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Uncle Vester’s Nephew

Graham Coster, 27 February 1992

Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession 
by Greil Marcus.
Viking, 256 pp., £17.99, February 1992, 0 670 83846 2
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Rythm Oil: A Journey through the Music of the American South 
by Stanley Booth.
Cape, 254 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 224 02779 4
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... a half since he was around – generations earlier than other rock’n’roll deaths like Brian Jones or Janis Joplin. Greil Marcus does not seem to have met Uncle Vester. Indeed, on page 71 of his new book he admits that he has never even been inside Graceland. (‘There is a good deal in this book I cannot explain,’ he wisely concedes.) But he has come ...

Short Cuts

Norman Dombey: False Intelligence, 19 February 2004

... them as trucks bought from Marconi for filling balloons with hydrogen. David Kelly and Brian Jones were not the only ones to have doubts about the dossier: similar doubts were expressed by nuclear experts. We shall see what the Butler committee finds. Where were the bogus stories about Iraq’s supposed nuclear programme coming from? In the case of the ...

Hong Pong

Thomas Jones: John Lanchester, 25 July 2002

Fragrant Harbour 
by John Lanchester.
Faber, 299 pp., £16.99, July 2002, 0 571 20176 8
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... as well as pretending to be a employee of the Hong Kong Bank (to be spared incarceration in Stanley internment camp) and making clandestine roof-top rendezvous in the middle of the night. The minor acts of heroism he performs are realistically modest: he’s an intermediary, a messenger, not a major player; but we get an impression of the larger picture ...

Late Developer

Paul Foot, 22 February 1990

Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... about it. When he complained to the general secretary of the telephone engineers’ union, Brian Stanley, Stanley said he thought his own phone was tapped too – by his own members. Jack Jones and Hugh Scanlon, the ‘terrible twins’ of the Trade Unions in the period which toppled the ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones, 4 April 1985

The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... Yearbook, a periodical which Wharton edited for a while, under the authority of the titanic Sir Stanley Rous, President of the Football Association. Regular readers of the ‘Peter Simple’ column will have recognised in this account many pointers to the sources of the fictional characters (if such they be) who people it. Sir ...

Save it for HBO

Jenny Diski: Stanley Fish and ‘The Fugitive’, 17 March 2011

The Fugitive in Flight: Faith, Liberalism and Law in a Classic TV Show 
by Stanley Fish.
Pennsylvania, 152 pp., £16.50, November 2010, 978 0 8122 4277 5
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... Fandom can tempt intellectuals to take uncharacteristic risks with their primary sources. Even Stanley Fish, who as the author of Is There a Text In This Class? knows better than anyone how important the division of insider and outsider is for keeping amateurs at bay. In 1993, Fish-the-fan, enamoured of the American television series The Fugitive, joined ...

Find the Method

Timothy Shenk: Loyalty to Marx, 29 June 2017

Karl Marx: Greatness and Illusion 
by Gareth Stedman Jones.
Penguin, 768 pp., £14.99, May 2017, 978 0 14 102480 6
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... seize control of their world. They would be history’s masters, not its victims. Gareth Stedman Jones came across Sartre’s writings on Marxism when he was about the same age Sartre had been when he first read Marx. A Francophile in his adolescence, Stedman Jones had worked in Paris for Agence France-Presse before ...

Favoured Irregulars

Andy Beckett: The Paras, 24 January 2019

Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper 
by Helen Parr.
Allen Lane, 382 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 241 28894 8
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... the first units of the task force. Its commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones. The son of a rich American and a Welsh nurse, Jones had been educated at Eton, where he had ‘spent a lot of time alone’, Parr writes, ‘reading war books and developing strongly held notions of valour’. In 1982 he ...

Keep the baby safe

Stephen Sedley: Corrupt and Deprave, 10 March 2022

A Matter of Obscenity: The Politics of Censorship in Modern England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Princeton, 320 pp., £28, September 2021, 978 0 691 19798 2
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... Everyone​  knows that Mervyn Griffith-Jones QC asked an Old Bailey jury in 1960 whether Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a book they would want their wives or servants to read. The jury – which included three women – is said to have laughed. Its acquittal of Penguin on a charge of violating the newly minted Obscene Publications Act 1959 is widely regarded as a turning point in the centuries-long persecution of literature and philosophy in the name of morality ...

Journeys across Blankness

Jonathan Parry: Mapping the Middle East, 19 October 2017

Dislocating the Orient: British Maps and the Making of the Middle East, 1854-1921 
by Daniel Foliard.
Chicago, 336 pp., £45, April 2017, 978 0 226 45133 6
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... tour of the Holy Land, at a cost way beyond the means of any young teacher. Also in 1856, A.P. Stanley published a thoughtful study, Sinai and Palestine in Connection with Their History, making him the natural choice to accompany the Prince of Wales on his educational tour of Palestine in 1862. When the Palestine Exploration Fund was established in 1865 to ...

At the Imperial War Museum

Peter Campbell: Agitprop, 3 January 2002

... Sargent Room. At the moment it contains three big World War One pictures: Sargent’s own Gassed, Stanley Spencer’s picture of wounded men on stretchers in Mesopotamia and Nevinson’s of troops crossing a desolate, shell-pocked battlefield. To the right of the entrance are galleries with pictures from World War Two: Eric Ravilious’s paintings of empty ...

From Papa in Heaven

Russell Davies, 3 September 1981

Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961 
edited by Carlos Baker.
Granada, 948 pp., £15, April 1981, 0 246 11576 9
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... a character called Steve Ketehell who I guess he thinks fought Jack Johnson, but we know that was Stanley Ketchell, if not Ketchel, don’t we Pos? The poor sap was knocked out by Johnson and murdered in 1910 before I had the chance to teach him to see it coming. We have some swell fights up here. Guys who god knows how they got in here (pardon the ...

Stupid Questions

Laleh Khalili: Battlefield to Boardroom, 24 February 2022

Risk: A User’s Guide 
by Stanley McChrystal and Anna Butrico.
Penguin, 343 pp., £20, October 2021, 978 0 241 48192 9
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... Arguably the most successful current practitioner of the genre is the retired four-star general Stanley McChrystal, who has never been shy about using his own achievements to show how a leader gets things done.McChrystal, who comes from a military family, attended West Point in the 1970s, where he was by all accounts a troublemaker and a roisterer. In ...

Like Cutting a Cow

Adam Kuper: Ritual killings in southern Africa, 6 July 2006

Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho: The Anatomy of a Moral Crisis 
by Colin Murray and Peter Sanders.
Edinburgh, 493 pp., £50, May 2006, 0 7486 2284 5
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... lock themselves in after sunset.’ The administration recruited a Cambridge anthropologist, G.I. Jones, to conduct an official enquiry. (‘Sherlock Jones Fights Voodoo’, the Daily Mail reported.) He arrived in Basutoland shortly before the execution of Bereng and Gabashane, and visited the two men in prison. He then ...


Peter Campbell, 18 March 1982

The Pre-Raphaelites 
by Christopher Wood.
Weidenfeld, 160 pp., £18, October 1981, 0 297 78007 7
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The Diary of Ford Madox Brown 
edited by Virginia Surtees.
Yale, 237 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 300 02743 5
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Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1981, 0 09 463740 7
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... first the Pre-Raphaelites were able to rouse both anger and admiration; a Soho sex shop with Burne-Jones posters as its sole window decoration suggests that whatever it was about their work that made people uneasy still tells. Pre-Raphaelite pictures can be memorable even when they are unlikeable: indeed, are sometimes most memorable when most ...

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