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Talking about Northern Ireland

Tom Wilson, 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 struggle for national independence ...

Frank Acknowledgments

J.J. Lee, 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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... Tom Wilson’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 for constructive debate: this is one of those rare books about a tragic problem that one wishes were longer ...

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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... 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, this use throughout of ...

The Road to West Egg

Thomas Powers, 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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... 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 what you might expect ...

A Call to the Unionists

Garret FitzGerald, 12 March 1992

... Tom Wilson’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 these matters. There are, however, some points in his review upon which I should like to comment. First, as to Sunningdale ...

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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... on bass, but the first thing we hear is the lugubriously reassuring voice of the producer, Tom Wilson, 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 ‘My Girl’ and later as ‘Worse than Money’; and ...

Pink and Bare

Bee Wilson: Nicole Kidman, 8 February 2007

Nicole Kidman 
by David Thomson.
Bloomsbury, 311 pp., £18.99, September 2006, 0 7475 7710 2
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... a far more powerful actor than Kidman, whose most visible achievement to date had been marrying Tom Cruise and starring alongside him in two turkeys, Days of Thunder (1990), a shallow stock car racing drama, and Far and Away (1992), a risible Oirish romance, on which Thomson is too kind to pass judgment, except to say that ‘there are films made for no ...

Diary

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

... 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 shock claim, greeted by prolonged and fervent ...

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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... 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 going to be a lawyer. Each has sense and sensibility but in ...

Under Witchwood

Adam Thorpe, 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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... 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 an admiring sigh, a fatal taunt or a proud declaration ...

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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... 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 think Hattersley is a particularly nice man, we know he will ...

Diary

Wilson Firth: A Psychiatrist’s Story, 2 September 2004

... At the time I believed I had been inspired by such postwar pioneers as Maxwell Jones and Tom Main, who had made asylums more egalitarian and democratic. Now I wonder if I just wanted to work in a Victorian asylum before they were all closed down. The Towers was a red-brick, three-storey structure built around a number of gloomy courtyards, its ...

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 solitary confinement of bereaved blindness. It’s played out with Wilson’s customary geometric neatness of design ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 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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... 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 Wilson, Hanson came ...

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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... 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 such ...

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