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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 ...

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 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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

The Big Store

Norman Hampson

21 January 1982
The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store 1869-1920 
by Michael Miller.
Allen and Unwin, 266 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 04 330316 1
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Ladies of the Leisure Class: The Bourgeoises of Northern France in the 19th Century 
by Bonnie Smith.
Princeton, 303 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 691 05330 8
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Marianne into Battle: Republican Imagery and Symbolism in France 1789-1880 
by Maurice Agulhon, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge, 235 pp., £18.50, June 1981, 0 521 28224 1
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... the replacement of Squire Allworthy by Mr Bounderby. In this interesting and original book, Michael Miller suggests that they may have ordered these things better in France. His subject is the history of the greatest of the 19th-century Paris department stores, the Bon Marché, from its creation until the 1914 War. In his conclusion, however, he ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership

20 October 2005
... distinguished and competent. That the names of William Hague at the age of 36 and Iain Duncan Smith at any age should now be added to that illustrious roll is bizarre. How did this Conservative descent into absurdity occur? During Major’s premiership by far the greatest cause of dissension in the governing party was Europe. After she had been deprived ...

How Do You Pay?

Bee Wilson: Falling for Michael Moore

1 November 2007
Citizen Moore: An American Maverick 
by Roger Rapoport.
Methuen, 361 pp., £8.99, July 2007, 978 0 413 77649 5
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Manufacturing Dissent 
directed by Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk.
October 2007
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Sicko 
directed by Michael Moore.
October 2007
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... Because the man himself is so ungainly, it is easy to overlook Michael Moore’s voice. Where his body seems ungovernable and a source of embarrassment to him – he often can’t bear to watch himself on screen – his voice is confident, almost suave. There’s a moment in his least known movie, The Big One (1997), where he launches effortlessly into a gravelly imitation of Dylan singing ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ before reverting, with a chuckle, to his own spoken voice ...

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