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Taking the blame

Paul Foot, 6 January 1994

Trail of the Octopus: From Beirut to Lockerbie – Inside the DIA 
by Donald Goddard and Lester Coleman.
Bloomsbury, 325 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 9780747515623
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The Media and Disasters: Pan-Am 103 
by Joan Deppa, Maria Russell, Dona Hayes and Elizabeth Lynne Flocke.
Fulton, 346 pp., £14.99, October 1993, 9781853462252
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... The American investigative columnist Jack Anderson has had some scoops in his time but none more significant than his revelation – in January 1990 – that in mid-March 1989, three months after Lockerbie, George Bush rang Margaret Thatcher to warn her to ‘cool it’ on the subject. On what seems to have been the very same day, perhaps a few hours earlier, Thatcher’s Secretary of State for Transport, Paul Channon, was the guest of five prominent political correspondents at a lunch at the Garrick Club ...

Say thank you

Clive James: Witty Words in Pretty Mouths, 23 May 2002

Fast-Talking Dames 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 365 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 300 08815 9
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... A bit of a fast-talking dame herself, Maria DiBattista is justifiably excited by the characteristic flip lip of her prewar and wartime Hollywood heroines. In her mind, I imagine, she is of their number: Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell, Irene Dunne, Barbara Stanwyck, Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Maria DiBattista ...

Items on a New Agenda

Conrad Russell, 23 October 1986

Humanism in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Maria Dowling.
Croom Helm, 283 pp., £25, February 1986, 0 7099 0864 4
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Henry, Prince of Wales and England’s Lost Renaissance 
by Roy Strong.
Thames and Hudson, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 500 01375 6
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Authority and Conflict: England 1603-1658 
by Derek Hirst.
Arnold, 390 pp., £27.50, March 1986, 0 7131 6155 8
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Rebellion or Revolution? England 1640-1660 
by G.E. Aylmer.
Oxford, 274 pp., £12.50, February 1986, 0 19 219179 9
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Politics and Ideology in England 1603-1640 
by J.P. Sommerville.
Longman, 254 pp., £6.95, April 1986, 9780582494329
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... These five books represent something of a cross-section of current work on Tudor and Stuart English history, and they give a picture of how fundamentally the agenda for discussion in this field has changed over the past twenty-five years. Yet the point they mark in the development of the subject is not a total revolution: it is a sort of historiographical 1654, a mood in which the interesting question is seen to be, not whether the new approaches are valid, but how much of the old may be seen to have survived their onslaught ...

Real Power

Conrad Russell, 7 August 1986

Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 
by David Underdown.
Oxford, 324 pp., £17.50, November 1985, 0 19 822795 7
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The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics 
by David Starkey.
George Philip, 174 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 540 01093 6
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... quite as ruthless as that given by Reginald Pole. Dr Starkey, following an important article by Maria Dowling, treats Anne as a major political figure, a sort of honorary counsellor, and a crucial figure in the process by which Henry was weaned away from Rome. He also develops a dramatic case in favour of the view that Henry VIII’s will, in the form in ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies, 2 December 1982

The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore. Kim Novak and Ivor Novello are neighbours, but then so are Mozart and Malcolm Muggeridge, and the French sandwich of Arletty and Yvonne Arnaud contains Anthony Armstrong-Jones. The name of Neville Chamberlain seems to set off a ...

Hug me till you drug me

Alex Harvey: Aldous Huxley, 4 May 2016

After Many a Summer 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 314 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 035 5
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Time Must Have a Stop 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 305 pp., £9.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 034 8
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The Genius and the Goddess 
by Aldous Huxley.
Vintage, 127 pp., £8.99, September 2015, 978 1 78487 036 2
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... of men’s trousers and a battered hat with a brim that hid her face’; the visiting Bertrand Russell; Christopher Isherwood; and Huxley’s favourite mystic, Krishnamurti, accompanied by a retinue of Theosophists and vegetarian catering ladies in saris. While his guests looked like pixies ‘on a spree’, according to Loos, Huxley himself resembled a ...

She’s a tiger-cat!

Miranda Seymour: Birds’ claw omelettes with Vernon Lee, 22 January 2004

Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography 
by Vineta Colby.
Virginia, 387 pp., £32.50, May 2003, 0 8139 2158 9
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... the rescue of the latest female recruit, Irene Cooper Willis, by introducing her to Bertrand Russell. Ottoline decided Irene could be more usefully employed in providing Russell with children, but Irene, while happy to act as his research assistant, preferred not to stand between ...

