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6 March 1986
Aspects of Feeling 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter​ Owen, 251 pp., £10.95, January 1986, 0 7206 0637 3
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... PeterVansittart, novelist, historian and writer for children, has been singled out for praise by critics as diverse as Philip Toynbee, Francis King, Angus Wilson and Andrew Sinclair. All feel that he lacks the large ...

Paradise Lost

Stephen Bann

17 March 1983
Deadeye Dick 
by Kurt Vonnegut.
Cape, 224 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 224 02945 2
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by Max Frisch, translated by Geoffrey Skelton.
Methuen, 142 pp., £5.95, February 1983, 0 413 51750 0
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The Entropy Exhibition: Michael Moorcock and the British ‘New Wave’ in Science Fiction 
by Colin Greenland.
Routledge, 244 pp., £11.95, March 1983, 0 7100 9310 1
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More Tales of Pirx the Pilot 
by Stanislaw Lem, translated by Louis Iribarne, Magdalena Majcherczyk and Michael Kandel.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 9780436244117
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Yesterday’s Men 
by George Turner.
Faber, 234 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 571 11857 7
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Rebel in Time 
by Harry Harrison.
Granada, 272 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 246 11766 4
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Three Six Seven: Memoirs of a Very Important Man 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter​ Owen, 236 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0602 0
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... Men is the third of a trilogy of novels set in the world of the 21st century. Ingenuity in devising new types of midway meeting between man and machine is at a premium in Turner’s work. Peter Corrigan, whose mission in the jungles of New Guinea forms the backbone of the narrative, actually is a camera: that is to say, he has only to look at a scene in order to register it, and ...

Timo of Corinth

Julian Symons

6 August 1992
A Choice of Murder 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter​ Owen, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0832 5
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Portrait of the Artist’s Wife 
by Barbara Anderson.
Secker, 309 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 9780436200977
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Turtle Moon 
by Alice Hoffman.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 333 57867 8
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Double Down 
by Tom Kakonis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 333 57492 3
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... whispers to Timo: ‘Dagger.’ Timo stabs and kills his brother, is exiled from Corinth, spends years in the wilderness. Time alters the past. Gods, too, change ... The exclamatory staccato style is PeterVansittart’s, and so are some of the words. Many sentences get no further than half a dozen words, some are mere singletons. The manner is intentional, but no more digestible for that. Its chief ...

Kiss Count

John Campbell

19 April 1984
Speak for yourself: A Mass-Observation Anthology 1937-1949 
edited by Angus Calder and Dorothy Sheridan.
Cape, 272 pp., £12.50, March 1984, 0 224 02102 8
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Voices: 1870-1914 
by Peter Vansittart.
Cape, 292 pp., £9.95, April 1984, 0 224 02103 6
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... that they never got round to aspidistras, armpits or female taboos about eating, the historian cannot but be thankful that the war diverted Mass Observation from its initial surrealistic eccentricity.PeterVansittart’s book is another anthology, but here Bevan’s ‘democracy of facts’ or, in this case, of ‘voices’ applies with a vengeance. It is a follow-up to his successful anthology Voices ...
21 January 1982
War Diary 1913-1917: Chronicle of Youth 
by Vera Brittain, edited by Alan Bishop.
Gollancz, 382 pp., £8.50, September 1981, 0 575 02888 2
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The English Poets of the First World War 
by John Lehmann.
Thames and Hudson, 144 pp., £6.95, August 1981, 0 500 01256 3
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Voices from the Great War 
by Peter Vansittart.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 224 01915 5
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The Little Field-Marshal: Sir John French 
by Richard Holmes.
Cape, 427 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 224 01575 3
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... their leaders or their country. When the great millstones of Fascism, Stalinism and Democracy began to work, they soon ground the life out of poetry: only the sturdier weed of propaganda was left. PeterVansittart’s engrossing anthology, Voices from the Great War, brings out the ideological weakness and confusion that prevailed in the war, especially at the start. For some, the war gave proof of a ...

Jewish Blood

Michael Church

7 February 1985
Moving Pictures: Memories of a Hollywood Prince 
by Budd Schulberg.
Penguin, 500 pp., £4.95, September 1984, 0 14 006769 8
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Baku to Baker Street: The Memoirs of Flora Solomon 
by Barnet Litvinoff.
Collins, 230 pp., £11.95, June 1984, 0 00 217094 9
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Wilfrid Israel: German Jewry’s Secret Ambassador 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 286 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 297 78308 4
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The Smiths of Moscow: A Story of Britons Abroad 
by Harvey Pitcher.
Swallow House Books, 176 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 905265 01 7
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Family Secrets 
by David Leitch.
Heinemann, 242 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 434 41345 3
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... Pale of Settlement. She, too, had a gambler-philanderer-millionaire for a father, and she too, was impelled by her upbringing to become a socialist, and even to pass on the contagion to her son – Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International. Her book moves from the site of her father’s first oilfield to the site of her reforming achievements at Marks and Spencer. ‘What were my ...


Mary-Kay Wilmers

27 July 1989
Jigsaw: An Unsentimental Education 
by Sybille Bedford.
Hamish Hamilton, 328 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 241 12572 3
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... when it suits her, and it is hard not to think that this is yet another way of spiting the reader, of telling him to take his vulgar curiosity elsewhere. ‘Loose ends can stimulate,’ PeterVansittart says in an introduction to the Virago edition of one of Bedford’s earlier novels, ‘and paying the readers the compliment of assuming they possess imagination, she creates gaps for that ...

Just Like Cookham

Neal Ascherson: Stanley Spencer in China

19 May 2011
Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China 
by Patrick Wright.
Oxford, 591 pp., £20, October 2010, 978 0 19 954193 5
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... of the group. Freddie Ayer couldn’t stand him: ‘a vile little man, boring on an unwholesomely lavish scale, intolerable … interested only in himself and women’ (some of which, as his friend PeterVansittart said afterwards, neatly fitted Ayer himself). He continued to wear pyjamas under his clothes, the cord sometimes trailing from the bottom of his trousers. Flatly refusing to touch Chinese ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher Hitchens

17 August 1989
Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... in Conservative support to its lowest percentage of votes in any national election this century is in itself an event – even without the BBC’s extraordinary graphics and the mobile enthusiasm of Peter Snow.’ Now, it’s not especially surprising that the deputy leader of a historic social-democratic party should open an article with a sentence that reads as if hastily translated from the ...
15 September 1988
Wallis: Secret Lives of the Duchess of Windsor 
by Charles Higham.
Sidgwick, 419 pp., £17.95, June 1988, 0 283 99627 7
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The Secret File of the Duke of Windsor 
by Michael Bloch.
Bantam, 326 pp., £14.95, August 1988, 9780593016671
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... had been located.’ Higham then asserts (without quoting the relevant passage): ‘The same report categorically states that Wallis was responsible for this breach of security.’ Of Sir Robert Vansittart, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office and head of British Intelligence, Higham writes (and here he does provide the evidence): he ‘was Wallis’s implacable enemy from the day he was ...

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