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The Stamp of One Defect

David Edgar: Jeremy Thorpe, 29 July 2015

Jeremy Thorpe 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 606 pp., £25, December 2014, 978 0 316 85685 0
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Closet Queens: Some 20th-Century British Politicians 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 320 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4087 0412 7
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... which kept Thorpe out of trouble for years. Published, at Thorpe’s request, after his death, Michael Bloch’s eminently readable biography covers both the scandal and the remarkable political career. Indeed, the structure of Bloch’s book dramatises the way the two strands of the story must have felt to its ...

Unemployed

David Cannadine, 2 December 1982

Duchess: The Story of Wallis Warfield Windsor 
by Stephen Birmingham.
Macmillan, 287 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 34265 8
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The Duke of Windsor’s War 
by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 397 pp., £10.95, October 1982, 0 297 77947 8
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... In order to put the record straight, as she sees it, Maître Blum has invited the lawyer-historian Michael Bloch to be the Duke’s champion, and has given him extensive access to the Windsor archive. His first essay in ducal defence – dedicated to Maître Blum, ‘guide, pupil-master and friend’, and pointedly describing the Windsors as ‘Their ...

Late Worm

Rosemary Hill: James Lees-Milne, 10 September 2009

James Lees-Milne: The Life 
by Michael Bloch.
Murray, 400 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6034 7
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... his publisher, he fell ‘headlong into the gutter’, he was ‘constantly being humiliated’. Michael Bloch, who knew his subject well for many years, is a tactful, sensitive but not an indulgent biographer. His book conveys the contradictions of character and circumstance out of which this complicated, elusive but attractive personality evolved ...

Warfield

José Harris, 24 July 1986

Wallis and Edward: Letters 1931-1937 
edited by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 308 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 297 78804 3
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Rat Week: An Essay on the Abdication 
by Osbert Sitwell.
Joseph, 78 pp., £7.95, May 1986, 0 7181 1859 6
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... the facts of ‘what really passed between them’ is doomed to failure in advance. Neither Michael Bloch’s cautious scholarship nor Osbert Sitwell’s posthumous malice will erode posterity’s obstinate penchant for romantic love. Having said that, it has to be admitted that both the volumes under review are full of historical insights of the ...

Motoring

Frank Kermode: James Lees-Milne, 30 November 2000

Deep Romantic Chasm: Diaries 1979-81 
by James Lees-Milne, edited by Michael Bloch.
Murray, 276 pp., £22.50, October 2000, 0 7195 5608 2
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A Mingled Measure: Diaries 1953-72 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 325 pp., £12.99, October 2000, 0 7195 5609 0
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Ancient as the Hills: Diaries 1973-74 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £12.99, October 2000, 0 7195 6200 7
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... been reissued as rather grand paperbacks, along with an eighth, a final hardback selection made by Michael Bloch. They all have titles like Ancestral Voices, Caves of Ice, Through Wood and Dale, Midway on the Waves and Prophesying Peace, and it will not escape the notice of the literate public that they are all derived, one with a bit of a spin on ...

The great times they could have had

Paul Foot, 15 September 1988

Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... MI5 man called Peter Wright. Wright was summoned to the Palace. On the one hand, he was told by Michael Adeane, the Queen’s private secretary, that the Palace would do all they could to help, and, on the other, warned that Blunt might mention his trip to Germany after the war, and ordered abruptly not to pursue this particular matter. In the ...

The Lady Vanishes

Zoë Heller, 20 July 1995

The Last of the Duchess 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £16.99, April 1995, 0 333 63062 9
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... heat’) and that on another occasion, Blum’s assistant, a young Anglo-Irishman called Michael Bloch, describes the connection between the two women as being ‘of a romantic nature’. Blum is married to an ailing old French general, but Blackwood is not convinced of her heterosexual credentials. ‘It was impossible to visualise her lying ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine, 16 August 1990

Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... philistine that in retrospect he appears almost pathetically comical. In his books on Edward VIII, Michael Bloch has washed a great deal of the Abdication dirty linen in public, and much of the mud has stuck to the Duke of Windsor himself, to say nothing of the Duchess. Sarah Bradford’s biography of George VI portrayed him as the ultimate sacrificial ...

