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A Dreadful Drumming

Theo Tait: Ghosts, 6 June 2013

The Undiscovered Country: Journeys among the Dead 
by Carl Watkins.
Bodley Head, 318 pp., £20, January 2012, 978 1 84792 140 6
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A Natural History of Ghosts: 500 Years of Hunting for Proof 
by Roger Clarke.
Particular, 360 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 1 84614 333 5
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... and burned the ashes, banishing the revenant for ever. In A Natural History of Ghosts, Roger Clarke retells ‘the first true modern ghost story’, from Pliny’s letters, about a house in Athens haunted by ‘an old man, emaciated and filthy, with a long beard and unkempt hair’, who rattled his chains and drove the inhabitants to illness ...

Reproaches from the Past

Peter Clarke: Gordon Brown, 1 April 2004

The Prudence of Mr Gordon Brown 
by William Keegan.
Wiley, 356 pp., £18.99, October 2003, 0 470 84697 6
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... ambiguity as well as ambition, with a premium on stealth as well as wealth. When Nigel, nephew of Roger, bishop of Salisbury, took on the job in 1126 (or thereabouts) he was simply called ‘the treasurer’. He resigned when made bishop of Ely in 1133 – not the sort of career progression to be expected these days. But the bishop of Salisbury, versatile in ...
... Dynamiters.’Eighteen months earlier, a young Irishman recently returned from America, Thomas J. Clarke, one of O’Donovan Rossa’s Sancho Panzas, had been arrested in London. Using evidence of an elaborate bomb factory in Birmingham, the Crown charged him and other followers of O’Donovan Rossa with treason. (The plan, it seems, had been to blow up the ...

Into the sunset

Peter Clarke, 30 August 1990

Ideas and Politics in Modern Britain 
edited by J.C.D. Clark.
Macmillan, 271 pp., £40, July 1990, 0 333 51550 1
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The Philosopher on Dover Beach 
by Roger Scruton.
Carcanet, 344 pp., £18.95, June 1990, 0 85635 857 6
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... than those which Nicholas Ridley famously employed, but the drift is, I think, not so different. Roger Scruton writes explicitly on this theme under the title, ‘In defence of the nation’, a piece also printed as the final essay in his own more diverse collection, The Philosopher on Dover Beach. As the editor of the Salisbury Review, he has ...

Starting up

Peter Clarke, 6 November 1986

The German Slump: Politics and Economics 1924-1936 
by Harold James.
Oxford, 469 pp., £30, March 1986, 0 19 821972 5
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The Making of Keynes’s General Theory 
by Richard Kahn.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £20, May 1984, 9780521253734
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Towards the Managed Economy: Keynes, the Treasury and the Fiscal Policy Debate of the 1930s 
by Roger Middleton.
Methuen, 244 pp., £25, September 1985, 0 416 35830 6
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Keynes and his Contemporaries 
edited by G.C. Harcourt.
Macmillan, 195 pp., £22.50, October 1985, 0 333 34687 4
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The Policy Consequences of John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Harold Wattel.
Macmillan, 157 pp., £29.50, April 1986, 0 333 41340 7
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... by several economic historians who have worked on the Treasury papers, and it is reiterated in Roger Middleton’s book on the debate over fiscal policy in the Thirties. He contends that ‘the opposition to large-scale public works was essentially a “Whitehall view”. Whilst the theoretical, or strictly economic, constituent of this view was publicly ...

I am a classical scholar, and you are not

Peter Clarke: Enoch Powell, 7 March 2013

Enoch at 100: A Re-evaluation of the Life, Politics and Philosophy of Enoch Powell 
edited by Lord Howard of Rising.
Biteback, 320 pp., £25, June 2012, 978 1 84954 310 1
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... came with the advent of the Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher in May 1979.’ Roger Scruton, by contrast, is writing in a different register in Enoch at 100 when he laments the loss of ‘philosophical acumen’ that led to the anti-socialist truths of the free market being reiterated ‘far less beautifully and with an alienating ...

Fear of Words

Mark Kishlansky: The Cavalier Parliament, 18 December 2008

The Long Parliament of Charles II 
by Annabel Patterson.
Yale, 283 pp., £30, September 2008, 978 0 300 13708 8
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... obtained an imprimatur. Finally there was the political censorship of the indefatigable Sir Roger L’Estrange, His Majesty’s surveyor of the press, who licensed everything from almanacs to theatre bills. No one believed in the virulent power of ideas more than L’Estrange and he was a one-man Médecins Sans Frontières in his determination to ...

