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Douglas Johnson

25 April 1991
The Battle of France: Six weeks which changed the world 
by Philip Warner.
Simon and Schuster, 275 pp., £16, April 1990, 0 671 71030 3
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The Last War between Britain and France 1940-1942 
by Warren Tute.
Collins, 334 pp., £16, January 1990, 0 00 215318 1
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Darlan 
by Hervé Coutau-Bégarie and Claude Huan.
Fayard, 873 pp., frs 190, May 1989, 2 213 02271 2
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... movements which developed within France, as they did in London, Africa and elsewhere. It is true that a number of historians have modified the picture of a collapse which was confined to the French. PhilipWarner, in an incisive piece of writing, equates the fate of the Dutch, Belgian, British and French armies as they were all confounded by German boldness and ruthlessness. He shows how it was not ...
4 March 1982
Auchinleck: The Lonely Soldier 
by Philip Warner.
Buchan and Enright, 288 pp., £10.50, November 1981, 9780907675006
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Das Reich: Resistance and the March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division through France, June 1944 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 264 pp., £9.95, November 1981, 0 7181 2074 4
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... previous biographers, John Connell and Roger Parkinson, and Correlli Barnett, who, in The Desert Generals (1960), went so far as to describe Montgomery’s Alamein as ‘an unnecessary battle’. Now PhilipWarner has attempted a reassessment of Auchinleck’s career in the light of newly-available sources, including revelations of the significant part played by Ultra intelligence in the later stages of ...

Hairy

E.S. Turner

1 October 1987
The war the Infantry knew 1914-1919: A Chronicle of Service in France and Belgium 
by Captain J.C. Dunn, introduced by Keith Simpson.
Jane’s, 613 pp., £18, April 1987, 0 7106 0485 8
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Passchendaele: The Story behind the Tragic Victory of 1917 
by Philip Warner.
Sidgwick, 269 pp., £13.95, June 1987, 0 283 99364 2
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Poor Bloody Infantry: A Subaltern on the Western Front 1916-17 
by Bernard Martin.
Murray, 174 pp., £11.95, April 1987, 0 7195 4374 6
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... the doomed onset in the mud which has often prompted exclamations of ‘They’d never get troops to go through that again.’ In his Passchendaele, which marks the 70th anniversary of that occasion, PhilipWarner argues that the worst feature of the battle was that it so ‘disheartened the democracies’ that they ‘became less willing to preserve peace by preparing for war’. Yet in the military ...

Triumphalism

John Campbell

19 December 1985
The Kitchener Enigma 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 436 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 7181 2385 9
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Kitchener: The Man behind the Legend 
by Philip Warner.
Hamish Hamilton, 247 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 0 241 11587 6
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... still believe it. Kitchener has never lacked biographies, either in his lifetime or since his death. The last, by the Canadian George Cassar, appeared as recently as 1977. Before that there was Philip Magnus’s in 1958 and one by General Ballard in 1930, in addition to the three-volume official life published by his former private secretary, Sir George Arthur, in 1920, a host of shorter studies ...

Lord Cardigan’s Cherry Pants

Ferdinand Mount: The benefits of the Crimean War

20 May 2004
The Crimean War: The Truth behind the Myth 
by Clive Ponting.
Chatto, 379 pp., £20, March 2004, 0 7011 7390 4
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... times its size. Throughout the war there were episodes not only of remarkable bravery but of skill and improvisation which suggest that the British army was not entirely officered by titled ninnies. PhilipWarner argues in The Crimean War: A Reappraisal (1972) that ‘ultimately the British expeditionary force numbered close on a hundred thousand and was an efficient, balanced, well-supported command ...

Hatching, Splitting, Doubling

James Lasdun: Smooching the Swan

21 August 2003
Fantastic Metamorphoses, Other Worlds: Ways of Telling the Self 
by Marina Warner.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.99, October 2002, 0 19 818726 2
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... A memorable image in Robert Musil’s Man without Qualities likens the impact of a certain character to that of a powdery avalanche. The effect of reading Marina Warner’s magisterial works of cultural history is somewhat similar: the cool temperature, the graceful touch, the sensation of resistance being gently annihilated under an accumulation of brilliant ...

Lager and Pernod

Frank Kermode: Alan Warner

22 August 2002
The Man Who Walks 
by Alan Warner.
Cape, 280 pp., £16.99, May 2002, 0 224 06294 8
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... Reviewers rarely feel it prudent to begin by confessing bafflement, but the admission may sometimes be unavoidable. This is my sentiment as I contemplate the four novels of Alan Warner. He has been highly praised (‘dazzling’, ‘classic’, ‘significant’, ‘vastly gifted’, ‘a genius’, ‘one of the most influential literary mould-breakers ever’), and I’m sure ...
29 September 1988
The Satanic Verses 
by Salman Rushdie.
Viking, 547 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 670 82537 9
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The Lost Father 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 277 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3220 5
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Nice Work 
by David Lodge.
Secker, 277 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 436 25667 3
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... a close shave. For all the show of fantasy, pastiche and burlesque, these are also long novels, with an amplitude which cannot dispense with the realistic description of everyday events. Marina Warner is best at it. The art of close shaving, for instance, can never have been more vividly and minutely set down than in her narrator’s depiction of her grandfather (whom the narrator has never seen ...