Time of the Assassin

Michael Wood, 26 January 1995

Proust and the Sense of Time 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Stephen Bann.
Faber, 103 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 571 16880 9
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Le Temps sensible: Proust et l’expérience littéraire 
by Julia Kristeva.
Gallimard, 451 pp., January 1995, 2 07 073116 2
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The Old Man and the Wolves 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 183 pp., £15, January 1995, 0 231 08020 4
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... the way one loses one’s patience. She mounts a brilliant defence of the pedantic and pretentious Bloch, a schoolfriend of the narrator’s in A la recherche du temps perdu. Of course he’s a pain, entirely unbearable; but he’s a serious and courageous Dreyfusard when others are frivolous or timid, and Kristeva thinks, I’m sure rightly, that Proust’s ...

Qui êtes-vous, Sir Moses?

C.R. Whittaker, 6 March 1986

Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... and ideologies of the present.’ The movement was given birth by Medieval historians, such as Bloch, Febvre and Braudel. It reached its climax in the ‘Braudelian empire’ of the VIe Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, producing such towering figures as Labrousse, Duby and Le Roy Ladurie. Ancient history has been carried along in the ...

White Slaves

Christopher Driver, 3 March 1983

Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight against White Slavery, 1870-1939 
by Edward Bristow.
Oxford, 340 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 19 822588 1
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Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes 
by Mikiso Hane.
Scolar, 297 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 85967 670 6
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... side. As the eloquent and – in the social context of pre-1914 Vienna – courageous rabbi Joseph Bloch put it, ‘one must have seen the misery of the Polish Jewish cities for oneself, in order to understand that a trip to Buenos Aires is not frightening.’ Life expectancy was low – it was always a choice between VD abroad or malnutrition at home – and ...

Fisherman’s Friend

David Landes, 27 October 1988

The Metronomic Society: Natural Rhythms and Human Timetables 
by Michael Young.
Thames and Hudson, 301 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 500 01443 4
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... Michael Young is a rarity among sociologists: he has a feel for the people he writes about, and he writes well. When he takes us into a Merseyside factory and walks us around in the company of Joe Murgatroyd, works superintendant, we can hear the shoes clopping, the machines humming or missing, we can see the workers cocking an ear, and we can feel the anxiety of the foremen running to keep things in hand ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland, 21 April 1988

Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... world. But, as he disarmingly reminds us, there is worse literary company than Lovecraft, Leiber, Bloch, Matheson and Jackson. ‘I could, for example, be an “important” writer like Joseph Heller and publish a novel every seven years or so, or a “brilliant” writer like John Gardner and write obscure books for bright academics who eat macrobiotic foods ...

Sad Nights

Michael Wood, 26 May 1994

The Conquest of Mexico 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 832 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 671 70518 0
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The Conquest of Mexico 
by Serge Gruzinski, translated by Eileen Corrigan.
Polity, 336 pp., £45, July 1993, 0 7456 0873 6
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... Fall of Tenochtitlán and the Fall of France in 1940, supported by an astute quotation from Marc Bloch: routine and regulations o the French and the Mexicans versus the concrete imagination and suppleness of intelligence of the Germans and the Spanish. That is a clash of cultures, and an uncomfortable comparison, as Thomas clearly knows. Particularly when we ...

Modernity

George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... the other, are set out. A larger point arises. In this book, references to Lukacs, Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Adorno, Trotsky, Marcuse, not to speak of Karl Marx himself, are, inevitably, manifold. I have looked in vain, in the Geyer-Ryan piece and elsewhere, for any treatment of the central and drastic fact: all these master spirits, sources, witnesses were Jews ...

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