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7 March 2013
Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell 
edited by Lord Howard of Rising.
Biteback, 320 pp., £25, June 2012, 978 1 84954 310 1
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... John Enoch Powell was an eminent classical scholar, as his entry in Who’s Who proclaimed: Craven Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1931; First Chancellor’s Classical Medallist; Porson Prizeman; Browne Medallist, 1932; fellow of Trinity, 1934-38; professor of Greek at the University of Sydney, 1937-39. He was 25 when he was appointed to the chair at Sydney ...

Smart Alec

Peter Clarke

17 October 1996
Alec Douglas-Home 
by D.R. Thorpe.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 540 pp., £25, October 1996, 1 85619 277 6
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... of a leadership contest which turned the coroneted head of another contender, the once and future Lord Hailsham, by unmasking him as nothing more than a professional politician out of the chorus line in Iolanthe. D.R. Thorpe’s reference at one point in this engaging new biography to ‘the insouciant calm under pressure that eight hundred years of history ...

The Sultan and I

Anthony Howard

1 June 1989
By God’s Will: A Portrait of the Sultan of Brunei 
by Lord Chalfont.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79628 3
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The Richest Man in the World: The Sultan of Brunei 
by James Bartholomew.
Viking, 199 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 670 82152 7
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... faintly ludicrous figure, the Sultan of Brunei, was in December 1985. Until around then – as Lord Chalfont obligingly mentions in the course of a work that can otherwise only be compared with The Lives of the Saints – the general view (endorsed not only by a public opinion poll but by me as well) was that the Sultan’s kingdom was ‘somewhere in the ...

Back to the Ironing-Board

Theo Tait: Weber and Norman

15 April 1999
The Music Lesson 
by Katharine Weber.
Phoenix House, 161 pp., £12.99, January 1999, 1 86159 118 7
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The Museum Guard 
by Howard Norman.
Picador, 310 pp., £12.99, February 1999, 9780330370097
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... anonymous Dutch master which pushes Freddie Montgomery over the edge into homicide. Like Banville, Howard Norman and Katharine Weber write about stealing Dutch paintings, and they share a similar attitude to them. For them, Dutch art represents modesty of subject-matter, and precision – ‘the details’ is a phrase of some importance in both novels, and ...

Beware Kite-Flyers

Stephen Sedley: The British Constitution

12 September 2013
The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction 
by Martin Loughlin.
Oxford, 152 pp., £7.99, April 2013, 978 0 19 969769 4
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... By the third decade of the 17th century it was estimated that the commons could have bought the lords twice over: the Civil War and Britain’s experiment with republicanism were on their way. One of the principal contributors to this long and uneven process was, of all people, Henry VIII, who repeatedly resorted to Parliament for legislative authority for ...

Finding an Enemy

Conor Gearty: Sixty Years of Anti-Terrorist Legislation

15 April 1999
Legislation against Terrorism: A Consultation Paper. CM 4178. 
by Home Office and Northern Ireland Office.
70 pp., £9.95, December 1998, 0 10 141782 9
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... days, becoming law a couple of days later, after an afternoon amble through a supportive House of Lords. It was the Irish in general, and the IRA in particular, who provided the explanation for this contrived panic, which could not be justified even from statistics available at the time. (The worst IRA atrocity of this period, the killing of five people in ...
12 October 1989
Keith Joseph: A Single Mind 
by Morrison Halcrow.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 333 49016 9
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... them had been elected in a by-election in February of that year. He was Sir Keith Joseph, son of a Lord Mayor of London and director of the family construction firm of Bovis. It was the year of Suez and in a very gentle way he was a rebel. He did not think that Nasser should be destroyed because he might be replaced by someone worse, and he felt that any ...
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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... With the appearance of Sherston’s Progress in 1936, Siegfried Sassoon completed what Howard Spring, writing in the Evening Standard, called ‘the most satisfying piece of autobiography to be published in our time’. Other reviewers and commentators, then and later, seem to have agreed with Spring’s assessment ...

Carnival Time

Peter Craven

18 February 1988
The Remake 
by Clive James.
Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 0 224 02515 5
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In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
Hamish Hamilton, 380 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 241 12110 8
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... that mars Tynan’s work. It seems likely to last as long as anyone cares about words rising to the challenge of such images. One of the central tenets of James’s TV criticism, which was always the work of an impassioned enthusiast, not of a mere jokester, was that the best television is produced by people who have been educated by something ...
21 October 1993
The United States and the End of the Cold War: Implications, Reconsiderations and Provocations 
by John Lewis Gaddis.
Oxford, 301 pp., £19.50, July 1992, 0 19 505201 3
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Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Yale, 429 pp., £22, February 1993, 0 300 04773 8
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The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security 1918-1957 
edited by Rolf Ahmann, A.M. Birke and Michael Howard.
Oxford, 546 pp., £50, June 1993, 0 19 920503 5
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... and in any case an immense task of sorting, translating, and analysing lies ahead. Michael Howard, for instance, in a characteristically crisp introduction to The Quest for Stability, asks the basic question whether at the end of the Second World War Stalin actually aspired to global hegemony. This, he says, ‘we shall be able to tell only when the ...

Most Himself

Matthew Reynolds: Dryden

19 July 2007
The Poems of John Dryden: Vol. V 1697-1700 
edited by Paul Hammond and David Hopkins.
Longman, 707 pp., £113.99, July 2005, 0 582 49214 9
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Dryden: Selected Poems 
edited by Paul Hammond and David Hopkins.
Longman, 856 pp., £19.99, February 2007, 978 1 4058 3545 9
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... give his compliments a sharper second edge, as for example in ‘To My Honoured Friend Sir Robert Howard, on His Excellent Poems’ (Howard later became his brother-in-law). Discussing Howard’s translation of Book IV of the Aeneid, Dryden says: Elisa’s griefs are so expressed by ...

What did Cook want?

Jon Lawrence: Both ‘on message’ and off

19 February 2004
The Point of Departure 
by Robin Cook.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 7432 5255 1
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... government. Late in 1998, amid rumours that his job was being lined up for one of New Labour’s rising stars such as Jack Straw or Peter Mandelson, Cook may indeed have been thinking hard about escape routes to the European Commission or the Scottish Parliament, but that doesn’t mean he was already a busted flush. He did, after all, survive another five ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian

7 July 1988
The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... it, of all hands, to be mightily and diligently looked into and cared for.’ On 18 August the Lord High Admiral, Howard of Effingham, wrote from his flagship, ‘Some made little account of Spanish force by sea, but I do warrant you, all this world never saw such a force as theirs was’; and even later Sir Francis ...

The First New War

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Crimea

25 August 2011
Crimea: The Last Crusade 
by Orlando Figes.
Penguin, 575 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 101350 3
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... only France.’ He believed he had secured an agreement with the prime minister, Robert Peel, and Lord Aberdeen, his foreign secretary; they thought there had been merely a friendly discussion. All this was the background to the Crimean War of 1853-55, the subject of Orlando Figes’s admirable book. The war was at once the most dramatic episode in the ...

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