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Bernie’s War

Philip Purser

23 May 1991
A German Requiem 
by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 306 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 670 83516 1
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... Philip Kerr’s detective hero Bernie Gunther is Sam Spade with raw herring on his breath and a smattering of German or Germanic slang (‘Kripo’ for the Criminal Police, ‘bulls’ for policemen, ‘chocoladies’ for those of dubious virtue) stirred into his tough private-eye talk. He drags on a cigarette, keeps a bottle in his desk, has a way with women but not much luck with them ...
11 October 1990
The Penguin Book of Lies 
edited by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 543 pp., £15.99, October 1990, 0 670 82560 3
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... eyewitness, but a good author is always an eyewitness. My random instances show what a bright idea Philip Kerr has had in investigating modes of lying, by deploying quotation, anecdote, gossip and history, over which ‘literary effect’ is always tentatively hovering. On the question of who discovered America Emerson wrote that Amerigo Vespucci ...
6 August 1992
Fatherland 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 372 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 09 174827 5
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... best-known novels based on the premise of a German or Axis victory are Len Deighton’s SS GB and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. I can remember two no less interesting television variations on the theme: Giles Cooper’s epic play The Other Man, and a serial by Philip Mackie, An Englishman’s ...

Waldorf’s Birthday Present

Gabriele Annan: The Lovely Langhornes

7 January 1999
The Langhorne Sisters 
by James Fox.
Granta, 612 pp., £20, November 1998, 1 86207 071 7
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... into the Round Table, a proto-think tank named after a quarterly started by Milner and edited by Philip Kerr. Much later the group metamorphosed into the Cliveden Set. Fox calls his chapter about the Kindergarten alumni ‘Brain Fag’ (Kerr’s coinage), ‘a form of anti-climactic stress ... contracted from years of ...
10 September 1992
The Children of Men 
by P.D. James.
Faber, 239 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16741 1
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A Philosophical Investigation 
by Philip Kerr.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 7011 4553 6
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Spoilt 
by Georgina Hammick.
Chatto, 212 pp., £13.99, August 1992, 0 7011 4133 6
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The Death of the Author 
by Gilbert Adair.
Heinemann, 135 pp., £13.99, August 1992, 0 434 00623 8
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Jerusalem Commands 
by Michael Moorcock.
Cape, 577 pp., £15.99, July 1992, 0 224 03074 4
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... Isabel) Jakowicz believes, the Lipstick Man? Such facetiousness is characteristic of Philip Kerr’s uncertain tone. In the moment after this jokiness, Jake flushes with anger at the callousness of her fellow detectives, who fail to recognise that the victim ‘had once been a beautiful young woman with her whole future in front of ...
14 September 1989
Namier 
by Linda Colley.
Weidenfeld, 132 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79587 2
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Hume 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79592 9
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... depend on the support of aristocratic admirers like Blanche Dugdale (A.J. Balfour’s niece) and Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian; and he was delighted to play Burke to Harold Macmillan’s Lord Rockingham. Namier affected to despise all ideological ‘isms’ and A.J.P. Taylor spoke of his having taken the mind out of history. Professor Colley not only puts ...

Duels in the Dark

Colin Kidd: Lewis Namier’s Obsessions

25 November 2019
Conservative Revolutionary: The Lives of Lewis Namier 
by D.W. Hayton.
Manchester, 472 pp., £25, August 2019, 978 0 7190 8603 8
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... us, he was operating in what was probably his fifth language. He soon came to the notice of Philip Kerr, Lloyd George’s private secretary, and subsequently to that of the prime minister himself. Pointed questions were asked in Parliament about his anti-Polish sentiments, and a poisonous piece in G.K. Chesterton’s weekly magazine New Witness ...

Termagant

Ian Gilmour: The Cliveden Set

19 October 2000
The Cliveden Set: Portrait of an Exclusive Fraternity 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 277 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 224 06093 7
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... In twenty years,’ Lady Astor used to say of Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian, ‘I’ve never known Philip to be wrong on foreign politics.’ Though Lothian himself thought much the same, it is, in fact, harder to think of an occasion when he was right. As Sir Robert Vansittart, the strongly anti-Nazi head of the Foreign Office in the 1930s put it, ‘Lothian was an incurably superficial Johnny-Know-All ...

On Spanking

Christopher Hitchens

20 October 1994
AGuide to the Correction of Young Gentlemen or, The Successful Administration of Physical Discipline to Males, by Females 
by a Lady, with illustrations by a Former Pupil.
Delectus, 140 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 1 897767 05 6
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... terms. We now believe that the author of the supple and muscular prose instanced above was Alice Kerr-Sutherland, a no-nonsense governess who in the early years of the century had abandoned her errant but legitimate little charges to pursue the high road of madamhood. Her flagellation brothel in St James’s was a place of resort for the gentry and nobility ...
6 July 1989
Talking Blues: The Police in their Own Words 
by Roger Graef.
Collins Harvill, 512 pp., £15, May 1989, 0 00 272436 7
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... about the death of another man, Colin Roach, in a police station; £48,699 to Stephen Dowsett and Philip Tape who were walking home from a dance a little drunk when they were bundled into a police van, taken to a police station and so terribly beaten that Dowsett’s jaw had to be re-set in two places; £17,500 to Manit Schemir, a mechanical engineer who was ...

Round the (Next) Bend

Simon Adams: Sir Walter Ralegh

6 July 2000
The Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh 
edited by Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings.
Exeter, 403 pp., £45, July 1999, 0 85989 527 0
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... In the summer of 1618, Diego Sarmiento de Acuna, Count of Gondomar, Ambassador of Philip III to the Court of James I had a clever idea. For four years the proposal that James’s son Prince Charles should marry the Infanta Maria had been batted to and fro between London and Madrid in an attempt to bring about an Anglo-Spanish alliance ...

Musical Chairs with Ribbentrop

Bee Wilson: Nancy Astor

20 December 2012
Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor 
by Adrian Fort.
Cape, 378 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 0 224 09016 2
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... invited Geoffrey Dawson, editor of the Times, Nevile Henderson, ambassador to Germany, and Philip Kerr, the Marquess of Lothian, a Christian Scientist like Nancy, and one of several to express the view that in marching into the Rhineland, Germany was merely walking into its own backyard. Nancy and Waldorf also regularly entertained Neville ...

Rigging and Bending

Simon Adams: James VI & I

9 October 2003
The Cradle King: A Life of James VI & I 
by Alan Stewart.
Chatto, 438 pp., £20, February 2003, 0 7011 6984 2
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... the weakness of the domestic claimants; the threat posed by James’s main foreign rival, Philip II’s daughter the Infanta Clara Eugenia; and, last but not least, the new shared British identity that Protestantism had created. Yet for all the smoothness of the union of the Crowns, it was little more than a decade after James’s death that the ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary

13 September 2018
The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... science at the Catholic University, and became engaged to the playwright and theatre critic Walter Kerr. He broke her heart. (Years later William Shawn told a colleague that Kerr would never write for the New Yorker ‘because of Maeve’.) In 1941, Brennan moved to Manhattan and soon found work at Harper’s Bazaar, where ...

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