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Histories of Australia

Stuart Macintyre

28 September 1989
The Oxford History of Autralia. Vol III: 1860-1900 
by Beverley Kingston.
Oxford, 368 pp., £22.50, July 1989, 0 19 554611 3
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The Road from Coorain: An Australian Memoir 
by Jill Ker Conway.
Heinemann, 238 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 434 14244 1
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A Secret Country 
by John Pilger.
Cape, 286 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 224 02600 3
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Convict Workers: Reinterpreting Australia’s Past 
edited by Stephen Nicholas.
Cambridge, 246 pp., $45, June 1989, 0 521 36126 5
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... An older generation of my compatriots would regard an Oxford history of Australia as an oxymoron. Quite early in the preparation of my own volume in the series of that name, I became interested in Bill Somerville, a trade-unionist who for nearly forty years served as the workers’ representative on the industrial tribunal of Western Australia. A skilled craftsman (his union, the Amalgamated Society ...

The First Protest

Stephen​ Frears

24 May 2018
... the world’s great directors telegrammed their support and I turned up to make a film of all this drama. I was possibly the only Englishman there. I remember interviewing the American director Nicholas Ray in his small hotel room – he began the interview by sweeping his dressing table clear of all his pill bottles – and I remember a meeting in a cinema in Paris. Renoir was there, bald-headed ...

Thatcherschaft

Nicholas​ Spice

1 October 1987
The Child in Time 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 220 pp., £10.95, September 1987, 9780224024990
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The Book and the Brotherhood 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 601 pp., £11.95, September 1987, 0 7011 3251 5
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... novel a touch of nightmare, a closed-in atmosphere within which the author’s humane values can the more effectively be felt to struggle for breath. The author’s humane values are looked after by Stephen Lewis, celebrated children’s book writer and member of the Parmenter Sub-Committee on Reading and Writing, one of 14 committees detailed to report back to the Official Commission on Childcare ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday 

27 May 1993
... stature. There was one solace: the Independent on Sunday would be run by clear-eyed, yet idealistic journalists; there wouldn’t be a proprietor pulling the strings. I might have been less naive if Nicholas Garland’s story of the muddle-and-fudge launch of the daily Independent, in his book Not Many Dead, had then been available. I might have thought differently, too, if I’d known that the ...

Let’s to billiards

Stephen​ Walsh: Constant Lambert

22 January 2015
Constant Lambert: Beyond the Rio Grande 
by Stephen​ Lloyd.
Boydell, 584 pp., £45, March 2014, 978 1 84383 898 2
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... Gluepot, as it was known), keeping its regulars up till dawn with his brilliant conversation. There was a lot more to him than one-liners and limericks; and if one thing emerges from the thickets of Stephen Lloyd’s excessively long biography, it is that Lambert had one of the finest musical minds of his generation and a critical faculty second to almost none. During his lifetime, you would have come ...

Mailer’s Muddy Friend

Stephen​ Ambrose

1 September 1988
Citizen Cohn 
by Nicholas​ von Hoffman.
Harrap, 483 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 245 54605 7
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... of the rich and famous. Cohn knew, dealt with, worked for, went to parties with and generally hobnobbed with more celebrities than any other American. He did favours for them all, and they for him. Nicholas von Hoffman, a liberal news reporter who had been appalled by the young Roy Cohn who wreaked such havoc as Senator Joe McCarthy’s aide, has fallen into Cohn’s web, become entranced by him, and ...

Diary

Stephen​ Smith: What’s become of Barings?

23 March 1995
... Boarding the plane for South-East Asia, I felt like Chicken Little, waiting for the sky to fall. The markets were re-opening after the weekend when the world first heard the name of Nicholas Leeson, the man who broke the bank in Singapore. It’s hard to remember how that dawn felt – now that we have reassured ourselves at the building society, peeped with relief beneath the mattress ...
16 April 1998
Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature 
by Linda Lear.
Allen Lane, 634 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 7139 9236 0
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... but one that allowed her to concentrate on work and put in long hours, since so many depended on what she published. Carson began writing very early. At the age of ten she wrote war stories for St Nicholas, the best children’s magazine of its day; later, she won a scholarship to read English at Pennsylvania College for Women. There, however, she switched to science, under the influence of a brilliant ...
28 September 1989
The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas​ Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... and the revisionist ‘dogs’ of Moscow, Albania, Cuba and – above all – China as it has backslidden under Deng Xiaoping. The Senderistas own no allies, hold dialogue with no one. According to Nicholas Shakespeare, they accept no funds from abroad and their weapons of choice are stolen guns and hand-made beer-can bombs hurled from slings made of llama hair. Theirs will be one revolution without the ...

