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Smoking for England

Paul Foot, 5 July 1984

Smoke Ring: The Politics of Tobacco 
by Peter Taylor.
Bodley Head, 384 pp., £9.95, March 1984, 0 370 30513 2
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... This theory later became the central slogan of the Thatcher-Reagan reaction of the Eighties. Peter Taylor’s marvellous book does awful damage to it. He deals with the power of the tobacco companies, especially the six giant ones which control the production, distribution and marketing of the crop all over the world. Tobacco has been around for ...
In the Tennessee Country: A Novel 
by Peter Taylor.
Chatto, 226 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 7011 6253 8
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... a foreign country, where things are differently done. I had not encountered the Tennessee novelist Peter Taylor before, and this book came as something of a revelation. As a writer he has the gift, which seems both wholly natural and yet to go with a very conscious discipline and decorum, of putting the reader calmly inside his world in his first few ...

Memphis Blues

Karl Miller, 5 September 1985

The Old Forest 
by Peter Taylor.
Chatto, 358 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 7011 3967 6
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... Backward-ranging comparisons, and a risk of anachronism, are likely to enter into an experience of Peter Taylor’s fine stories, for his is an art which makes much of the existence of traditions, and of a deep past. At all events, it seems clear that the stories exhibit Austen’s dedication to a class, and that the class he is concerned with carries ...

The Irresistible Rise of a Folk Hero

Gabrielle Cox, 3 March 1988

Stalker 
by John Stalker.
Harrap, 288 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 245 54616 2
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Stalker: The Search for the Truth 
by Peter Taylor.
Faber, 231 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14836 0
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... to answer the crucial question: did he fall or was he pushed? For illumination it helps to turn to Peter Taylor, an investigative journalist whose Panorama programme first told the public that the scene of one of the shootings had been bugged by MI5. Taylor’s painstakingly detailed analysis reveals that the concerns ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Two Views of John Stalker, 3 March 1988

... stick), secret Police inquiries started into a Manchester Conservative businessman, Kevin Taylor, who had been John Stalker’s friend. Inquiries were discreet at first, but they were what Mr Stalker calls ‘a trawling operation’ to see whether there was any dirt on the Deputy Chief Constable which could be flung at him at a later date if he ...

The Stamp of One Defect

David Edgar: Jeremy Thorpe, 29 July 2015

Jeremy Thorpe 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 606 pp., £25, December 2014, 978 0 316 85685 0
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Closet Queens: Some 20th-Century British Politicians 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 320 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4087 0412 7
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... plot to get rid of Scott. Despite support from the militant Young Liberals (whose former chairman, Peter Hain, insisted that ‘we are with you in resisting the politics of smear and innuendo’), Thorpe resigned as Liberal leader in 1976, soon after Newton’s conviction. He lost his seat in the 1979 general election and was put on trial (along with his ...

Diary

Stephen Sedley: The man who tried to bring Pinochet to justice, 24 June 2004

... little of Europe in them. Changing the guard in front of the Moneda Palace in Santiago, the 40 trumpeters who led the regiment could have been preceding an Inca emperor. The effect is spoiled only by the Chilean army’s use of German-style helmets: those of us who used to watch Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In still expect the wearer to squint through ...

What Fred Did

Owen Bennett-Jones: Go-Betweens in Northern Ireland, 22 January 2015

... a long backstory, much of it chronicled three years ago by the leading journalist of the Troubles, Peter Taylor, in Talking to Terrorists (yes, Jonathan Powell lifted someone else’s title). There had been intermittent contact between the British government and the IRA throughout the Troubles. Having explored a number of channels of communication, the ...

Medawar’s Knack

N.W. Pirie, 27 September 1990

A Very Decided Preference: Life with Peter Medawar 
by Jean Medawar.
Oxford, 256 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 217779 6
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The Threat and the Glory: Reflections on Science and Scientists 
by Peter Medawar, edited by David Pyke.
Oxford, 291 pp., £15, August 1990, 0 19 217778 8
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... Jean Taylor met Peter Medawar when they were students. When she married him she therefore knew that he was an extremely able biologist, but she cannot have foreseen what an energetic polymath she was attaching herself to. Medawar’s ability led at first to frequent moves to better jobs, with consequent house-hunting, and to much travel, on which she accompanied him, to lecture and attend conferences ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’, 9 December 2019

Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... Rather​ D.J. Taylor than me, when it comes to untangling the unbelievably complicated and messy love lives of the so-called Horizon circle: the people who clustered adoringly around Cyril Connolly during his years as editor of the short-lived literary magazine (1939-50). Was Connolly still carrying on his affair with Diana Witherby when he started his affair with Lys (while still married to Jean and while Lys was still married to Ian)? Was Barbara Skelton having an affair with the Polish war artist Feliks Topolski when Peter Quennell came onto the scene, still married to his third wife, Glur, but making Topolski so jealous that the men resorted to fisticuffs over Barbara? What made Janetta, still married to Hugh Slater, fall in love with Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, and would that relationship last?Taylor wades deep into the cigaretty fug of that small literary circle awash with till-boredom-do-us-part love affairs conducted in rented accommodation ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... Without Richard Norton-Taylor of the Guardian, there would be no Belgrano affair, and doubtless Mr Clive Ponting OBE would be plying his way, ever upwards, in the Ministry of Defence. This is no exaggeration. Simply a statement of fact. I am in a position to know. However right Paul Rogers, Lee Chadwick, Arthur Gavshon and I may have been, the fact is that without the sustained interest of Guardian readers, and, in my case, the Labour Party up and down the country, there was no way which the professors of Belgrano Studies, as David Frost has christened us, could have carried on ...

Richly-Wristed

Ian Aitken, 13 May 1993

Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... would have been quite so ebullient about it if I had known what I know now, after reading Geoffrey Taylor’s riveting book, is another matter entirely. To be sure, I knew that the dear old Grauniad was not exactly flush – my new salary would have told me that even if I hadn’t noticed that one of my future colleagues pinned his bus-tickets to his expenses ...

Wife Overboard

John Sutherland: Thackeray, 20 January 2000

Thackeray 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 494 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7011 6231 7
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... Victorian is strong on the Mrs Brookfield imbroglio. The best of the post-Ray efforts is Catherine Peters’s psycho-biographical Thackeray’s Universe (1987). I regret having given Peters’s book a rather small-minded review in this journal when it first came out. I have used it over the years and find it very ...

Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

A.J.P. TaylorA Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 468 pp., £18.99, January 1994, 1 85619 210 5
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A.J.P. TaylorThe Traitor within the Gates 
by Robert Cole.
Macmillan, 285 pp., £40, November 1993, 0 333 59273 5
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From Napoleon to the Second International: International Essays on the 19th Century 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Chris Wrigley.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 241 13444 7
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... as well as money. No one asked A.J.P. Who? Such tensions are worth exploring; and the more A.J.P. Taylor’s life is explored, the more tensions are disclosed. When he wrote his autobiography, he proposed to call it ‘An Uninteresting Story’, doubtless suspecting that his publishers would veto this proposal (as they duly did). Whatever else it was, the ...

Perfect Companions

C.K. Stead, 8 June 1995

Christina Stead: A Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... powerful literary support: Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Saul Bellow, Theodore Roethke, Lillian Hellman, Peter Taylor, Elizabeth Hardwick in America; Patrick White in Australia. Books previously declined were now published. There were reprints. There was an interest, and it would grow. It was all good, but it had come too late. In 1968 Bill Blake died and Stead ...

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