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Who will stop them?

Owen​ Hatherley: The Neo-Elite

22 October 2014
The Establishment and How They Get Away with It 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 335 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 1 84614 719 7
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... Part​ of what makes OwenJones such a phenomenally successful figure by left-of-Labour standards is his ability to be several things at once. He is both insider, reporting back to ‘us’ about what ‘they’ think, and outsider ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough

21 October 2015
... for Corbyn and people registered as supporters in their tens of thousands, soon turned to horror, and finally to stunned resignation. A scattering of dissident voices on the payroll – Seumas Milne, OwenJones, Zoe Williams, George Monbiot – were drowned out by a host of detractors, from within the paper and without: Tim Bale, Nick Cohen, Anne Perkins, Michael White, Martin Kettle, Peter Hain, Alan ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: David Jones’s War

19 March 2015
... Last year​ – year one of the Great War centenary – David Jones’s In Parenthesis, a long prose-and-verse evocation of his first months as a soldier, got a decent outing. The poet Owen Sheers drew on the text for his play Mametz at National Theatre Wales in the summer; Faber reissued the book with T.S. Eliot’s introduction in its series Poets of the Great War; and in Poetry of ...

Whacks

D.A.N. Jones

4 March 1982
The Works of Witter Bynner: Selected Letters 
edited by James Kraft.
Faber, 275 pp., £11, January 1982, 0 374 18504 2
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A Memoir of D.H. Lawrence: The Betrayal 
by G.H. Neville, edited by Carl Baron.
Cambridge, 208 pp., £18, January 1982, 0 521 24097 2
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... memoir he congratulates himself upon his useful contribution to Lawrence’s conception of true manliness. Witter Bynner met Lawrence in later life, in Mexico, and was forced to recognise himself as Owen Rhys in The Plumed Serpent: in his letters we find him deftly defending himself against the accusation of unmanliness which Lawrence had brought against him. Neville and Bynner were very different ...

Night-Flights

D.A.N. Jones

18 September 1986
Search Sweet Country 
by B. Kojo Laing.
Heinemann, 256 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 0 434 40216 8
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The Jewel Maker 
by Tom Gallagher.
Hamish Hamilton, 180 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 241 11866 2
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The Pianoplayers 
by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 208 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 09 165190 5
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An After-Dinner’s Sleep 
by Stanley Middleton.
Hutchinson, 224 pp., £9.95, May 1986, 0 09 163620 5
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Coming Home 
by Mervyn Jones.
Piatkus, 263 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 0 86188 525 2
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... on the open strings while the accompanying pianist makes her sound like a virtuoso. After this pleasant absurdity, Anthony Burgess’s 29th novel, we turn to Stanley Middleton’s 25th and Mervyn Jones’s 22nd, both of them rather dour books concerned with an ‘older’ man renewing acquaintance with his first love. ‘Older’ is by no means a precise term; the hero of An After-Dinner’s Sleep ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen​ Hatherley: What happened to London?

20 August 2014
Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... One simple way​ of grasping the magnitude of what has happened to London over the last thirty years is to compare the introductions to the first and most recent editions of Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward’s Guide to the Architecture of London. In 1983, they wrote of a city in decline, its population down by about a sixth from its postwar height. ‘London is cleaner and ...

One Click at a Time

Owen​ Hatherley

29 June 2016
PostCapitalism: A Guide to Our Future 
by Paul Mason.
Allen Lane, 368 pp., £8.99, June 2016, 978 0 14 197529 0
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Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World without Work 
by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams.
Verso, 256 pp., £12.99, October 2015, 978 1 78478 096 8
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... By 2060, countries such as Sweden will have the levels of inequality currently seen in the USA.’ In thinking about how we got here, Srnicek and Williams – like so many recent writers, from OwenJones to Mark Fisher to Philip Mirowski – lay great stress on the think-tanks (the Mont Pelerin Society and the like) that had their solutions ready when Keynesianism faltered in the mid-1970s. The ...