Per Ardua

Paul Foot

8 February 1996
In the Public Interest 
by Gerald James.
Little, Brown, 339 pp., £18.99, December 1995, 0 316 87719 0
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... Thatcher, to discuss their contracts and the chances for more of them. He had met everyone he needed to know. He had met Denis Thatcher and Mark at an arms fair. He had several times come across Stephen Tipping, Mark’s ambitious and thrusting partner in the defence business. No establishment door was shut to him. Naturally, James was very right-wing. He’d been a disciple, he still boasts, of ...

Not Making it

Stephen​ Fender

24 October 1991
The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and how it changed America 
by Nicholas​ Lemann.
Macmillan, 410 pp., £20, August 1991, 0 333 56584 3
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... at home, the migrants were also attracted by opportunities far away. They wanted to better themselves, to extend their possibilities, and they were willing to uproot themselves in order to do so. Nicholas Lemann’s judicious, well-written study concentrates on the poor blacks of Clarksdale, Mississippi, who moved to Chicago. The invention and production of cotton-picking machines had begun to ...
30 October 1997
Dust-bowl Migrants in the American Imagination 
by Charles Shindo.
Kansas, 252 pp., £22.50, January 1997, 0 7006 0810 9
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In the Country of Country 
by Nicholas​ Dawidoff.
Faber, 365 pp., £12.99, June 1997, 0 571 19174 6
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... songs about orphans, outlaws, disappointed love, homes left behind and nostalgically remembered – not to mention (though often forgotten) songs of hope and faith expressed in religious terms. Nicholas Dawidoff’s richly descriptive account of country music, built around well-researched biographies of its practitioners, shows how varied the form was, from the start, in theme, style and ...

Put it in your suitcase

Nicholas​ Penny: Sotheby’s

18 March 1999
Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class 
by Robert Lacey.
Little, Brown, 354 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 316 64447 1
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Sotheby’s: Inside Story 
by Peter Watson.
Bloomsbury, 325 pp., £7.99, May 1998, 0 7475 3808 5
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... this simple tale. It transpires that during the Sixties, in order to retain the flow of good Impressionist and Post-Impressionist pictures, Wilson relied on advance payments to the Parisian dealers Stephen Higgons and his wife, who obtained paintings from other dealers and runners who wanted immediate payment. The full extent of the Higgons account was concealed from the firm’s financial director ...

White Lie Number Ten

Nicholas​ Jose: Australia’s aboriginal sovereignty

19 February 1998
Race Matters: Indigenous Australians and ‘Our’ Society 
edited by Gillian Cowlishaw and Barry Morris.
Aboriginal Studies Press, 295 pp., AUS $29.95, March 1998, 0 85575 294 7
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Aboriginal Sovereignty: Reflections on Race, State and Nation 
by Henry Reynolds.
Allen and Unwin, 221 pp., AUS $17.95, July 1996, 1 86373 969 6
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... and civilising the blacks. Such proposals arose from the reforming ideals that Buxton shared with the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Lord Glenelg, and the Colonial Under-Secretary James Stephen (Virginia Woolf’s grandfather), with his Clapham Sect faith in the brotherhood of man. In the words of the historian Manning Clark, Stephen had come to the conclusion that ‘convicts and their ...

Straw Ghosts

Nicholas​ Humphrey

2 October 1980
This house is haunted: An Investigation of the Enfield Poltergeist 
by Guy Lyon Playfair.
Souvenir, 288 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 285 62443 1
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Science and the Supernatural 
by John Taylor.
Temple Smith, 180 pp., £7.50, June 1980, 0 85117 191 5
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... for only a moment before he decides that what Janet actually means is that she and her sister are indirectly responsible because it is they who have upset the poltergeist. When it appears that Stephen North, one of the child-star spoon-benders, always gets his best results just as Mrs North interrupts the experimental session by bringing in the tea, Professor John Hasted concludes that Stephen is ...

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