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Too Glorious for Words

Bernard Porter: Lawrence in Arabia, 3 April 2014

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East 
by Scott Anderson.
Atlantic, 592 pp., £25, March 2014, 978 1 78239 199 9
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... acting deliberately against the interests and wishes of his British imperial superiors, even – Scott Anderson suggests – to the point of treason. (When George V tried to decorate him after the war, he handed all the medals back on the spot.) He was also very much against European cultural imperialism, genuinely – so far as we can tell ...

Hush-Hush Boom-Boom

Charles Glass: Spymasters, 12 August 2021

The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War – A Tragedy in Three Acts 
by Scott Anderson.
Picador, 576 pp., £20, February, 978 1 5290 4247 4
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... successor agency, the CIA, away from the humdrum routine of intelligence-gathering towards action.Scott Anderson recounts the careers of four OSS agents whose underground war against the Axis turned into a crusade to ‘roll back’ communism in Eastern Europe and Asia. One was Frank Wisner, a corporate lawyer who enlisted to work in naval intelligence ...

The View from the Top

Sanjay Subrahmanyam: Upland Anarchists, 2 December 2010

The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland South-East Asia 
by James C. Scott.
Yale, 442 pp., £16.99, January 2011, 978 0 300 16917 1
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... different figures in the Western academy can claim the credit for this: Clifford Geertz, Benedict Anderson and James C. Scott. Geertz, one of whose many talents was for the writing of superbly perfidious book reviews, was the master of the catchy phrase: he gave us ‘theatre state’, ‘agricultural involution’ and ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel, 28 July 2011

... form has to begin there, however far it may then wander from him. Built around the work of Walter Scott, Lukács’s theory makes five principal claims. The classical form of the historical novel is an epic depicting a transformation of popular life through a set of representative human types whose lives are reshaped by sweeping social forces. Famous ...

Ecclefechan and the Stars

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... work on early Greek philosophy made an impact on Lawrence, Eliot, Pound and others); John Anderson, a Glasgow philosophy graduate of 1917 who emigrated to take up a Chair at Sydney University in 1927 and whose writings (fuelled, Davie argues, by the Scottish educational debate) are attracting increasing international attention; and Hugh ...


Christian Lorentzen: Homo Trumpiens, 3 November 2016

... one woman, who had paid to see Trump, wanted her $500 back. The loudest of the hecklers was Paul Anderson, a red-headed young man in sunglasses, shorts and a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN baseball cap. He was holding a TRUMP/PENCE sign with HILLARY IS A CRIMINAL written on the reverse. He was surrounded by television reporters, and over the weekend he would ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’, 6 August 2009

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 
directed by Tony Scott.
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... This is a heist movie, but the caper itself gets a little blurred, because the director, Tony Scott, is not very interested in the planning or execution of crime, only in the psychodrama of criminality, and its counterpointing with the travails of the good man, in this case Denzel Washington, caught up in a large-scale crisis. Around the two personalities ...

Bad Shepherd

Robert Crawford: James Hogg, 5 April 2001

The Collected Works of James Hogg. Vol. VIII: The ‘Spy’ 
edited by Gillian Hughes.
Edinburgh, 641 pp., £60, March 2000, 9780748613656
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... the man, with soul so dead,/Who never to himself hath said,/This is my own, my native land!’ Scott presented this as an exclamation, not a question. Scotland is Scotland’s greatest theme. Some of Hogg’s poems in the Spy, as Scottish poems like to do, trumpet a rather self-satisfied nationalism. Scottish writers are too fond of gazing at the ...

The Myth of 1940

Angus Calder, 16 October 1980

Collar the lot! How Britain Interned and Expelled its Wartime Refugees 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Quartet, 334 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2244 7
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A Bespattered Page? The Internment of ‘His Majesty’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens’ 
by Ronald Stent.
Deutsch, 282 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 233 97246 3
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... politician stands out as a villain in the Gillmans’ interesting series of revelations. Sir John Anderson, blamed over this and much else at the time, in fact fought hard to keep internment to a minimum (and no one denied that some people had to be ‘collared’). If Churchill was a hard-liner in the early summer of 1940, it was not many months before he ...


Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark, 5 August 1993

... of office is full of such ridiculous shifts in personal loyalties. When Clark first mentions Bruce Anderson, the corpulent former editorial executive on the Telegraph, he describes him as a ‘fat creep’. This assessment was not unrelated to something unflattering Anderson had written about Clark’s prospects. When he ...

All of Denmark was at his feet

John Sutherland, 12 May 1994

John Steinbeck: A Biography 
by Jay Parini.
Heinemann, 605 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 434 57492 9
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... that took a firm moral line and conveyed a message.’ Dyslexia is similarly indulged; ‘Like Scott Fitzgerald, his contemporary, Steinbeck could neither spell nor punctuate.’ When Steinbeck drops out of Stanford, Parini observes that ‘Like so many gifted writers – F. Scott Fitzgerald, W. H. Auden and Robert Frost ...

Out Hunting

Gary Younge: In Baltimore, 29 July 2021

We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption in an American City 
by Justin Fenton.
Faber, 335 pp., £14.99, February, 978 0 571 35661 4
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... officers found an unauthorised GPS tracker attached to the car of a drug dealer called Aaron Anderson. When they went to Anderson’s home, the door had been kicked in and the place ransacked. When they discovered that the tracker had not been issued by the police but was the personal property of a GTTF cop, John ...

The point of it all

Linda Colley, 1 September 1988

The Duel in European History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Oxford, 360 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 822566 0
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History, Classes and Nation-States: Selected Writings of Victor Kiernan 
edited by Harvey Kaye.
Blackwell, 284 pp., £27.50, June 1988, 0 7456 0424 2
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... fate of artist-victims like Lermontov and Pushkin, by the Gothic and acrobatic fantasies of Walter Scott and Anthony Hope, and by the ludicrous posturing of Sir Lucius O’Trigger. We do not think, because writers rarely tell us, of the thousands of mediocre casualties, the mutilation, bullying, trickery and waste. Even Kiernan, who has presumably no liking ...

In the Waiting-Room of History

Amit Chaudhuri: ‘First in Europe, then elsewhere’, 24 June 2004

Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
Princeton, 320 pp., £42.95, October 2000, 0 691 04908 4
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... scholars. Thus Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, India’s first major novelist, became the ‘Walter Scott of Bengal’. Both Scott and Chatterjee wrote historical novels, but when the comparison was first made, on the publication of Chatterjee’s first novel, Chatterjee claimed he’d never read ...

I hear, I see, I learn

Nicholas Spice, 4 November 1993

The Green Knight 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 472 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 7011 6030 6
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... have to contend with Lucas and Clement Graffe, Harvey Blacket, Bellamy James and his dog Anax, the Anderson women – Louise and her daughters Alethea (Aleph), Sophia (Sefton) and Moira (Moy) – Emil and Clive and the Adwardens. A reader alert to social differences will find such names far from neutral. An odour of class hangs about them. As emphatically as ...

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