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Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot 
by Michael Rogin.
California, 320 pp., $24.95, May 1996, 0 520 20407 7
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... most pervasive form of American mass culture’, playing to audiences on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. For some cultural historians, America is founded on the original sin of genocide; for Rogin, the sin is slavery. Blackface is a product of European imperialism and worse – a shocking form of dehumanisation, a vampire rite in which one people enacts ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... for whom ‘the threat of levelling tendencies’ and ‘the encroachment of Lucky Jim Dixon’ had yet to loom, is as crude a caricature as anything in the press coverage of the Lucan affair.From this historical distance it is not only broad trends that are easier to see: details are also emerging in the memoirs of people, especially women, who ...

The Authentic Snarl

Blake Morrison: The Impudence of Tony Harrison, 30 November 2017

The Inky Digit of Defiance: Selected Prose 1966-2016 
by Tony Harrison, edited by Edith Hall.
Faber, 544 pp., £25, April 2017, 978 0 571 32503 0
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Collected Poems 
by Tony Harrison.
Penguin, 464 pp., £9.99, April 2016, 978 0 241 97435 3
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... policeman say, ‘Move along there,’ the kind of colloquialism you’d hear on the street or in Dixon of Dock Green; the Latin teacher crossed it out and suggested ‘Vacate the thoroughfare’ instead. Harrison had his revenge on him – and on everyone else for whom the word ‘Classics’ was and is synonymous with ‘posh’ – when he translated ...

‘My God was bigger than his’

Colin Kidd: The Republicans, 4 November 2004

The Right Nation: Why America Is Different 
by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.
Allen Lane, 450 pp., £14.99, August 2004, 0 7139 9738 9
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Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet 
by James Mann.
Penguin, 448 pp., $16, September 2004, 0 14 303489 8
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Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image 
by David Greenberg.
Norton, 496 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 393 32616 0
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America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism 
by Anatol Lieven.
HarperCollins, 274 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 716456 4
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... cabaret. Nixon had his aides investigate a look-alike satirist who went by the name of Richard M. Dixon. Country Joe McDonald sang in 1971 of a new mechanical man, Looked just like a human being . . . Good God it was makin’ me sick . . . It was no one but Tricky Dick. In death Nixon retained notoriety and name recognition. Greenberg includes the ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... last page.’ ‘I know!’ ‘If that doesn’t stir me, I just shut it up with a bang, and mark it N.G. But give me a last page – and I’m infallible. Infallible.’ ‘You would be infallible even if you never opened …’ ‘No, no. Balzac – Balzac! Not me! I take off my hat to Balzac! I must open it!’ Satire can’t buy you friends but ...


Noël Annan, 15 October 1981

Blind Eye to Murder 
by Tom Bower.
Deutsch, 501 pp., £9.95, July 1981, 0 233 97292 7
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The Road to Nuremberg 
by Bradley Smith.
Deutsch, 303 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 233 97410 5
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... were former colonial servants and one of them, a redoubtable character called Ingrams who left his mark on German local government, was apt to treat the Germans as if they were a specially intelligent tribe of Bedouin. In the early days these British officers operated on what today seem grotesque assumptions: for instance, that Germany would be occupied for ...

Divinely Ordained

Jackson Lears: God loves America, 19 May 2011

A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided 
by Amanda Foreman.
Penguin, 988 pp., £12.99, June 2011, 978 0 14 104058 5
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... bloody and fruitless’, he said. The first two predictions, at least, were on the mark. British support for the South stemmed from complex sources: nationalistic rivalry, relief that the brash upstart was receiving his comeuppance, admiration for ‘Southern honour’ and other Confederate pretensions to aristocratic values. Many English ...

Two Ships

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 March 1997

... and ordered ships. SS Montrose had been built by a Middles-brough company called Sir Raylton Dixon and Co, and was launched in 1897. It was a steel vessel weighing 5431 tons; it was 444 feet in length and 52 feet wide. It was neither a big ship nor was it especially fast. It made about 12 knots. The steamer’s first owner was Elder, Dempster and Co, who ...

Ready to Go Off

Jenny Turner, 18 February 2021

A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler 
by Lynell George.
Angel City, 176 pp., $30, November 2020, 978 1 62640 063 4
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‘Kindred’, Fledgling’, Collected Stories’ 
by Octavia E. Butler, edited by Gerry Canavan and Nisi Shawl.
Library of America, 790 pp., $31.50, January 2021, 978 1 59853 675 1
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... far as I can tell, from ‘Black to the Future’, an essay published in 1994 by a white critic, Mark Dery. ‘Why do so few African Americans write science fiction?’ is the question it asks, though the bulk of the essay consists of interviews with Samuel R. Delany, Greg Tate, Tricia Rose. The word is now much used when talking about the interest so many ...

Outcasts and Desperados

Adam Shatz: Richard Wright’s Double Vision, 7 October 2021

The Man Who Lived Underground 
by Richard Wright.
Library of America, 250 pp., £19.99, April, 978 1 59853 676 8
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... terror rather than a caustic commentary on the pervasiveness of racism on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line.More​ was suppressed too. Wright’s publishers rejected the novel he at the time considered his most important, written between Native Son and Black Boy. An abridged version of The Man Who Lived Underground appeared in the posthumous collection ...

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