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Everyone has a voice

James Meek: Biotechnology

11 July 2002
A Grain of Truth: the Media, the Public and Biotechnology 
by Susanna Hornig Priest.
Rowman and Littlefield, 160 pp., £14.95, January 2001, 0 7425 0948 6
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Travels in the Genetically Modified Zone 
by Mark Winston.
Harvard, 288 pp., £19.50, June 2002, 0 674 00867 7
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Seeds of Contention: World Hunger and the Global Controversy over GM Crops 
by Per Pinstrup-Andersen.
Johns Hopkins, 176 pp., £9, September 2001, 0 8018 6826 2
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... getting Firsts in maths and being recruited by Goldman Sachs and making a killing in the long bull market of the 1990s. Yes, that would have been good. But it wouldn’t have made me good at maths. Maths is difficult. It takes a special talent to be good at it. It’s not enough to study; it’s not enough to have an inspirational teacher, or not to be ...
29 March 2017
... Josef Goebbels’. Apart from the impracticality, Clark had his doubts, as Jonathan Black notes in Winston Churchill in British Art (Bloomsbury, £25), as to whether Churchill was going to be an asset or a liability in the war effort. Townsend’s ‘Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty’ (1915) It is one ...


Thomas Healy

11 February 1993
Living Dangerously: Young Offenders in their Own Words 
by Roger Graef.
HarperCollins, 262 pp., £14.99, January 1993, 0 00 215967 8
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... have worked but as a book the idea flops. There is a sameness about Johnnie and Stan, Sunny and Winston and the other five boys on the programme Graef writes about. Six of the boys are white and three are black; their ages vary from 17 to 20. Johnnie, the first of the boys to be interviewed, is a slim, sallow Irish lad who has no known father and an ...

Going on the air

Philip French

2 May 1985
Orwell: The War Broadcasts 
edited by W.J. West.
Duckworth/BBC, 304 pp., £12.95, March 1985, 0 7156 1916 0
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... Michael Foot at the Evening Standard, the great publishers of the day, have all of them left their mark on the cultural history of the time. Their opposite numbers on radio remain to this day largely unknown, or, like Orwell, famous for other reasons. This ignorance has no doubt contributed to the extraordinary neglect by scholars of this important period of ...

I say, damn it, where are the beds?

David Trotter: Orwell’s Nose and Prose

16 February 2017
Orwell’s Nose: A Pathological Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Reaktion, 256 pp., £15, August 2016, 978 1 78023 648 3
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Or Orwell: Writing and Democratic Socialism 
by Alex Woloch.
Harvard, 378 pp., £35.95, January 2016, 978 0 674 28248 3
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... those qualities, rather than any particular political prescience, which have been invoked by the remarkable spike in the sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four following Kellyanne Conway’s notoriously unblushing embrace of ‘alternative facts’. Orwell didn’t foresee Trump. But if Trump were ever to find out about Orwell, he would probably tweet against ...

What can happen when you make contact in a MOO

John Sutherland: Crime and passion in a virtual world

29 July 1999
My Tiny Life: Crime and Punishment in a Virtual World 
by Donald Dibbell.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £16.99, January 1999, 1 84115 058 4
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... the dictatorial state planned to erase individuality – even an individuality as insignificant as Winston Smith’s. In the Orwellian dystopia the state’s apparatus was primarily bureaucratic: new technology – in the form of the ubiquitous telescreen (TV that watched you) – was instrumental but not central. Earlier forms of thoughtcrime are familiar ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls

21 September 2016
... First World War and was still in the cabinet in 1929, 55 years after he first entered Parliament. Winston Churchill was elected in 1900 as a Tory, became a Liberal, lost his seat, got another one, became a Tory again, won the premiership, lost it, and won it back again, retiring from Parliament in 1964. Even Alec Douglas-Home had a second act after losing the ...

