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There is no alternative to becoming Leadbeater

Nick Cohen: Charles Leadbeater, 28 October 1999

Living on Thin Air: The New Economy 
by Charles Leadbeater.
Viking, 244 pp., £17.99, July 1999, 0 670 87669 0
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... Third – or is that Fourth? – Way text for the coming century. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury won the 1989 Smartie Prize for juvenile fiction. Bear Hunt, as policy intellectuals familiarly call it, is the ‘unlikely starting point’ for an answer to the query Leadbetter poses in his opening chapter: ‘How to find ...

Mao meets Oakeshott

John Lanchester: Britain’s new class divide, 21 October 2004

Mind the Gap: The New Class Divide in Britain 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Short Books, 320 pp., £14.99, September 2004, 1 904095 94 1
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... man has no ready buttress for his self-regard. That historian is fictional: he is the narrator of Michael Young’s 1958 satire The Rise of the Meritocracy. But the only thing significantly off the mark about his dystopian predictions is that his narrator is saying these things, as opposed to merely thinking them. Mount’s Uppers do, broadly speaking, think ...

Nuremberg Rally, Invasion of Poland, Dunkirk …

James Meek: The never-ending wish to write about the Second World War, 6 September 2001

Ghost MacIndoe 
by Jonathan Buckley.
Fourth Estate, 469 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 1 84115 227 7
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The Twins 
by Tessa de Loo.
Arcadia, 392 pp., £6.99, May 2001, 1 900850 56 7
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Riptide 
by John Lawton.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £16.99, March 2001, 0 297 64345 2
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The Day We Had Hitler Home 
by Rodney Hall.
Granta, 361 pp., £15.99, April 2001, 1 86207 384 8
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Five Quarters of the Orange 
by Joanne Harris.
Doubleday, 431 pp., £12.99, April 2001, 0 385 60169 7
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The Fire Fighter 
by Francis Cottam.
Chatto, 240 pp., £15.99, March 2001, 0 7011 6981 8
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The Element of Water 
by Stevie Davies.
Women’s Press, 253 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7043 4705 9
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The Bronze Horsewoman 
by Paullina Simons.
Flamingo, 637 pp., £6.99, April 2001, 0 00 651322 0
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The Siege 
by Helen Dunmore.
Penguin, 304 pp., £16.99, June 2001, 0 670 89718 3
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... at the world from within double-glazed, centrally-heated rooms permeates many of these novels. Davies’s sketch of a character in The Element of Water could stand as a warning to all modern narrators: ‘Quantz, trained in the Canaris school of Intelligence but long returned to the Navy, couldn’t quite slough his habit of cynical ...

How the sanity of poets can be edited away

Arnold Rattenbury: The Sanity of Ivor Gurney, 14 October 1999

‘Severn and Somme’ and ‘War’s Embers’ 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 152 pp., £7.95, September 1997, 1 85754 348 3
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80 Poems or So 
by Ivor Gurney, edited by George Walter and R.K.R. Thornton.
Carcanet, 148 pp., £9.95, January 1997, 1 85754 344 0
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... advocate. My own hunch is that other Gurney personae usually written off as lunatic fictions – Michael Flood, Frederick Saxby, Valentine Fane, Griffiths Davies and so on: there were many – may yet turn out to be comrades from the trenches, those other persons he so loved. Although writing of place-names rather than ...

Flub-Dub

Thomas Powers: Stephen Crane, 17 July 2014

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire 
by Paul Sorrentino.
Harvard, 476 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 674 04953 6
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... Beer tells substantially the same story but names the friend who issued the challenge: Acton Davies, an admirer of Zola and a writer for New York’s Evening Sun. They were in the studio of the painter William Dallgren, who was painting a portrait of Davies (maybe). Out with ...

How bad can it get?

LRB Contributors, 15 August 2019

... Neal Ascherson, Mary Beard, Jonathan Coe, Tom Crewe, William Davies, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Lorna Finlayson, Daniel Finn, Katrina Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Daisy Hildyard, Colin Kidd, James Meek, Ferdinand Mount, Jan-Werner Müller, Jonathan Parry, David RuncimanNeal Ascherson‘On​ 17 June poor France fell. That day, as we trudged past Greenwich … a tug skipper yelled gaily across the water: “Now we know where we are! No more bloody allies!”’ The writer A ...

Cronyism and Clientelism

Peter Geoghegan, 5 November 2020

... in the UK’s response to the pandemic, the government’s messengers were richly rewarded. Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office gave Topham Guerin a £3 million contract for communications work. The contract – agreed without any competitive tendering – was signed in early May but, unusually, backdated to 17 March, two days before Lee Cain’s Zoom ...