Short Cuts

Marina Warner: The Flood

6 March 2014
... I face More of the epic would be discovered under the sand as time went on. In 1990 Stephanie Dalley added more lines to her edition from newly recovered pieces, but most of what’s left has probably been smashed in the course of the Iraq wars. It seems proper that a place of fire and dust, its skin scarred by warfare, should be the origin of the story of the Flood today: devastation in negative ...

Baby Power

Marina Warner

6 July 1989
The Romantic Child: From Runge to Sendak 
by Robert Rosenblum.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1989, 0 500 55020 4
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Caldecott & Co: Notes on Books and Pictures 
by Maurice Sendak.
Reinhardt, 216 pp., £13.95, March 1989, 1 871061 06 7
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Dear Mili 
by Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Ralph Manheim and Maurice Sendak.
Viking Kestrel, £9.95, November 1988, 0 670 80168 2
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Grimms’ Bad Girls and Bold Boys: The Moral and Social Vision of the ‘Tales’ 
by Ruth Bottigheimer.
Yale, 211 pp., £8.95, April 1989, 0 300 04389 9
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The one who set out to study fear 
by Peter Redgrove.
Bloomsbury, 183 pp., £13.95, April 1989, 0 7475 0187 4
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... as creatures possessed with a virtuality that their progenitors can never match, but sentimentality has blurred the unsettling adoration of the primitive found in the art of the German visionaries Philip Otto Runge and Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Sentimentality has become a great offence in contemporary aesthetics and – less justifiably – in politics, and with the new art brut, there has been a leap ...

Every Rusty Hint

Ian Sansom: Anthony Powell

21 October 2004
Anthony Powell: A Life 
by Michael Barber.
Duckworth, 338 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7156 3049 0
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... who ruled much of South Wales sometime around the 12th century. The Welsh thing obviously appealed to a wild, romantic longing in Powell’s otherwise rather tight-buttoned upbringing. His father, Philip, was from Melton Mowbray, and his mother, Maud, from Lincolnshire. Philip Powell was commissioned into the Welch Regiment, though ‘not on account of the Powells’ Welsh extraction’, as Powell ...

‘Come, my friend,’ said Smirnoff

Joanna Kavenna: The radical twenties

1 April 1999
The Radical Twenties: Aspects of Writing, Politics and Culture 
by John Lucas.
Five Leaves, 263 pp., £11.99, January 1997, 0 907123 17 1
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... minded at the expense of our art.’ His novel of 1920, The Black Curtain, dedicated to D.H. Lawrence, is ‘about envisaging a possible socialist future for England’. It plots protagonist Philip Kane’s brush with Woman (in the guise of Anne, a smoking, free-loving acolyte of the feminist, socialist and gay sociologist, Edward Carpenter) and with Soviet Communism (in the guise of the ...

Rising above it

Russell Davies

2 December 1982
The Noel Coward Diaries 
edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley.
Weidenfeld, 698 pp., £15, September 1982, 0 297 78142 1
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... You may not like the book, but you will be impressed by the index. There’s Bette Davis and Joe Davis and Sammy Davis Jr. There’s Basil Dean and James Dean, Jack Warner of Dock Green and Jack Warner of Hollywood. Jayne Mansfield lines up alongside Mantovani, and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery is discovered between Maria Montez and Dudley Moore. Kim Novak and Ivor Novello are neighbours, but ...

Anglicana

Peter Campbell

31 August 1989
A Particular Place 
by Mary Hocking.
Chatto, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 7011 3454 2
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The House of Fear, Notes from Down Below 
by Leonora Carrington.
Virago, 216 pp., £10.99, July 1989, 1 85381 048 7
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Painted Lives 
by Max Egremont.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 241 12706 8
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The Ultimate Good Luck 
by Richard Ford.
Collins Harvill, 201 pp., £11.95, July 1989, 0 00 271853 7
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... this kind of tale, as Borges and Calvino have shown, can be told in a narrative style so direct that the novel of gossip can seem, by comparison, over-fleshed. In her introductory essay, Marina Warner mentions W.W. Jacobs, James Stephens, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Harry Graham: a reading-list which suggests a mix of the commonsensical and the fantastical which consorts easily with the insect ...

Do come to me funeral

Mary Beard: Jessica Mitford

5 July 2007
Decca: The Letters of Jessica Mitford 
edited by Peter Sussman.
Weidenfeld, 744 pp., £25, November 2006, 0 297 60745 6
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... dissidents: they came – or were forced – back into the fold, at least for long enough to launch their careers. H.W. Stubbs of Charterhouse went on to teach classics at the University of Exeter. Philip Toynbee was expelled from Rugby, but then handed over to the monks of Ampleforth to be crammed, successfully, for a history scholarship to Oxford. John Peet ended up as head of the Reuters bureau in ...

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