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The Stamp of One Defect

David Edgar: Jeremy Thorpe

29 July 2015
Jeremy Thorpe 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 606 pp., £25, December 2014, 978 0 316 85685 0
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Closet Queens: Some 20th-Century British Politicians 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 320 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4087 0412 7
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... and even to the temptation to dispose of the blackmailer, but what he saw as an establishment cover-up, which kept Thorpe out of trouble for years. Published, at Thorpe’s request, after his death, MichaelBloch’s eminently readable biography covers both the scandal and the remarkable political career. Indeed, the structure of Bloch’s book dramatises the way the two strands of the story must have ...

Unemployed

David Cannadine

2 December 1982
Duchess: The Story of Wallis Warfield Windsor 
by Stephen Birmingham.
Macmillan, 287 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 333 34265 8
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The Duke of Windsor’s War 
by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 397 pp., £10.95, October 1982, 0 297 77947 8
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... of Edward VIII from the outside, as others saw him, rather than from the inside, as he saw others. In order to put the record straight, as she sees it, Maître Blum has invited the lawyer-historian MichaelBloch to be the Duke’s champion, and has given him extensive access to the Windsor archive. His first essay in ducal defence – dedicated to Maître Blum, ‘guide, pupil-master and friend’, and ...

Warfield

José Harris

24 July 1986
Wallis and Edward: Letters 1931-1937 
edited by Michael Bloch.
Weidenfeld, 308 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 297 78804 3
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Rat Week: An Essay on the Abdication 
by Osbert Sitwell.
Joseph, 78 pp., £7.95, May 1986, 0 7181 1859 6
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... relation with Mrs Simpson in any normal historical light. The historian who sets out to establish the facts of ‘what really passed between them’ is doomed to failure in advance. Neither MichaelBloch’s cautious scholarship nor Osbert Sitwell’s posthumous malice will erode posterity’s obstinate penchant for romantic love. Having said that, it has to be admitted that both the volumes ...

Motoring

Frank Kermode: James Lees-Milne

30 November 2000
Deep Romantic Chasm: Diaries 1979-81 
by James Lees-Milne, edited by Michael Bloch.
Murray, 276 pp., £22.50, October 2000, 0 7195 5608 2
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A Mingled Measure: Diaries 1953-72 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 325 pp., £12.99, October 2000, 0 7195 5609 0
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Ancient as the Hills: Diaries 1973-74 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £12.99, October 2000, 0 7195 6200 7
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... Of the seven volumes of diaries published over the years by James Lees-Milne two have now been reissued as rather grand paperbacks, along with an eighth, a final hardback selection made by MichaelBloch. They all have titles like Ancestral Voices, Caves of Ice, Through Wood and Dale, Midway on the Waves and Prophesying Peace, and it will not escape the notice of the literate public that they are all ...

Late Worm

Rosemary Hill: James Lees-Milne

10 September 2009
James Lees-Milne: The Life 
by Michael Bloch.
Murray, 400 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 7195 6034 7
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... radiator boil dry, to December 1985, when, at the age of 77 and en route to deliver a manuscript to his publisher, he fell ‘headlong into the gutter’, he was ‘constantly being humiliated’. MichaelBloch, who knew his subject well for many years, is a tactful, sensitive but not an indulgent biographer. His book conveys the contradictions of character and circumstance out of which this ...
15 September 1988
Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... mission. In 1964, when he finally confessed to his KGB past, his interrogator was a middle-ranking MI5 man called Peter Wright. Wright was summoned to the Palace. On the one hand, he was told by Michael Adeane, the Queen’s private secretary, that the Palace would do all they could to help, and, on the other, warned that Blunt might mention his trip to Germany after the war, and ordered abruptly ...
20 July 1995
The Last of the Duchess 
by Caroline Blackwood.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £16.99, April 1995, 0 333 63062 9
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... de chaleur’ with the Duchess (Blackwood translates the phrase literally, as a relationship ‘of heat’) and that on another occasion, Blum’s assistant, a young Anglo-Irishman called MichaelBloch, describes the connection between the two women as being ‘of a romantic nature’. Blum is married to an ailing old French general, but Blackwood is not convinced of her heterosexual credentials ...

