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At Tate Britain

John Barrell: Late Turner, 18 December 2014

... free’ means something like the opposite of what it meant for Gowing. The aim of the co-curators, David Blayney Brown, Amy Concannon and Smiles, is to set Turner’s last paintings free from what Brown calls the ‘reductive critical stereotypes’ that have been applied to his work by ...

This Guilty Land

Eric Foner: Every Possible Lincoln, 17 December 2020

Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times 
by David S. Reynolds.
Penguin, 1066 pp., £33.69, September, 978 1 59420 604 7
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The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom 
by H.W. Brands.
Doubleday, 445 pp., £24, October, 978 0 385 54400 9
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... man and liberator of the slaves, has been the subject of more than 16,000 books, according to David S. Reynolds’s new biography, Abe. That’s around two a week, on average, since the end of the American Civil War. Almost every possible Lincoln can be found in the historical literature, including the moralist who hated slavery, the pragmatic politician ...

Paradises

David Allen, 5 August 1993

The Culture of Flowers 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 480 pp., £40, February 1993, 0 521 41441 5
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... and travellers, and wrote for a lay readership in works of captivating prose. Then came Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski, total immersion in single exotic cultures and increasingly unreadable monographs addressed to fellow-professionals. And then, in or around the Sixties, well and truly purged of that earlier baseless generalising, the discipline suddenly ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Syria Debate, 26 September 2013

... what has become the precedent, set first by Blair in the run-up to Iraq and then confirmed by Brown, who promised as PM that Parliament would from now on be consulted on all military action. Brown was as partisan and calculating a politician as any who have occupied Downing Street. He must have known that his promise ...

Short Cuts

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Gordon Brown, 7 June 2007

... fortune through some startling and, on occasion, clandestine publishing and movie contracts, as David Reynolds has shown in his riveting In Command of History. Then there is self-justification after retirement, which almost always produces memoirs of numbing boredom: I assume – or hope – that no one alive has actually read every page of all the volumes ...

Who’s on the Ropes Now?

Ross McKibbin: A Bad Week for Gordon Brown, 1 November 2007

... All those articles written only a couple of weeks ago and giving entirely good reasons why Gordon Brown was on top and David Cameron on the ropes now look faintly embarrassing. But at the beginning of October Brown was on top and no one can be faulted for failing to see his impending ...

Success and James Maxton

Inigo Thomas, 3 January 2008

... Labour Party MP, socialist, orator, Scotsman and the subject of a biography written by Gordon Brown twenty years ago – was not a successful leader, although some of his contemporaries in the 1920s thought he might become one. ‘Maxton was never a government minister,’ Brown wrote of his subject, ‘and his failure ...

Betting big, winning small

David Runciman: Blair’s Gambles, 20 May 2004

... set Blair apart from the two other most significant British politicians of the last decade. Gordon Brown is another risk-averse politician, but one who prefers to play for low stakes, endlessly and tirelessly working the percentages to build up his political reserves. Ken Livingstone, by contrast, is a politician who seems genuinely happy to take big ...

Red

Stephen Bann, 5 July 1984

Time in a Red Coat 
by George Mackay Brown.
Chatto, 249 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2804 6
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Harland’s Half-Acre 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 230 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 2737 6
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The Border 
by Elaine Feinstein.
Hutchinson, 113 pp., £6.95, June 1984, 0 09 156320 8
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... priority. Images, he suggests, are superior to actions. In Time in a Red Coat, George Mackay Brown has given us his first novel for 11 years. It is, however, a novel in which the poet assumes an undoubted authority. He can question, and criticise at its very base, the prodigal use of images which the storyteller displays in his concern to get the ...

The Reshuffle and After

Ross McKibbin: Why Brown should Resign, 25 May 2006

... which willy-nilly drove this forward, in the long run did the party more harm than good. David Cameron is almost certainly aware of this but clearly isn’t sure what he can do about it. Once again, the problem is likely to be solved – to the extent that it can be – by accumulating error on the government’s part. The Tories just have to make ...

‘Wisely I decided to say nothing’

Ross McKibbin: Jack Straw, 22 November 2012

Last Man Standing: Memoirs of a Political Survivor 
by Jack Straw.
Macmillan, 582 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 1 4472 2275 0
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... Nowhere does he acknowledge this. He even writes with some pride of the resolution he and David Davis proposed, and which the House of Commons carried, criticising the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which held that depriving prisoners of the vote was a denial of their human rights. Straw stood to gain nothing politically from this ...

Doing Chatting

Eleanor Birne: Asperger’s, 9 October 2003

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time 
by Mark Haddon.
Cape, 272 pp., £10.99, May 2003, 0 224 06378 2
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... found out my mother was going to marry my father, she asked my mother to reconsider. ‘What about David?’ she said. ‘Wouldn’t you like to marry David instead?’ David is my father’s brother. He still lives alone in the council house my grandmother died in. He used to hear ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon BrownThe Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... The guiding star of his youth has entirely vanished from his firmament. In 1975 the young Gordon Brown compiled, edited and published a socialist manifesto entitled Red Paper for Scotland. At 24, he had just completed a three-year term as rector of Edinburgh University and chaired the University Court in the face of continuous opposition from some of the ...

Cover Stories

Patrick Parrinder, 4 April 1985

Lives of the Poets: A Novella and Six Stories 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Joseph, 145 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 7181 2529 0
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The Pork Butcher 
by David Hughes.
Constable, 123 pp., £5.95, April 1984, 0 09 465510 3
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Out of the Blue 
by John Milne.
Hamish Hamilton, 309 pp., £8.95, March 1985, 0 241 11489 6
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... is silence, or rather, the rest should be another (and conceivably much more memorable) story. David Hughes’s The Pork Butcher is a worthy winner of the W.H. Smith award, the latest of the series of literary prizes awarded to novels published in 1984. In this, his ninth novel, Hughes has written a moral fable, brief, sensational, and hauntingly ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... ministers leaving Parliament after a short interval (hours for Blair, five years for Major and Brown, with Cameron likely to follow suit) and party leaders quickly throwing in the towel after election defeats (Hague, Miliband, Clegg). The most recent generation of political leaders attained high office infinitely faster than their predecessors, serving no ...

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