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Queen Croesus

David Cannadine, 13 February 1992

Royal Fortune: Tax, Money and the Monarchy 
by Phillip Hall.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7475 1133 0
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... even King Midas might have envied. It is to the unravelling of this extraordinary development that Phillip Hall has devoted the last ten years of his life, and as a result, he has produced a fascinating, indeed sensational book. Between the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, Hall shows ...

Reverse Discrimination

Phillip Knightley, 19 May 1988

The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Yale, 327 pp., £16.95, April 1988, 0 300 04076 8
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... returned to London where he offered the director of Naval Intelligence, the famous ‘Blinker’ Hall, what he had been able to pick up from his dealings with the Germans. But Hall was too wily a bird to be snared by the likes of Lincoln and had his background investigated. There followed an embarrassing interview in which ...

Permissiveness

Paul Addison, 23 January 1986

The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... one catastrophe and the next. But the Seventies had no separate identity. Recognising this, Phillip Whitehead begins his book – written to accompany the Channel 4 series of the same name – with the euphoria of Harold Wilson’s victory in 1964. He ends in 1981 with the ‘drying-out of the wets’ by Mrs Thatcher in her autumn reshuffle. The ...

Great Internationalists

Rupert Cornwell, 2 February 1989

Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Gorbachev and one with Philby, every one of us would have picked the latter. In the event, it was Phillip Knightley who landed the fish, but only after twenty years of patient casting. When news came on the World Service on Sunday morning last March that the Sunday Times had started a serialisation of his week of interviews with the old spy, my reaction was ...

Labour Pains

Phillip Whitehead, 8 November 1979

Arguments for Socialism 
by Tony Benn.
Cape, 206 pp., £5.95
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Socialism without the State 
by Evan Luard.
Macmillan, 184 pp., £3.95
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Can Labour Win Again? 
by Austin Mitchell.
Fabian Society, 30 pp., £75
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Enemies of Democracy 
by Paul McCormick.
Temple Smith, 228 pp., £7.50
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... McCormick is as shrill and manichean as those he fought. He writes like Sapper on an off day: The hall was packed full. And what a horrible sight! There were some terrible faces contorted with rage and hatred for everybody (I suppose they were ‘alienated’). These were the class warriors. It was a dingy decaying building and it was now peopled with these ...

Diary

Alan Hollinghurst: In Houston, 18 March 1999

... his famous AT&T building in New York. Here it is the pinnacled, stepped gable of a Flemish cloth-hall raised in overtopping triplicate eight or nine hundred feet high. It must be said that it’s a popular building with Houstonians, and in a sense a trademark one among the relative anonymity of its neighbours. If the Transco Tower is more successful it is ...

Diary

August Kleinzahler: My Last Big Road Trip, 2 December 2010

... from a distance like lichen and, on closer inspection, like blight. Monk and Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, Nat King Cole (the After Midnight Sessions with Sweets Edison, Stuff Smith and Juan Tizol), Ralph Stanley and his Clinch Mountain Boys, Ray Charles. And towards the end of the day, with the setting sun doing something wonderful with the sandstone in the ...

Boomerang

Sylvia Lawson, 18 February 1988

Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... who rather likes living here, I am the beneficiary of an invasion. If honour is due to Captain Phillip, a brave leader with amazing management skills, more is due to the convicts, who fetched, carried and built on the fatal shore, often in conditions of enslavement – although, in his chapter ‘The Invasion’ in Australians to 1788, Geoffrey Blainey ...

The Buddha of Suburbia

Hanif Kureishi, 19 February 1987

... to wake up with them all transferred to me. When I’d finished in the bathroom I stood in the hall. The whole house seemed to be silent, though from the attic came the distant sound of ‘A Saucerful of Secrets’. Someone in the house was burning incense. I crept down the stairs to the ground floor. The living-room door was open. I peered round it into ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... the documentary Regarding Susan Sontag (2014) and in the feminist fight club classic Town Bloody Hall (1979), where, from the audience, she takes Norman Mailer to task for his patronising use of the term ‘lady’ as a prefix – lady writer, lady critic. Even when issuing a rebuke (‘It feels like gallantry to you, but it doesn’t feel right to ...

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