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Those Suits

Paul Foot

7 September 1995
Jeffrey Archer: Stranger than Fiction 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 456 pp., £17.50, May 1995, 0 241 13360 2
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... the drain – but those were the days when the Mirror spent money on assisting journalists rather than sacking them. We crept away, licked our wounds and determined never to forget. Halfway through MichaelCrick’s magnificently rigorous biography of Jeffrey Archer, he deals with the story of the Toronto suits. All the main characters are here again – George Wool, Larry Park, Doug Hunt – all ...

2000 AD

Anne Sofer

2 August 1984
The British General Election of 1983 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 333 34578 9
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by Michael Crick.
Faber, 242 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13256 1
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... there is only one, has an important message of its own. Neither of these books sets out to predict which scenario is the most likely, yet the analysis they provide casts doubts on all of them. MichaelCrick’s Militant is chiefly concerned with the two alternative Labour Party projections and in my judgment effectively knocks on the head the ‘mainstream’ hope. The final sentence – ‘There ...


Simon Hoggart

24 April 1997
Michael​ Heseltine: A Biography 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 241 13691 1
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... Michael Heseltine’s dark secret is that he isn’t such a clever politician after all. This absorbing book shows that he has important qualities for an MP and even a minister, but not quite enough of them ...

Enemies Within

Peter Clarke

7 February 1985
... between them in speaking of ‘the enemy within’ in July 1984. The phrase is a pregnant one, and not only in the sense that its ultimate progeny may need nine months or so of gestation. As MichaelCrick points out in his informative and well-documented Penguin Special,* the term ‘the Enemy Within’ had already been splashed over the front page of the Daily Express almost a year before Thatcher ...


Frank Field: Reading Kilroy-Silk’s Diary

6 November 1986
... of the Tendency have been selected for expulsion. But the Party is riddled with various Trotskyite factions, and the rot runs deep, not only in Liverpool and London, but in other big cities too. Read MichaelCrick if you need convincing – and he is concerned only with Militant’s structure within the Labour Party: The March of Militant3 is a brilliant piece of detective work, cool and dispassionate ...

State of the Art

John Lanchester

1 June 1989
Manchester United: The Betrayal of a Legend 
by Michael Crick and David Smith.
Pelham, 246 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7207 1783 3
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Football in its Place: An Environmental Psychology of Football Grounds 
by David Canter, Miriam Comber and David Uzzell.
Routledge, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 415 01240 6
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... forwards growing less and less skilful, our defenders growing taller and stupider, as in some dark 19th-century fantasy of racial degeneration. Luckily the hearties don’t have it all their own way. MichaelCrick’s and David Smith’s book describes how, at the same time as Stan Cullis was assembling his Wolves team, Matt Busby at Manchester United was embarking on a managerial career uniquely ...
22 January 1981
... of power (a liberal view that the Manchester Guardian once took when Hitler became Chancellor) and about socialism as the rhetoric of the Labour Party. There was even a hasty attempt to redraw Michael Foot as a moderate, a nice old thing who had had a wild youth, a sheep in wolf’s clothing. This reappraisal, however grotesque, may in part have been motivated by a sudden desire to be analytical ...


Frank Kermode

24 October 1991
Orwell: The Authorised Biography 
by Michael​ Shelden.
Heinemann, 563 pp., £18.50, October 1991, 0 434 69517 3
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... of Richard Rees and The Unknown Orwell by William Abrahams and Peter Stansky (lamed by the late Soni Orwell’s refusal of permission to quote), and, more recently, the expansive Life by Bernard Crick, at first authorised by the widow to emphasise her rejection of Stansky and Abrahams, and later de-authorised by her to indicate disapproval of Crick, who, much to her annoyance, had lawyers good ...
6 June 1985
Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Huw Beynon.
Verso, 252 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 86091 820 3
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Policing the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Bob Fine and Robert Millar.
Lawrence and Wishart, 243 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 85315 633 6
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The Strike: An Insider’s Story 
by Roy Ottey.
Sidgwick, 157 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780283992285
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Scargill and the Miners 
by Michael Crick.
Penguin, 172 pp., £2.95, March 1985, 0 14 052355 3
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The Great Strike: The Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 and its Lessons 
by Alex Callinicos and Mike Simons.
Socialist Worker, 256 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 905998 50 2
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... Ottey comments on acts of personal kindness by Arthur Scargill; for him, the NUM President represents ‘a strange mixture of ruthlessness and sensitivity’. A similar sense of contradiction informs Crick’s critical yet not hostile study. The second edition has appeared only two months after the first – a considerable publishing coup – with the earlier uncertainty as to the outcome of the strike ...

