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In Disguise of a Merchant

Linda Colley: Company-States, 30 July 2020

Outsourcing Empire: How Company-States Made the Modern World 
by Andrew Phillips and J.C. Sharman.
Princeton, 253 pp., £25, June, 978 0 691 20351 5
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... in more than 170 countries.One of the virtues of this intelligent and well-researched book by Andrew Phillips and Jason Sharman is that it provides long and wide historical contexts in which such questions can be posed. The authors’ central argument is that ‘some of the most important actors in the crucial formative stages of the modern ...

Answering back

James Campbell, 11 July 1991

The Intended 
by David Dabydeen.
Secker, 246 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 436 20007 4
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Cambridge 
by Caryl Phillips.
Bloomsbury, 185 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 7475 0886 0
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Lucy 
by Jamaica Kincaid.
Cape, 176 pp., £11.99, April 1991, 0 224 03055 8
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... switched on the power in the 1950s. Novelists such as George Lamming, Samuel Selvon, John Hearne, Andrew Salkey and V.S. Naipaul were among the first voices from the outposts of Empire to talk back. Not for them ‘clapping his hands and stamping his feet’ in order to communicate, like Conrad’s fireman (‘and he had filed teeth, too’). This black man ...

Schadenfreude with Bite

Richard Seymour: Trolling, 15 December 2016

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Mapping the Relationship between Online Trolling and Mainstream Culture 
by Whitney Phillips.
MIT, 256 pp., £10, September 2016, 978 0 262 52987 7
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Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral 
by Karla Mantilla.
Praeger, 280 pp., £32, August 2015, 978 1 4408 3317 5
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Bad Clowns 
by Benjamin Radford.
New Mexico, 188 pp., £12, February 2016, 978 0 8263 5666 6
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Trolls: An Unnatural History 
by John Lindow.
Reaktion, 60 pp., £9.99, August 2015, 978 1 78023 565 3
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... Laughing Out Loud), a form of enjoyment that derives from someone else’s anguish. Whitney Phillips, whose research has involved years of participant-observation of trolls, describes lulz as schadenfreude with more bite. The more furious and upset the Henderson family became, the funnier the trolls found it. In 2011, one of these ‘RIP trolls’, Sean ...

Squidging about

Caroline Murphy: Camilla and the sex-motherers, 22 January 2004

Camilla: An Intimate Portrait 
by Rebecca Tyrrel.
Short Books, 244 pp., £14.99, October 2003, 1 904095 53 4
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... 1966, when she was 19, the knicker-throwing debutante met a 27-year-old lieutenant in the Guards, Andrew Parker Bowles. He was handsome, and his parents were ‘excellent in-law material’. His father, Derek, a steward at Newbury racecourse, was a great friend of the Queen Mother’s, while his mother, Ann (nicknamed ‘Rhino’), was the Chief Commissioner ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The 1970s, 18 November 2010

... Lane, £30), is for me a Proustian experience. The wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips on 14 November 1973 was ‘the first major royal event in London since the Coronation’. It was also the first thing I ever remember watching on TV, aged five, eating from a tin of Ambrosia Creamed Rice. One of Sandbrook’s many contemporary ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... Eighties. Saunders’s account of Partisan and its editor, the insufferably pretentious William Phillips – in a chapter she calls ‘Cultural Nato’ – is devastating. Far from being independent, PR was on the CIA payroll via front organisations like the Farfield Foundation. Before that, it had been carried financially by none other than Henry Luce (the ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... How to Be Good now extends this fine line of wit even further: Here is a list of the people that Andrew and David have hitherto regarded as talentless, overrated, or simply wankers: Oasis, the Stones, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Robbie Williams, Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, Evelyn Waugh, Auberon Waugh, Salman Rushdie, Jeffrey Archer, Tony Blair, Gordon ...

