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A Very Smart Bedint

Frank Kermode: Harold Nicolson

17 March 2005
Harold Nicolson 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 383 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 224 06218 2
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... at Oxford, but somehow didn’t quite fit in at Balliol, partly because of the unexpected presence in the college of ‘blacks and Rhodes scholars’ and, outside it, of impudent women students. As NormanRose remarks, this 18-year-old already displayed a lifelong prejudice, a conviction that ‘mankind was divided into two categories: a racial, social and intellectual aristocracy, to which, naturally ...

Termagant

Ian Gilmour: The Cliveden Set

19 October 2000
The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 277 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 06093 7
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... husband’s family’s discovery that he had married again and was about to be prosecuted for bigamy. Any doubts as to whether these people merit a book of their own are soon allayed by its author. NormanRose, professor of international relations at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, is also a master of Britain’s internal relations. He has studied the archives and the memoirs, and apart from one or ...
4 December 1980
Lewis Namier and Zionism 
by Norman Rose.
Oxford, 182 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 19 822621 7
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Personal Impressions 
by Isaiah Berlin.
Hogarth, 219 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 7012 0510 5
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... not only proudly assertive of his own Jewishness and scornful of Jews who hoped to ‘disappear’ into English society: he was also, for most of his mature life, a passionate Zionist. In fact, as NormanRose’s meticulous book shows, Namier was prominently and energetically involved, at times to the exclusion of all else, in organised Zionist political activity from the mid-l920s to the mid-1940s ...

On Trying to Be Portugal

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Zionist Terrorism

6 August 2009
‘A Senseless, Squalid War’: Voices from Palestine 1945-48 
by Norman Rose.
Bodley Head, 278 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 224 07938 9
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Major Farran’s Hat: Murder, Scandal and Britain’s War against Jewish Terrorism 1945-48 
by David Cesarani.
Heinemann, 290 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 0 434 01844 4
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... of Israel is excessive, the earlier adulation was, and that an answer to present woes may be found in the history of Zionism, including the period just before the birth of the state described in NormanRose’s ‘A Senseless, Squalid War’ and David Cesarani’s Major Farran’s Hat. Both books deal with the last years of the Mandate, when the rightist nationalists of the Irgun and the Stern Gang ...
11 March 1993
Wide Body: The Making of the 747 
by Clive Irving.
Hodder, 384 pp., £17.99, February 1993, 0 340 53487 7
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... nickname, Clive Irving reveals, was coined by the British press, much to the manufacturer’s disapproval). In a recent television programme in the BBC’s Building Sights series, the architect Sir Norman Foster picked the 747 as his favourite building. ‘With about three thousand square feet of floor space, 15 lavatories, three kitchens and an occupancy of up to 376 guests,’ he mused, as he walked ...
9 June 1994
Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman​ Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... that ‘reality’ was ‘one of the few words which mean nothing without quotes’. Such scepticism about the capacity of fiction to report on the world is still very fashionable, and in that sense Norman Gash’s book on Robert Surtees goes against the grain of present-day literary analysis. It does not go against the traditional grain of writing about Surtees, a novelist who has almost always been ...
11 March 1993
Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... Churchill and the First World War’), F.H. Hinsley (... and the Use of Special Intelligence), R.V. Jones, the happy beam-hunter of 1940 and premier intelligencer thereafter (... and Science), NormanRose (and Zionism) and Roy Jenkins (the Government of 1951-55) are predictably good. The uneven John Keegan (... ’s Strategy), though seemingly disqualified by his recent published confession that ...
19 March 1981
Christianity in the Southern Hemisphere: The Churches in Latin America and South Africa 
by Edward Norman.
Oxford, 230 pp., £12.50, February 1981, 0 19 821127 9
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The Pope’s Divisions 
by Peter Nichols.
Faber, 382 pp., £10, March 1981, 0 571 11740 6
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... Edward Norman’s Reith Lectures reminded a surprised audience that His Kingdom is not of This World, and hinted that there was more than a little that was bogus about Third World theologians who sought to change ...

Did Harold really get it in the eye?

