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Captain Swing

Eric Hobsbawm

24 November 1994
The Duke Ellington Reader 
edited by Mark Tucker.
Oxford, 536 pp., £19.95, February 1994, 0 19 505410 5
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Swing Changes: Big-Band Jazz in New Deal America 
by David Stowe.
Harvard, 299 pp., £19.95, October 1994, 0 674 85825 5
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... Twenties by little groups of impassioned aficionados, was to be found only in the medium of commercial musical entertainment. Its greatest figure, who has been properly honoured in the 536 pages of MarkTucker’s Duke Ellington Reader, a ‘source-book of writings on Ellington’, lived and died as a travelling band-leader. It was not that he had to – in his later years he subsidised his band out ...


Frank Kermode

1 March 1984
The Paper Men 
by William Golding.
Faber, 191 pp., £7.95, February 1984, 0 571 13206 5
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William Golding: A Critical Study 
by Mark​ Kinkead-Weekes and Ian Gregor.
Faber, 291 pp., £3.50, February 1984, 0 571 13259 6
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... refuges of drink and continual movement, he finds himself a part of a supernatural pattern he cannot resist and only partly discerns. Grubbing in the novelist’s dustbin at dawn, Professor Rick L. Tucker of Astrakhan University, Nebraska, retrieves a scrap of compromising correspondence, a piece of a letter from a long-discarded mistress. It is the beginning of the end of Wilfred Barclay’s marriage ...

The Style It Takes

Mark​ Ford: John Cale

16 September 1999
What’s Welsh for Zen? The Autobiography of John Cale 
by Victor Bockris.
Bloomsbury, 272 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 7475 3668 6
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... a battered pornographic paperback that described sex parties in suburbia. He’d retrieved it from a gutter, attracted by its title, The Velvet Underground. So named, and with the androgynous Moe Tucker on drums, the group embarked on a two-week stint at the Café Bizarre on MacDougal Street, where they scared off the customers and baited the management. Just before they were closed down, however ...

Jungle Joys

Alfred Appel Jr: Wa-Wa-Wa with the Duke

5 September 2002
... the jungle style and mix of allusions? What do we think? Most jazz critics are silently puzzled by such quotations or dismiss them as self-indulgent distractions or pointless jokes, which misses the mark. The postwar bebop jazzmen employed musical quotations even more often than Ellington. Charlie Parker frequently concludes fast-paced, hard-swinging numbers by stopping on a dime and gaily quoting ...

The Right Kind of Pain

Mark​ Greif: The Velvet Underground

22 March 2007
The Velvet Underground 
by Richard Witts.
Equinox, 171 pp., £10.99, September 2006, 9781904768272
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... John Cale, an initiate of the minimalist and dissonant avant-garde under the tutelage of New York composer LaMonte Young, was the band’s violist and played bass guitar. Maureen ‘Mo’ Tucker, a self-taught teenage percussionist, played standing up, without cymbals or pedals, and was one of only a very few female drummers in rock. Sterling Morrison, the band’s fine second guitarist, has ...
18 July 1996
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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... performer Jolson inspired out-and-out impersonation. In the early days of his success, his black-faced, mammy-singing disciples included not only Eddie Cantor, George Burns, George Jessel and Sophie Tucker, but the future movie mogul Harry Cohn, the young Walter Winchell and his own older brother. Signed by the Shubert Brothers in 1911, Jolson was the first product of the bastard forms of vaudeville ...
19 January 1984
That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in 19th-Century Intellectual History 
by Stefan Collini, Donald Winch and John Burrow.
Cambridge, 385 pp., £25, November 1983, 9780521257626
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... lovingly reconstituted for each protagonist within its appropriate context. ‘As an ordained minister of the established Church,’ we are reminded, ‘Malthus was as much the successor to Abraham Tucker and William Palcy as to Adam Smith, and as much the contemporary of someone like Bishop Sumner, who did so much to make his doctrines acceptable in Anglican circles, as of his friend Ricardo ...


Tom Nairn: Australian Blues

18 November 2004
... Saturdays), and the Labor Party has obligingly fallen apart into Lilliputian factions. Even worse, the elder statesman of the Labor Party, Gough Whitlam, appeared to counsel patience on his protégé Mark Latham, who recently became the Labor leader. The gaffer prognosticated that a full two sessions of zombiedom might have to elapse before the progressives get another chance. Had not he himself had ...

Days of Reckoning

Orlando Figes

7 July 1988
Stalin: Man and Ruler 
by Robert McNeal.
Macmillan, 389 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 333 37351 0
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... is probably right to discount, that Stalin had informed the Tsarist Police about some of his rivals in the Bolshevik underground in Baku. Martov, the Menshevik leader, was probably closer to the mark in 1918 when he accused Stalin of having carried out bank robberies (‘expropriations’) to finance party activities, although on this, as on quite a few other unresolved points in Stalin’s ...

In the Streets of Londonistan

John Upton: Terror, Muslims and the Met

22 January 2004
... 1919, under the Bolshevik-hating Sir Basil Thomson, Special Branch adopted the practice of intimidatory attendance at left-wing gatherings. It comes as no surprise to learn that it was slower off the mark in monitoring right-wing groups. By the outbreak of World War Two, however, these to0 had come under its gaze. Before the war’s end, the focus had reverted to the Red threat, and from the 1950s ...

One Summer in America

Eliot Weinberger

26 September 2019
... On an unannounced visit to the Korean demilitarised zone, including a few steps into North Korean territory itself with Kim Jong-un, the president brings along one of his favourite Fox News hosts, Tucker Carlson, as well as Ivanka. Carlson says of North Korea: ‘It’s a disgusting place, obviously. So there’s no defending it. On the other hand, you’ve got to be honest about what it means to ...

‘Damn right,’ I said

Eliot Weinberger: Bush Meets Foucault

6 January 2011
Decision Points 
by George W. Bush.
Virgin, 497 pp., £25, November 2010, 978 0 7535 3966 8
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... Publishing (who reportedly paid $7 million for the book); a team of a dozen researchers; and scores of ‘trusted friends’. Foucault: ‘What difference does it make who is speaking?’ ‘The mark of the writer is … nothing more than the singularity of his absence.’ As a postmodern text, many passages in the book are pastiches of moments from other books, including scenes that Bush himself ...
24 September 1992
Rationalism in Politics, and Other Essays 
by Michael Oakeshott, edited by Timothy Fuller.
Liberty, 556 pp., $24, October 1991, 0 86597 094 7
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... partly because of the commotion caused by the change of national leadership, the passing of Michael Oakeshott did not attract much public notice. Even the Spectator, which might have been expected to mark the event with a full salute, ignored it for half a year, before carrying a curiously distracted piece by its editor, reporting strange losses in the philosopher’s papers, without so much as ...

Time Unfolded

Perry Anderson: Powell v. the World

2 August 2018
... unimaginable, of A la recherche. Nor the language in which he created that universe, soaring above the restrictions of what it contained and, resisting all impatient access, leaving the intractable mark of genius on it, in more, and more unforgettable, images than any other novel ever written. Proust aimed at the sublime. His addiction to hyperbole could become a lame – on occasion even an absurd ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust

19 July 2018
Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... bearer, liable to resort at the smallest real or imagined slight in public or private to hysterical rage’, his ‘calm, generous and open’ mother ‘a born peacemaker’ – left a two-fold mark on him: on the one hand, acquiring as a baby ‘the rock-bottom security that came from being unconditionally loved by his mother’, who bore him when she was 38; on the other, learning as a boy ...

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