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Fiery Particle

Lawrence Goldman: Red Ellen Wilkinson

12 July 2017
Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson, Socialist, Feminist, Internationalist 
by Laura Beers.
Harvard, 568 pp., £23.95, October 2016, 978 0 674 97152 3
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... At first sight​ , a new life of Ellen Wilkinson appears to offer readers a return to ‘old Labour’ principles, as articulated and put into practice by one of the party’s most famous women leaders. Wilkinson came from the north, represented ...

How messy it all is

David Runciman: Who benefits from equality?

22 October 2009
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better 
by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett.
Allen Lane, 331 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 1 84614 039 6
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... much less significant for general wellbeing than the size of the gap between the richest and poorest 20 per cent of the population (the basic measure of inequality the authors use). The evidence that Wilkinson and Pickett supply to make their case is overwhelming. Whether the test is life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity levels, crime rates, literacy scores, even the amount of rubbish that gets ...

Happy Campers

Ellen Meiksins Wood: G.A. Cohen

28 January 2010
Why Not Socialism? 
by G.A. Cohen.
Princeton, 83 pp., £10.95, September 2009, 978 0 691 14361 3
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... when all is said and done, come down to moral choice. But even if we reject capitalism on the grounds of its morally reprehensible outcomes – for example, the kinds of outcome recently described in RichardWilkinson and Kate Pickett’s The Spirit Level – it surely makes a difference whether those outcomes are produced by base motives or systemic imperatives.* This isn’t just a matter of the old ...

Pop your own abscess

Rory Scothorne: Definitions of Poverty

22 February 2018
The New Poverty 
by Stephen Armstrong.
Verso, 242 pp., £12.99, October 2017, 978 1 78663 463 4
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Poverty Safari 
by Darren McGarvey.
Luath, 244 pp., £7.99, November 2017, 978 1 912147 03 8
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... a message that lost its shine a while ago. The book has arrived too late for Ed Miliband, whose efforts to reinvent a British tradition of patriotic, elite paternalism were heavily influenced by RichardWilkinson and Kate Pickett’s book The Spirit Level, with its strange subtitle, ‘Why Equality Is Better for Everyone’. Its underlying assumption was that inequality could only be tackled by an ...

Diary

Peter Campbell: At Kew

21 April 2005
... garden horizon. Think of it as a miniature version of the Wembley arch, the Gherkin, the London Eye – other landmarks which have bubbled up on the London horizon in recent years. The architects, Wilkinson Eyre, designed the Gateshead Millennium Bridge (also curvy) and are now working on, among other things, the King’s Waterfront Centre in Liverpool. A recent exhibition in a blacked out subterranean ...

Finding an Enemy

Conor Gearty: Sixty Years of Anti-Terrorist Legislation

15 April 1999
Legislation against Terrorism: A Consultation Paper. CM 4178. 
by Home Office and Northern Ireland Office.
70 pp., £9.95, December 1998, 0 10 141782 9
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... clue what he or she was voting on. The Bill had not been made available for scrutiny until 5.50 p.m. on the evening before the Commons debate. In the words of the independently minded Conservative Richard Shepherd, all we ‘knew about the Bill was what I believe the country will come to detest more than anything – the manipulation, the spin, the press releases and all the covert ways of trying to ...

Saying yes

Rupert Wilkinson

19 July 1984
... for bumbling at Presidential press conferences, his two acceptance speeches were well-crafted, making a number of smoothly-meshing points around central images – crusade, change, the future. Richard Nixon, for his part, was apt to jump from dignity to folksiness, as if the strain of keeping up a high tone was too much. The most deviant of the post-war acceptance speeches was Harry Truman’s in ...