Patrick Wormald: The Normans

3 June 2004
The Battle of Hastings, 1066 
by M.K. Lawson.
Tempus, 288 pp., £16.99, October 2003, 0 7524 1998 6
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The Normans: The History of a Dynasty 
by David Crouch.
Hambledon, 345 pp., £25, July 2002, 1 85285 387 5
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Domesday Book: A Complete Translation 
edited by Ann Williams and G.H. Martin.
Penguin, 1436 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 14 143994 7
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... You had your 1917 in 1066,’ a Russian diplomat was once said to have told his British counterpart. The ruling class of England, and much of the rest of Britain, was re-created by the Norman Conquest. Most of the nobly born have at one time or another sought to find progenitors among the Companions of the Conqueror, and the words ‘noble’, ‘gentle’ and ‘aristocrat’ themselves ...

Whakapapa

D.A.N. Jones

21 November 1985
The Prague Orgy 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 89 pp., £5.95, October 1985, 0 224 02815 4
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Loyalties 
by Raymond Williams.
Chatto, 378 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2843 7
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Cousin Rosamund 
by Rebecca West.
Macmillan, 295 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 333 39797 5
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The Battle of Pollocks Crossing 
by J.L. Carr.
Viking, 176 pp., £8.95, May 1985, 0 670 80559 9
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The Bone People 
by Keri Hulme.
Hodder, 450 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 340 37024 6
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... confused with Alex Merritt, any more than we confuse legitimate Gwen Lewis with illegitimate Gwyn Lewis – who is told by Security: ‘Dr Lewis, I understand that you are the natural son of Sir Norman Braose.’ We meet Sir Norman kissing little Alex, who is Nan’s girl, and Sarah says: ‘Say hello to Aunt Emma, Alex.’ Emma tells little Alex she is going to stay at Nayles, ‘a marvellous ...

Four Poems

Hugo Williams

2 November 2006
... is altered. Reflections shimmer back and forth as we watch Hugo Williams strolling through the long twilight of upper middle class light comedy, arm in arm with his son. Brow The brow of the hill rose steeply ahead of me, a patch of light like a window in its polished surface. I would set my foot on that slick of black ice, its luminous white line would lead me before long over the horizon of my ...

The Uncommon Reader

Alan Bennett: A Story

8 March 2007
... seen you here before, Mr …’ ‘Hutchings, Your Majesty. Every Wednesday, maam.’ ‘Really? I never knew that. Have you come far?’ ‘Only from Westminster, maam.’ ‘And you are …?’ ‘Norman, maam. Seakins.’ ‘And where do you work?’ ‘In the kitchen, maam.’ ‘Oh. Do you have much time for reading?’ ‘Not really, maam.’ ‘I’m the same. Though now that one is here I ...

Even the stones spoke German

Brendan Simms: Wrotizla, Breslau, Wroclaw

28 November 2002
Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City 
by Norman​ Davies and Roger Moorhouse.
Cape, 585 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 224 06243 3
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... much comment. He seemed happy enough when I met him; and his Polish neighbours appeared remarkably incurious about and benevolent towards one of the last living links with their earlier history. Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse probably never met Schiller, but he could be a character in their stimulating book, which recounts the history of his home town. The name of the town itself does not appear ...

How to Be a Knight

Diarmaid MacCulloch: William Marshal

20 May 2015
The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power behind Five English Thrones 
by Thomas Asbridge.
Simon and Schuster, 444 pp., £20, January 2015, 978 0 7432 6862 2
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... data charting the sequences of variations in tree-rings, we can know when and even roughly where a tree was felled. Carpentry can often be far older than anyone imagined. At Chepstow Castle, a mighty Norman fortress designed to intimidate south Wales and western England, the great wooden door of the gatehouse – which is still in place – was until recently thought to be 15th century. Dendrochronology ...

The Cookson Story

Stefan Collini: The British Working Class

13 December 2001
The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes 
by Jonathan Rose.
Yale, 534 pp., £29.95, June 2001, 0 300 08886 8
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... classes’ (pragmatically defined) made up more than 70 per cent of the population until at least the middle of the 20th century. Can there be a proper history of working-class reading? Jonathan Rose believes that there can be, and after five hundred pages, 24 tables and more than 1600 footnotes it’s clear he has a point. His introduction (still more the publisher’s blurb) makes much of the ...

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