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Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997

New cloak, Old dagger: How Britain’s Spies Came in from the Cold 
by Michael Smith.
Gollancz, 338 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 575 06150 2
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Intelligence Power in Peace and War 
by Michael Herman.
Cambridge, 436 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 521 56231 7
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UK Eyes Alpha 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 320 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 571 17689 5
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... invested in the War Loan, to protect their finances against any postwar Labour government. As Michael Smith describes, these problems were exacerbated by the budget cuts which followed the end of hostilities. In 1919, MI5’s annual grant dropped from £100,000 to £30,000, forcing it into unsavoury alliances with the political Right. It recruited ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin, 9 June 1994

... Like many others I have been puzzled by the reaction to John Smith’s death. It was reported as though it were at least that of a prime minister, and his funeral was, as the BBC noted, in effect a state funeral. The decision of both the BBC and ITV to double the ordinary length of their evening news broadcasts on the day of his death could be put down to the social democratish inclinations of the programmers, but the speed with which the coverage had to be assembled suggests that it was more instinctive ...

Social Policy

Ralf Dahrendorf, 3 July 1980

Understanding Social Policy 
by Michael Hill.
Blackwell, 280 pp., £12, April 1980, 0 631 18170 9
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Poverty and Inequality in Common Market Countries 
edited by Vic George and Roger Lawson.
Routledge, 253 pp., £9.50, April 1980, 0 7100 0424 9
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Planning for Welfare: Social Policy and the Expenditure Process 
edited by Timothy Booth.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £12, November 1980, 0 631 19560 2
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The City and Social Theory 
by Michael Peter Smith.
Blackwell, 315 pp., £12, April 1980, 9780631121510
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The Good City: A Study of Urban Development and Policy in Britain 
by David Donnison.
Heinemann, 221 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 435 85217 5
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The Economics of Prosperity: Social Priorities in the Eighties 
by David Blake and Paul Ormerod.
Grant Mclntyre, 230 pp., £3.95, April 1980, 0 86216 013 8
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... from which they want to spend on doing good. But social policy? It is probably unfair to cite Michael Hill’s Understanding Social Policy as an example of why the subject is so likely to produce a yawn. But he manages throughout to reduce subjects of considerable interest to many individuals to a flat, uninteresting, not to say bureaucratic level. His ...

Lacanian Jesuit

David Wootton: Michel de Certeau, 4 October 2001

The Possession at Loudun 
by Michel de Certeau, translated by Michael Smith.
Chicago, 251 pp., £27, August 2000, 0 226 10034 0
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The Certeau Reader 
edited by Graham Ward.
Blackwell, 320 pp., £60, November 1999, 0 631 21278 7
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Michel de Certeau: Cultural Theorist 
by Ian Buchanan.
Sage, 143 pp., £50, July 2000, 0 7619 5897 5
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... In 1632 Loudun was a frontier town, with Catholicism to the north, south and east, and Protestantism to the west. Internally divided, it was in the process of being recaptured by the new religious orders of the Counter-Reformation (the Jesuits arrived in 1606, the Capuchins in 1616, the Ursulines in 1626); while at the same time Richelieu was planning to destroy the town’s castle, thus turning its citizens into subjects of the absolutist state ...

The Getaway Car

Glen Newey: Machiavelli, 21 January 2016

Machiavellian Democracy 
by John McCormick.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 0 521 53090 3
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Machiavelli in the Making 
by Claude Lefort, translated by Michael Smith.
Northwestern, 512 pp., £32.50, January 2012, 978 0 8101 2438 7
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Redeeming ‘The Prince’: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Princeton, 189 pp., £18.95, October 2013, 978 0 691 16001 6
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... come out in English until 2012, but it still isn’t very reader-friendly: it has no introduction (Michael Smith adds a brief translator’s note), sketchy endnotes and no index. It’s basically Lefort’s doctoral thesis, though he was pushing fifty by the time it saw the light of day in French. His thesis supervisor, Raymond Aron, described its style ...

What happened at Ayacucho

Ronan Bennett, 10 September 1992

Shining Path: The World’s Deadliest Revolutionary Force 
by Simon Strong.
HarperCollins, 274 pp., £16.99, June 1992, 0 00 215930 9
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Shining Path of Peru 
edited by David Scott Palmer.
Hurst, 271 pp., £12.95, June 1992, 1 85065 152 3
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Peru under Fire: Human Rights since the Return of Democracy 
compiled by Americas Watch.
Yale, 169 pp., £12.95, June 1992, 0 300 05237 5
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... Tarazona-Sevillano gives an authoritative account of Sendero’s structure and organisation. Michael Smith provides an assessment of its urban strategy that will do little to cheer the Peruvian authorities. Smith reveals that by mid-1990, Sendero had secured its beachhead in Lima and developed a sophisticated ...

