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Holding all the strings

Ian Gilmour, 27 July 1989

Macmillan. Vol. II: 1957-1986 
by Alistair Horne.
Macmillan, 741 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 333 49621 3
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... them – except, of course, Lord Home. Under the procedure devised by Macmillan, the Chief Whip, Martin Redmayne, and his assistants, were to sound out MPs; Lord Dilhorne, the Lord Chancellor, was to sound out the Cabinet; and other dignitaries were to consult other segments of the Party. Macmillan’s diary has Redmayne as originally a Hoggite (i.e. a ...

Versatile Monster

Marilyn Butler, 5 May 1988

In Frankenstein’s Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity and 19th-century Writing 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 207 pp., £22.50, December 1987, 0 19 811726 4
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... all the way from Jonas Chuzzlewit to the French Revolution – are our own creatures.’ Martin Chuzzlewit, Hard Times, the Christmas tale ‘The Haunted Man’ and Great Expectations all include creator-creature relationships which issue in deformity and self-destruction, and are intended to be symptomatic of the social system. There’s no denying ...


Christopher Ricks, 18 October 1984

Tough guys don’t dance 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 231 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 7181 2454 5
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... there at the very end of the book, is a Jacobean list of what makes comedy and what tragedy, from Martin Opitz von Boberfeld, 1597-1639. There are the names, crackling – like that of Vindice, say – with caricatural significance and the brutality of puppetry. There are the ethnic antagonisms, which in the old days were anti-Catholic and anti-Italian, and ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... family home of Fieldhead on the Thames. It is an autumn or winter evening after tea, for James the butler has been in to draw the blinds and close the curtains, and my father is reading under a green-shaded lamp. He has said a good deal already – the little boy who wants to be like his father, the sheltered child who doesn’t need to know the time or even ...

Why can’t she just do as she ought?

Michael Newton: ‘Gone with the Wind’, 6 August 2009

Frankly, My Dear: ‘Gone with the Wind’ Revisited 
by Molly Haskell.
Yale, 244 pp., £16.99, March 2009, 978 0 300 11752 3
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... of America’ series, GWTW as a subject of study joining the little red schoolhouse, Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Wall Street, Andy Warhol, the hamburger and Gypsy Rose Lee. In this mixed company, GWTW teeters erratically between Yankee high finance and a chaste, if manipulative stripper. Noticeably the only film on the ...

Hello to All That

Martin Seymour-Smith, 9 October 1986

Robert Graves: The Assault Heroic 1895-1926 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Weidenfeld, 387 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78943 0
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... until the very last days of his conscious life – recognised. At school Robert read Samuel Butler. Richard Perceval notes this, but he does not and cannot quite realise its consequences – nor, indeed, those of Robert’s meeting with Laura Riding in 1926. Here he is, eighty years or so after all these things happened – rebellious son breaking with ...


Louise Foxcroft: W.B. Yeats and her great-uncle, 7 September 2000

... diary in January 1939 that they were ‘nicely settled in a charming hotel on the promenade of Cap Martin ... the beautiful blue sea under my window and oranges and lemons growing along the streets’. She described the distractions of the resort, in particular the casinos, and her ‘great difficulty’ in stopping ‘my husband in trying to break the ...


E.S. Turner, 19 August 1993

The Descent of Manners: Etiquette, Rules and the Victorians 
by Andrew St George.
Chatto, 330 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 7011 3623 5
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... themselves to be guided, or brainwashed, by manuals of etiquette, supported by the precepts of Martin Tupper and the self-help exhortations of Samuel Smiles. One essential was to know the rules of good conversation. In their earlier years these strivers might well have learned the basics of the art from the recycled works of that universal publisher, Dr ...

Triumph of the Termites

Tom Nairn: Gordon Brown, 8 April 2010

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Viking, 802 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 670 91851 5
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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the Dream Job Turned Sour 
edited by Colin Hughes.
Guardian, 294 pp., £8.99, January 2010, 978 0 85265 219 0
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Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown 
by Christopher Harvie.
Verso, 206 pp., £8.99, February 2010, 978 1 84467 439 8
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... success showed ‘how deeply he can reach into Tory England’. By September last year, however, Martin Kettle was summing up how little it had all amounted to: ‘Brown is going down fighting. But he is going down. In the end this speech [to the Labour Party Conference] was a rage against the dying of the light.’ Ashley had advised him to pack his bags ...

Nature’s Chastity

José Harris, 15 September 1983

Eve and the New Jerusalem: Socialism and Feminism in the 19th Century 
by Barbara Taylor.
Virago, 402 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 86068 257 9
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Virgins and Viragos: A History of Women in Scotland from 1080 to 1980 
by Rosalind Marshall.
Collins, 365 pp., £13.50, June 1983, 0 00 216039 0
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... such as Mary Wollstonecraft, or their Victorian successors such as Harriet Taylor and Josephine Butler, the Owenite feminists ascribed sexual repression and exploitation, not merely to the imbalance of power between the sexes, but to the whole structure of private property ownership in competitive societies. Only the destruction of private property and a ...

Buggering on

Paul Addison, 21 July 1983

Winston Churchill: Companion Vol. V, Part III, The Coming of War 1936-1939 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1684 pp., £75, October 1982, 0 434 29188 9
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Finest Hour: Winston Churchill, 1939-1941 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1308 pp., £15.95, June 1983, 0 434 29187 0
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Churchill 1874-1915 
by Ted Morgan.
Cape, 571 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 224 02044 7
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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 
by William Manchester.
Michael Joseph, 973 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2275 5
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... a variety of forms, both academic and popular. And on the academic side the pre-eminent authority, Martin Gilbert, has taken advantage of the ambitious scope of the official life to construct a triumphal arch of scholarship. Since 1968, 12 large volumes of the official biography have appeared under his name: four of narrative, and eight ‘companion’ volumes ...


Julian Critchley, 11 December 1997

Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... Nabarro. After the ‘Night of the Long Knives’, when Macmillan was panicked by a typical Rab Butler indiscretion into sacking the dead wood in his Cabinet, Deedes was brought in to oversee the Government’s public relations. Spin-doctors were unheard of at that time, and Deedes’s task was to exploit his Fleet Street contacts to the Government’s ...

Late Deceiver

Robert Blake, 17 September 1981

Anthony Eden 
by David Carlton.
Allen Lane, 528 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 7139 0829 7
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... for the ‘authorised’ biographer, and the second constitutes the principal material on which Mr Martin Gilbert is working for his great biography of Churchill. Mr Carlton’s work may therefore be ‘interim’ for other reasons than the Thirty Year Rule. Nevertheless this is undoubtedly an important book, the first major and serious biography of someone ...

Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler, 17 July 1997

Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... house by crawling through a dressing-room window left open by prior arrangement with the butler, secured an assurance of loyalty from Dillon, and rushed back to Kennedy, who gave Dillon the job. Graham also recommended his friend David Bruce for Secretary of State, advice the President-elect didn’t take, choosing Dean Rusk instead. At Graham’s ...

‘We ain’t found shit’

Scott Ritter, 1 July 2015

... The SIS assigned me a codename – Dark Knight – for use in our correspondence (Richard Butler, Unscom’s executive chairman, was Dark Prince). The sites for Unscom inspections were originally determined by declarations made by Iraq. In the first statements it provided to the UN, in April 1991, it underestimated its holdings of chemical weapons and ...

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