Eye Contact

Peter Campbell: Anthony van Dyck, 16 September 1999

Anthony van Dyck 1599-1641 
by Christopher Brown and Hans Vlieghe.
Royal Academy, 360 pp., £22.50, May 1999, 9780847821969
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Anthony van Dyck: A Life, 1599-1641 
by Robin Blake.
Constable, 435 pp., £25, August 1999, 9780094797208
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... time to draw a face when it had its best looks on.’ He painted Charles I’s Queen, Henrietta Maria, as a handsome woman – without, it would seem, losing the likeness. Yet her niece, who knew her first from the painting, was surprised to find the Queen ‘a little woman with long, lean arms, crooked shoulders and teeth protruding from her mouth like ...

Samuel’s Slave

Caroline Moorehead, 15 May 1980

Lover on the Nile 
by Richard Hall.
Collins, 254 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 9780002164719
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Nellie: Letters from Africa 
by Elspeth Huxley.
Weidenfeld, 326 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 297 77706 8
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Black Country Girl in Red China 
by Esther Cheo Ying.
Hutchinson, 191 pp., £5.95, January 1980, 9780091390808
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... the incident – bought a slave girl, a slim, small teenage Hungarian called Florenz Barbara Maria Finian. She was 17, he was 38. The event, and his new, not easily explained companion, only made him more keen to travel, to escape the prying eyes of his family for the time he needed to sort out what he would do about her. Now, as he set his mind more ...

Forever Unwilling

Bernard Wasserstein, 13 April 2000

A People Apart: The Jews in Europe 1789-1939 
by David Vital.
Oxford, 944 pp., £30, June 1999, 0 19 821980 6
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... starting point is a seemingly minor event: the expulsion of the Jews from Prague by the Empress Maria Theresa in 1744-45. It is chosen in order to demonstrate what Vital describes as the ‘fragility ... of the civilising impact of the Enlightenment’. Whatever the merits of this argument (and, since it is the central point of the book, I shall return to ...

Diary

Tariq Ali: In Cochabamba, 21 June 2007

... team (the others were Perry Anderson, Robin Blackburn and Ralph Schoenman) sent by Bertrand Russell to attend the trial of Régis Debray in Camiri, not far from where a besieged Che Guevara was fighting to escape the Bolivian army. Debray had been captured while attempting to leave the guerrilla encampment and head home. I had also been asked by the ...

Father of the Light Bulb

J. Robert Lennon: Kurt Vonnegut, 22 February 2018

Kurt Vonnegut: Complete Stories 
edited by Jerome Klinkowitz and Dan Wakefield.
Seven Stories, 911 pp., £29.99, November 2017, 978 1 60980 808 2
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... of collections of ‘dark fables’, often by celebrated short story writers – Kelly Link, Karen Russell – as well as newcomers such as Lesley Nneka Arimah and Carmen Maria Machado. Perhaps what Eggers means isn’t moral fiction, but morally simplistic fiction: stories that give up their insights easily, that demand ...

Maurice Thomson’s War

Perry Anderson, 4 November 1993

Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict and London’s Overseas Traders 1550-1653 
by Robert Brenner.
Cambridge, 734 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 521 37319 0
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TheNature of the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 466 pp., £32, June 1993, 0 582 08941 7
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... on the English Revolution since the Seventies. Kevin Sharpe’s Personal Rule of Charles I, Conrad Russell’s Fall of the British Monarchies and John Morrill’s Nature of the English Revolution all represent distinct standpoints, but certain common features continue to stand out. Rejecting both constitutional explanations of the Caroline crisis, and class ...

The Great Fear

William Lamont, 21 July 1983

Charles I and the Popish Plot 
by Caroline Hibbard.
North Carolina, 342 pp., £21, May 1983, 0 8078 1520 9
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Charles I: The Personal Monarch 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 426 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 9780710094858
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The Puritan Moment: The Coming of Revolution in an English County 
by William Hunt.
Harvard, 365 pp., £24, April 1983, 0 674 73903 5
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... carried messages between Archbishop Laud and the Papal agent at the Court of Henrietta Maria, George Con. Antrim had, as early as the beginning of 1638, presented to Charles I and Henrietta Maria a plan to take an army of his Ulster clansmen (he claimed to be able to raise 10,000) to Scotland to crush Protestant ...

Hollow-Headed Angels

Nicholas Penny, 4 January 1996

Art and Power: Europe under the Dictators 1930-1945 
edited by David Britt.
Hayward Gallery, 360 pp., £19.95, October 1995, 1 85332 148 6
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... but vertical in format and entirely without saccharine optimism and uniform cheerfulness. José Maria Sert’s Saint Teresa, Ambassadress of Divine Love in Spain, Offers to Our Lord the Spanish Martyrs of 1936 is an altarpiece, painted in earth colours on gold, which employs the Counter-Reformation iconography of intercession and ascent. The heroes – of ...

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