Elective Outsiders

Jeremy Harding

3 July 1997
Conductors of Chaos: A Poetry Anthology 
edited by Iain Sinclair.
Picador, 488 pp., £9.99, June 1996, 0 330 33135 3
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Nearly Too Much: The Poetry of J.H. Prynne 
by N.H. Reeve and Richard​ Kerridge.
Liverpool, 196 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 85323 840 5
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Carl Rakosi: Poems 1923-41 
edited by Andrew Crozier.
Sun & Moon, 209 pp., $12.99, August 1995, 1 55713 185 6
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The Objectivists 
edited by Andrew McAllister.
Bloodaxe, 156 pp., £8.95, May 1996, 1 85224 341 4
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... reluctance, or perplexity can seem clumsy and defiling, which leads to the suspicion that they are far more enclosed than they take themselves to be. Several of the writers here – Drew Milne, John Wilkinson and Caroline Bergvall, for example – opt understandably for a poetic strategy that allows no rest at all but the results are oddly stable. A delirious quest for the inconceivable seems to inform ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

16 April 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
directed by Wes Anderson.
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... Once​ upon a time there was a place called Europe. All the paintings there were by Klimt and all the music by Mahler. No, there were also special Richard Strauss evenings, and the cafés played Johann Strauss waltzes all the time. Everyone was analysed by Freud, but it didn’t make any difference. They were very rich and they had terrific furniture ...

Staggering on

Stephen Howe

23 May 1996
The ‘New Statesman’: Portrait of a Political Weekly, 1913-31 
by Adrian Smith.
Cass, 340 pp., £30, February 1996, 0 7146 4645 8
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... In 1950 a venerable, once highly successful, long-ailing magazine quietly expired. Richard Usborne, the assistant editor in its dying days, later recalled an aficionado’s touching reaction. ‘When the Strand finally folded in 1950, my old sixth-form master wrote to me regretfully: “I ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’

24 January 2013
The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard​ Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... survivors bobbing for a few minutes in shit. The Titanic and her sister ships, on the other hand, were the crowning glory of the century of progress. A White Star Line poster reproduced in Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton’s collection shows the great hulk of the ship, sunlit, belching smoke out of three of its four funnels – the fourth was there only for effect – and cutting a swathe between ...

No More Victors’ Justice?

Stephen Sedley: On Trying War Crimes

2 January 2003
... of a significant principle of international law to that effect. There is, however, a downside to the expansion of national jurisdictions to try the gravest crimes. It was articulated by Lord Browne-Wilkinson in his note of reservation to the Princeton principles of universal jurisdiction issued in early 2001 by a working group of international lawyers assembled by the International Commission of Jurists ...
23 January 1986
Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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Outposts 
by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... derived from a good TV series, sees Common Wealth as representing a ‘strand of socialist utopianism, to be found mainly among the professional middle classes, that ran through the Forties’. Yet Richard Acland, figurehead of the Party, had been a Liberal MP before the war, and Common Wealth might be placed on the far left wing of that broad informal alliance of reformers which produced what Addison ...
20 October 1994
Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Quartet, 597 pp., £25, May 1994, 0 7043 7066 2
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Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 12 pp., £2, May 1994
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... the secret history of Cambridge poetics, a Whole Earth Catalogue replete with names and addresses, everything short of pre-paid order forms. The illuminati have been smuggled into the Index: John Wilkinson, Peter Riley, Drew Milne, Rod Mengham and (of course) J.H. Prynne himself. Prynne and Zappa? Certainly, why not? Ben Watson (the footnotes): ‘When I asked Jeremy Prynne what he thought of Captain ...

Cubist Slugs

Patrick Wright: The Art of Camouflage

23 June 2005
DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material; An Encyclopedia of Camouflage: Nature – Military – Culture 
DPM, 2 vols, 944 pp., £100, September 2004, 9780954340407Show More
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... on the German side and, as Roy Behrens points out in this flamboyantly peculiar Encyclopedia of Camouflage, ships painted in the disruptive ‘dazzle’ schemes developed by the British artist Norman Wilkinson were said to resemble ‘Cubist paintings on a colossal scale’. Yet the First World War was not merely history’s way of confirming Picasso’s genius, and the emergence of strategic camouflage ...

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