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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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... seed from a large company, instead of using their local seed merchant, or indeed their own seed corn. His crowning moment came when Khrushchev travelled to Coon Rapids to meet him and buy his seed. (MarkWinston points out that both the US and the Soviet agricultural systems, which required huge amounts of fertiliser, collapsed at about the same time in the 1980s, the Soviet system because it ran out ...
29 March 2017
... would be very expensive, and suggested that perhaps just a few might be dropped ‘over Berlin and 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 ...


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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... interview them a year later. His original idea was to do this as a television documentary, which might 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 ...

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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... magazine editors such as Kingsley Martin and Cyril Connolly, the editors of famous papers such as 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 ...

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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... the aphrodisiac effect on Orwell of sweet-smelling open spaces. Edenic lovemaking in a ‘golden countryside’ embellished with wild peppermint is George Bowling’s dream in Coming Up for Air; and Winston Smith’s, too, in Nineteen Eighty-Four. I’ve sometimes thought that Orwell’s famous distinction between good, bad and good-bad books could be applied to the odours that pervade the ones he ...

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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... by George Orwell, was one of the black flowers of Thirties totalitarianism. By criminalising thought 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 ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls

21 September 2016
... defeat in 1906, losing his own seat in the process, but served as foreign secretary during the 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 ...

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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... Ingsoc’s sexual puritanism is exhibited as having a political motive: an instinct creating a world of its own outside the Party’s control is dangerous and ought to be destroyed. And that Winston Smith and his Julia are inevitably in large part the manikins Big Brother has made of them is an obvious postulate of the novel. Winston, for that matter, is not all that different from Lewis’s ...
9 November 1989
The Blind Victorian: Henry Fawcett and British Liberalism 
edited by Lawrence Goldman.
Cambridge, 199 pp., £25, August 1989, 0 521 35032 8
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... Academy and the Royal Society, where the layman was once made to feel at home, into learned societies. H.A.L. Fisher threatened to resign from the British Academy in 1938 if it refused to recommend Winston Churchill for election: such a decision, he said, would ‘mark the triumph of a tendency towards minute specialisation ... which I have long watched with concern, as likely to rob the Academy of its ...

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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... favour for probably less than the first two years of Anne’s rule. Many biographies, Ophelia Field’s among them, rely too heavily on Sarah’s own interpretation of her life. If it was said of Winston Churchill that you spent the first hour becoming acquainted with his vices and the rest of your life discovering his virtues, you could only say the converse of his famous ancestor. Even allowing for ...

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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... be seen as the direct sequel to Otto Preminger’s Bonjour tristesse. The central character of the 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 ...


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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... Harrison, the editor of the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, observes that we are 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 ...
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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... no one knew who he was. Nor, having now read Ray Robinson’s reverent but clear sighted 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 ...
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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... model of a stylish young diplomat, his qualities soon attracted favourable attention. In October 1939 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 ...

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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... Broadcasting began as entertainment and only later took education and information into its 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 ...

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