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We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed, 5 February 2015

Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... as an ironic shorthand for the futility and mendacity of US policy. Eventually the filmmaker Peter Davis used the phrase as the title for his 1974 documentary which exposed the American invaders’ casual brutality and indifference towards Asian lives. Clinton was involved, however tangentially, in the antiwar counterculture. Yet, like everyone else in ...

Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp, 1 May 1980

A Country Calendar 
by Flora Thompson, edited by Margaret Lane.
Oxford, 307 pp., £6.95, October 1979, 9780192117533
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... years later, she married a future postmaster; they had three children – Basil and Winifred and Peter. She published a few stories in magazines, and was sneered at by her husband’s relatives. In her sixties she wrote three books which made her famous as an articulate inhabitant of that strange planet, the countryside. The books in the trilogy called Lark ...

Non-Party Man

Ross McKibbin: Stafford Cripps, 19 September 2002

The Cripps Version: The Life of Sir Stafford Cripps 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 574 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 7139 9390 1
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... joyless austerity or as the embodiment of fair-dealing and social equity. On these grounds alone Peter Clarke’s biography is welcome. His is not the first biography of Cripps. Patricia Strauss wrote one in 1942; but it just missed its moment, being published soon after Cripps was ejected from the War Cabinet. Eric Estorick, a strong admirer, wrote two, the ...

Shaw tests the ice

Ronald Bryden, 18 December 1986

Bernard Shaw: The Diaries 1885-1897 
edited by Stanley Weintraub.
Pennsylvania State, 1241 pp., £65, September 1986, 0 571 13901 9
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... order his dishevelled social and sexual lives for good. The year before they married, the diaries peter out. Stanley Weintraub, who has edited all 12 diaries and the fragments from 1880 and 1917 into two stout volumes, gives the game away in his lively account of their provenance. When Shaw married Charlotte, he left his papers at his mother’s house in ...

Suppose the Archduke had ducked

Andrew Berry: Game theory and human evolution, 7 September 2000

Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny 
by Robert Wright.
Little, Brown, 435 pp., £22.50, March 2000, 0 316 64485 4
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... Interviewed by the BBC 25 years after Herbert Spencer’s death, Beatrice Webb, who had known him well, referred to him as Darwin’s John the Baptist. Spencer would have relished the description, which is in many ways appropriate: he coined the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ and was responsible for popularising the term ‘evolution ...

No Man’s Mistress

Stephen Koss, 5 July 1984

Margot: A Life of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith 
by Daphne Bennett.
Gollancz, 442 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 575 03279 0
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... and potentially ennobling pastime. Looking back on her own ‘apprenticeship’, Beatrice Webb recognised its similarity with Margot’s early experience. But Beatrice, coming from a family of comparable size and material comfort, combined greater dedication with a more profound understanding of the problems at stake. To alleviate her personal ...

For a Lark

Patricia Beer, 21 March 1996

Hearts Undefeated: Women’s Writing of the Second World War 
edited by Jenny Hartley.
Virago, 302 pp., £12.99, May 1995, 9781853816710
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... the reasons for the war or the possibilities of its outcome. Notably, one of them did. To Beatrice Webb the question of who was going to win the current war was immaterial. Her tone was both royal and prophetic; it catered for what might go on beyond the tomb. ‘As we happen to believe in the rightness and eventual success of Soviet Communism, we are not ...

Impervious to Draughts

Rosemary Hill: Das englische Haus, 22 May 2008

The English House 
by Hermann Muthesius, edited by Dennis Sharp, translated by Janet Seligman and Stewart Spencer.
Frances Lincoln, 699 pp., £125, June 2007, 978 0 7112 2688 3
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... house. Morris’s own first home, the Red House, at Bexleyheath, designed for him by Philip Webb in 1859, was, Muthesius decided, ‘the first private house of the new artistic culture’. This was an exaggeration which imparted a mythic status to the Red House as a pivotal point in architecture that sometimes hangs about it still. Muthesius was right ...

