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John Sutherland

21 January 1982
Brave Old World 
by Philippe Curval, translated by Steve Cox.
Allison and Busby, 262 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85031 407 0
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The Insider 
by Christopher Evans.
Faber, 215 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 571 11774 0
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by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 185 pp., £6.95, November 1981, 0 85031 410 0
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From the Heat of the Day 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 159 pp., £6.50, October 1979, 0 85031 325 2
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One Generation 
by Roy Heath.
Allison and Busby, 202 pp., £2.50, March 1981, 9780850312546
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by Nuruddin Farah.
Allison and Busby, 250 pp., £7.95, November 1981, 0 85031 408 9
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... a pessimistic dystopia. It is this dangerous facility that Raymond Williams refers to when he terms SF ‘liberated and promiscuous’. Its profundities are too painlessly arrived at. With Genetha, RoyHeath completes his Guyana trilogy following the fortunes of the Armstrong family to their dismal conclusion. The first volume, From the Heat of the Day, was set in the 1920s. Gladys married her ...


Susan Fromberg Schaeffer

12 July 1990
Shadows round the Moon 
by Roy Heath.
Collins, 254 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 00 215584 2
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... very nice,’ she said. ‘Of course, we are too old to enjoy it.’ I think of Mrs Singer, and not of the African woman whose stone baby was shattered, whenever I contemplate the achievement of RoyHeath’s eight novels. Heath, a Guyanese writer, has now produced a remarkable body of work yet is still unknown in America. He is virtually unknown in Britain, where he has lived and written for ...

Short is sharp

John Sutherland

3 February 1983
Firebird 2 
edited by T.J. Binding.
Penguin, 284 pp., £2.95, January 1983, 0 14 006337 4
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Bech is Back 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 195 pp., £6.95, January 1983, 0 233 97512 8
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The Pangs of Love 
by Jane Gardam.
Hamish Hamilton, 156 pp., £7.50, February 1983, 0 241 10942 6
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The Man Who Sold Prayers 
by Margaret Creal.
Dent, 198 pp., £7.95, January 1983, 9780460045926
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Happy as a Dead Cat 
by Jill Miller.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, January 1983, 9780704338982
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... is made seems to be that of multiple cross-section of work in progress. The editor has cut across age-group (the first author is 22, the last 70 plus) and national category (the West Indian writer RoyHeath is represented), and gathers into the volume the famous and the published-here-for-the-first-time. Subtitled ‘Writing Today’, the anthology presumably aims to give the smell of what’s ...
6 July 1989
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... British Army now decided that in order to prevent a sell-out of the imperial position in the overseas province by leftists (Guy Mollet/Harold Wilson) or weak-minded centrists (Pierre Pflimlin/Edward Heath), the military must ensure that the right sort of government came to power in the metropole. Operation Clockwork Orange was precisely this: an attempt to smear and undermine Labour leaders and Tory ...
7 November 2019
... faith in British-American partnership’, which even survived Eisenhower’s explicit rejection of a ‘special’ relationship, was understandable. Almost alone among recent prime ministers, Edward Heath never made the mistake of appearing to be America’s surrogate in Europe; he, at least, never fawned on the White House. Heath is the nearest thing This Blessed Plot has to a politician hero; apart ...


Ian Gilmour: Britain and Europe

10 December 1998
This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 333 57992 5
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... United States has given up treating Britain as an equal and has nearly always been anxious for us to join Europe and play our proper part there. Nevertheless, with the conspicuous exception of Ted Heath, most prime ministers have dithered between seeking to co-operate with Europe and accepting American domination, while inclining heavily towards the latter. Nobody is better qualified than Hugo Young ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens

8 December 1994
The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... a tough-minded and fluent union compensation agent named Arthur Scargill had made a bit of a name for himself. In union elections that were faintly premonitory of the coming confrontation with the Heath Government, he and a colleague named Owen Briscoe had swept the poll and begun to take over the district. After spending some quality time down the pit and taking the odd sounding at the club, I ...

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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... and then resolved to make him prime minister. Even Wilson’s enemies found it difficult to pin down precisely what it was they disliked about him. Looking back on the factionalism of the 1950s Roy Jenkins recalled that ‘one of the basic tenets of Gaitskellism was that Wilson was a tricky fellow.’ The Gaitskellites’ leading theorist, Anthony Crosland, struggling to convince a journalist ...

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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... culled for the new volume is drawn from Bevan, and is as good as the ‘poetry’ heard by someone in his speeches. ‘Lazy? Lazy?’ Bevan responded to a sneer about the laziness of his colleague Roy Jenkins: ‘How can a boy from Abersychan who acquired an accent like that be lazy?’ From Princess Margaret comes a comment on the moribundity of the London Season: ‘Every tart in London can get ...
28 November 1996
Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher 
by George Urban.
Tauris, 206 pp., £19.95, September 1996, 1 86064 084 2
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... disagreed with this regal dissent and invited Urban to listen to a debate in the House of Lords on Grenada, in which he was going to speak. In this debate, ‘Wayland Young (Lord Kennet) and Roy Jenkins (Lord Jenkins) were on particularly good form.’ According to Urban, Roy Jenkins announced that Reagan’s ‘grasp of his marbles sometimes seems to be precarious’, and Urban then quotes ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum

25 October 2018
Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... of fat, rich nations feeding each other goodies’. Barbara Castle, Michael Foot and Tony Benn led a powerful Labour campaign against the Common Market, in itself a pejorative term on the left. But Roy Jenkins and others on Labour’s centre-right emphasised reconciliation with former enemies, highlighting in particular the community of purpose with the German Social Democrats, and stressed the ...
8 May 1997
From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency: Historical Perspectives on People with Learning Disabilities 
edited by David Wright and Anne Digby.
Routledge, 238 pp., £45, October 1996, 9780415112154
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... eloquence of its own. ‘Idiots’ might thus stand as the definitive historical Other: the living dead whose minds are irrecoverable and unfathomable, those who, at most, briefly caper across the heath of history crying out ‘come not in here, nuncle,’ or who, as with George Austen, achieve a glimmer of reflected glory. Sister Jane left her novels: the mentally defective brother, boarded out ...


Peter Clarke: True or False?

16 August 1990
... 5. Rab Butler said: ‘Sir Anthony Eden is the best prime minister we have.’ 6. Harold Macmillan campaigned in the 1959 Election on the slogan: ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ 7. Edward Heath gave his word to ‘cut rising prices at a stroke’. 8. Shirley Williams joined Arthur Scargill on a mass picket at Grunwicks. 9. James Callaghan said: ‘Crisis? What crisis?’ 10. An experienced ...
20 December 1979
Final Term: The Labour Government 1974-76 
by Harold Wilson.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 322 pp., £8.95
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... that he, too, would have seized the political moment – the open French door – and continued to negotiate from within. Wilson claims in his book to have been thoroughly vindicated in rejecting the Heath terms but not the Common Market, and in his subsequent U-turn over the referendum. He quotes with great satisfaction an editorial from the Times which said that in the referendum he found the answer ...


David Marquand

20 September 1984
Politics and the Pursuit of Happiness: An Inquiry into the Involvement of Human Beings in the Politics of Industrial Society 
by Ghita Ionescu.
Longman, 248 pp., £16.50, September 1984, 0 582 29549 1
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... of insufficient competition, or inadequate investment, or lax monetary management, or deflationary fiscal policies, to be put right by the appropriate bag of economic tricks. Those who belong to what Roy Jenkins once called the ‘radical centre’ rightly reject the economism of their rivals. For them, the crisis is not only, or even mainly, economic, but political as well. Yet even the ‘radical ...

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