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7 July 1988
... successfully puts the question out of joint. As a broadcaster his heart, or whatever it is he keeps there, is in the right place. The two questions are connected only because Milne was somewhat brusquely sacked as Director-General of the BBC after it had hit a number of rocks under his command, and this gave him the time and a sort of reason to write a ...
5 June 1980
Moscow Diary 
by Veljko Micunovic, translated by David Floyd.
Chatto, 474 pp., £12.95, April 1980, 0 7011 2469 5
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... exposed to the Soviet Union that gives these diaries their sharpness. There is a flavour of gamekeeper turned poacher. As a Montenegrin, Micunovic was emotionally conditioned to look to Russia with affection in any case; as a Marxist, he went to the Soviet Union in fulfilment of ‘my life’s ambition, my most cherished dream’. Yet with the long quarrel ...
11 October 1990
... The past, we’ve been told, is a different country and they do things differently there, but not for me, not where Alan Taylor is concerned. He had a most wonderfully consistent personality. That look of amused, quizzical discernment which is even in the photographs his third wife Eva took of him in the sunshine on the last day of his life was much the same as that which confronted me when I read out my first half-baked essays to him at Holywell Ford after he had first come to Magdalen in 1938 ...

Getting back

Adrian Poole

1 July 1982
A crowd is not company 
by Robert Kee.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, May 1982, 9780224020039
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Bedbugs 
by Clive Sinclair.
Allison and Busby, 109 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 85031 454 2
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New Writing and Writers 19 
John Calder, 262 pp., £6.95, April 1982, 0 7145 3811 6Show More
Zhenia’s Childhood 
by Boris Pasternak, translated by Alec Brown.
Allison and Busby, 115 pp., £6.95, May 1982, 0 85031 466 6
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... have done, a life undivided by such a cataract. In his introduction to A crowd is not company, Robert Kee voices some similar thoughts about the experience of war in youth. In fact, the subject of his book is not so much ‘death, fear, hunger’, as the effects of a unique kind of confinement on a young middle-class Englishman of his generation ...
7 April 1994
The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 659 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 241 12858 7
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The Parnell Split 1890-91 
by Frank Callanan.
Cork, 327 pp., £35, November 1992, 0 902561 63 4
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... Ireland – if he did point one out. Far from merely straggling in the wake of a very large field, Robert Kee and Frank Callanan restore freshness to the scent by showing how much can still be quarried from close attention to Parnell’s career, not least to the press, which not only made and unmade his reputation but, alongside Hansard, supplied him with ...

Diary

Hamish MacGibbon: My Father the Spy

16 June 2011
... cemetery where ‘the remains of some saint lay’. The need for security did not seem to be as keen as it had been in London. They often met in daylight, or sometimes in a bar, where Ivanov extolled the superiority of British beer over ice-cold lager. ‘He was a pleasant young man of about my own age.’ This was all James could tell me. Three years after ...

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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... seems to have wanted to blow up television, ‘the box in the corner’. In the flat of her friend Robert Kee, a great asset to the box in the corner, she glimpsed the Tonight programme, and later recorded: ‘I was bored and rather disgusted, and longed to be able to unhook my gaze from this little fussy square of confusion and noise on the other side of ...

Little Dog

Alan Milward

5 January 1989
Munich: The Eleventh Hour 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 242 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 241 12537 5
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Peace for Our Time 
by Robert Rothschild.
Brassey, 366 pp., £16.95, September 1988, 0 08 036264 8
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A Class Divided: Appeasement and the Road to Munich 1938 
by Robert Shepherd.
Macmillan, 323 pp., £16.95, September 1998, 0 333 46080 4
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... was subsequently driven off the centre pages by Kristallnacht and the Jewish pogroms in Germany. Robert Kee’s book has its origins in his commemorative TV documentary and the book by Robert Shepherd, producer of Channel 4’s A Week in Politics, reads like the script of another documentary. ...
21 November 1985
Everything to lose: Diaries 1945-1960 
by Frances Partridge.
Gollancz, 383 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 575 03549 8
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... made me think hard about that period of my growing-up. What were the influences that I felt so keenly from Frances? What was it that was so peculiarly attractive about being at Ham Spray, the house left to the Partridges by Lytton Strachey? The answers lie in these diaries. First, there was her way of looking at nature, turning it into the nourishing ...
22 January 1981
Ireland: Land of Troubles 
by Paul Johnson.
Eyre Methuen, 224 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 413 47650 2
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Acts of Union 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 221 pp., £4.95, September 1980, 0 571 11648 5
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Neighbours 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Faber, 96 pp., £2.95, November 1980, 0 571 11645 0
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Ireland: A History 
by Robert Kee.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £9.95, December 1980, 0 297 77855 2
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... that if you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house they will live like Protestants.’ Kee’s short and extremely well illustrated history provides an effective and stimulating counterpart. Taking it apart from the television series means accepting the author’s misgivings about visual emphasis on detail and drama and the Famine horrors as a ...

Diary

James MacGibbon: Fashionable Radicals

22 January 1987
... just after Hitler had taken over: he had had all his books seized – an experience that was to keep me on the left ever since. Soon after my return to Putnam I got to know Desmond MacCarthy, who was to be a lasting influence on my activities as a publisher. Huntington was attempting to publish six volumes of his writings, and it was my job to prize bits of ...

Wake up. Foul mood. Detest myself

Ysenda Maxtone Graham: ‘Lost Girls’

9 December 2019
Lost Girls: Love, War and Literature, 1939-51 
by D.J. Taylor.
Constable, 388 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 1 4721 2686 3
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... love affairs were usually shorter than the tenancies.) I had to take reams of notes to keep tabs on everyone’s current status. ‘J not actually married to K, has baby Nicolette, K going off to Balkans, now J falling in love with Robert Kee, who spends weekend at Ham Spray, F. Partridge approves,’ and so ...

‘Derek, please, not so fast’

Ferdinand Mount: Derek Jackson

7 February 2008
As I Was Going to St Ives: A Life of Derek Jackson 
by Simon Courtauld.
Michael Russell, 192 pp., £17.50, October 2007, 978 0 85955 311 7
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... reported that passing aircraft could interfere with radio reception. Less than a year later, Robert Watson-Watt demonstrated by a simple experiment in a field outside Daventry that aircraft could be detected by radio. Radar was born. Remarkably, it was only two years after this that Lindemann demonstrated to Churchill that tinfoil strips cut to a certain ...

Fog has no memory

Jonathan Meades: Postwar Colour(lessness)

19 July 2018
The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain 
by Lynda Nead.
Yale, 416 pp., £35, October 2017, 978 0 300 21460 4
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... is a woolly conceit, almost a faith. Proof isn’t required. A Brighton film of two years earlier, Robert Hamer’s delightfully sinister Pink String and Sealing Wax, set, to judge by the costumes, in the 1880s, does indeed have ‘Victorianism’ written all over it, as does Hamer’s subsequent Kind Hearts and Coronets. But neither of these is scrutinised by ...
19 July 1984
Faces of Philip: A Memoir of Philip Toynbee 
by Jessica Mitford.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £9.95, July 1984, 0 434 46802 9
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... from their experience. But Philip Toynbee’s ego was gigantic. Decca Mitford remembers him keeping on saying as he read Hons and Rebels in manuscript: ‘Not nearly enough about ME.’ He was obsessed by himself, his development, his past and future. Unlike most egoists, he never bored his friends with talk about himself: he was too good a mimic, too ...

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