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Where the Apples Come From

T.C. Smout: What Makes an Oak Tree Grow

29 November 2007
Woodlands 
by Oliver Rackham.
Collins, 609 pp., £25, September 2006, 0 00 720243 1
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Beechcombings: The Narratives of Trees 
by Richard Mabey.
Chatto, 289 pp., £20, October 2007, 978 1 85619 733 5
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Wildwood: A Journey through Trees 
by Roger Deakin.
Hamish Hamilton, 391 pp., £20, May 2007, 978 0 241 14184 7
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The Wild Trees: What if the Last Wilderness Is above Our Heads? 
by Richard Preston.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, August 2007, 978 1 84614 023 5
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... Beechcombings is a very different book from Woodlands, and rather suffers from the comparison. Richard Mabey’s intention is to use a series of ‘discursive essays’ to build up ‘a brief history of the narratives we’ve constructed about trees over the past thousand years to make them accessible, useful, comprehensible and obedient’, and to use the ...
9 May 2019
... three men were sent to prison after blocking a convoy of trucks carrying drilling equipment to the Preston New Road fracking site in Lancashire, operated by Cuadrilla. At around 8 a.m. on 25 July 2017, as seven lorries approached the site, Richard Roberts, a piano restorer from London, got through a police cordon and climbed ...

Heresy from Lesser Voices

Andrew Preston: The Helsinki Conference

20 June 2019
The Final Act: The Helsinki Accords and the Transformation of the Cold War 
by Michael Cotey Morgan.
Princeton, 424 pp., £27, November 2018, 978 0 691 17606 2
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... to keep escalating. Despite the ominous backdrop of the Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon began a series of occasional bilateral discussions with Leonid Brezhnev aimed at managing the Cold War more calmly. Tensions in Asia were high, and China’s rivalry with the Soviet Union was intensifying, while the Berlin Wall had already ...

Bunny Hell

Christopher Tayler: David Gates

26 August 2015
A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me 
by David Gates.
Serpent’s Tail, 314 pp., £12.99, August 2015, 978 1 78125 491 2
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Jernigan 
by David Gates.
Serpent’s Tail, 339 pp., £8.99, August 2015, 978 1 78125 490 5
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...  ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane

23 September 2015
Landmarks 
by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... where I live, a swing made out of rope and a stick on which children went swooping out over the Preston-Kendal canal has disappeared, and a shelter made of branches in a disused orchard has fallen in and rotted away. These things have not been replaced. Macfarlane’s hope is that a conserving and reviving of country words will encourage ‘creative ...
13 May 1993
Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... the Astor Times and later with the Thomson Times. It was long after the event that I learned how Richard Scott, Laurance’s cousin and the chairman of the Scott Trust, flew to London from Washington on what my old employers would have called a ‘mercy mission’ to save us from being sold into slavery by his kinsman. This ignorance may have had something ...

Go and get killed, comrade

Gideon Lewis-Kraus: Spanish Civil War

21 February 2013
Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle against Fascism 
by Richard Baxell.
Aurum, 516 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 1 84513 697 0
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I Am Spain: The Spanish Civil War and the Men and Women Who Went to Fight Fascism 
by David Boyd Haycock.
Old Street, 363 pp., £25, October 2012, 978 1 908699 10 7
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... called A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War – it’s no longer said to be concise – Paul Preston points out that this prelude to the Second World War has generated as many books as the Second World War itself. During the Cold War, with the CIA busy collaborating with anarchists and Trotskyists to try to obscure ‘the fact that ...

Exact Walking

Christopher Hill

19 June 1980
Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649 
by R.T. Kendall.
Oxford, 252 pp., £12.50, February 1980, 0 19 826716 9
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... theology became orthodoxy for men like Dod, Cleaver, Bradshaw. Hildersham, Baynes, Sibbes, Preston. Thomas Hooker and Ames. Dr Kendall sums up: ‘we are saved by grace, we are assured by works. Other writers above have implied this: Sibbes says it.’ Assurance is ‘a reward of exact walking’. Men should ‘labour to be such as God may love ...

Canterbury Tale

Charles Nicholl

8 December 1988
Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury 
by William Urry, edited by Andrew Butcher.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 571 14566 3
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John Weever 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 134 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 7190 2217 7
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Rare Sir William Davenant 
by Mary Edmond.
Manchester, 264 pp., £27.50, July 1987, 9780719022869
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... nonpayment of rent, or breach of the peace. He was fined for giving his apprentice Lactantius Preston a bloody nose in 1576, and was himself assaulted by another apprentice a few years later. It is hard to avoid seeing Marlowe’s touchy aggressive temper – intellectual and physical – prefigured in his father. His sister Anne seems to have been a ...

Riots, Terrorism etc

John Lanchester: The Great British Press Disaster

6 March 2008
Flat Earth News 
by Nick Davies.
Chatto, 408 pp., £17.99, February 2008, 978 0 7011 8145 1
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... it to the BBC complaints department, and had not mentioned it at lunch with Gilligan’s boss, Richard Sambrook. But he then made ‘three key moves’: on 25 June he denounced Gilligan’s story to the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs (‘Until the BBC acknowledges that is a lie, I will keep banging on’); on 26 June he wrote to Sambrook demanding a ...

Carry on up the Corner Flag

R.W. Johnson: The sociology of football

24 July 2003
Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War 
by Simon Kuper.
Orion, 244 pp., £14.99, January 2003, 0 7528 5149 7
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Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 342 pp., £17.99, February 2003, 9780743220798
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... the sun doesn’t shine’ is pure ‘Carry on up the Corner Flag’. Later, Kuper interviews the Preston North End winger Tom Finney about the Cup Final of 1941, when Preston beat Arsenal. Wasn’t it odd, he asks, to play the final in bombed-out London? ‘I wasn’t all that interested in the war when I was ...
23 June 1994
Thinking the Unthinkable: Think-Tanks and the Economic Counter-Revolution, 1931-83 
by Richard Cockett.
HarperCollins, 390 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 00 223672 9
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... from the passage above; but Keynes had ‘never said a truer thing’. Here is the theme of Richard Cockett’s study, Thinking the Unthinkable, which has seized on a superb subject. Using archival and oral sources to supplement the published record, it traces the activities of a number of intellectual pressure groups, or think-tanks, in proselytising ...

Diary

John Sutherland: Do books have a future?

25 May 2006
... being replayed in the UK. Substitute Tesco for Wal-Mart, Waterstone’s for Barnes & Noble, Richard & Judy for Oprah, and the issues are identical. There is no need to substitute for Borders: its Oxford Street branch is a replica of the South Lake outlet. Until the abolition of the Net Book Agreement in 1997, Britain had a distinctly different style of ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2014

8 January 2015
... a joke.’7 May. On the TV news footage of Stuart Hall arriving for the first day of his trial at Preston Crown Court; he is seemingly handcuffed with his hands held in front of him, but thus shackled has to negotiate the quite steep steps from the police van. At 84, he manages this without much help, which is more than I would be able to do even with free ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington

30 November 2006
State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... signs off on dockets ensuring the swift arrival of tomorrow’s new orders. This is reminiscent of Preston Sturges’s The Great McGinty, a movie about a good-looking puppet installed as mayor of an American city by thugs too ugly and too thuggish to appear in public themselves. ‘To us,’ you can almost hear Adelman cry at that dinner party – to the ...

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