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Yugoslavia’s Past

Robert Kee, 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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... The story runs that the reason Tito lived so long in his last illness was that no one in the Presidential Council dared be the first to suggest that the various life-supporting machines should be switched off. Maybe in the end someone dared. Or maybe Tito, whose body in life had done so much to reconcile the politically irreconcilable in Yugoslavia, performed its final patriotic service in death ...

Milne’s Cropper

Robert Kee, 7 July 1988

... Two interesting questions are raised by Alasdair Milne’s book about his time at the BBC.* The first, more important but less interesting, is: what, if anything, is wrong with the BBC? The second is: what, if anything, is wrong with Alasdair Milne? Milne’s answer to the second question seems to be ‘nothing much’ – which at least helps us with our own answer to the question ...

Fighting off the Boche

Robert Kee, 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 ...

Westminster’s Irishman

Paul Smith, 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

... about an offer from the Soviet Embassy to invest £2000 in his new publishing venture, MacGibbon & Kee. James had confided his espionage story to him. He mentioned that he had been pestered by a Soviet agent to continue the work but that the agent had been persuaded to desist; James, now a civilian, had no more information to give. Stewart observed that it was ...

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. ...

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 ...

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 ...

Keith Middlemas on the history of Ireland

Keith Middlemas, 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 ...

Coming of age in Wiltshire

Nell Dunn, 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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... and at their worst, as when the chimney catches fire and neither Burgo, the Partridges’ son, nor Robert Kee, a much loved friend, stir from their armchairs to help put it out. Her approach to people is rather like her botanist’s approach – that these human creatures had been thrown up willy-nilly on the earth’s crust and must be treated with ...

Diary

James MacGibbon: Fashionable Radicals, 22 January 1987

... he was generous to me when, later on, he proposed his collected writings on Shaw to MacGibbon and Kee. It is probably due to the demise of the big subscription libraries that critics nowadays have less power to make books sell. Enthusiastic reviews used immediately to bring in repeat orders by the hundreds. Now that is all gone, although I am sure that the ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: On Michael Collins, 28 November 1996

... in Michael Collins. None matters much to me nor, it seems, have any mattered to the Irish public. Robert Kee put it well when he wrote that the film’s intentions were honest and its central themes ‘historically wholly acceptable’. Not for the first time, however, Kee is in a minority position. The film’s ...

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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... 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 on. Sometimes it all seemed very distant and unimportant. And as for Frances Partridge’s approval, I think I would have gone a long way to avoid spending a weekend at Ham Spray ...

‘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 ...

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