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News of the World’s End

Peter Jenkins, 15 May 1980

The Seventies 
by Christopher Booker.
Allen Lane, 349 pp., £7.50, February 1980, 0 7139 1329 0
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The Seventies 
by Norman Shrapnel.
Constable, 267 pp., £7.50, March 1980, 0 09 463280 4
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... playing games with decades is a relatively harmless activity, although best done (as by Norman Shrapnel) chiefly for amusement. An eccentric eye will always spot the eccentricities of the times, and Shrapnel possesses also a sharp pair of scissors for the newspaper cutting. Snip and you have, for example, the ...

Four Poems

Hugo Williams, 2 November 2006

... across my father’s face as he looks around the table. His widow’s peak is pulled down like a Norman helmet. His eyes are shrapnel. His irises are wearing little white spectacles of bacon fat to examine my plate. He tells me it’s rude to push my food around, making dams out of mashed potato when other people are ...

Godmother of the Salmon

John Bayley, 9 July 1992

‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ and other Laureate Poems 
by Ted Hughes.
Faber, 64 pp., £12.99, June 1992, 0 571 16605 9
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... over her and the car jounced. Grates, gutters, clawed in the backwash. She kept going. Flak and shrapnel Of thundercracks hit the walls and roofs. Still a swimmer She bobbed off, into sea-smoke Where headlights groped. That’s the way to deal with a royal christening: the blest water on the infant prince’s brow metamorphosed into a devout ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... and that Lois herself had been a high-school supporter of the Socialist Party of America under Norman Thomas and perhaps, at university, an admirer of the young militants whose star rose in the party during the early 1930s. Lois sends a funny letter to her family in December 1936, responding to ‘Mother’s crack that she was sorry I was a ...

Hemingway Hunt

Frank Kermode, 17 April 1986

Along with Youth: Hemingway, the Early Years 
by Peter Griffin.
Oxford, 258 pp., £12.95, March 1986, 0 19 503680 8
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The Young Hemingway 
by Michael Reynolds.
Blackwell, 291 pp., £14.95, February 1986, 0 631 14786 1
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Hemingway: A Biography 
by Jeffrey Meyers.
Macmillan, 646 pp., £16.95, March 1986, 0 333 42126 4
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... Broadway theatre, not to see a play but to enjoy what was meant to be a thrilling contest between Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. The place was packed; except for those sponsored by some publisher, the audience had bought very expensive tickets, and they displayed a keenness more appropriate to a prizefight. Indeed a prizefight was what they expected, Mailer ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... of Britain’s diminished position after the Second. Macmillan was in intermittent pain from the shrapnel the Germans had left in his thigh forty years earlier; Harry Crookshank, Churchill’s first minister of health, had had his balls shot off on the Western Front. No man alive has lunched more politicians and permanent secretaries or scoured more Cabinet ...

Where on Earth are you?

Frances Stonor Saunders, 3 March 2016

... minutes. (Apparently, the spikes from the crown of an eight-inch Statue of Liberty make ideal shrapnel.) Booth’s website,, includes a video of him firing a breech-loading shotgun made from a deodorant aerosol, cans of Red Bull, nine volt batteries, tape, dental floss, tin foil, a hairdryer, a fridge magnet clip, and a condom. The ...

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