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Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs

17 July 2008
Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... after reading 400-odd pages of her memoir, that I still haven’t heard her real voice. A pity, since she seems not to have had a ghost, unlike John Prescott, who was ventriloquised by Hunter Davies; MichaelLevy credits a journalist friend, Ned Temko, for his ‘invaluable help, talent and patience’. You certainly don’t hear the Cherie described by MichaelLevy, ‘every bit the get-ahead barrister ...

Short Cuts

Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing

1 July 2015
... Or there’s Sarah Sewall, another former director of the Carr Centre, who was responsible for the material on human rights in the reworked US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Or Michael Posner, the founder of Human Rights First, now a business professor at NYU, who, as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour in Obama’s first term, helped bury the ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The vexed issue of Labour Party funding

19 October 2006
... for peerages scandal. The question of who has lent the party what, and on what terms, and what they were told they could expect in return, is now the subject of a police investigation. Besides Lord Levy, Labour’s chief fundraiser, two people have been arrested during the inquiry so far; 14 are said to have been interviewed under caution, and there is still a chance that Blair will be too. When it ...

Ah, la vie!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Lytton Strachey’s letters

1 December 2005
The Letters of Lytton Strachey 
edited by Paul Levy.
Viking, 698 pp., £30, March 2005, 0 670 89112 6
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... the all-too-worldly Cardinal Manning or his shrewd portrait of the demons that drove the supposedly saintly Florence Nightingale. Yet Strachey himself seems less our contemporary now than he did when Michael Holroyd’s biography appeared in the late 1960s. Greeting the publication of G.E. Moore’s Principia Ethica in 1903, the young Strachey imagined that ‘the truth’ was ‘really now upon the ...
15 May 1980
Cinema: A Critical Dictionary: The Major Film-Makers 
edited by Richard Roud.
Secker, 1120 pp., £25, February 1980, 9780436428302
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The Dream that Kicks: The Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain 
by Michael​ Chanan.
Routledge, 356 pp., £12.50, January 1980, 0 7100 0319 6
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... seems to be tainted by critical fashion. Absences from even the detailed index include Yves Allégret, Juan Antonio Bardem, Berthold Bartosch, Laszlo Benedek, Jean Benoit-Lévy, Luis Garcia Berlanga, Michael Cacoyannis, Renato Castellani, André Cayatte, Costi Costa-Gavras, Vittorio De Seta (director of Banditi a Orgosolo), Thorold Dickinson, Julien Duvivier, Pietro Germi, Anatole Litvak, Jean Painlev ...

Nanny knows best

Michael​ Stewart

4 June 1987
Kinnock 
by Michael​ Leapman.
Unwin Hyman, 217 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 04 440006 3
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The Thatcher Years: A Decade of Revolution in British Politics 
by John Cole.
BBC, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 563 20572 5
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Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? 
by Dennis Kavanagh.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 827522 6
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The New Right: The Counter-Revolution in Political, Social and Economic Thought 
by David Green.
Wheatsheaf, 238 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 7450 0127 0
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... in order, so to speak, to get him out of the way. If one’s view is that Neil Kinnock is a good man in a position made impossible by historical developments, one will not find much in either Michael Leapman’s sympathetic and readable portrait, or John Cole’s lively and good-humoured canter over the events of the last decade, to change one’s mind. The nature of the Labour Party’s – and ...

Grendel gongan

Richard North

10 October 1991
The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature 
by Malcolm Godden and Michael​ Lapidge.
Cambridge, 298 pp., £30, June 1991, 0 521 37438 3
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... Not long ago it was a thousand years to the day that the Battle of Maldon was fought against the Danes. On 10 August 991, an English levy, somewhat hastily assembled and placed behind a smaller unit of professional soldiers, faced an army of Viking thugs across a causeway in Essex. That afternoon the English general, Earl Byrhtnoth ...

Diary

Robert Walshe: Bumping into Beckett

7 November 1985
... you getting on with whatever it is you are supposed to be doing if you are not Anthony Burgess. About as quickly as I managed to get a foot inside the door, I was sent a copy of Byzantium endures – Michael Moorcock. That one, icons iconing, balalaikas balalaikaing, kept me up nights marking pages, memorising passages, and dreaming dreams of a vividness and thrust that I hadn’t experienced since I was ...
22 May 1980
The Shorter Strachey 
selected and introduced by Michael​ Holroyd and Paul Levy.
Oxford, 288 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 19 212211 8
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Lytton Strachey 
by Michael​ Holroyd.
Penguin, 1143 pp., £4.95, December 1979, 0 14 003198 7
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... criticism – if, in fact, he had not swallowed Garibaldi whole’. His private verdict on the trilogy, 15 years earlier, had been more pithy: ‘There is much interest in it, but tiresomely told.’ Michael Holroyd’s admirable biography allows us to peep behind the bland phrases of public seemliness here. It suggests, conversely, that Trevelyan’s fulsome congratulations to Strachey upon his books ...

Nothing to do with the economy

Ross McKibbin: The Cuts

18 November 2010
... it could have charged the banks much more than the petty sum that’s proposed. If the dead weight of interest payments is as Osborne has described it, the government could introduce a capital levy, a kind of one-off wealth tax designed to be gathered in non-recurrent fiscal crises from the banks and those with the ‘broadest shoulders’ more generally. (Lloyd George’s coalition government ...
18 November 2010
Madame Bovary: Provincial Ways 
by Gustave Flaubert and Lydia Davis.
Penguin, 342 pp., £20, November 2010, 978 1 84614 104 1
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... are often written against – against romanticism, against authorial ego and intervention, against the notion that some themes are ‘higher’ than others. There is a linguistic context too: thus Michael Hofmann, introducing his translation of Metamorphosis, quotes Klaus Wagenbach to the effect that ‘the characteristic purity of Kafka, the sober construction of his sentences and the paucity of his ...

Heathrow to Canary Wharf

Nick Richardson: Crossrail

11 October 2012
...  and the deal will make it hard to cut again – the City will have recouped its investment and start turning a profit. The money invested by City businesses will turn to profit more quickly. As Michael Snyder, the Corporation’s head of policy, noted, Crossrail will stop the City from losing the £1 million a day it currently loses as a result of transport delays: one hundred and fifty days and ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... whether there should be a directly elected mayor for London (answerable to the GLA) or an indirectly elected mayor equivalent to the leader of a council. Those arguing for an executive mayor included Michael Heseltine (the hammer of the GLC), the Evening Standard and Simon Jenkins, a long-standing critic of London council bungling. Opposition to the idea was led by Labour’s Environment spokesman, the ...

An Example of the Good Life

Steven Shapin: Michael​ Polanyi

15 December 2011
Michael​ Polanyi and His Generation: Origins of the Social Construction of Science 
by Mary Jo Nye.
Chicago, 405 pp., £29, October 2011, 978 0 226 61063 4
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... Michael Polanyi lives on in the footnotes. If you want to invoke the idea of ‘tacit knowledge’, Polanyi is your reference of choice. You’ll probably cite his major book Personal Knowledge (1958), maybe ...

Unmistakable

Michael​ Rogin

20 August 1998
Celebrity Caricature in America 
by Wendy Wick Reaves.
Yale, 320 pp., £29.95, April 1998, 0 300 07463 8
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... style are both more soulful and more instantly recognisable than what he called his ‘abstract caricature’, individuated inner depth was no more his concern than that of William Auerback-Levy (born in Brest-Litovsk), whose slightly turned away ‘timeless, impersonal’ heads, as Reaves observes, use media-generated emblems of fame (Heywood Broun’s unkempt hair, Franklin P. Adams’s ...

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