Bardism

Tom Shippey: The Druids

9 July 2009
Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... tradition’, of which he claimed to be (with a friend) the last initiate, and eventually took over much of the three-volume Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales (completed in 1807 and named for its sponsor OwenJones, aka Owain Myfyr) with his many interpolations into the genuinely ancient ‘Triads of the Island of Britain’. His forgeries – for there is no doubt about his literary talent – were only ...

Further to Fall

Owen​ Bennett-Jones

21 August 1997
Switzerland Unwrapped: Exposing the Myths 
by Mitya New.
Tauris, 210 pp., £18.95, June 1997, 1 86064 300 0
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Blood Money 
by Tom Bower.
Macmillan, 387 pp., £16.99, March 1997, 0 333 71517 9
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... For forty years after the Second World War, the Swiss had every reason to believe that theirs was the optimal form of government. There was political and social stability, full employment, virtually no crime and, for a time, the highest per capita income in the world. Switzerland’s system of government with its many celebrated peculiarities was not only unique but uniquely successful. Which helps ...

After Ceausescu

Owen​ Bennett-Jones

25 January 1990
... Same brothel, different whores’: the words chosen by Valentin Gabrielescu of the re-created National Peasants’ Party to express his opinion of Romania’s provisional government, the National Salvation Front. And he’s by no means alone in distrusting Romania’s new rulers. From the lunch tables of the elegantly-appointed restaurant in the Writers’ Union to the raucous student meetings all ...

After the Revolution

Owen​ Bennett-Jones

20 December 1990
... The thrice-weekly flights of Romania’s national airline Tarom from Bucharest to London have an atmosphere all their own. In the bleak waiting-room, most of the passengers stand and settle in for the inevitable delay. The room contains a few Romanians excited to be on their way to Western Europe and many more West Europeans delighted to be on their way back to civilisation as they know it. Most of ...

Islamic State v. al-Qaida

Owen​ Bennett-Jones

3 November 2016
Isis: A History 
by Fawaz A. Gerges.
Princeton, 368 pp., £19.95, March 2016, 978 0 691 17000 8
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Isis: Inside the Army of Terror 
by Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan.
Regan Arts, 411 pp., £12.99, April 2016, 978 1 68245 029 1
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Irregular War: Isis and the New Threat from the Margins 
by Paul Rogers.
I.B. Tauris, 224 pp., £18.99, June 2016, 978 1 78453 488 2
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... Should​ women carry out knife attacks? In the September issue of its Inspire Guide, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula argued against it. In October an article in the Islamic State publication Rumiyah (‘Rome’) took the opposite view. Having discussed possible targets – ‘a drunken kafir on a quiet road returning home after a night out, or an average kafir working his night shift’ – the ...

What Fred Did

Owen​ Bennett-Jones: Go-Betweens in Northern Ireland

22 January 2015
... There is​ a sentence in Jonathan Powell’s Talking to Terrorists: How to End Armed Conflicts that raises intriguing questions about how the Northern Ireland peace process got underway.* ‘Martin McGuinness,’ Powell writes, ‘still denies sending the message stating that “our war is over” which started the correspondence with John Major, and it is pretty clear in retrospect that one of the ...

The Second Resolution Question

Owen​ Bennett-Jones: Post-Invasion Iraq

31 May 2017
Iraq: The Cost of War 
by Jeremy Greenstock.
Heinemann, 467 pp., £25, November 2016, 978 1 78515 125 5
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... Jeremy Greenstock​ was the UK ambassador to the United Nations during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq and then the special envoy for Iraq, based in Baghdad during the occupation. Obviously he wrote his memoirs with a view to having them published. Mistakes had been made in Iraq and there was public interest in what knowledgeable insiders had to say about them. But he also accepted his duty to ...

Diary

Owen​ Bennett-Jones: Night Shifts at Bush House

8 July 1993
... the rival armies before the elections took place. It will be decades before Angola has as good an opportunity to end its civil war. In Bosnia some of the political groundwork has been done by Lord Owen and Cyrus Vance. But it’s been futile without military commitment. Since the Bosnian Serbs and Croats view the UN forces in Bosnia with contempt, they have felt no need to make any serious ...

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