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Looking back at the rubble

David Simpson: War and the Built Environment

25 May 2006
The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War 
by Robert Bevan.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £19.95, January 2006, 1 86189 205 5
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... cleansing’, with its suggestion that nothing more than a routine housekeeping task is involved. Robert Bevan begins his book with an account of his childhood obsession with photographs and film footage of the destruction of Europe’s built heritage in World War Two, an obsession that ‘felt wrong’ in relation to the ‘greater evil’ also ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro

3 February 2011
... and weather wasn’t naturalised here. Between the wars Pissarro was close to Charles Ginner, Robert Bevan, Sickert, Spencer Gore, painters well represented in the Ashmolean. There is a pleasing primness about them, a neatness, a care about getting the drawing right, that was just what Camille hoped Lucien would escape from. In 1947 Pissarro’s ...

Bevan’s Boy

John Campbell

20 September 1984
The Making of Neil Kinnock 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13266 9
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Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership 
by G.M.F. Drower.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 297 78467 6
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... claimed in Who’s Who to be the author of an anthology of the writings and sayings of Aneurin Bevan entitled What Nye said: each year the supposed publication date was authoritatively amended, although the book has never appeared. When asked about it by G.M.F. Drower, Kinnock prevaricated: It’s, er, in four cardboard boxes in the attic at the ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett

24 June 1993
... of the Guildford Four are a politically heterogeneous bunch: at one end, Cardinal Basil Hume, Robert Kee, Merlyn Rees, Lord Scarman and the late Lord Devlin; at the other, rhetoric-ridden, far-left Trotskyist groupings. And in between the world and its dog. The only thing on which all are agreed – some with more knowledge of the facts than others – is ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009

7 January 2010
... we drop down into Kendal and the Abbot Hall gallery, where there is a touring exhibition of Robert Bevan pictures. The shows at Abbot Hall are just the right size, and never more than three or four rooms. The Bevans are shown alongside other Camden Town paintings, the best of which is a lovely, glowing, slightly ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s

18 July 2013
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... affairs. A not uncritical leftish feeling can be surmised for the romantic socialism of Aneurin Bevan, and for the romantic sociology of Michael Young and Raymond Williams, as the views of these three have been characterised. One of the best sayings culled for the new volume is drawn from Bevan, and is as good as the ...
5 November 1981
Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... Labour prime minister. MacDonald was elected chairman and leader, as the press at the time, and Robert Mackenzie much later, stressed. MacDonald had the charisma, he had the contacts with the Left, and he profited from the general disenchantment with the war and those associated with it. That said, it is impossible to see the worthy Clynes as a ‘lost ...
28 January 1993
Rupert Murdoch 
by William Shawcross.
Chatto, 616 pp., £18.99, September 1992, 0 7011 8451 5
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... to be directed first to securing the leadership of the Labour Party for my hero, Aneurin Bevan. Thereafter, no effort was to be spared in achieving the election of a Labour government. To this end, I would want to talk to the leader-writers before they applied themselves to their typewriters each afternoon, and again after they had finished their ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson

7 September 2016
Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... America’s war in Korea partly by introducing charges for NHS dentures and spectacles. Aneurin Bevan resigned as health minister in protest; Wilson followed him the next day. The hostility between Gaitskellites and Bevanites would define much of Labour politics during the 1950s. Wilson’s resignation initially ...

A Very Bad Case

Michael Brock

11 June 1992
Herbert Samuel: A Political Life 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Oxford, 427 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 19 822648 9
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... was ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. These descriptions, by Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan respectively, reveal little more than the effects of personal irritation on imaginative Welsh politicians. In his final chapter Professor Wasserstein draws attention to ‘a fundamental innocence’ and ‘supreme intellectual self-confidence’ as two ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens

10 January 1991
Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Levin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts’. The conversational scheme was simple (I think it had evolved from a once-famous letter to the Times ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown

22 February 2007
George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... in a language that was not their first. Native language matters more than native place. Robert Frost was a Californian who entrenched himself in New England. T.S. Eliot, for all his Russell Square papistry, came from St Louis. These poets grew to be associated with the territories they adopted and which adopted them. The idea that a place or ...

Goodness me

Mary-Kay Wilmers

26 October 1989
Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice: A Politician’s Psycho-Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Leo Abse.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 224 02726 3
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... Mrs Thatcher, like Hedda Gabler, thinks of herself as her father’s daughter. For a hero, Alderman Roberts may be lacking in style. ‘A cautious, thrifty fellow’ is how Hugo Young describes him and it’s easy to tell he isn’t impressed. But Alfred Roberts was an imposing figure in Grantham and his businesses worked at a time when a great many failed ...

Über-Tony

Ben Pimlott: Anthony Crosland

3 September 1998
Crosland’s Future: Opportunity and Outcome 
by David Reisman.
Macmillan, 237 pp., £47.50, October 1997, 0 333 65963 5
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... Labour heroes that nobody mocks? Keir Hardie, G.D.H. Cole, Stafford Cripps, Gaitskell, even Nye Bevan, have become the subject of New Labour locker-room ribaldry. Yet to describe yourself as a ‘Crosland socialist’ still carries meaning. Maybe it is because of that sardonic smile, and an uneasy feeling that, if he were alive today, he would be doing the ...

Enjoying every moment

David Reynolds: Ole Man Churchill

7 August 2003
Churchill 
by John Keegan.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £14.99, November 2002, 0 297 60776 6
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Man of the Century: Winston Churchill and His Legend since 1945 
by John Ramsden.
HarperCollins, 652 pp., £9.99, September 2003, 0 00 653099 0
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Clementine Churchill: The Revised and Updated Biography 
by Mary Soames.
Doubleday, 621 pp., £25, September 2002, 0 385 60446 7
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Churchill at War 1940-45 
by Lord Moran.
Constable, 383 pp., £9.99, October 2002, 1 84119 608 8
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Churchill’s Cold War: The Politics of Personal Diplomacy 
by Klaus Larres.
Yale, 583 pp., £25, June 2002, 0 300 09438 8
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... here – as are the movies and documentaries, with Albert Finney following Richard Burton and Robert Hardy as a screen Churchill. As for approval ratings, in an admittedly contrived phone-poll BBC2 viewers last November voted him the greatest Briton of all time. Most Churchill biographies have been massive: Roy Jenkins’s weighed in at 1.5 kilos and a ...

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