The Capitalocene

Benjamin Kunkel: The Anthropocene, 2 March 2017

The Birth of the Anthropocene 
by Jeremy Davies.
California, 240 pp., £24.95, June 2016, 978 0 520 28997 0
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Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital 
by Jason Moore.
Verso, 336 pp., £19.99, August 2015, 978 1 78168 902 8
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Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam-Power and the Roots of Global Warming 
by Andreas Malm.
Verso, 496 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78478 129 3
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... Misanthropocene). It has already ‘picked up a variety of incompatible meanings’, as Jeremy Davies, a professor of English at Leeds, observes in The Birth of the Anthropocene, perhaps the best guide so far to the different senses and timeframes attached to the term. Even so, a common intellectual function seems to unite the various usages ...

We were the Lambert boys

Paul Driver, 22 May 1986

The Lamberts: George, Constant and Kit 
by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 388 pp., £13.95, April 1986, 0 7011 2731 7
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... Dylan Thomas, Augustus John, Elisabeth Lutyens, John Lehmann, Louis Macneice, Alan Rawsthorne, Michael Ayrton. In the dark background are the diabolic Bernard Van Dieren and Philip Heseltine (‘Peter Warlock’), two men, composer-writers like himself, to whom Lambert maintained a fierce loyalty, before and after their deaths. Lambert’s cardinal ...

Protestant Country

George Bernard, 14 June 1990

Humanism, Reform and the Reformation: The Career of Bishop John Fisher 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and Eamon Duffy.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £27.50, January 1989, 0 521 34034 9
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The Blind Devotion of the People: Popular Religion and the English Reformation 
by Robert Whiting.
Cambridge, 302 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 521 35606 7
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The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603 
by Stanford Lehmberg.
Princeton, 319 pp., £37.30, March 1989, 0 691 05539 4
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Bonfires and Bells: National Memory and the Protestant Calendar in Elizabethan and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Weidenfeld, 271 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 297 79343 8
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The Birthpangs of Protestant England: Religious and Cultural Change in the 16th and 17th Centuries 
by Patrick Collinson.
Macmillan, 188 pp., £29.50, February 1989, 0 333 43971 6
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Life’s Preservative against Self-Killing 
by John Sym, edited by Michael MacDonald.
Routledge, 342 pp., £29.95, February 1989, 0 415 00639 2
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Perfection Proclaimed: Language and Literature in English Radical Religion 1640-1660 
by Nigel Smith.
Oxford, 396 pp., £40, February 1989, 0 19 812879 7
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... Puritan attitude to the family. Moreover, he is led into caricaturing the approach of Kathleen Davies, the author of a pioneering article on the alleged novelty of Puritan attitudes, who ‘seems to think there is nothing new under the sun,’ since she has found similar attitudes in 14th-century writers. Collinson’s attempt to dismiss ...

That Corrupting Country

Thomas Keymer: Orientalist Jones, 9 May 2013

Orientalist Jones: Sir William Jones, Poet, Lawyer and Linguist, 1746-94 
by Michael Franklin.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, September 2011, 978 0 19 953200 1
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... to meritocratic independence – indeed, it was often alleged, to outright republicanism. As Michael Franklin suggests in his excellent biography, Jones must have relished upending the patron-client hierarchy when he got Althorp elected to Samuel Johnson’s Turk’s Head Club, where Jones had mingled with Burke and Gibbon before even Boswell was ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
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... by the head of serials, Jonathan Powell, produced by the Birmingham regional drama head, Michael Wearing, and scheduled before Martin had finished the scripts. Third, as a result of its plural structure, the department had gained and kept its reputation as a producer-led, oppositional space, not just for Edge of Darkness, but for Alan Bleasdale’s ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... a long manuscript in the Mitchell Library at Sydney – by Richard Pennington. Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies did take the part of Etain in Rutland Boughton’s opera, The Immortal Hour in 1922, with Peter Shelving’s designs, and since she also acted in a play called Spring Tide which opened at the Duchess Theatre on 15 July 1936, we may safely bet that this ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... Lincoln instead. In his diary entry for 12 April 1945, the former Ambassador to the USSR, Joseph Davies, called Roosevelt ‘the greatest and most costly of war casualties’, ‘the martyred leader of the democratic forces of the world, who actually gave his life for the cause’. Having presided over shared sacrifice, Roosevelt and Lincoln embodied ...

Quite a Night!

Michael Wood: Eyes Wide Shut, 30 September 1999

Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrik and ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ 
by Frederic Raphael.
Orion, 186 pp., £12.99, July 1999, 0 7528 1868 6
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Dream Story 
by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by J.M.Q. Davies.
Penguin, 99 pp., £5.99, July 1999, 0 14 118224 5
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... I can’t say he’s reasonable,’ a colleague remarked of Stanley Kubrick, ‘I can only say he’s obsessive in the best sense of the word.’ Because he was obsessive without being crazy, many people have thought Kubrick was a genius, but the word is chiefly a gesture of admiring incomprehension. What Kubrick’s films suggest is that he was some kind of meticulous master, but a master of the obvious, and anyone who is surprised by the ponderousness of his new work, Eyes Wide Shut, must have forgotten what the other films were like ...

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