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Tooth and Tail

Mark Urban

7 September 1995
Brassey’s Defence Yearbook 1995 
edited by Lawrence Freedman and Michael Clarke.
Brassey, 396 pp., £35.95, April 1995, 1 85753 131 0
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Broken Lives: A Personal View of the Bosnian Conflict 
by Bob Stewart.
HarperCollins, 336 pp., £6.99, July 1994, 0 00 638268 1
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Looking for Trouble: An Autobiography 
by Peter de la Billière.
HarperCollins, 449 pp., £19.99, September 1994, 0 00 255245 0
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... operations. ‘If we lose that war-fighting capability,’ Field Marshal Sir Peter Inge remarked in a lecture last year, ‘I believe the British Army will be on the road to becoming a sort of gendarmerie which can provide a battalion here and a battalion there but frankly has lost its ability to go to war.’ It is almost inconceivable now that the ...

Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley

11 December 1997
New cloak, Old dagger: How Britain’s Spies Came in from the Cold 
by Michael Smith.
Gollancz, 338 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 575 06150 2
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Intelligence Power in Peace and War 
by Michael Herman.
Cambridge, 436 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 521 56231 7
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UK Eyes Alpha 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 320 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 571 17689 5
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... centralised state as an essential precondition for democratic government there was now a faith in market capitalism. This was increasingly regarded as a vital stage in the growth of democracy, and was thus to be encouraged in countries that were seeking to be democratic, and defended in those which could already boast representative government. There was an ...

Urban Humanist

Sydney Checkland

15 September 1983
Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in Urban History by H.J. Dyos 
edited by David Cannadine and David Reeder.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £20, September 1982, 0 521 24624 5
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Themes in Urban History: Patricians, Power and Politics in 19th-Century Towns 
edited by David Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 224 pp., £16.50, October 1982, 9780718511937
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... felt the magic of the city, but until recently there has been little real attempt to rationalise urban processes. There have been plenty of topographical, antiquarian and anecdotal accounts: the Victorians were profuse with their ‘Annals’, ‘Memorials’, ‘Reminiscences’, ‘Fragments’. But until different minds, like that of Patrick Geddes, had ...

Friendly Fire

Bernard Porter: Torching the White House

21 February 2008
Fusiliers: Eight Years with the Redcoats in America 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 571 22486 9
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1812: War with America 
by Jon Latimer.
Harvard, 637 pp., £22.95, October 2007, 978 0 674 02584 4
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... first occasion we know about: it was the war that secured the colonists’ independence (1775-83). Mark Urban’s book is about the experiences of one British regiment – the Royal Welch Fusiliers – in that campaign. (Most of them weren’t Welsh, incidentally.) The second war scarcely anyone in Britain has heard of, and even Americans seem to be hazy ...
19 November 2015
... Undo that step, or at the least tread softly, for a sleek and bushy-tailed urban fox is counting chick- chick-chick- chickens in his dreams; when he wakes he’ll yawn and prowl, while I’ll be staring, shamefaced, down the grainy, haunted vistas opened by insomnia. Sing, birds, I mean all ye bird-brained in every furrow that you hop in; warble tales of the species that will wade through estuaries, and stalk the plains, or tunnel beneath them, after mishap or meteor ...

Two Poems

Mark Ford

10 June 2010
... full April moon Slides above barely visible clouds, and is greeted By a burst of hooting from an urban Tawny owl. On empty Brownfield sites they nest, and rear their young, and feed On vermin. Has Any Probing, saucer-eyed astronomer, even a modern Or French one, ever Grown genuinely accustomed ‘aux profondeurs du grand Vide céleste’? Someone halts, and ...

