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Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs

17 July 2008
Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... New Labour’s exes are a hard-publishing lot. So far we have had diaries from two of its central figures, David Blunkett and Alastair Campbell, and from a spin-doctor hanger-on (LancePrice); a memoir by its most senior diplomat, the former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer; and now memoirs by the former prime minister’s wife, his deputy and his bagman. The granddaddy of ...

Within the Saffron Family

Andrew Whitehead: Modi

9 September 2015
The Modi Effect: Inside Narendra Modi’s Campaign to Transform India 
by Lance Price.
Hodder, 342 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 4736 1089 7
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2014: The Election that Changed India 
by Rajdeep Sardesai.
Penguin, 372 pp., £16.99, November 2014, 978 0 14 342498 7
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... how little India knew about its prospective leader and how different his background was from that of most of the country’s political elite. Jashodaben’s name doesn’t appear in the index of LancePrice’s account of Modi’s rise to power. Her story is recounted briefly, along with Modi’s usual response: ‘Modi refuses to discuss the marriage.’ Price’s book is part of a rebranding ...

Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media

22 April 2010
Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... had become ‘news invention’. Even the young Queen Elizabeth was moved to remark to her press secretary: ‘I think the basic dishonesty of the whole thing was a trouble.’ Now, 30 years on, LancePrice, himself a former BBC reporter who then worked as a media adviser to Tony Blair, has brought the story up to the present (his title and subtitle are on much the same lines as Margach’s). At ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough

21 October 2015
... Labour Party Conference, Neil went through the same routine, asking his studio guest for his first impression, which was, therefore, the first impression conveyed by the BBC. This time the guest was LancePrice, former special adviser to Tony Blair. ‘I’m sorry,’ answered Price, ‘I wanted to be as positive as I could be about his speech. I’m not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, so what ...

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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... whose glittering career – and probably life – now lies in tatters. He’s been a bloody fool, and deserves to be exposed for his hypocrisy and the stupid risks he’s taken. But it’s a high price to pay.’ His moral feelers grow more sensitive by the day. A few months later, a story comes his way about a completely unknown woman switchboard operator who became obsessed with a caller and ...
6 October 1983
... will offend you whoever you are. As it happens, I can stand Les Patterson even when he belches while dribbling on his loud tie, but to sit there with your eyes closed is sometimes to wonder at the price of the ticket. Other people find the trade-union con-man Lance Boyle hard to take – offended in their radical beliefs or having decided (correctly, by his creator’s own confession) that Lance has ...

Everybody gets popped

David Runciman: Lance​ Armstrong’s Regime

22 November 2012
The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs 
by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.
Bantam, 290 pp., £18.99, September 2012, 978 0 593 07173 1
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... next to nothing about that either. However, there has never been a sport where the incentives of the drug-takers and the drug-testers have been so out of kilter as in professional cycling during the Lance Armstrong era, which ran from the mid-1990s until a few weeks ago. The temptation for the cyclists to cheat was almost irresistible, once it became clear that ‘blood-doping’ – the use of ...

Dirty Money

Paul Foot

17 December 1992
A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole millions around the world 
by James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz.
Simon and Schuster, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 671 71133 4
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Bankrupt: The BCCI Fraud 
by Nick Kochan and Bob Whittington.
Gollancz, 234 pp., £4.99, November 1991, 0 575 05279 1
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The BCCI Affair: A Report to The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 
by Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 800 pp., September 1992
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Inquiry into the Supervision of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International 
by Lord Justice Bingham.
HMSO, 218 pp., £19.30, October 1992, 0 10 219893 4
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... mission the most important people in the Western world. The basic principle which drove him on was that important people make the important decisions, and even the most important people have their price. The price for Bert Lance, a close friend of President Carter, and briefly a member of Carter’s Administration, was obvious. Poor Bert had got into trouble with his own bank at home in Georgia and ...
5 March 1987
Baroque ’n’ Roll 
by Brigid Brophy.
Hamish Hamilton, 172 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 241 12037 3
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... Penguin book on Bernini, Brigid Brophy remarks that the appearance is exactly as if one of them had descended to the altar and there become a three-dimensional marble figure who, holding his lance ‘as fastidiously as a fork at a buffet supper’, thrusts it into a rapturous St Teresa. ‘Bernini’s baroque lack of fear of the literal import of religious imagery’ raises the question of St ...

Joining up

Angus Calder

3 April 1986
Soldier, Soldier 
by Tony Parker.
Heinemann, 244 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 434 57770 7
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Echoes of the Great War: The Diary of the Reverend Andrew Clark 1914-1919 
edited by James Munson.
Oxford, 304 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 19 212984 8
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The Unknown Army: Mutinies in the British Army in World War One 
by Gloden Dallas and Douglas Gill.
Verso, 178 pp., £18.50, July 1985, 0 86091 106 3
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Soldiers: A History of Men in Battle 
by John Keegan and Richard Holmes.
Hamish Hamilton, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 241 11583 3
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... pride which invests their actions with nobility. Between the two, and able to meld with either, there is ‘Holy War’ to propagate or defend a religious or political creed. But ‘Major Bert Price’s’ voice, as tape-recorded and edited by Parker, evokes none of these three traditions. This voice has told us that ‘Price’ joined the Army as a regular while on National Service in 1953 ...
16 June 1983
Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... I want freedom, not comfort. I have seen beauty in life, in men and things ... The last fifteen months have unsealed my eyes. I have lived well and truly since the war began; now I ask that the price be required of me. Similar sentiments are on show in some of the early poems. ‘Absolution’ (dated April-September 1915) sees the soldiers as ...

Nemesis

David Marquand

22 January 1981
Change and Fortune 
by Douglas Jay.
Hutchinson, 515 pp., £16, June 1980, 0 09 139530 5
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Life and Labour 
by Michael Stewart.
Sidgwick, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 283 98686 7
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... from Brownhills Road Elementary School in South London to Christ’s Hospital, and from Christ’s Hospital to St John’s. After Oxford, he became a schoolmaster; during the war, he rose from lance-corporal in the Intelligence Corps to captain in the Education Corps. While Jay was using the City page of the Daily Herald to make propaganda against appeasement, Stewart was teaching economics to ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans

3 June 2004
The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... the field of Hastings that October Saturday than about any battle anywhere since Ammianus Marcellinus chronicled the destruction of the East Roman army by the Goths nearly 700 years before. Yet the price paid for good sources at this stage of history is that they rarely agree. Take King Harold’s arrow in the eye, a central icon of English history. We have a number of accounts of his death, all of ...
23 April 1987
The Affair: The Case of Alfred Dreyfus 
by Jean-Denis Bredin, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Sidgwick, 628 pp., £20, March 1987, 0 283 99443 6
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Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France 
by Zeev Sternhell, translated by David Maisel.
California, 416 pp., £38.25, December 1986, 0 520 05207 2
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... addressed. Instead, whole new generations were educated into seeing politics as essentially a battleground between clerical anti-republicans and anti-clerical republicans. Thus the Affair did not lance an abcess but greatly prolonged its life – and the renewal and reinforcement of all the old oppositions and hatreds which it brought about bear a considerable responsibility for the stagnation of ...

Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Sonnet

Barbara Everett: The Sonnets

8 May 2008
... not fully indicating an authorial design. The ‘Elizabethanising’ reading of the Sonnets is a wish to throw light on darkness, but a scholarly falling back on convention may simplify at too high a price, imposing a shape rather than finding a meaning. And this imposed shape may damage or obscure the truth of what we have, whose actual character will contain a certain uncertainty – an uncertainty ...

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