The day starts now

Eleanor Birne: On holiday with Ali Smith, 23 June 2005

The Accidental 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 306 pp., £14.99, May 2005, 0 241 14190 7
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... All three of Ali Smith’s novels are set in holiday places. In Like (1997), Amy Shone and her daughter Kate live on a caravan site in Scotland; the characters of Hotel World (2001) are guests and workers at the Global Hotel in an unnamed city; in The Accidental, the new book, the Smart family are spending their summer in a mock-Tudor holiday house near the Norfolk Broads ...

His Only Friend

Elaine Showalter, 8 September 1994

Hardy 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Bloomsbury, 886 pp., £25, February 1994, 0 7475 1037 7
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... the cosmic wires have been crossed and could the spiritualist have been talking to Martin Seymour-Smith? For this massive biography of Hardy – or ‘Tom’, as Seymour-Smith chummily calls him – has the vehemence of divine revelation and the fervour of personal mission. ‘I wrote Hardy,’ the author explains in a ...

Mad or bad?

Michael Ignatieff, 18 June 1981

Trial by Medicine: Insanity and Responsibility in Victorian Trials 
by Roger Smith.
Edinburgh, 288 pp., £15, March 1981, 9780852244074
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... ourselves. Such help is at hand in a historical work, published by chance during the trial. Roger Smith’s history of the conflict between medical and legal discourses in the insanity trials of the 19th century is ‘relevant’ in a way he could never have anticipated or, in this tragic instance, have wished. His book is more than a history of trials, a ...

People’s Friend

Michael Brock, 27 September 1990

Lord Grey: 1764-1845 
by E.A. Smith.
Oxford, 338 pp., £37.50, March 1990, 9780198201632
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... complex, rather petulant, and too fastidious personality. Indeed the haze becomes a halo.’ Dr Smith does not deal in haloes. In this fine book he has dispersed the haze and added greatly to our knowledge. His researches establish that, in early life, ‘Grey became a whig by accident, and a reformer by miscalculation.’ Grey possessed no great powers of ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 5 May 1988

Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... start, so criticism has been slow to gather momentum. Even the recent spate of studies – by Michael Kirkham, Stan Smith, and the contributors to Jonathan Barker’s Art of Edward Thomas – seems more fortuitous than co-ordinated. Thomas, as Robert Frost reminded him, ‘knew the worth of [his] bays’. However, it is ...

God’s Iceberg

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 4 December 1986

The ‘ Titanic’: The Full Story of a Tragedy 
by Michael Davie.
Bodley Head, 244 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780370307640
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The IT Girls: Elinor Glyn and Lucy, Lady Duff Gordon 
by Meredith Etherington-Smith and Jeremy Pilcher.
Hamish Hamilton, 258 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11950 2
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... the weather been hazier, more care might have been taken and the collision avoided. In that case, Michael Davie suggests, it’s likely that no one would ever have known how close to disaster they’d been: ‘not all near-misses by aircraft are reported now; and the Ice Patrol wonder how many near-collisions by ships were reported then.’ At the inquiries ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver, 19 June 1986

All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... writers – Bernard Levin, Philippa Pullar – put their hand to food, or food pundits – Michael Smith, Egon Ronay – venture upon writing. The caricaturists of Puritanism did their work early, for the Restoration Court exercised a Reagan-like hold on the media. At this period, one of the 17th century’s better cookery books – apparently the ...

Even Hotter, Even Louder

Tony Wood: Shining Path, 4 July 2019

The Shining Path: Love, Madness and Revolution in the Andes 
by Orin Starn and Miguel La Serna.
Norton, 404 pp., £19.99, May 2019, 978 0 393 29280 0
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... peasants.’) Sendero’s pedagogical origins made a difference too: as the American journalist Michael Smith argued in 1992, Sendero was able to spread ‘almost anywhere’ there was ‘a blackboard and benches’. In some ways, Sendero’s doctrinal inflexibility and its distance – physical and ideological – from the rest of the Peruvian left ...

Sheer Enthusiasm

Thomas Chatterton Williams: Zadie Smith, 30 August 2018

Feel Free: Essays 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 464 pp., £20, February 2018, 978 0 241 14689 7
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... to the world.’ The rest is mere form. This thought seems fundamental to Feel Free, Zadie Smith’s latest collection of essays, profiles and reviews. Still, Smith has Sontag’s insecurity in reverse, admitting in the foreword to her own anxiety: ‘I have no real qualifications to write as I do. Not a philosopher ...

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