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Maiden Aunt

Colin Kidd: Adam Smith, 7 October 2010

Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Allen Lane, 345 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 7139 9396 7
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Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and moral theory 
by Fonna Forman-Barzilai.
Cambridge, 286 pp., £55, March 2010, 978 0 521 76112 3
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... market – was playful rather than integral to his message. The co-architect of New Labour, Gordon Brown, went a few steps further, attempting to rehabilitate Smith, not without some plausibility, as a proponent of ‘the helping hand’. In part this manoeuvre was prompted by local piety, for Brown was brought up and has ...

It’s not Jung’s, it’s mine

Colin Burrow: Language-Magic, 21 January 2021

Ursula K. Le Guin: The Last Interview and Other Conversations 
edited by David Streitfeld.
Melville House, 180 pp., £12.99, February 2019, 978 1 61219 779 1
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The Carrier Bag Theory Of Fiction 
by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Ignota, 42 pp., £4.99, November 2019, 978 1 9996759 9 8
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... readers. Are you so unconsciously racist that you didn’t notice this woman or this wizard was brown-skinned? Didn’t you realise that the person you thought was an alien is actually from Earth?For Le Guin these questions almost always led back to one core idea about people. They get stuff wrong even when they want to get it right, and the more they think ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... is 15 years since she died, and memories of her are not as sharp as they were. Which makes Craig Brown’s enterprise not only a marvellous freak of literature but a matchless summoner of our yesterdays. It is a collage, montage or bricolage of glittery bits culled from two hundred biographies, authorised and unauthorised, written by cashiered gossip ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy, 9 April 2015

by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... eyebrows. He had long, thick and even paintbrush-thick eyelashes. These, though, were a very dark brown. (‘They’re like those of Elizabeth Taylor,’ I thought. ‘Or maybe Montgomery Clift.’) His eyes, too, were very dark – but a very dark green. He was, moreover, articulate – speaking in full, proper sentences and using no, like, you ...

At the Train Station

Gillian Darley, 20 October 2016

... visions of Archigram, Reyner Banham’s celebration of the ‘aesthetics of expendability’ and Colin Rowe’s arguments for collage and the reinstatement of the ‘leftovers of the world’ within wider urban design. For their part, civic activists and urban thinkers such as Jane Jacobs and Herbert Gans saw those ‘leftovers’ in strong social and ...

Managed by Ghouls

Tom Nairn: Unionism’s Graveyard, 30 April 2009

Union and Unionisms: Political Thought in Scotland, 1500-2000 
by Colin Kidd.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £15.99, December 2008, 978 0 521 70680 3
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... Colin Kidd’s study of Scottish Unionism goes, as he himself insists, sternly against the prevailing ideological current, which is focused on the emergence of political nationalism in both Scotland and Wales. Kidd thinks his book will serve its purpose if it unsettles this debate, and brings about a revision of ‘the basic categories of political analysis ...

Madmen and Specialists

Anthony Appiah, 7 September 1995

Colonial Psychiatry and the ‘African Mind’ 
by Jock McCulloch.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 521 45330 5
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... you will occasionally have seen people half-clothed in filthy rags, hair matted with the red-brown dust thrown up from the laterite earth, wandering the streets largely unmolested; talking, perhaps, to themselves; begging sometimes; or scratching through rubbish heaps looking for something to eat. When I was a child in Kumasi we were taught to fear these ...

Mother Country

Catherine Hall: The Hostile Environment, 23 January 2020

The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment 
by Amelia Gentleman.
Guardian Faber, 336 pp., £18.99, September 2019, 978 1 78335 184 8
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Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation 
by Colin Grant.
Cape, 320 pp., £18.99, October 2019, 978 1 78733 105 1
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Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Become Scapegoats 
by Maya Goodfellow.
Verso, 272 pp., £12.99, November 2019, 978 1 78873 336 6
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... Commonwealth immigration it was clear that British subjecthood was racialised and that black and brown Jamaicans did not enjoy the privileges of freeborn Englishmen.Approximately​ 12 million African captives were forcibly transported to the Americas in the early modern period. Many died on the passage across the Atlantic. A significant number, bought and ...


Colin Burrow: Virgil, 2 March 2000

Virgil’s Experience: Nature and History; Times, Names and Places 
by Richard Jenkyns.
Oxford, 712 pp., £50, November 1988, 0 19 814033 9
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... Not at all: The Trojan, from the Main beheld a Wood, Which thick with Shades, and a Brown Horror, stood: Betwixt the Trees the Tyber took his Course, With Whirlpools dimpled; and with downward Force That drove the Sand along, he took his Way, And rowl’d his yellow Billows to the Sea. Dryden, whose translation this is from, is good to read ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... The new Parliament has not attracted major politicians. Labour heavyweights, such as Gordon Brown and Robin Cook, stayed in London; even Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP, decided after a term in the Scottish Parliament that he preferred to abandon Edinburgh for the clubbability of Westminster. More significantly, after only a year as first minister ...

It was worse in 1931

Colin Kidd: Clement Attlee, 17 November 2016

Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee 
by John Bew.
Riverrun, 668 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 1 78087 989 5
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... moment which anticipated the notorious Granita conversation of 1994 between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, he told Stafford Cripps that ‘any time you wish it I shall always be ready to retire in your favour.’ As Bew remarks, ‘That conversation hung in the air for a number of years.’ For, when the ailing and assailed Lansbury formally stepped down in ...

I Am Brian Moore

Colin Burrow, 24 September 2020

The Dear Departed 
by Brian Moore.
Turnpike Books, 112 pp., £10, April, 978 1 9162547 0 1
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... The earliest tale – and it is very much a tale ‘told me by an old Sicilian whose face was brown and seamed like the bark of an oak’ – is ‘Fly Away Finger, Fly Away Thumb’, which appeared in the London Mystery Magazine in 1953. In it a conjurer is imprisoned by a group of Sicilian brigands. He cuts off his finger and thumb, which walk out of ...

The End of Labour?

Colin Kidd, 8 March 2012

... seat out of Labour’s grip. The defeat, according to a contemporary Nationalist observer, Oliver Brown, sent a shiver along the Labour benches ‘looking for a spine to run up’. The Scottish Labour vote was managed at this point by Willie Ross, who was secretary of state for Scotland between 1964 and 1970, and again from 1974 until the retirement of his ...

Smut-Finder General

Colin Kidd: The Dark Side of American Liberalism, 25 September 2003

Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History 
by James Morone.
Yale, 575 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09484 1
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... has some ten thousand members. However, as James Morone, a professor of political science at Brown University, reassures us, his colleagues in the discipline have themselves a very defective grasp of American political culture. In particular, Morone believes that political scientists are in thrall to the misguided notion that the classical liberalism ...


Colin Kidd: After the Referendum, 18 February 2016

... Corbyn isn’t likely to prove a doughty champion of the Union. Moreover – the efforts of Gordon Brown apart – there has been a striking lack of imagination and verve in pro-Union campaigning. Better Together was known – by friend and foe alike – as Project Fear, but it was hardly remarkable for its spine-chilling flair. The baton now passes from the ...

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