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Westminster’s Irishman

Paul Smith, 7 April 1994

The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 659 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 241 12858 7
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The Parnell Split 1890-91 
by Frank Callanan.
Cork, 327 pp., £35, November 1992, 0 902561 63 4
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... Sometimes he was Smith, sometimes he was Stewart, and sometimes he was Preston, but the most telling of the aliases Charles Stewart Parnell used to conduct the liaison with Mrs O’shea that eventually destroyed him was undoubtedly ‘Mr Fox’. Revealed by the divorce proceedings of November 1890, which, in wrecking his alliance with Gladstonian Liberalism, cost him his leadership of the Irish Parliamentary party, it rebounded savagely on him in the last, desperate convulsions of his career, as he struggled in a punishing series of by-elections to recover the dominance of the Irish national cause which had been his unchallenged possession for over a decade ...


Michael Stewart: Staggeringly Complacent, 6 June 1985

... force whose accountability to anyone was difficult to discern. This unease is enhanced when a Home Secretary as relatively hard-line as Leon Brittan is shouted down, as he was recently at the annual conference of the Police Federation; and when one’s own and one’s friends’ children come back from perfectly peaceful demonstrations in Grosvenor Square ...

Here we go again

Rory Stewart: The Libyan Intervention, 31 March 2011

... Gaddafi in the first place’). There are the arguments in favour based on the scale – brought home in continual news footage – of human suffering, which make the point that inaction is leading to more deaths: that we have a right and a duty to prevent the killing, a moral obligation to the Libyan people. Thus, three arguments against action. Four fears ...

My Old, Sweet, Darling Mob

Iain Sinclair: Michael Moorcock, 30 November 2000

King of the City 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 421 pp., £9.99, May 2000, 0 684 86140 2
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Mother London 
by Michael Moorcock.
Scribner, 496 pp., £6.99, May 2000, 0 684 86141 0
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... a scarfed and hatted Fagin surrounded by smooth-cheeked, bare-headed acolytes – Tony White, Stewart Home, Steve Aylett, Steve Beard, China Miéville. What you are getting is a frame from Moorcock’s comic strip, The Metatemporal Detective, showing a traditional ‘hell’s kitchen’ where ‘Old Man Smith’, the piratical ruler of the ...

Favourite Subjects

J.I.M. Stewart, 17 September 1981

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 
edited by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien.
Allen and Unwin, 463 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 04 826005 3
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Tolkien and the Silmarils 
by Randel Helms.
Thames and Hudson, 104 pp., £5.50, September 1981, 0 500 01264 4
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... the somewhat narrow field of comparative philology. This cardinal fact about him comes forcibly home in a letter to his son Christopher dated 21 February 1958. Christopher had read a paper to a college society on the heroes of Northern legend as seen in different fashion by Germanic poets and Roman writers. His father, having heard the paper, went straight ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 April 1984

Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape 1849-1928 
by Ann Thwaite.
Secker, 567 pp., £15, April 1984, 0 436 52146 6
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... definite: Gosse wrote a long reply to this letter on 19 January 1870, three years after he left home to take up his employment in the Museum. Significantly, perhaps, the reply has a good deal to say about money, since Gosse is still dependent on his father for anything beyond necessities. This has to be borne in mind when we move forward three years further ...

The Miners’ Strike

Michael Stewart, 6 September 1984

... not normally present in industrial disputes. There is the daily violence – brought into every home by television – on the picket-lines, where hordes of tough young miners and uniformed policemen sway and grapple in physical combat like Medieval armies. There is the uneasiness about the accountability of the Police. There are the guerrilla raids at ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... and in March 1964, and again in June, pressed the Conservative prime minister, Alec Douglas-Home, to advise President Johnson against extending the war into the North. Following his election victory in October that year, Wilson was advised by the Foreign Office that, with regard to Vietnam, ‘ministers should agree to support the United States in this ...


James Buchan, 14 December 1995

The Life of Adam Smith 
by Ian Simpson Ross.
Oxford, 495 pp., £25, October 1995, 0 19 828821 2
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... eluded Hume and Ferguson and the other Scots literati. He may have thought as he rode north to his home town, Kirkcaldy in Fife, in August 1746, that he had made a mistake. Let us look at Smith’s sentence a little more closely. In it there are two quantities, £500 and 800 men, which are brought into a sort of relation in the classic fashion of economics: a ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities, 11 September 2003

Searching for John Ford: A Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... him were actors in their blood. Eisenhower excelled in the part of the sturdy veteran who’d come home to tidy the porch, and Nixon was every part in The Godfather rolled into one. But it took Ronald Reagan to drive the matter past the point of absurdity: president of the Screen Actors’ Guild as well as star of Bedtime for Bonzo. The person who today seems ...

Got to go make that dollar

Alex Abramovich: Otis Redding, 3 January 2019

Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life 
by Jonathan Gould.
Crown, 544 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 307 45395 2
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... vary), he drove Jenkins to Memphis to record at Stax and persuaded the studio’s founder, Jim Stewart, to let him sing a few songs too. ‘The first track they attempted was the latest of Otis’s Little Richard impersonations,’ Gould writes. ‘With Steve Cropper playing rhythm and Johnny Jenkins on lead, the band struck an uneasy balance between ...


J.I.M. Stewart, 5 June 1986

The Unknown Conan Doyle: Letters to the Press 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 377 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 436 13303 2
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... was murdered we should have executed two submarine captains.’ There is much of this; and on the Home Front, too, severities are recommended. ‘Shirkers’ must be rounded up and publicly humiliated. When the war is over, come the ‘profiteers’. There is a letter to the Times inquiring closely into the price of rhubarb and cabbages. ‘A few clean-run ...

Making them think

J.I.M. Stewart, 18 September 1986

G.K. Chesterton 
by Michael Ffinch.
Weidenfeld, 369 pp., £16, June 1986, 0 297 78858 2
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... a Greek statue washed up by chance on his shores’, he is scarcely fulfilling the purpose of the Home University Library. But consider the crocodile! If you wanted to dissuade a man from drinking his tenth whisky, you would slap him on the back and say, ‘Be a man.’ No one who wished to dissuade a crocodile from eating his tenth explorer would slap it on ...

Who’s that out there?

Ian Stewart, 14 May 1992

The Mind’s Sky 
by Timothy Ferris.
Bantam, 281 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 593 02644 6
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... stimulating and imaginative book. Despite my qualms about the final chapter, it really does drive home that what you fondly think of as being outside yourself resides entirely inside your own head. This is a paradox of the human condition, from which we can never free ourselves. But despite the persuasive arguments so cleverly and attractively marshalled in ...

Ethnic Cleansers

Stephen Smith, 8 October 1992

Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and its Aftermath 
by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim.
Viking, 430 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 670 83233 2
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Tiger Balm: Travels in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia 
by Lucretia Stewart.
Chatto, 261 pp., £10.99, June 1992, 0 7011 3892 0
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... non-combatants would be out at the market at that time of day, leaving only the Viet Cong at home. The question of whether an order was given to kill unarmed villagers remains unresolved; several of Medina’s men including Calley claim to have heard one but Medina has denied the allegation. The brute methodology of the ‘body count’, by which the ...

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