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Creepy

Gerald Howard, 18 July 1996

Secret Life 
by Michael Ryan.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 7475 2545 5
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... Michael Ryan’s memoir, Secret Life, is a book essentially unthinkable before the triumph of the therapeutic in contemporary American life. By virtue of its core subject-matter – the consequences of Ryan’s sexual molestation when he was five and what he terms his subsequent ‘sexual addiction’ as an adult – it raises the ante enormously in the matter of sexual revelation and explicitness ...

Bunches of Guys

Owen Bennett-Jones: Just the Right Amount of Violence, 19 December 2013

Decoding al-Qaida’s Strategy: The Deep Battle against America 
by Michael Ryan.
Columbia, 368 pp., £23.15, September 2013, 978 0 231 16384 2
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The Terrorist’s Dilemma: Managing Violent Covert Organisations 
by Jacob Shapiro.
Princeton, 352 pp., £19.95, July 2013, 978 0 691 15721 4
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... surely views his period as leader of al-Qaida with satisfaction. In Decoding al-Qaida’s Strategy Michael Ryan draws a useful distinction between the drawn-out or ‘deep’ battle of ideas and the ‘close’ battle of combat. The recent al-Qaida advances can be seen as close-battle victories of relatively little importance, but al-Qaida and the West ...

Family Romances

Anthony Thwaite, 2 February 1989

A Little Stranger 
by Candia McWilliam.
Bloomsbury, 135 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 9780747502791
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Running wild 
by J.G. Ballard.
Hutchinson, 72 pp., £5.95, November 1988, 0 09 173498 3
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Breathing Lessons 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 327 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7011 3391 0
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... Clearly, what Ballard is up to here isn’t some sort of documentary imitation of anything like Michael Ryan and Hungerford, but a Ballardesque extrapolation of such incidents as those involving the Baader-Meinhof gang, Patty Hearst, and other manifestations of the ‘children of revenge’: moments not simply of gratuitous psychopathic violence (...

He ate peas with a knife

John Sutherland: Douglas Jerrold, 3 April 2003

Douglas Jerrold: 1803-57 
by Michael Slater.
Duckworth, 340 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 7156 2824 0
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... The tenth and central chapter of Michael Slater’s biography is entitled ‘Jerrold, Dickens, Thackeray’. This, as Slater reminds us (often), is the company his contemporaries expected Douglas Jerrold to keep. Some partisans might even have thought Slater right to put him first. Dickens and Thackeray were pall-bearers at Jerrold’s funeral and, according to their contemporary David Masson, ‘the three do form a triad so that it is hardly possible to discuss the merits of any one of them without referring to the other two ...

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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... slavery’ was first used in the context of prostitution by a British vice campaigner, Dr Michael Ryan, as early as 1839, and it was used with special reference to Jewish procurers in the East End of London. When the Jewish Chronicle put aside the sense of shame in its community and decided to notice the problem, seventy years later, its comments ...

Taking Flight

Thomas Jones: Blake Morrison, 7 September 2000

The Justification of Johann Gutenberg 
by Blake Morrison.
Chatto, 259 pp., £14.99, August 2000, 0 7011 6965 6
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... endorse this: ‘The books here on my shelves have countless examples of similar behaviour.’When Michael Ryan murdered 14 people in Hungerford in 1987 (and then killed himself), the idea was put about that he’d been motivated by watching Rambo videos. That someone could, apparently without motive, massacre strangers on the streets of a Berkshire ...

The Redeemed Vicarage

John Lennard, 12 May 1994

Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... of manners, that Hill posits as his ground of composition. The reflection that Hungerford, where Michael Ryan murdered 16, is close to the border of Janeite Hampshire is not excluded; Pictures of Perfection can be read as Hill’s oblique return to the problem unsolved by A Killing Kindness, a return made in a comic mode that equips Mid-Yorks with a ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Ryanverse, 11 July 2002

... been dropped, and Red Rabbit will be hopping its way up the bestseller lists in a matter of weeks (Michael Joseph, £18.99). Clancy rocketed to fame – the cliché isn’t inapt for such a notorious gizmologist, though he’d no doubt give you the make and serial number of the rocket in question – in the mid-1980s with his first novel, The Hunt for Red ...