What’s going on, Eric?

David Renton: Rock Against Racism, 22 November 2018

Walls Come Tumbling Down: The Music and Politics of Rock Against Racism, 2 Tone and Red Wedge 
by Daniel Rachel.
Picador, 589 pp., £12.99, May 2017, 978 1 4472 7268 7
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... doctor and contributor to the 1960s counterculture magazine Oz. Others joined in, including Kate Webb, who, when she attended her first RAR meeting, was 17 years old and working in the hat and glove department at Debenhams. Fired up by the way the older campaigners dropped such names as Toussaint L’Ouverture, Alexandra Kollontai and Kurt Weill into the ...

Socialism without Socialism

Peter Jenkins, 20 March 1986

Socialist Register 1985/86: Social Democracy and After 
edited by Ralph Miliband, John Saville, Marcel Liebman and Leo Panitch.
Merlin, 489 pp., £15, February 1986, 9780850363395
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... fears about their concern for liberty. In early times socialism was a rationalist creed: Sidney Webb and others dreamt dreams of municipal efficiency and, in the Thirties, the idea of planning inspired the enthusiasm of a generation of intellectuals. Today policy-making consists largely in devising saleable compromises between the ideological imperatives of ...
Stafford Cripps: A Political Life 
by Simon Burgess.
Gollancz, 374 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 575 06565 6
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... Labour Government in 1924, along with his brother-in-law, Lord Passfield, better known as Sidney Webb. What with his father’s example, and the intermittent influence of Aunt Bo (as his mother’s sister Beatrice was known), young Stafford had the makings of a hereditary socialist toff – or so it might seem. He resisted his fate, however, and remained ...


Valerie Pearl, 4 February 1982

The Shell Guide to the History of London 
by W.R. Dalzell.
Joseph, 496 pp., £12.50, July 1981, 0 7181 2015 9
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... The great age of the London guidebook began, however, in the middle of the 19th century, as David Webb has shown in the London Journal (1980, No 2). One important development illustrates nicely that odd relationship between guide and history. Peter Cunningham had followed his guide to Westminster Abbey of 1842 with a ...

Out of the jiffybag

Frank Kermode, 12 November 1987

For Love and Money: Writing, Reading, Travelling 1969-1987 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins Harvill, 350 pp., £11.50, November 1987, 0 00 272279 8
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Original Copy: Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 
by John Carey.
Faber, 278 pp., £9.95, August 1987, 0 571 14879 4
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... a slasher – though there is a very severe notice of the autobiographies of Anthony Powell and Peter Quennell – and he seems to enjoy being generous to other reviewers, as when he justly praises John Updike. He is full of gratitude to literary editors, commemorating Ian Hamilton’s work on the New Review in terms only this side of idolatry. Such writers ...

Too Glorious for Words

Bernard Porter: Lawrence in Arabia, 3 April 2014

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East 
by Scott Anderson.
Atlantic, 592 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 1 78239 199 9
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... gets this wrong). He was clearly highly charismatic, though not everyone fell for him: Beatrice Webb, for example, dismissed him as ‘more than a bit of a poseur’. And the thrilling and colourful exploits depicted in the film are mainly accurate. He possessed character traits that make him even more interesting to biographers, including a very obvious ...

Gilded Drainpipes

E.S. Turner: London, 10 June 1999

The London Rich: The Creation of a Great City from 1666 to the Present 
by Peter Thorold.
Viking, 374 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 670 87480 9
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The Rise of the Nouveaux Riches: Style and Status in Victorian and Edwardian Architecture 
by Mordaunt Crook.
Murray, 354 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 7195 6040 3
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... Even inferior tradesmen had to be kept at bay. The Great Fire of London – the point at which Peter Thorold’s book begins – led to an outflow of the dingier homeless from the City westward. Some were absorbed in rookeries and Alsatias, packed with thieves and noseless beggars, or in the sizable slum which adjoined Whitehall. There was no welcome for ...

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