Floating Islands

J.I.M. Stewart

21 October 1982
Of This and Other Worlds 
by C.S. Lewis, edited by Walter Hooper.
Collins, 192 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 00 215608 3
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George Orwell: A Personal Memoir 
by T.R. Fyvel.
Weidenfeld, 221 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 297 78012 3
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... published eight years before Perelandra and three years before Out of the Silent Plant, has marked kinship with the space fictions, and it is perhaps noteworthy that Lewis’s Perelandran Lady shares her coloration with Read’s troglodytic girl.) The derivation makes no matter. What appears virtually certain is that Perelandra didn’t start with the ...

Why the richest woman in Britain changed her will 26 times

Mark Kishlansky: The Duchess of Marlborough

14 November 2002
The Favourite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 
by Ophelia Field.
Hodder, 575 pp., £20, June 2002, 9780340768075
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... The memoirs of Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough, are among the more remarkable documents of the 18th century. Begun by 1704, they were written, rewritten and ghostwritten over three decades before publication in 1742. An Account of the Conduct of the Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, from Her First Coming to Court to the Year 1710 was a none too subtle attempt at vindicating her brief period as favourite to Queen Anne, justifying her personal and political roles, refuting slanders against her and her warrior husband, and defaming her enemies, both dead and alive ...

When the beam of light has gone

Peter Wollen: Godard Turns Over

17 September 1998
The Films of Jean-Luc Godard 
by Wheeler Winston Dixon.
SUNY, 290 pp., £17.99, March 1997, 0 7914 3285 8
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Speaking about Godard 
by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki.
New York, 256 pp., $55, July 1998, 0 8147 8066 0
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... film, the petty criminal played by Belmondo, modelled his self-image on that of Humphrey Bogart in Mark Robson’s The Harder They Fall. These films were not even ‘classics’ – they were little-regarded films dating from the mid-Fifties, movies which Andrew Sarris, a leading historian of Hollywood, later characterised as ‘widely reviled’ and ...


Peter Clarke: Lloyd George versus Haig

3 April 2003
Lloyd George: War Leader 
by John Grigg.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, October 2002, 9780713993431
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... hardly alone ‘in placing the great at the centre of our national myth’: If Lloyd George and Winston Churchill epitomise national resistance to Germany in two world wars, Joan of Arc and General de Gaulle are central to the French national self-image and F.D. Roosevelt is central to the story of America’s interwar economic recovery, and Nelson Mandela ...
19 June 1997
American Original: A Life of Will Rogers 
by Ray Robinson.
Oxford, 288 pp., $30, January 1997, 0 19 508693 7
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... biography, do I. Will Rogers was billed as ‘America’s Greatest Humorist’, the successor to Mark Twain. But the legendary examples of his humour – ‘We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poorhouse in an automobile’; ‘My epitaph: Here lies Will Rogers. Politicians turned honest and he starved to death’ – sound flat ...
7 November 1985
The Fringes of Power: Downing Street Diaries 1939-1955 
by John Colville.
Hodder, 796 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 340 38296 1
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... he was transferred to Number Ten as Assistant Private Secretary to Neville Chamberlain. It was a mark of high favour that at the tender age of 23 he should be entrusted with prime ministerial secrets of which high-ranking members of the Government were in ignorance. Loyalty was Colville’s forte. During the phoney war he belonged to the up-and-coming circle ...

Goodbye to SOGAT

John Crawley

2 October 1980
Broadcasting in a Free Society 
by Lord Windlesham.
Blackwell, 172 pp., £7.95, August 1980, 0 631 11371 1
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Goodbye Gutenberg 
by Anthony Smith.
Oxford, 367 pp., £8.50, August 1980, 0 19 215953 4
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... scope. But by 1925 the General Strike brought the BBC up against the Government, or rather against Winston Churchill, since Baldwin did not support him in his attempt to take over the Company (which is what it then was) as an extension of the British Gazette, the sole medium of communication between the Government and the people. The independence that Reith ...

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