Beyond Textualism

Christopher Norris, 19 January 1984

Text Production 
by Michael Riffaterre, translated by Terese Lyons.
Columbia, 341 pp., $32.50, September 1983, 0 231 05334 7
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Writing and the Experience of Limits 
by Philippe Sollers, edited by David Hayman, translated by Philip Barnard.
Columbia, 242 pp., $31.50, September 1983, 0 231 05292 8
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The Reach of Criticism: Method and Perception in Literary Theory 
by Paul Fry.
Yale, 239 pp., £18, October 1984, 0 300 02924 1
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Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism 
by Paul de Man, edited by Wlad Godzich.
Methuen, 308 pp., £7.50, November 1983, 0 416 35860 8
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Displacement: Derrida and After 
edited by Mark Krupnick.
Indiana, 198 pp., £9.75, December 1983, 0 253 31803 3
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Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre 
by Susan Rubin Suleiman.
Columbia, 299 pp., £39, August 1983, 0 231 05492 0
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... this alignment between deconstruction and a radical critique of existing political discourse. Michael Ryan has an essay on the inbuilt contradictions of liberal reason, arguing that we need a different epistemology – an alternative idea of language, politics and truth – in order to grasp and transcend these antinomies. The trouble with this ...

Cleveland

Michael Mason, 10 November 1988

Report of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Cleveland 1987 
by Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.
HMSO, 336 pp., £14.50, July 1988, 0 10 104122 5
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When Salem came to the Boro 
by Stuart Bell.
Pan, 355 pp., £3.99, July 1988, 0 330 30503 4
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The Last Taboo 
by Gay Search.
Penguin, 192 pp., £3.99, August 1988, 0 14 011049 6
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Unofficial Secrets: Child Sexual Abuse – The Cleveland Case 
by Beatrix Campbell.
Virago, 226 pp., £4.50, September 1988, 0 86068 634 5
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... the notions of disturbance involved (though it is interesting to learn that the Hungerford gunman, Michael Ryan, may have been an abused child) can be unsatisfactory: ‘failure to form stable relationships’, for instance, is perhaps a trait which few of us would be confident in disavowing. Also, some of these damaging outcomes arise simply because of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Big Short’, 18 February 2016

The Big Short 
directed by Adam McKay.
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... And that it may not matter what ain’t so as long as everyone else thinks the way you do. Michael Lewis, in the book the movie is based on, calls ‘not knowing’ a ‘talent’. ‘Their ignorance seems incredible,’ he says. ‘They’ in this case are traders who don’t know that sub-prime mortgages, waiting to default, make up 95 per cent of ...

Do women like sex?

Michael Mason, 8 November 1990

Making sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud 
by Thomas Laqueur.
Harvard, 352 pp., $27.50, October 1990, 0 674 54349 1
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... female is spontaneous. The main evidence Laqueur brings forward is an ambiguous anecdote from Michael Ryan’s Manual of Jurisprudence of 1836 about a comatose girl conceiving. He is misleading in not quoting Ryan from his more directly medico-sexual Philosophy of Marriage: ‘amorous impulse ... appears ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Stop-Loss’, 8 May 2008

Stop-Loss 
directed by Kimberly Peirce.
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... the war in Vietnam were slow in coming. Saigon fell in 1975, and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter both date from 1978. Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was 1979. In their separate ways these films were all about damage done to Americans; any damage done to others was incidental, part of some larger story that wasn’t ...

Who should own what?

John Dunn, 18 October 1984

Property and Political Theory 
by Alan Ryan.
Blackwell, 198 pp., £15, August 1984, 0 631 13691 6
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... your own size; affect a style which will readily hold up in your customary social milieu.) Alan Ryan’s Property and Political Theory is thus a bolder venture than it may at first appear. There has been a small handful of serious philosophical or historical works on the nature of property rights published in the last few decades: Richard Schlatter’s ...

Putting the Manifesto before the Movie

Ryan Gilbey: Ken Loach, 31 October 2002

Sweet Sixteen 
directed by Ken Loach.
October 2002
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The Cinema of Ken Loach: Art in the Service of the People 
by Jacob Leigh.
Wallflower, 192 pp., £13.99, May 2002, 1 903364 31 0
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... we see again in such supposedly political works as Frears’s later Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and Michael Winterbottom’s Welcome to Sarajevo, both of which juxtapose heartless Tory soundbites and the images of desolation which contradict them. Political disagreement is reduced to the level of schoolyard naughtiness. Another notable species of flawed ...

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