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27 February 1992
All in a Life 
by Garret FitzGerald.
Macmillan, 674 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 333 47034 6
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... It has often been said that the Irish tragedy can be ended only by political means. In this political autobiography, Dr Garret FitzGerald gives a fascinating account of his own attempts to contribute to this end. It was a role for which he seemed better-equipped than any other party leader in the Republic. His political lineage as a nationalist was impeccable: both his parents had been engaged in the ...
10 January 1991
Ulster: Conflict and Consent 
by Tom Wilson.
Blackwell, 330 pp., £9.95, June 1989, 0 631 17006 5
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Biting at the grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair 
by Padraig O’Malley.
Blackstaff, 330 pp., £9.95, October 1990, 0 85640 453 5
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Politics in the Streets: The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland 
by Bob Purdie.
Blackstaff, 286 pp., £9.95, September 1990, 0 85640 437 3
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... TomWilson’s Ulster counts among the handful of truly distinguished analyses of the Ulster question. However many reservations a Nationalist may have about his assumptions, his text offers an admirable basis ...
4 July 2013
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... Preposterous dreams can seem reasonable when you’re young. ‘I want to be one of the greatest writers who have ever lived,’ Scott Fitzgerald said to his friend Edmund Wilson when they were just out of college, ‘don’t you?’ Wilson was the son of a lawyer, a bit chilly, a prodigious reader steeped in Plato and Dante. He thought Fitzgerald’s remark foolish – just ...

A Call to the Unionists

Garret FitzGerald

12 March 1992
... TomWilson’s insight as a moderate Unionist into the Northern Ireland tragedy and his critique of my involvement with these events offers useful balance to my – inevitably – somewhat different position on ...

Dark Tom

Christopher Ricks

1 December 1983
Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley 1933-1980 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Secker, 323 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 436 28852 4
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Rules of the Game: Sir Oswald and Lady Cynthia Mosley 1896-1933 
by Nicholas Mosley.
Fontana, 274 pp., £2.50, October 1983, 0 00 636644 9
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... enterprise. Both are endemic in the simplest, most recurring, matter of all: how to refer to the man. Rules of the Game spoke of him well nigh throughout by the name by which his friends knew him: Tom. Chapter One was called ‘Tom’; its first words were ‘My father Oswald Mosley’, whereupon the naming by relationship and by the name Oswald Mosley fell away. It had a disconcerting effect ...

That Wild Mercury Sound

Charles Nicholl: Dylan’s Decade

1 December 2016
The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-66 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £60, November 2015
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... in a relaxed acoustic ambience, with Dylan easing into ‘Love Minus Zero’, accompanied by John Sebastian on bass, but the first thing we hear is the lugubriously reassuring voice of the producer, TomWilson, announcing ‘“Dime Store” – Take 1’. This is one of a number of unfamiliar early titles, for these are songs still in the making. Thus ‘She Belongs to Me’ is first slated as ...

A House and its Heads

Christopher Ricks

7 August 1980
Setting the World on Fire 
by Angus Wilson.
Secker, 296 pp., £6.50, July 1980, 9780436576041
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... An ambitious novel about ambition and ambitions, Setting the World on Fire is in two minds. It embodies the minds in two brothers, Piers Mosson and Tom Mosson: the one with his head in the clouds, fated to become a red-carpet knight of the theatre, sure of his direction and of his directing; the other, with his feet on the ground, ready, steady, and ...
10 September 1992
Power of the Witch: A Witch’s Guide to her Craft 
by Laurie Cabot, with Tom​ Cowan.
Arkana/Penguin, 294 pp., June 1992, 0 14 019368 5
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Malefice 
by Leslie Wilson.
Picador, 168 pp., £15.99, August 1992, 0 330 32427 6
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... the horse’s mouth, as it were: Power of the Witch is written by a cloaked and pentangled inhabitant of Salem, keen to add her faith to the long list of politically correct minority causes. Leslie Wilson’s second novel, Malefice, uses historical imagination in plenty and keeps a skilful balance between propaganda and reality. The word ‘witch’ quivers throughout with its instabilities: a spit or ...

1966 and all that

Michael Stewart

20 December 1984
The Castle Diaries. Vol. II: 1964-70 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 848 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 297 78374 2
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... and sometimes at No 11 Downing Street, at one of which ‘we agreed about a number of things, notably on our contempt for Jim Callaghan.’ There is Roy Hattersley, ‘a Jenkins man’, whom Harold Wilson would not appoint as a Minister of State in 1969 ‘because he is said to have made three “disloyal” remarks recently. Dick [Crossman] and I agree this is absurd because, although we don’t ...

Not a desire to have him, but to be like him

Slavoj Žižek: Highsmith is the One

21 August 2003
Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith 
by Andrew Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 534 pp., £25, June 2003, 0 7475 6314 4
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... designates a sacred territory: she is the One whose place among writers is that which Spinoza held for Gilles Deleuze (a ‘Christ among philosophers’). I learned a lot about her from Andrew Wilson’s biography, a book which strikes the right balance between empathy and critical distance. Wilson’s interpretations of her work, however, are often vapid. Can one really take seriously remarks ...
10 November 1994
Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... swashbuckling’ entrepreneurs, especially ones with Northern accents. When she first met James Hanson, his gentle Yorkshire lilt fascinated her almost as much as his millions. She assumed, as Harold Wilson had several years previously, that Hanson was typical of the self-made man, the hard-working puritan who started at the bottom and worked twenty hours a day until he achieved fame and fortune. Like ...

Dark Places

John Sutherland

18 November 1982
Wise Virgin 
by A.N. Wilson.
Secker, 186 pp., £7.50, October 1982, 0 436 57608 2
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The London Embassy 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 241 10872 1
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The frog who dared to croak 
by Richard Sennett.
Faber, 182 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11989 1
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Vintage Stuff 
by Tom​ Sharpe.
Secker, 220 pp., £7.50, November 1982, 0 436 45810 1
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Rogue Justice 
by Geoffrey Household.
Joseph, 174 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 7181 2178 3
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... With Wise Virgin, A.N. Wilson continues his bleak investigation of trauma. The Healing Art (his most acclaimed novel so far) scrutinised human sensibility under the sentence of terminal cancer. Wise Virgin takes the life term and ...
4 June 1987
Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson​ and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... to the left-wing government of Mario Soares in Portugal. The IMF and the multinational corporations it represented were not the only enemies of the elected government. Like Joe Haines, Harold Wilson’s adviser in the first part of the 1974-1979 Labour Government, Bernard Donoughue finds plenty of important people lurking in the background to defend the existing order from any levelling which ...

Reader, he married her

Christopher Hitchens

10 May 1990
Tom​ Driberg: His Life and Indiscretions 
by Francis Wheen.
Chatto, 452 pp., £18, May 1990, 0 7011 3143 8
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... When Tom Driberg died in August 1976, the Times ran an obituary which, as people used to say, broke with convention. The deceased, bleated the former Thunderer, had been: ‘A journalist, an intellectual, a ...

Diary

Paul Foot: The Impotence of Alan Clark

5 August 1993
... century has been that they have been at the mercy of other people’s power; that the combined influence of hostile bankers, businessmen, judges and media moguls ‘blew them off course’, as Harold Wilson put it. When the Tories are in office, all those bankers and businessmen and judges are their friends. There’s no need or inclination to blow them off course. Then suddenly comes Norman Lamont’s ...

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