Time of the Assassin

Michael​ Wood

26 January 1995
Proust and the Sense of Time 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Stephen Bann.
Faber, 103 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 571 16880 9
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Le Temps sensible: Proust et l’expérience littéraire 
by Julia Kristeva.
Gallimard, 451 pp., January 1995, 2 07 073116 2
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The Old Man and the Wolves 
by Julia Kristeva, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 183 pp., £15, January 1995, 0 231 08020 4
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... move becomes clear if we persist with her book. One section is called ‘Losing Impatience’ – the way one loses one’s patience. She mounts a brilliant defence of the pedantic and pretentious Bloch, a schoolfriend of the narrator’s in A la recherche du temps perdu. Of course he’s a pain, entirely unbearable; but he’s a serious and courageous Dreyfusard when others are frivolous or timid ...

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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... Aires is unintelligible without Galicia. One should begin with the supply side, not the demand side. As the eloquent and – in the social context of pre-1914 Vienna – courageous rabbi Joseph Bloch put it, ‘one must have seen the misery of the Polish Jewish cities for oneself, in order to understand that a trip to Buenos Aires is not frightening.’ Life expectancy was low – it was always a ...
27 October 1988
The Metronomic Society: Natural Rhythms and Human Timetables 
by Michael​ Young.
Thames and Hudson, 301 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 500 01443 4
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... Michael Young is a rarity among sociologists: he has a feel for the people he writes about, and he writes well. When he takes us into a Merseyside factory and walks us around in the company of Joe Murgatroyd ...

The Ruling Exception

David Cannadine

16 August 1990
Queen Victoria: Gender and Power 
by Dorothy Thompson.
Virago, 167 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 86068 773 2
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... notable royal icons from their pedestals. Kenneth Rose depicted George V as an ogre so boorish and philistine that in retrospect he appears almost pathetically comical. In his books on Edward VIII, MichaelBloch has washed a great deal of the Abdication dirty linen in public, and much of the mud has stuck to the Duke of Windsor himself, to say nothing of the Duchess. Sarah Bradford’s biography of ...
6 March 1986
Ancient History: Evidence and Models 
by M.I. Finley.
Chatto, 131 pp., £12.95, September 1985, 0 7011 3003 2
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... centre of the French intellectual stage. ‘Tradition,’ said de Certeau, ‘survives in the practices and ideologies of the present.’ The movement was given birth by Medieval historians, such as Bloch, Febvre and Braudel. It reached its climax in the ‘Braudelian empire’ of the VIe Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, producing such towering figures as Labrousse, Duby and Le Roy ...

Bloodbaths

John Sutherland

21 April 1988
Misery 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 320 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 340 39070 0
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The Tommyknockers 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 563 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 340 39069 7
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Touch 
by Elmore Leonard.
Viking, 245 pp., £10.95, February 1988, 9780670816545
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Sideswipe 
by Charles Willeford.
Gollancz, 293 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 575 04197 8
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Ratking 
by Michael​ Dibdin.
Faber, 282 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 571 15147 7
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... writer – even with the consolation of being the best-selling horror writer in the history of the world. But, as he disarmingly reminds us, there is worse literary company than Lovecraft, Leiber, Bloch, Matheson and Jackson. ‘I could, for example, be an “important” writer like Joseph Heller and publish a novel every seven years or so, or a “brilliant” writer like John Gardner and write ...

Sad Nights

Michael​ Wood

26 May 1994
The Conquest of Mexico 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 832 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 671 70518 0
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The Conquest of Mexico 
by Serge Gruzinski, translated by Eileen Corrigan.
Polity, 336 pp., £45, July 1993, 0 7456 0873 6
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... Thomas comes to thinking this through is in a brilliant but quickly abandoned analogy between the Fall of Tenochtitlán and the Fall of France in 1940, supported by an astute quotation from Marc Bloch: routine and regulations o the French and the Mexicans versus the concrete imagination and suppleness of intelligence of the Germans and the Spanish. That is a clash of cultures, and an uncomfortable ...

Modernity

George Steiner

5 May 1988
Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... ironic, to make some hybrid of Proudhon and Marx, on the one hand, and messianic mysticism, on the other, are set out. A larger point arises. In this book, references to Lukacs, Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Adorno, Trotsky, Marcuse, not to speak of Karl Marx himself, are, inevitably, manifold. I have looked in vain, in the Geyer-Ryan piece and elsewhere, for any treatment of the central and drastic ...

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