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Aldermanic Depression

Andrew Saint: London is good for you, 4 February 1999

London: A History 
by Francis Sheppard.
Oxford, 442 pp., £25, November 1998, 0 19 822922 4
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London: More by Fortune than Design 
by Michael Hebbert.
Wiley, 50 pp., £17.99, April 1998, 0 471 97399 8
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... A hundred years ago, when London ruled half the world and the snarl-up in front of the Bank of England passed for ‘the hub of the Empire’, only dedicated puffers and slummers plus a smattering of tourists had much good to say about Britain’s capital. Literary folk like James and Conrad slipped into the illusionary language of the dark sublime ...

Function v. Rhetoric

Peter Campbell: Engineers and Architects, 10 April 2008

Architect and Engineer 
by Andrew Saint.
Yale, 541 pp., £45, March 2008, 978 0 300 12443 9
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... but it is particularly hard to decide what is due to the architect and what to the engineer. Andrew Saint, in his new book, sees them as sibling rivals, and in tracing how their relations have changed over time, looks for answers to three questions. Was there a time when the roles of architect and engineer were indistinguishable? If so, how and why ...

Reading the Signs

Peter Campbell: London Lettering, 12 December 2002

... lettering to the vigilance of a printing historian, James Mosley, and an architectural historian, Andrew Saint; and to the fact that the building is still a fire station. When the clothing store Simpson of Piccadilly became a Waterstone’s bookshop a more painful battle of badges took place. Inside, mounted on an upstairs wall you can still find the old ...

Heaven’s Gate

Rosemary Hill, 8 September 1994

Pugin: A Gothic Passion 
edited by Paul Atterbury and Clive Wainwright.
Yale, 310 pp., £45, June 1994, 0 300 06014 9
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... had mercury poisoning. In his concluding essay ‘The Fate of Pugin’s True Principles’, Andrew Saint reviews his influence, fine-tuning in the light of recent research which shows, for example, that Ruskin had read rather more of Pugin than he admitted. Saint also prises Pugin from the grip of what he calls ...

At the National Gallery

Peter Campbell: Caravaggio’s final years, 31 March 2005

... to dramatise essentials. In that picture it streams past Christ to highlight the faces of the saint and his companions who are gathered round a table. Bodies overlap. The shadow cast by one figure obscures the face of its neighbour. Other faces are in the dark because they are turned away from the single light source. There is hardly any ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Myths of Marilyn, 8 July 2004

... good at appearing not as they are, which may be one of the reasons Marilyn Monroe became such a saint of modern culture in the first place. But maybe – just to run with the hare and the hounds for a second – we are asked to be more interested in the story of the story than in the story itself for simpler reasons. Maybe it’s just what Damon Runyon ...

Homophobes and Homofibs

Adam Mars-Jones, 30 November 1995

Homosexuality: A History 
by Colin Spencer.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85702 143 6
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Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality 
by Andrew Sullivan.
Picador, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 34453 6
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Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography 
by David Halperin.
Oxford, 246 pp., £14.99, September 1995, 0 19 509371 2
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... not being cross-culturally necessary wouldn’t make it an optional part of our culture. Andrew Sullivan is considerably more honest about homophobia in the autobiographical fragment with which he starts Virtually Normal, a book rather bizarrely oversold by its publishers. You’d better be pretty confident about the ballsiness of your product before ...


Christopher Andrew, 22 January 1987

Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... encountered what he called the ‘social hierarchy’ in which Burgess and Blunt moved so easily. Andrew Sinclair helps to cut the moles down to size. The real intellectual élite in inter-war Cambridge, he reminds us, were not the moles or their contemporaries (mostly from the arts faculties) in the Apostles but the brilliant scientists at the Cavendish ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... memorial at Westminster Abbey on 14 February 1986. (Yes, St Valentine’s Day. The patron saint of bathos.) ‘Deliver me from all mine offences,’ the choir sang, doing Psalm 39, ‘and make me not a rebuke unto the foolish.’ Ted Hughes read the bit from Ecclesiasticus about now praising famous men. Where these orders of service used to be ...