Cramming for Success

James Wood: Hardy in London

14 June 2017
Thomas Hardy: Half A Londoner 
by Mark Ford.
Harvard, 305 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 0 674 73789 1
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... Guys, Baudelaire leaves the salon and goes out into the street, away from art criticism to urban digression. He mentions Poe’s story, ‘The Man of the Crowd’, whose narrator, recovering from a recent illness, sits in a London café and watches the human traffic through the window. Artists are like convalescents, Baudelaire adds: nervously ...

At the Nailya Alexander Gallery

August Kleinzahler: George Tice

11 October 2018
... Stone Walls, Grey Skies: A Vision of Yorkshire, Fields of Peace: A Pennsylvania German Album, Urban Landscapes. In many of these land and sky take precedence over the built landscape of the photographs of Tice’s native New Jersey. A sense of quietude pervades the images. Although the Midwestern small-town photographs display many of the elements Tice is ...

Crowing

Michael Rogin

5 September 1996
Imagineering Atlanta 
by Charles Rutheiser.
Verso, 324 pp., £44.95, July 1996, 1 85984 800 1
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... account of the city. An anthropologist teaching in Atlanta, he writes in the tradition of urban studies established by Mike Davis’s pathbreaking City of Quartz. But there is more ethnographic texture in Davis’s Los Angeles: Rutheiser’s subject, which invokes a term invented by Disney, is ‘Imagineering’, the promotional synthesis of ...

Bernie’s War

Philip Purser

23 May 1991
A German Requiem 
by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 306 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 670 83516 1
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... and Marlowe and their legion of imitators is that he is based – or has been so far – not in urban America in the Thirties and Forties, but in the Berlin of that period. The first two novels were set in the Nazi era: March Violets (1989) in the early months of the regime, and The Pale Criminal (last year) in 1938. The plots started off with conventional ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities

6 September 2001
Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... A folk memory of industrial squalor and urban overcrowding persists in the minds of public and planners alike,’ Richard Rogers and Anne Power argue in Cities for a Small Country, ‘and fuels an almost obsessive desire for low-density, suburban homes.’ What happened, they ask, to ‘the English love of cities’? Should we blame the town planner Ebenezer Howard for the love affair with suburbia that replaced it? Howard imagined that the problem of London could be solved only by its extinction ...

Mysteries of the City

Mark Ford: Baudelaire and Modernity

21 February 2013
Baudelaire: The Complete Verse 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Anvil, 470 pp., £10.95, January 2012, 978 0 85646 427 0
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Baudelaire: Paris Blues/Le Spleen de Paris 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Anvil, 332 pp., £10.95, January 2012, 978 0 85646 429 4
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Seeing Double: Baudelaire’s Modernity 
by Françoise Meltzer.
Chicago, 264 pp., £29, May 2011, 978 0 226 51988 3
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... poem’s London more generally. In a passage from the poem ‘Le Soleil’ that anticipates the urban poetics of another ardently Francophile American poet, Frank O’Hara, Baudelaire figures his traversing of the streets of Paris as an aleatory means of exploring simultaneously the city, the self, and the possibilities of poetry: Flairant dans tous les ...

How to Save the City-Dweller

Andrew Saint: Cities

21 May 1998
Cities for a Small Planet 
by Richard Rogers.
Faber, 180 pp., £9.99, December 1997, 0 571 17993 2
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... to live the good life, which social and architectural reformers rally round to invent. This year marks the centenary of Ebenezer Howard’s Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, perhaps the most humane blueprint ever set down for new communities. Go today to Letchworth, the first Garden City and fruit of Howard’s ...

It Migrates to Them

Jeremy Harding: The Coming Megaslums

8 March 2007
Planet of Slums 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 228 pp., £15.99, March 2006, 1 84467 022 8
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Buda’s Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 228 pp., £12.99, March 2007, 978 1 84467 132 8
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... from prosperous centres of medium or high population density. Prosperity in the newer, informal urban environment – in Caracas or Lagos, say – is reckoned by incomparably different standards. Davis, the urban historian who also excels at apocalyptic geography, sketches the various ways in which its inhabitants can ...

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