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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 ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... would gather on Sunday afternoons in a vast Georgian house in Hampstead, 109 Frognal, the home of the blacklisted screenwriter and playwright Donald Ogden Stewart and his journalist wife, Ella Winter. In Frognal, Sayre met Charlie Chaplin (depicted as arrogant, politically obtuse and unfunny), Paul ...

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 ...


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 ...


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 ...

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 ...

Mother Country

Catherine Hall: The Hostile Environment, 23 January 2020

The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment 
by Amelia Gentleman.
Guardian Faber, 336 pp., £18.99, September 2019, 978 1 78335 184 8
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Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation 
by Colin Grant.
Cape, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 78733 105 1
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Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Become Scapegoats 
by Maya Goodfellow.
Verso, 272 pp., £12.99, November 2019, 978 1 78873 336 6
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... Edward​ Long arrived ‘home’ in the ‘mother country’ in 1769 with his wife and three young children after 12 years as a planter in Jamaica. His return presented no problems. He was a colonist, a ‘freeborn Englishman’, welcomed back to ‘his’ country. His wife came, as he did, from an elite white dynasty and his children, though they were born in Jamaica, inherited his birthright ...

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 ...

Browning Versions

J.I.M. Stewart, 5 July 1984

Oscar Browning: A Biography 
by Ian Anstruther.
Murray, 209 pp., £12.50, October 1983, 9780719540783
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... O.B. kept his form. In his 87th year, in needy exile in Rome, he still has his eye on things at home. He has his eye on Eton, the lost paradise. ‘The Provost’ – he says in a letter to Professor Browne, a Fellow of Pembroke – ‘writes ghost stories and the Headmaster silly novels.’ So much for M.R. James and Cyril Alington: trivial and supine ...


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 ...


Ian Stewart, 4 November 1993

The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier 
by Bruce Sterling.
Viking, 328 pp., £16.99, January 1993, 0 670 84900 6
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The New Hacker’s Dictionary 
edited by Eric Raymond.
MIT, 516 pp., £11.75, October 1992, 0 262 68079 3
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Approaching Zero: Data Crime and the Computer Underworld 
by Bryan Clough and Paul Mungo.
Faber, 256 pp., £4.99, March 1993, 0 571 16813 2
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... a new international research centre recently set up by the Canadian Government. Waterloo is the home of one of the basic tools of the mathematical trade, the computer program MAPLE, which was developed here. It is a symbolic algebra program. Instead of just crunching numbers, MAPLE crunches symbols. It is widely used in mathematical research to carry out ...

Four Poems

Hugo Williams, 11 October 1990

... mother appears like a new sun from behind a cloud. She is smiling radiantly, as if to welcome me home. ‘I won’t wait, darling. You know how I hate goodbyes. You’ve got your comics and your cars. I’ve written to you ...’ She has a porter in tow: nothing can save me now. A last gasp of Moment Supreme as she leans over me, then nothing at all but the ...

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