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Cinders

Ian Hamilton, 21 October 1982

Women Working: Prostitution Now 
by Eileen McLeod.
Croom Helm, 177 pp., £6.95, August 1982, 0 7099 1717 1
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An English Madam: The Life and Work of Cynthia Payne 
by Paul Bailey.
Cape, 166 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 224 02037 4
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All the Girls 
by Martin O’Brien.
Macmillan, 268 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 333 31099 3
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... cut corners. I’m surprised that no one’s thought of it before. Norman Fowler, please note. Martin O’Brien is exactly the sort of Jack-my-lad who would have been barred from Cynthia Payne’s premises. In All the Girls he sets off round the world (or parts of the world) with unlimited funds and a grimly limited mission: he will sample whatever ...

Diary

Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire, 22 September 1994

... genesis of the ceasefire. He seems cautiously optimistic. Not so that other old ham, Conor Cruise O’Brien, writing on the same newspaper’s opinion pages. O’Brien sees the timing of the ceasefire as evidence of a Machiavellian plot to divert attention away from the Dublin Government’s domestic difficulties. Why is ...

Seeing Curt Lemon blown up

James Wood, 26 July 1990

The things they carried 
by Tim O’Brien.
Collins, 255 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 00 223603 6
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... Tim O’Brien, who fought in Vietnam in 1968, went on to write two fine books: the memoir, If I die in a combat zone (1973), and the novel, Going after Cacciato (1979). This latest work, a collection of brusque but moving fictions about life in Vietnam, linked by autobiographical enquiries, has all the qualities of the first two books, the same hunger for fidelity ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... wider social and cultural contexts – education acts, decolonisation, immigration – while Sean O’Brien, author of The Deregulated Muse, a fine critical panorama of contemporary poetry, commends ‘the emergence of new poetries from formerly unsuspected sources’. There is also a step towards devolution, with Armitage and Crawford including a more than ...

Dr Vlad

Terry Eagleton: Edna O’Brien, 21 October 2015

The Little Red Chairs 
by Edna O’Brien.
Faber, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 0 571 31628 1
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... and the service industries. Rural drama has given way to Riverdance, and Lady Gregory to Martin McDonagh. The passage from the premodern to the postmodern, partly eclipsing modernity proper, was smoothed by the fact that Ireland had no industrial infrastructure to dismantle. You can go postindustrial all the more easily if you never had much heavy ...

Nora Barnacle: Pictor Ignotus

Sean O’Faolain, 2 August 1984

... He grins with browning teeth. ‘There we are at the cashier’s desk in the hall, poor old Mossy O’Brien and myself, I’d been painting the whole week. Bags on the mat. The pony and trap outside on the gravel waiting to take us off to the GS&WR for Dublin. Behind the counter, in her black bombazine and gold chains, old Ma Coughlan, the toughest ...

No Waverers Allowed

Clair Wills: Eamonn McCann, 23 May 2019

War and an Irish Town 
by Eamonn McCann.
Haymarket, 288 pp., £14.99, October 2018, 978 1 60846 567 5
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... In May 1974, in the New York Review of Books, the critic Seamus Deane lambasted Conor Cruise O’Brien, then minister for posts and telegraphs in the Irish Republic’s coalition government, for implying in a previous issue that ‘the Provisional IRA began the killing in the North.’ Not so. It was the Royal Ulster Constabulary who did this, using ...

Diary

Christopher Hitchens: In Washington, 7 February 1991

... at the choice of 15 January for the deadline, because it is the officially celebrated birthday of Martin Luther King and many felt that Bush either knew this and did not care or, worse still, had not noticed. But, except for a fistful of Trotskyists, all those attending the rally in Lafayette Park last weekend were complaining of the financial cost of the war ...

The Plot to Make Us Stupid

David Runciman, 22 February 1996

... rather than £24 million (the previous week’s total) or £10 million (the week before that)? As Martin Amis has pointed out in another context, though it is hard to say what difference would be made by having £40 million rather than £20 million at one’s disposal, it is easy enough to see that the difference is a cool £20 million. When the total reached ...

At the Fairground

Tom Nairn, 20 March 1997

Republics, Nations and Tribes 
by Martin Thom.
Verso, 359 pp., £45, July 1995, 1 85984 020 5
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... of Humanity. Yet quite a few gloomsters were not checked in, notably éminence noire Conor Cruise O’Brien. Was the Indie trying to cheer us up? Or perhaps it was offering a little consolation to those already suffering from the fin-de-siècle drowning sensation. More serious victims might also try turning to ...
... the evils of Communism. I believe that (brutality apart, which is not an issue between us) Tom O’Brien, Hugh Gaitskell, Georges Barnes, Lord Bridges, would behave as Communist bosses do if they got the chance. At any rate, it seems to me that for the English lover of liberty the main enemy is here, just as for the Russian it is in Russia. One should ...

Diary

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 ...

Bad News at the ‘Observer’

Colin Legum, 4 November 1982

Powers of the Press: The World’s Great Newspapers 
by Martin Walker.
Quartet, 401 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 7043 2271 4
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Goodbye Gutenberg: The Newspaper Revolution of the 1980s 
by Anthony Smith.
Oxford, 367 pp., £3.95, January 1982, 9780198272434
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New Technology and Industrial Relations in Fleet Street 
by Roderick Martin.
Oxford, 367 pp., £17.50, October 1981, 9780198272434
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News Ltd: Why you can’t read all about it 
by Brian Whitaker.
Minority Press Group, 176 pp., £3.25, June 1981, 0 906890 04 7
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... of relationship, however, exists between newspapers and the national Establishment. On this point Martin Walker quotes approvingly the views of Wilbur Schramm: ‘Prestige papers are shaped, to an important degree, by what the leadership in the country wants to know and wants known. The leadership in the country is also shaped, to an important degree, by what ...

Martian Arts

Jonathan Raban, 23 July 1987

Home and Away 
by Steve Ellis.
Bloodaxe, 62 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240271
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The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 48 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 7011 3227 2
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The Frighteners 
by Sean O’Brien.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £4.50, February 1987, 9781852240134
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... rolled into one. It crops up twice in this batch of collections, in poems by Steve Ellis and Sean O’Brien.The opening of ‘Summer ’84’ by Steve Ellis provides a fair sample:My father-in-law adored a drought.At the first sign of a sun in stasis,cracked soil, rumours on the radio,he’d mobilise an army of bucketsand scurry all over the ...

Bland Fanatics

Pankaj Mishra: Liberalism and Colonialism, 3 December 2015

On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present 
by Alan Ryan.
Penguin, 1152 pp., £14.99, September 2013, 978 0 14 028518 5
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Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism 
by Larry Siedentop.
Penguin, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 0 14 100954 4
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Liberalism: The Life of an Idea 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 496 pp., £16.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 16839 5
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An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzō and a New Liberal Order in East Asia 1905-37 
by Jung-Sun Ni Han.
Harvard, 244 pp., £29.95, March 2013, 978 0 674 06571 0
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... Visiting​ Africa and Asia in the 1960s, Conor Cruise O’Brien discovered that many people in former colonies were ‘sickened by the word “liberalism”’. They saw it as an ‘ingratiating moral mask which a toughly acquisitive society wears before the world it robs’. O’Brien – ‘incurably liberal’ himself (at least in this early phase of his career) – was dismayed ...

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