Abolish everything!

Andrew Hussey: Situationist International, 2 September 1999

The Situationist City 
by Simon Sadler.
MIT, 248 pp., £24.95, March 1998, 0 262 19392 2
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... the official Marxism of the French Communist Party; its proclaimed affections were for Sade and Saint-Just; it called, with or without irony, for the restoration of the Terror as the only true revolutionary value. The third ‘group’ at Cosio was the London Psychogeographical Committee, a rather notional affair represented by its only known member, the ...

One Single Plan

Andrew Berry: Proto-Darwinism, 17 March 2005

Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire: A Visionary Naturalist 
by Hervé le Guyader, translated by Marjorie Grene.
Chicago, 302 pp., £31.50, February 2004, 0 226 47091 1
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... I am speaking of the contest, of the highest importance for science, between Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, which has come to an open rupture in the Académie.’ This expression of Goethe’s was so unexpected that I did not know what to say, and for some minutes felt my thoughts completely at a standstill. At stake, Goethe believed, was the soul of ...

Populist Palatial

Rosemary Hill: The View from Piccadilly, 4 March 2021

London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 19 882341 4
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Survey of London: Volume 53, Oxford Street 
edited by Andrew Saint.
Paul Mellon Centre, 421 pp., £75, April 2020, 978 1 913107 08 6
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... For​ the wit, Whig and clergyman Sydney Smith it was ‘the golden parallelogram’. The area bounded by Hyde Park to the west and Regent Street to the east, extending north to Oxford Street and south to Piccadilly, enclosed ‘more intelligence and ability, to say nothing of wealth and beauty, than the world had ever collected in such a space before ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey, 4 March 2004

Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... with admiration, a sense of betrayal keeping constant guard over their earnestness. The author of Saint Morrissey, Mark Simpson, is an über-admirer in this style, and it follows, quite naturally, that he is also a writer with disciples of his own, having been described in reviews of his previous books as a ‘beauhunk’, ‘the gay antichrist’, and ‘the ...

Violets in Their Lapels

David A. Bell: Bonapartism, 23 June 2005

The Legend of Napoleon 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Granta, 336 pp., £20, August 2004, 1 86207 667 7
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The Retreat 
by Patrick Rambaud, translated by William Hobson.
Picador, 320 pp., £7.99, June 2005, 0 330 48901 1
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Napoleon: The Eternal Man of St Helena 
by Max Gallo, translated by William Hobson.
Macmillan, 320 pp., £10.99, April 2005, 0 333 90798 1
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The Saint-Napoleon: Celebrations of Sovereignty in 19th-Century France 
by Sudhir Hazareesingh.
Harvard, 307 pp., £32.95, May 2004, 0 674 01341 7
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Napoleon and the British 
by Stuart Semmel.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, September 2004, 0 300 09001 3
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... mainstream French democracy than the American-style ‘populism’ practised by politicians from Andrew Jackson to George W. Bush. The word populiste is a deadly insult, most recently deployed by socialists and Chiraquiens alike against anyone who dares interpret the result of the referendum on the European Constitution as a vote of no confidence in the ...

Flying Costs

Richard Adams: The great Ryanair Disaster, 2 September 2004

by David Pascoe.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £14.95, September 2003, 1 86189 163 6
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Aviation Insecurity: The New Challenges of Air Travel 
by Andrew Thomas.
Prometheus, 263 pp., $21, May 2003, 1 59102 074 3
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Airline Survival Kit 
by Nawal Taneja.
Ashgate, 224 pp., £46.50, May 2003, 0 7546 3452 3
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by Siobhán Creaton.
Aurum, 263 pp., £9.99, May 2004, 1 85410 992 8
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... across the Soviet Union at night. The first foreigner to fly on the Maxim Gorky was Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on 17 May 1935. Sitting in the cabin, Saint-Exupéry imagined himself on the balcony of a hotel set in the sky. The very next day, the Maxim Gorky collided with another plane during a propaganda flight over ...

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