A Terrible Thing, Thank God

Adam Phillips: Dylan Thomas, 4 March 2004

Dylan Thomas: A New Life 
by Andrew Lycett.
Weidenfeld, 434 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 297 60793 6
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... Dylan Thomas’s biographers have mostly thought of him as a big baby – ‘infantile’ is Andrew Lycett’s preferred word, though he has others – who was nothing like as good as he should have been; and whose life, a terrible thing with all its fecklessness and boozing and blathering, was redeemed only by the extraordinary things that were his ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... time a considerable debt to the writers of spy stories – in particular to William Le Queux and Phillips Oppenheim. Le Queux’s hero, Duckworth Drew, whose name rhymed with his own and whose appearance matched his own self-image – ‘unobtrusive, of perfect manner, and a born gentleman’ – is first found outwitting the French Foreign Minister by ...

Top Brands Today

Nicholas Penny: The Art World, 14 December 2017

The Auctioneer: A Memoir of Great Art, Legendary Collectors and Record-Breaking Auctions 
by Simon de Pury and William Stadiem.
Allen and Unwin, 312 pp., £9.99, April 2017, 978 1 76011 350 6
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Rogues’ Gallery: A History of Art and Its Dealers 
by Philip Hook.
Profile, 282 pp., £20, January 2017, 978 1 78125 570 4
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Donald Judd: Writings 
edited by Flavin Judd and Caitlin Murray.
David Zwirner, 1054 pp., £28, November 2016, 978 1 941701 35 5
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... Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza – then chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, then established Phillips de Pury, which he hoped would ‘turn the auction house duoply that was Sotheby’s and Christie’s into a triumvirate that included myself’. ‘Courting Medicis is now what I do,’ he writes, ‘and every week seems to bring a trip to ...

How to Survive Your Own Stupidity

Andrew O’Hagan: Homage to Laurel and Hardy, 22 August 2002

Stan and Ollie: The Roots of Comedy 
by Simon Louvish.
Faber, 518 pp., £8.99, September 2002, 0 571 21590 4
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... own and their partner’s behalf and move on. ‘We may deplore humiliation, or claim to,’ Adam Phillips writes in his new book Equals, but we cannot help but enjoy what we cheerfully call making fun of people. We are always reassured when people can, as we say, laugh at themselves. There is a violence we do to ourselves and others that is both enlivening ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... naked madness on the heath. One day, Said and Hitchens as Goneril and Regan, another day, William Phillips and Isaac Bashevis Singer. (By the way: in a nod to this book’s appetite for social niceties, we learn in a footnote that ‘cordial relations would subsequently develop between Hitchens and the Bellows.’) And Bellow himself would go on to be a ...

The Unimportance of Being Ernest

Adam Phillips, 5 August 1993

The Complete Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and Ernest Jones 1908-1939 
edited by Andrew Paskauskas, introduced by Riccardo Steiner.
Harvard, 836 pp., £29.95, May 1993, 0 674 15423 1
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... The first chapter of Ernest Jones’s misleadingly entitled autobiography, Free Associations, ends with a bemusing paragraph about the Welsh ‘servant who acted also as a nurse’ during Jones’s early childhood: ‘One of my memories of this nurse was that she taught me two words to designate the male organ, one for it in a flaccid state, the other in an erect ...

The First Hundred Years

James Buchan, 24 August 1995

John Buchan: The Presbyterian Cavalier 
by Andrew Lownie.
Constable, 365 pp., £20, July 1995, 0 09 472500 4
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... in England, John Buchan was sinking towards oblivion, the sort of forgotten bestseller (like Phillips Oppenheim) you find in seaside rental bungalows, a footnote in the biographies of T.E. Lawrence, Beaverbrook and Mackenzie King, and the villain in lachrymose ‘decline of Britain’ books and television series. I think by the end of the Seventies only ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... relations officer; and he twice quotes approvingly from an Observer columnist called Melanie Phillips, without revealing that she is his wife) we are introduced to two other urbane and reforming senior judges, the late Lord Chief Justice Taylor and Lord Goff. But it was Messrs Justice Taylor and Goff who, with Lane, refused even a proper appeal to the ...

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