Beware Remembrance Sunday

Tim Parks: Graham Swift

2 June 2011
Wish You Were Here 
by Graham Swift.
Picador, 353 pp., £18.99, June 2011, 978 0 330 53583 0
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... Perhaps the finest piece of storytelling in this novel has to do with the death of a dog. Three characters are involved: Michael Luxton, a taciturn dairy farmer; Jack, his elder son, aged 26; and Tom, his much younger son, approaching his 18th birthday. The old sick dog, named Luke, was originally just a farm dog, then for ...

At the Courtauld

Peter Campbell: Giambattista Tiepolo

23 March 2006
... lines and vanishing points allow the eye’s interpretation of a view to change as it moves about in front of it or below it. In Tiepolo and the Pictorial Intelligence (1994), Svetlana Alpers and Michael Baxendall have described the way this works with Tiepolo’s Four Continents – the ceiling of the staircase in the Würzburg Residenz – where ambiguities that defy geometrical analysis seem to ...

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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... to the head of the Eastern Service in September 1943. In so doing Orwell laid the ground for the widespread, if largely unexamined view that his time at the BBC was mostly unprofitable. As Bernard Crick writes in the briefest chapter of his authorised biography – the chapter entitled ‘Broadcasting Days (1941-43)’: ‘Then for two precious years his talents were mainly wasted, his colleagues ...
22 December 1983
by Raymond Aron.
Julliard, 778 pp., frs 120, September 1983, 9782260003328
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Clausewitz: Philosopher of War 
by Raymond Aron, translated by Norman Stone and Christine Booker.
Routledge, 418 pp., £15.95, October 1983, 0 7100 9009 9
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by Michael​ Howard.
Oxford, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 19 287608 2
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... them a more lasting value. One should read them not so much in order to learn about society, as in order to learn how to think about society. The comparison with Tocqueville has been made, by Bernard Crick among others. Aron rightly rejects it. Superficially, Tocqueville seems to embody a similar kind of common sense but on closer inspection we detect in his work an analytical skeleton that is lacking ...


John Sturrock: The Rosetta Stone

19 September 2002
Keys of Egypt 
by Lesley Atkins and Roy Atkins.
HarperCollins, 335 pp., £7.99, September 2001, 0 00 653145 8
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The Rosetta Stone: The Story of the Decoding of Hieroglyphics 
by Robert Solé and Dominique Valbelle, translated by Steven Rendall.
Profile, 184 pp., £7.99, August 2002, 1 86197 344 6
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Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s Undeciphered Scripts 
by Andrew Robinson.
McGraw Hill, 352 pp., £25.99, June 2002, 0 07 135743 2
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The Man who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael​ Ventris 
by Andrew Robinson.
Thames and Hudson, 168 pp., £12.95, April 2002, 0 500 51077 6
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... of trying and of variously wild theorising, no one had as yet worked out how to read them. Champollion thereupon knew what he must do with his life. The story fits almost too neatly with that of Michael Ventris, the decipherer of Linear B, who went with a school party at the age of 14 to a London exhibition of Greek and Minoan artefacts and happened to hear Sir Arthur Evans no less, the excavator of ...
26 September 1991
by Jerry Bishop and Michael​ Waldholz.
Touchstone, 352 pp., £8.99, September 1991, 0 671 74032 6
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... and his collaborators found that the lethal gene was made of DNA. At first few scientists believed that so simple a molecule could specify genetic information, but its role became clear when Francis Crick and Jim Watson in Cambridge determined its three-dimensional structure. Their famous double helix showed how the genetic information is written on DNA and how it is copied every time a cell divides ...

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