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A Diverse Collection of Peoples

Daniel Lazare: Shlomo Sand v. Zionism, 20 June 2013

The Invention of the Jewish People 
by Shlomo Sand.
Verso, 344 pp., £9.99, June 2010, 978 1 84467 623 1
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The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland 
by Shlomo Sand.
Verso, 295 pp., £16.99, January 2013, 978 1 84467 946 1
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... But Sand also endorses the hyper-sceptical ‘biblical minimalism’ of Philip Davies, Thomas Thompson and Niels Peter Lemche, which regards such findings as irrelevant since, as they see it, the early history of Israel is actually a fiction that returnees from the Babylonian exile made up after the sixth century BCE. Sand seems unaware of the conflict ...

Cleaning Up

Tom Nairn, 3 October 1996

The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79 
by Ben Kiernan.
Yale, 477 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 300 06113 7
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... assume a life of its own and at least for a time to dominate the nation-building process. Edward Thompson insisted that the working class was present at its own birth: it was not only modelled by impersonal forces, he said, it helped to make even its early history. But most workers originated as ex-peasants. In many parts of the world they for long tried to ...

Secrets are best kept by those who have no sense of humour

Alan Bennett: Why I turned down ‘Big Brother’, 2 January 2003

... steps out onto the scaffold. 30 March. Obituary of Dudley M. in yesterday’s Independent by Harry Thompson, the biographer of Peter Cook, whose side one might therefore expect him to take. Instead Thompson very much takes Dudley’s line on himself: namely, that he was only brought into Beyond the Fringe as a musical ...

In the Tart Shop

Murray Sayle: How Sydney got its Opera House, 5 October 2000

The Masterpiece: Jørn Utzon, a Secret Life 
by Philip Drew.
Hardie Grant, 574 pp., AUS $39.95, October 1999, 1 86498 047 8
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Jørn Utzon: The Sydney Opera House 
by Françoise Fromonot, translated by Christopher Thompson.
Electa/Gingko, 236 pp., £37.45, January 1998, 3 927258 72 5
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... Sydney Opera House is the only 20th-century building that has become a city’s icon – Big Ben, Miss Liberty and the Eiffel Tower date from the 19th – and may well rank with Hagia Sophia and the Taj Mahal as our era’s legacy to the ages. How did an easy-going metropolis, not noted even in Australia for elegance or charm, manage to snare this rare ...

Public Works

David Norbrook, 5 June 1986

The Faber Book of Political Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 481 pp., £17.50, May 1986, 0 571 13947 7
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... republican institutions in Renaissance England than many critics, and historians, have conceded. Ben Jonson’s Roman interests produced a potentially subversive treatment of republicanism in Sejanus: but he became James I’s court poet, and Paulin deals fairly brusquely with Jonson as a conservative monarchist. He is represented here by ‘To ...

So much was expected

R.W. Johnson, 3 December 1992

Harold Wilson 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 811 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 00 215189 8
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Harold Wilson 
by Austen Morgan.
Pluto, 625 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 7453 0635 7
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... just about every leading social scientist (Titmuss, Townsend, Halsey, Floud), historian (Hobsbawm, Thompson, Hill) or literary intellectual (Wesker, Tynan) in sight. This was what gave the 1964 Labour Government a significance far greater than the 1974-79 Administration. 1964 saw the coming together of the British best and brightest. The failure of Wilsonism ...

If I Turn and Run

Iain Sinclair: In Hoxton, 1 June 2000

by Bill Drummond.
Little, Brown, 361 pp., £12.99, March 2000, 0 316 85385 2
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Crucify Me Again 
by Mark Manning.
Codex, 190 pp., £8.95, May 2000, 0 18 995814 6
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... entertainment, while boasting that Bill Shakespeare had been a regular. (Bricklayer/playwright Ben Jonson of the customised moniker, it’s true, killed a man in these streets and got off by pleading benefit of clergy.) Shoreditch survived as a prophylactic, an interzone protecting the City of London from the liberties of Hoxton, the seething immigrant ...

The Unrewarded End

V.G. Kiernan: Memories of the CP, 17 September 1998

The Death of Uncle Joe 
by Alison Macleod.
Merlin, 269 pp., £9.95, May 1997, 0 85036 467 1
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Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party 
by Francis Beckett.
Merlin, 253 pp., £9.95, August 1998, 0 85036 477 9
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... that arose out of the Korean War. There were one or two Party organisers involved, including Ben Bradley, whom I had known for a long time. He had done a spell of Party work in India, and been one of the defendants in the Meerut Conspiracy Trial. Our Edinburgh section was kept going by a nucleus of supporters, who, for one reason or another, wished to ...

Haddock blows his top

Christopher Tayler: Hergé’s Redemption, 7 June 2012

Hergé: The Man who Created Tintin 
by Pierre Assouline, translated by Charles Ruas.
Oxford, 276 pp., £9.99, October 2011, 978 0 19 983727 4
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Hergé, Son of Tintin 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Tina Kover.
Johns Hopkins, 394 pp., £15.50, November 2011, 978 1 4214 0454 7
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... life. (The made-up exotic languages in the Tintin books are filled with plays on Marols: Mohammed Ben Kalish Ezab, a comic Arab potentate introduced in Land of Black Gold, gets his name from ‘kalichesap’, liquorice water.) Conquering the Dutch-language market – as Tintin did in the 1940s under the name Kuifje, cognate with ‘quiff’ – was an ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1998, 21 January 1999

... interests them isn’t the rood loft or the pews carved and dated 1641. They are on the trail of Thompson, the woodworker of Kilburn who always carved a mouse on his handiwork. Some of the pews are his, done in the Forties or Fifties, so somewhere here will be a mouse and they scuffle along the pews looking for it. Rather a silly quest, I ...

The Lady in the Van

Alan Bennett, 26 October 1989

... figure and would have been more so had she not been kitted out in greasy raincoat, orange skirt, Ben Hogan golfing cap and carpet slippers. She would be going on sixty at this time. She must have prevailed on me to push the van as far as Albany Street, though I recall nothing of the exchange. What I do remember as I trundled the van across Gloucester Bridge ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... had even begun. On 20 August 2014, by which time it was underway, the group sent an email to Ben Dewis, fire safety team leader at the London Fire Brigade.A number of residents of Grenfell Tower are very concerned at the fact that the new improvement works to Grenfell Tower have turned our building into a fire trap. There is only one entry and exit to ...

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