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Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Mobile phones, 10 July 2003

... enabled people to be on time, whereas mobile phones mean it hardly ever matters if we’re late. Andrew Wilson, a poet, will be publishing his first collection, Text Messages, in the autumn (Smith/Doorstop, £5). Readers are encouraged to send poems to friends’ mobiles. From September, it will be possible to receive five free by texting yes to 07781 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Crap Towns, 23 October 2003

... nothing’s boring after that.’ There’s a spirited defence from Basingstoke’s MP, Andrew Hunter. First up in the town’s favour is that ‘traffic flows relatively smoothly’. Then, ‘the M3 is at our back door, the M4 within easy reach; so are Heathrow and Southampton airports.’ The great thing about Basingstoke is that it couldn’t be ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Flirtation, Seduction and Betrayal, 5 September 2002

... best subjects’ but also make the best Telegraph readers. Farndale justifies his title by quoting Andrew Billen, ‘who writes interviews for the Times’: ‘the three stages of a successful interview are flirtation, seduction and betrayal.’ Well, OK, but I still feel cheated. Opening with James Hewitt may be a tacit sop to those of us who like our books ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: New Writing, 8 March 2001

... contents page: Barbara Trapido, Anthony Thwaite, Anne Stevenson, Alan Brownjohn, Helen Simpson, Andrew Motion, Michael Hofmann, Alan Sillitoe, Louis de Bernières and Geoff Dyer are ten of them, and ‘new’ isn’t the first word that springs to mind. But there are plenty of good reasons, too obvious to need repeating, for the inclusion of well-known ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The biography of stuff, 5 July 2001

... Announcing the winner of this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize, Andrew Marr was pleased to be able to say that none of the shortlisted books was the obvious result of a publisher’s ‘wheeze’, or the so-called biography of something which couldn’t in all honesty be said ever to have had a life. One of the more glaring recent additions to the latter category is Cocaine: An Unauthorised Biography by Dominic Streatfeild (Virgin, £20 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Blogged Down, 24 January 2008

... paid to the whole idea that there’s something ‘distinctly bloggy’ about the style of blogs. Andrew Keen, however, would not be so sanguine. The founder of an internet start-up in the late 1990s that didn’t make him a millionaire, Keen is now a self-declared apostate. In The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Basingstoke’s Paisleyite, 21 April 2005

... been discounted it wouldn’t have made any difference: the new Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Andrew Hunter, would just have been elected with a majority of 12,451 rather than 12,450. Hunter won’t be seeking re-election in May, having seen his majority – which peaked in 1992 at 21,198, making Basingstoke an apparently unassailable Tory stronghold ...

Canterbury Tale

Charles Nicholl, 8 December 1988

Christopher Marlowe and Canterbury 
by William Urry, edited by Andrew Butcher.
Faber, 184 pp., £12.95, May 1988, 0 571 14566 3
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John Weever 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 134 pp., £27.50, April 1987, 0 7190 2217 7
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Rare Sir William Davenant 
by Mary Edmond.
Manchester, 264 pp., £27.50, July 1987, 9780719022869
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... Here at last it is, seven years after Urry’s death, edited from drafts by his former colleague Andrew Butcher. The text runs to less than a hundred pages, but there are ample appendices and source-notes, and anyway these hundred pages of dense documentary detail are worth a thousand of theorising. Our historical knowledge of Elizabethan writers like ...

The Bart

Gabriele Annan, 10 December 1987

Broken Blood: The Rise and Fall of the Tennant Family 
by Simon Blow.
Faber, 224 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 571 13374 6
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... Or for a Thatcherite tract on Britain’s decline from Victorian values. Or for a great novel like Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks. The rise and fall of a mercantile dynasty is a rich old subject, and can be approached from several angles. Which will Simon Blow’s be? ‘If I was more Tennant than anything else,’ he writes, ‘I began to wonder who the ...

Wacky

Christopher Tayler: Multofiction, 8 January 2004

Set This House in Order 
by Matt Ruff.
Flamingo, 496 pp., £12, October 2003, 0 00 716423 8
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... psychiatric controversy, and the MPD literature has furnished him with some wonderful material. Andrew Gage, his narrator, is one of many ‘souls’ inhabiting the body of Andy Gage, who was abused so severely by a cruel stepfather during childhood that florid multiplicity offered the only way out. Being, in his own opinion, fairly well-adjusted, ...

The Long War

Andrew Bacevich: Motives behind the Surge, 26 March 2009

The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq 
by Thomas E. Ricks.
Allen Lane, 394 pp., £25, February 2009, 978 1 84614 145 4
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... Thomas Ricks’s Fiasco, published in 2006, was a scathing account of the invasion and occupation of Iraq; The Gamble covers the ‘surge’ that pulled Iraq back from the edge of the abyss. By 2006, with Bush still insisting that the war was going swimmingly and the Pentagon keen to hand the war over to the Iraqis, it seemed that the US was heading for a catastrophic defeat ...

Blips on the Screen

Andrew Cockburn: Risk-Free Assassinations, 3 December 2020

The Drone Age: How Drone Technology Will Change War and Peace 
by Michael Boyle.
Oxford, 336 pp., £22.99, September, 978 0 19 063586 2
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Drone Art: The Everywhere War as Medium 
by Thomas Stubblefield.
California, 218 pp., £70, February, 978 0 520 33961 3
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Hellfire from Paradise Ranch: On the Front Lines of Drone Warfare 
by Joseba Zulaika.
California, 289 pp., £25, June, 978 0 520 32974 4
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The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare 
by Christian Brose.
Hachette, 288 pp., £21, April, 978 0 316 53353 9
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... downloaded from Google Earth, free of charge. In neither were humans distinguishable from bushes. Thomas Stubblefield writes excitedly of Argus, an even more technologically ambitious system that permits users to ‘zoom into pedestrian traffic on a given street, follow a vehicle of interest, or even map the audio of intercepted telephone calls spatially onto ...

A Cousin of Colonel Heneage

Robert Crawford: Was Eliot a Swell?, 18 April 2019

The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Volume VIII: 1936-38 
edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden.
Faber, 1100 pp., £50, January 2019, 978 0 571 31638 0
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... to the local toffs. Eliot, who had come to see the village from which one of his ancestors – Andrew Eliot – may have set off for America in the 17th century, was indeed seeking to find a kinship with this still somewhat feudal community. Yet the next sentence of his letter makes it clear he was unsettled to find that the ‘cousin of mine’ in East ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Politicians v. the press, 22 July 2004

... point for his criticisms of the British media the allegations made against the government by Andrew Gilligan on the Today programme at 6.07 a.m. on 29 May 2003. (Lloyd refers to Gilligan’s story as the ‘original’ report, as if what went before – you know, the invasion of Iraq, the intelligence dossier justifying the invasion etc – weren’t ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... has been moved between two dogs for the first time. Before the Society, Mr King and Mr Thomas Coxe successfully performed the experiment on a small bulldog and a spaniel.’ He fled debtors; was bankrupt from 1671; had to shift households and sell many of his books. He travelled to Paris with his friend George Ent, where he suffered ‘a terrible ...

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