent Garden. He asks me what I’m reading. It’s actually re-rereading and telling him he would hate every page I show him James Lees-Milne’s Through Wood and Dale. I ask him what he is reading and he shows ...

Judicial Politics

Stephen Sedley, 23 February 2012

... one of its greatest chief justices, Bora Laskin.) The first beneficiary of this dispensation, Jonathan Sumption QC, a noted historian as well as a leading lawyer, was sworn in in January. Last November, after he had been appointed but before he had taken office, Sumption delivered one of the law’s more prestigious annual lectures to a packed audience in ...

Why use a Novichok?

Tom Stevenson, 6 May 2021

Toxic: A History of Nerve Agents from Nazi Germany to Putin’s Russia 
by Dan Kaszeta.
Hurst, 408 pp., £25, July 2020, 978 1 78738 306 7
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... much to the published research of two Russian chemists, Lev Fedorov and Vil Mirzayanov, and to Jonathan Tucker’s 2006 book War of Nerves. Tabun and sarin were manufactured at factories in Beketovka, but the Soviet programme lagged behind that of the US. The Soviet equivalent of Porton Down and the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland was the State Scientific ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014, 8 January 2015

... some of the books and papers so that it can be used for the filming.I first saw the house in 1968. Jonathan Miller lives in the same street and Rachel, his wife, saw the ‘For Sale’ sign go up. It belonged to an American woman who kept parrots and there were perches in the downstairs room and also in its small garden. Slightly older than the other houses in ...

Belt, Boots and Spurs

Jonathan Raban: Dunkirk, 1940, 5 October 2017

... The war​ rescued my father, Peter Raban, from his first job as a probationary teacher in the West Midlands and restored him to his proper station as an officer and a gentleman. He had hoped to go on to university (Oxford or Cambridge) from his boarding school in Worcester but his dismal Higher School Certificate results nixed that ambition. He went instead to King Alfred’s, a teacher training college in Winchester, where (as he would point out more than fifty years later) he was the only student to have been educated at a (minor) public school, and in June 1938, when he was 19 going on 20, he graduated with a certificate that qualified him to teach in state-funded elementary schools ...


Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... Apart from the editor’s obtrusive commentaries, this consists of lectures given at the Jonathan Institute in Washington by George Shultz, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Arthur Goldberg, Moshe Arens, Eugene Rostow, Paul Johnson, Senator Cranston and many others with similar views. The blurb describes the book as a polemic, which it is, and ‘a comprehensive ...

Another Tribe

Andy Beckett: PiL, Wire et al, 1 September 2005

Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 577 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 21569 6
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... of Britons doing well out of Thatcherism – sailing round the country for his book Coasting, Jonathan Raban noted the number of new yachts – the apocalyptic sound and rhetoric of post-punk seemed out of date. In the second half of the book, Reynolds describes how the movement’s more pragmatic musicians left the genre behind and made more profitable ...

Fetch the Scissors

Colin Burrow: B.S. Johnson, 11 April 2013

Well Done God! Selected Prose and Drama of B.S. Johnson 
edited by Jonathan Coe, Philip Tew and Julia Jordan.
Picador, 471 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 1 4472 2710 6
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by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 183 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 1 4472 0036 9
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Albert Angelo 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 180 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 1 4472 0037 6
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Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 187 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 1 4472 0035 2
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House Mother Normal 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 204 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 1 4472 0038 3
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... Until very recently I had never read any B.S. Johnson. I had a staticky reminiscence of what he might have been, which could be represented, using his own idiosyncratic conventions for marking the lapses that run through our consciousness of the world, as ‘experimental … . suicide … . wrists was it?’To clear the static first: these reprints are to celebrate what would have been the eightieth birthday of the novelist B ...


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 ...

Whose sarin?

Seymour M. Hersh, 19 December 2013

... August it invited a select group of Washington journalists (at least one often critical reporter, Jonathan Landay, the national security correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, was not invited), and handed them a document carefully labelled as a ‘government assessment’, rather than as an assessment by the intelligence community. The document laid out what ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip Roth: The Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip Roth: A Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... Roth: Unmasked; and for his eightieth birthday he was given an all-star tribute in Newark where Jonathan Lethem, Edna O’Brien and Hermione Lee, among others, held his genius up to the jewelled light with a series appreciation later collected in Philip Roth at Eighty: A Celebration (a Library of America special publication). A year later, comity breaking ...

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