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Across the Tellyverse

Jenny Turner: Daleks v. Cybermen, 22 June 2006

Doctor Who 
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Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series 
by Kim Newman.
BFI, 138 pp., £12, December 2005, 1 84457 090 8
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... powering the gorgeous prescience and horror of William Gibson’s Neuromancer novels, only to peter out, pretty much, by the mid-1990s, as the dull commercial reality – the real ‘consensual hallucination’, to repurpose Gibson’s phrase – of internet shopping kicked in. There was also, after 1977, the Star Wars problem, and the visual similarity ...

Put a fist through it

Harriet Baker: The Hampstead Modernists, 8 October 2020

Circles and Squares: The Lives and Art of the Hampstead Modernists 
by Caroline Maclean.
Bloomsbury, 296 pp., £30, April, 978 1 4088 8969 5
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The See-Through House: My Father in Full Colour 
by Shelley Klein.
Chatto, 271 pp., £16.99, April, 978 1 78474 310 9
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... der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, it glows at night, as if floating among the trees. Its architect, Peter Womersley, has been largely overlooked in accounts of British modernism, perhaps because he mostly worked in northern England and the Borders, leaving only a scattering of buildings, including the University of Hull sports centre and a concrete grandstand ...

The Fastidious President

David Bromwich: The Matter with Obama, 18 November 2010

... and floating five ideas plausibly. Obama keeps a list of his achievements and – according to Peter Baker in a recent New York Times Magazine profile – judges himself to have accomplished 70 per cent of what he hoped in his first two years. Jay Gatsby, too, kept lists, and one may be reminded of Gatsby’s ‘Platonic conception of himself’. The ...

Architect as Hero

David Cannadine, 21 January 1982

Lutyens: The Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens 
Hayward Gallery, 200 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 7287 0304 1Show More
Edwin Lutyens: Architect Laureate 
by Roderick Gradidge.
Allen and Unwin, 167 pp., £13.95, November 1981, 0 04 720023 5
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Indian Summer: Lutyens, Baker and Imperial Delhi 
by Robert Grant Irving.
Yale, 406 pp., £20, November 1981, 0 300 02422 3
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Lutyens: Country Houses 
by Daniel O’Neill.
Lund Humphries, 167 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 85331 428 4
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Lutyens and the Sea Captain 
by Margaret Richardson.
Scolar, 40 pp., £5.95, November 1981, 0 85967 646 3
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Houses and Gardens by E.L. Lutyens 
by Lawrence Weaver.
Antique Collectors’ Club, 344 pp., £19.50, January 1982, 0 902028 98 7
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... in this premier league, the referee could be stern and the spectators unbending. Unlike Herbert Baker, who was at his best on committees, Lutyens dismissed them as ‘horrible, ignorant and unsympathetic’, and was too intent on being a great man to learn the arts of compromise and conciliation. But while charm and insistence worked wonders with rich and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Darwinians & Creationists, 1 November 2001

... one demands cause, the other demands purpose; both recoil from the random and the accidental. Peter Carey has deservedly won the Booker Prize for True History of the Kelly Gang. The WHSmith Book Award, continuing its flight from elitism, has renamed itself ‘The People’s Choice’. To have a go at being the people’s Kenneth ...

Diary

Jane Miller: On the National Curriculum, 15 October 1987

... and go into schools have been astonishingly foolish. We thought that others listening to Kenneth Baker’s pronouncements as they tumbled out before, during and after the election would be bound to doubt his wisdom and good faith. We thought that other people would laugh, too, at his picture of all those classrooms in ‘loony left’ boroughs where peace ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... can in many ways be as disgraceful as resignations. The leading figure here is Kenneth Baker, who perfected a theory about why he should slay as Home Secretary despite the succession of calamities that surrounded him, until he was eventually jettisoned by the Prime Minister after the 1992 election. Holding steadfastly to the view that policy was ...

Jingoes

R.W. Johnson: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War, 6 May 2004

The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War 
by Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, May 2003, 0 521 82453 2
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... This book begins with real passion as Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw lash into those historians who they believe have made unwarranted assumptions about the links between Britain and South Africa: to wit, that Britain fought the Boer War to get its hands on the gold and that economic considerations remained the motivating force in its difficult relationship with South Africa thereafter ...

Sex is best when you lose your head

James Meek, 16 November 2000

Promiscuity: An Evolutionary History of Sperm Competition and Sexual Conflict 
by Tim Birkhead.
Faber, 272 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 571 19360 9
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... in the dim light of dawn to visit one of the males in his own territory.’ Back in the 1960s, Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive arachnid, turned into Spiderman and acquired the ability to scuttle up the sides of tall buildings. Birkhead’s book could inspire a whole new breed of pornographic superheroes, replete with extraordinary powers and dark ...

Knowledge Infinite

D.J. Enright, 16 August 1990

The Don Giovanni Book: Myths of Seduction and Betrayal 
edited by Jonathan Miller.
Faber, 127 pp., £6.99, July 1990, 0 571 14542 6
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... approach the subject from varying angles, and not all of them approach very close. Malcolm Baker writes on tomb sculpture, ‘the static intermediary between the earthly and the eternal’, where the stone figure of the Commendatore is undeniably a case in point. Peter Gay explores the opera’s ‘hidden ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: FOI, 4 February 2021

... My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act (Penguin, $30), Nicholson Baker charts ‘the pathology of government secrecy’ through myriad frustrated FOIA requests about the US government’s biological weapons programme in the 1950s.In many countries, FOI is accused of reducing transparency by encouraging a parallel, paperless ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Hemingway the Spy, 16 February 2017

... only so much damage one can do with a Robert Frost interview, but that didn’t stop the late Peter Matthiessen, one of the founding editors, from now and then leaving the office, or the Himalayas, to spy on supposed enemies of the United States. Matthiessen later said he had used the magazine as cover for some high-level snitching, but in the annals of ...

Licence to kill

Paul Foot, 10 February 1994

Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... started by Reagan and carried on even more enthusiastically by Bush and his Secretary of State, Baker, all through the years when neutrality was the official US policy. The Bush-Baker enterprise was a disaster. The tilt to Iraq so encouraged the dictator that he invaded Kuwait, threatening vital cheap oil supplies to the ...

McNed

Gillian Darley: Lutyens, 17 April 2003

The Architect and His Wife: A Life of Edwin Lutyens 
by Jane Ridley.
Chatto, 524 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 7011 7201 0
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Edwin Lutyens, Country Houses: From the Archives of ‘Country Life’ 
by Gavin Stamp.
Aurum, 192 pp., £35, May 2001, 1 85410 763 1
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Lutyens Abroad 
edited by Andrew Hopkins and Gavin Stamp.
British School at Rome, 260 pp., £34.95, March 2002, 0 904152 37 5
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... 1921, almost a decade after he had begun working on the plans for New Delhi. Lutyens and Herbert Baker, who had also been a pupil of Ernest George and Harold Peto’s many years before, were jointly appointed to this huge task, which would become a sour professional (and personal) battle and win them both knighthoods. The siting and designing of the vast ...

Profits Now, Costs Later

David Woodruff: Mariana Mazzucato, 22 November 2018

The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy 
by Mariana Mazzucato.
Allen Lane, 384 pp., £20, April 2018, 978 0 241 18881 1
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... the venerable retailer BHS in 2015 and his recent naming in the House of Lords by the Labour peer Peter Hain as a ‘powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying’, Philip Green gave a self-congratulatory interview to the ...

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