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Nuclear Argument

Keith Kyle, 18 April 1985

Objections to Nuclear Defence: Philosophers on Deterrence 
edited by Nigel Blake and Kay Pole.
Routledge, 187 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 7102 0249 0
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Reagan and the World: Imperial Policy in the New Cold War 
by Jeff McMahan.
Pluto, 214 pp., £3.95, August 1984, 0 86104 602 1
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A future that will work 
by David Owen.
Viking, 192 pp., £12.95, August 1984, 0 670 80564 5
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The Most Dangerous Decade: World Militarism and the New Non-Aligned Peace Movement 
by Ken Coates.
Spokesman, 211 pp., £15, July 1984, 9780851244051
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... Dangers of Deterrence, published in 1983 with the same editors. Both were designed, according to Nigel Blake and Kay Pole, to rescue a debate in which issues were being ‘extremely badly handled’ either because, though philosophical in nature, they were not being treated as such, or because, though they were recognised as philosophical, the treatment ...

Ambitions

Robert Blake, 18 December 1980

Harold Nicolson: A Biography: Vol. 1, 1886-1929 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 429 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 7011 2520 9
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Harold Nicolson Diaries 1930-1964 
by Stanley Olson.
Collins, 436 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 00 216304 7
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... Olson. The original diary preserved in Balliol College runs to three million words. In 1966-68 Nigel Nicolson produced a three-volume edition based partly on the diaries and partly on his father’s correspondence. He used only a twentieth of the diary itself. The abridged version cuts out a good deal more but it also adds passages which for one reason or ...

So what if he was

Paul Foot, 25 October 1990

No Other Choice 
by George Blake.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 224 03067 1
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Inside Intelligence 
by Anthony Cavendish.
Collins, 181 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 9780002157421
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... Here are two more spy books from authors who worked long ago for British Intelligence. George Blake was very left-wing, and is now slightly less so. Anthony Cavendish has always been very right-wing. Both authors write of their profound respect for one of their former bosses, George K. Young. Young, who died recently, was deputy head of MI6 until he joined the merchant bankers Kleinwort Benson in 1961 ...

Grand Old Man

Robert Blake, 1 May 1980

The Last Edwardian at No 10: An Impression of Harold Macmillan 
by George Hutchinson.
Quartet, 151 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7043 2232 3
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... halt inflation. The resignation of the entire Treasury team, Peter Thorneycroft, Enoch Powell and Nigel Birch, in 1958, dismissed as a little local difficulty, has come to symbolise, especially in the monetarist mood of today, a fatal turning-point towards the downward path into stagflation and excessive public expenditure – all the tendencies which ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

Acrimony 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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Idols 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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Opia 
by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... theatrical power of the piece must remain in doubt until next summer (by which time the composer Nigel Osborne should have got his act together), three or four of the lyrics make the libretto well worth ...

Incriminating English

Randolph Quirk, 24 September 1992

Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... and G.S. Rousseau on late 18th-century nerves could just as usefully have been a lot shorter. Nigel Smith is fascinating on ‘The uses of Hebrew in the English Revolution’ and Peter Burke’s little sketch of post-Medieval uses of Latin is wide-ranging and excellent. Other chapters suffer from being wide-ranging and bad. Victor Kiernan’s ‘Languages ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... wrote, poetry makes nothing happen, then the poetry anthology has no such self-effacing qualms. Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion knew this, as did the predecessor they were tussling with, A. Alvarez’s The New Poetry (which was tussling with its predecessor, Robert Conquest’s New Lines). ‘This anthology,’ they wrote in their preface to the Penguin ...

Upstaging

Paul Driver, 19 August 1993

Shining Brow 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 86 pp., £5.99, February 1993, 0 571 16789 6
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... is Raine’s The Electrification of the Soviet Union – a Pasternak adaptation set to music by Nigel Osborne. There is a certain admirable posturing about all this, a hunger for the larger canvas, the High Style. The writing and presentation of a verse play is fraught with traditional dangers of the kind T.S. Eliot encountered and Auden described when he ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... and the grand to be taken seriously by the literary establishment’. According to Enoch Powell, Nigel Birch deserves to be ‘remembered for his insistence on retaining the trees in Park Lane when it was widened’. Sometimes the choice of contributors can seem cosier than it might have been: Ned Sherrin on Caryl Brahms, for example, or Hugh Johnson on his ...

Whitehall Farce

Paul Foot, 12 October 1989

The Intelligence Game: Illusions and Delusions of International Espionage 
by James Rusbridger.
Bodley Head, 320 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 370 31242 2
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The Truth about Hollis 
by W.J. West.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7156 2286 2
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... being a Russian spy in MI5. Some say the spy was Sir Roger Hollis, the director. A man called Nigel West wrote a whole book saying the mole wasn’t Hollis: it was his deputy, Graham Mitchell (a former official of the Tory Party). Now we have another equally boring and unimpressive book by W.J. West, who says it was Hollis after all. This last book costs ...

Yesterday

Frank Kermode, 27 July 1989

The Pleasures of Peace: Art and Imagination in Post-War Britain 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 367 pp., £12.99, June 1989, 0 571 13722 9
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... Going’ and so on. Then there come in turn Look back in anger, the ‘smart playfulness’ of Nigel Dennis, later developed by Orton and Stoppard, cultural despair variously expressed – for instance, by Herbert Read and Kingsley Amis; and then to the sorts of things about which Appleyard enjoys talking, such as Brutalism and Pop Art. He does not neglect ...

A Susceptible Man

Ian Sansom: The Unhappy Laureate, 4 March 1999

Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis 
by Albert Gelpi.
Oxford, 246 pp., £30, March 1998, 0 19 509863 3
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... as well as the poetry there were 20 detective novels published under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake, three ‘straight’ novels, the adventure stories for boys, the four books of criticism – A Hope for Poetry (1934), Poetry for You (1944), The Poetic Image (1947) and The Lyric Impulse (1965) – and the various Virgil translations; the herd-instinct is ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... by journalists heaving with indignation at secret service inefficiency and treachery. Nigel West’s book on MI6 looks by comparison, like an exercise in name-dropping. Not that Mr Andrew does not have his throw-away lines. Sir Claude Dansey, that unattractive deputy head of MI6, was, it appears, seduced at the age of 16 by Robbie Ross. Tom ...

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