Clues

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 May 1983

A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Essays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan Doyle: Uncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... Christie is supreme. Thus in what I take to be the most famous of detective novels, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Ackroyd’s secretary hears his employer’s voice coming from his study: ‘the calls on my purse have been so frequent of late that I fear it is impossible for me to accede to your request.’ Poirot sees that nobody would talk like this ...

Short Cuts

Inigo Thomas: At the Ladbroke Arms, 22 February 2018

... a referendum on it he was sure it would be reinstated. In his autobiography, Kind of Blue, Kenneth Clarke says the prison population of Britain has doubled in the last two decades: the short explanation for such growth, in his view, is Rebekah Brooks, and the tabloid journalism of News International. You can wonder whether one reason for Britain remaining a ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... was convened in Austin, Texas, undoubtedly at the initiative of Professor Wm Roger Louis, whose Kerr Chair of English History and Culture at the University of Texas was one of the two principal sponsors (along with the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library), although the president and staff of the hyper-rich Pennzoil Company and sundry U of T ...

Cosmic!

Tim Radford: Yuri and the Astronauts, 5 March 1998

Korolev: How One Man Masterminded the Soviet Drive to Beat America to the Moon 
by James Harford.
Wiley, 392 pp., £24.95, June 1997, 0 471 14853 9
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Countdown: A History of Space Flight 
by T.A. Heppenheimer.
Wiley, 398 pp., £24.95, June 1997, 0 471 14439 8
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Something New under the Sun: Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age 
by Helen Gavaghan.
Copernicus, 300 pp., £15, December 1997, 0 387 94914 3
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Space and the American Imagination 
by Howard McCurdy.
Smithsonian, 294 pp., £19.95, November 1997, 1 56098 764 2
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... hair, creased trousers and clean white shirts who carried slide rules and said things like ‘Roger, Capcom, we copy’. They did it on behalf of a generation which wore flared denims or kaftans and smoked joints and said things like ‘Cosmic!’ and when particularly impressed: ‘Far out!’ Think of Voyager now, out of the plane of the planets ...

Sunny Days

Michael Howard, 11 February 1993

Never Again: Britain 1945-51 
by Peter Hennessy.
Cape, 544 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 224 02768 9
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Churchill on the Home Front 1900-1955 
by Paul Addison.
Cape, 493 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 224 01428 5
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... Plowden, Robert Hall, Edward Bridges, Alec Cairncross, Edward Hall-Patch, Richard Hopkins and Roger Makins, to name only a few of the ‘mandarins’ who served the Labour Government so loyally. Therein lay the problem, however. They did what their Labour masters wanted, and did it very well. Nationalisation apart (and few of them objected to the ...

Public Works

David Norbrook, 5 June 1986

The Faber Book of Political Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 481 pp., £17.50, May 1986, 0 571 13947 7
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... bleak as he suggests. Paulin finds room for two such poets, Linton Kwesi Johnson and John Cooper Clarke, though I might not have echoed his choice from the latter: the 82 uses of ‘fucking’ in 50 lines would perhaps be more effective in performance than on the printed page. One of the main difficulties for theorists of an organic English society has been ...

Shapeshifter

Ian Penman: Elvis looks for meaning, 25 September 2014

Elvis Has Left the Building: The Day the King Died 
by Dylan Jones.
Duckworth, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7156 4856 8
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Elvis Presley: A Southern Life 
by Joel Williamson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 19 986317 4
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... staged act of seduction: the body does brazen, while the face remains convincingly bashful. Pamela Clarke Keogh’s Elvis: The Man. The Life. The Legend (2004) is mostly what you’d expect from an official biography (‘written with the assistance of Elvis Presley Enterprises’): a jaunty soft-pedal, wisps of sad cloud against lovely Hawaiian skies ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... not have to have mental problems to make false confessions, or be a drug addict. Or even be Irish. Roger Cooper confessed to being a British spy in Teheran after an interrogation during which he was threatened and beaten. In the same way that Armstrong invented details about the IRA to satisfy his captors, Cooper invented a spy-ring. To populate it, he ...

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