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Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... he would take the bus six miles to our nearest town and return with a paper that augmented the Sunday Post – delivered to the door that morning by the village newsagent – and its claustrophobic worldview formed fifty years before in Presbyterian Dundee. Where the Observer’s wider and obviously more up-to-date perspective came from I had no idea; the ...

Born of the age we live in

John Lanchester, 6 December 1990

Stick it up your punter! The Rise and Fall of the ‘Sun’ 
by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 434 12624 1
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All played out: The True Story of Italia ’90 
by Pete Davies.
Heinemann, 471 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 434 17908 6
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Gazza! A Biography 
by Robin McGibbon.
Penguin, 204 pp., £3.99, October 1990, 9780140148688
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... paper – the biggest-selling daily in Britain during the Thirties – that had fallen on hard times. In 1961 the International Publishing Corporation had bought the loss-making Herald as part of a deal involving the acquisition of several lucrative magazine titles. Hugh Cudlipp, chairman of IPC, had given the unions a guarantee to keep the paper going for ...

Time for Several Whiskies

Ian Jack: BBC Propaganda, 30 August 2018

Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War 
by Edward Stourton.
Doubleday, 422 pp., £20, November 2017, 978 0 85752 332 7
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... influence of its first director general, Lord Reith, until 1938 the BBC broadcast nothing on Sunday mornings apart from a church service. The BBC was keen on music and drama. News was not its forte. For a decade after its foundation in 1922, it thought that news was best left to newspapers: the role of the radio news bulletin was to encourage people to ...

My Missus

John Sutherland, 13 May 1993

Popular Reading and Publishing in Britain, 1914-1950 
by Joseph McAleer.
Oxford, 284 pp., £35, December 1992, 0 19 820329 2
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American Star: A Love Story 
by Jackie Collins.
Heinemann, 568 pp., £14.99, March 1993, 0 434 14093 7
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... historical enquiry.’ The unknown public (those readers whose purchases today range from the Sunday Sport, through Guns and Ammo, Mills & Boon, to Asian Babes) are still Laplanders as far as their betters are concerned; nor has academic investigation gone much beyond Orwell’s bathysphere approach. McAleer’s book is one of the first of its kind to ...

They’re just not ready

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev Betrayed, 7 January 2010

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment 
by Stephen Kotkin, with Jan Gross.
Modern Library, 240 pp., $24, October 2009, 978 0 679 64276 3
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Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 451 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 85223 0
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There Is No Freedom without Bread: 1989 and the Civil War that Brought Down Communism 
by Constantine Pleshakov.
Farrar, Straus, 289 pp., $26, November 2009, 978 0 374 28902 7
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1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe 
by Mary Elise Sarotte.
Princeton, 321 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 14306 4
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... after another presented as a ‘Red Tsar’, and to find chapters kick-started with that ancient Sunday Times ‘Insight’ flourish of the stopwatch: ‘At 11.45 a.m. two military helicopters landed outside the army barracks in Târgoviste, a bleak steel town 120 kilometres north of Bucharest built in the brutal style favoured by etc, etc.’ Yet he ...

I want you to know I know who you are

Katrina Forrester: Spies v. Activists, 3 January 2013

Secret Manoeuvres in the Dark: Corporate and Police Spying on Activists 
by Eveline Lubbers.
Pluto, 252 pp., £19.99, June 2012, 978 0 7453 3185 0
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... how deep into an activist group private investigators will go. According to files obtained by the Sunday Times in 2003, Threat Response International had up to eight agents infiltrating CAAT over a five-year period in the late 1990s. Le Chêne passed on the information she collected to British Aerospace, who did the rare thing and admitted they had ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February 2021, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February 2021, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... minister, Boris Johnson exulted that ‘it’s a job that is brilliantly supported by a massive team of people who have all evolved over hundreds of years into what is a big department of state now … So this is an incredible institution that has evolved over time into this extraordinary centre of a G7 economy.’ All this has been engineered, not simply ...

Wham Bang, Teatime

Ian Penman: Bowie, 5 January 2017

The Age of Bowie: How David Bowie Made a World of Difference 
by Paul Morley.
Simon & Schuster, 484 pp., £20, July 2016, 978 1 4711 4808 8
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On Bowie 
by Rob Sheffield.
Headline, 197 pp., £14.99, June 2016, 978 1 4722 4104 7
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On Bowie 
by Simon Critchley.
Serpent’s Tail, 207 pp., £6.99, April 2016, 978 1 78125 745 6
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Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy 
by Simon Reynolds.
Faber, 704 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 571 30171 3
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... realignment. In our current post-everything age, Bowie’s death was another reminder of how times have changed: an oldtime star who once enacted his alter ego Ziggy Stardust’s demise as an old-fashioned diva-esque theatrical goodbye-ee, and who more or less staged his own death online, with admirable restraint, impeccable good manners, and a ...

It’s already happened

James Meek: The NHS Goes Private, 22 September 2011

... any individual had contributed to those costs, no matter how expensive their treatment or how many times they went to the doctor, they’d never be billed for it. Through dozens of reorganisations since then, including the present one, these principles have remained, along with another: that it’s never a bad time for a fresh reorganisation. Otherwise, much ...

The Uninvited

Jeremy Harding: At The Rich Man’s Gate, 3 February 2000

... migrants would be eligible by the terms of the deal: there were thought to be between five and ten times that number in the country. It is not known how many people entered on the gommoni in the late 1990s. Some in the Guardia will tell you that by the middle of 1998, there were up to 40 boats a night; others put it at 25 – which is to say, anything between ...

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