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Unmuscular Legs

E.S. Turner, 22 August 1996

The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... also sustains a passing bruise in Lord Archer of Sand-well’s entry on Lord Silkin. Sir Melford Stevenson was famous for stiff sentences, but according to Lord Roskill, ‘those who sat in the Court of Appeal in the Seventies might sometimes find in the appeal papers a letter from Stevenson to the court suggesting that he ...

Brocaded

Robert Macfarlane: The Mulberry Empire by Philip Hensher, 4 April 2002

The Mulberry Empire 
by Philip Hensher.
Flamingo, 560 pp., £17.99, April 2002, 0 00 711226 2
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... itself in many ways a grand pastiche: a de luxe effort of style. As Jan Morris and, more recently, David Cannadine have argued, the British elicited respect from their subjects abroad by spectacle as well as by force, exporting to their various dominions a home-grown instinct for pomp and ceremony, inflected with local colour to produce in each country a ...

The Only Way

Sam Kinchin-Smith: Culinary Mansplaining, 4 January 2018

... are interspersed with discussions of some of history’s ‘higher cribbers’: Borges, Montaigne, Stevenson, Eliot, Mann and Harold Bloom; Michel Tournier and Alain Robbe-Grillet; pretend pretenders to the throne, Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel; Napoleon’s chef Dunand; and ‘the genitally preoccupied Roman epigrammatist Martial’. I found some of the ...

Out Hunting

Gary Younge: In Baltimore, 29 July 2021

We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption in an American City 
by Justin Fenton.
Faber, 335 pp., £14.99, February, 978 0 571 35661 4
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... man with a backpack getting into a van. The van was being driven by a drug dealer called Oreese Stevenson; inside, they found $21,500 and half a kilo of cocaine. Jenkins took Stevenson’s keys and went to his house, where he found guns, more cocaine and bags of money. He didn’t have a search warrant. He called a ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood, 5 June 2003

The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... At the tail-end of 1892 Robert Louis Stevenson was working on a novel. The book was going well but one thing was bothering him. Serial publication, he felt, might be difficult to secure, since ‘The Justice Clerk’ – it would eventually be published as Weir of Hermiston – was both ‘queer’ and ‘pretty Scotch ...

Sisi’s Way

Tom Stevenson: In Sisi’s Prisons, 19 February 2015

... abuses, let alone the Rabaa massacre or the mass imprisonment and torture of dissidents. When David Cameron held a meeting with Sisi in New York in September he spoke of ‘Egypt’s pivotal role in the region’ and its importance to British policy. ‘Both economically and in the fight against Islamist extremism’, he said, Egypt was a crucial ally and ...

How to Run a Caliphate

Tom Stevenson, 20 June 2019

... 1970s from the confluence of the Iranian revolution, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Camp David Accords and the 1979 siege of Makkah. Like al-Qaida before it, IS sought the eventual destruction of the Saudi monarchy. But IS and the Sauds have things in common. Both were determined to act against apostasy and heresy; both insisted on the dangers of ...

In the Grey Zone

Tom Stevenson: Proxy Warfare, 22 October 2020

Proxy Wars: Suppressing Violence through Local Agents 
by Eli Berman and David A. Lake.
Cornell, 354 pp., £23.99, March 2019, 978 1 5017 3306 2
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Proxy War: The Least Bad Option 
by Tyrone L. Groh.
Stanford, 264 pp., £56, March 2019, 978 1 5036 0818 4
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Surrogate Warfare: The Transformation of War in the 21st Century 
by Andreas Krieg and Jean-Marc Rickli.
Georgetown, 258 pp., £21.99, June 2019, 978 1 62616 678 3
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... literature: ‘effects-based operations’ were defined by the former US air force general David Deptula during the First Gulf War as a means of applying the minimum conventional force to achieve the greatest strategic effect. In US government planning, ‘proxy warfare’ is the preserve of wily enemies, Iran and Russia in particular. The US National ...

A Turn for the Woowoo

Theo Tait: David Mitchell, 4 December 2014

The Bone Clocks 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 595 pp., £20, September 2014, 978 0 340 92160 9
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... David Mitchell​ is a career-long genre-bender. Only with his fourth book, Black Swan Green (2006), did he raid his own store of experience to write a first-novelish novel, a charming if low-key coming-of-age story, set in Worcestershire in 1982, full of references to Findus Crispy Pancakes, the Falklands War and playground slang ...

Wigan Peer

Stephen Koss, 15 November 1984

The Crawford Papers: The Journals of David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford and 10th Earl of Balcarres, during the Years 1892 to 1940 
edited by John Vincent.
Manchester, 645 pp., £35, October 1984, 0 7190 0948 0
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... bore – he is so insistent as to be a positive fatigue.’ This tart commentary was provided by David Alexander Edward Lindsay, better-known (after he succeeded his father in 1913) as the 27th Earl of Crawford, and probably best-known as the tenth Earl of Balcarres, a junior title that did not bar him from the House of Commons. To unravel his pedigree, as ...

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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... that John Buchan belonged not, as the family piously hoped, in a Scots Valhalla with Scott and Stevenson (even if a long way downtable), but with two English writers of almost unbelievable crudity, ‘Sapper’ and Dornford Yates. Despite defences of John Buchan by Gertrude Himmelfarb in an essay in Encounter in 1960, and Janet Adam Smith in her biography ...

Smiles Better

Andrew O’Hagan: Glasgow v. Edinburgh, 23 May 2013

On Glasgow and Edinburgh 
by Robert Crawford.
Harvard, 345 pp., £20, February 2013, 978 0 674 04888 1
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... in every sense and whatever its troubles, to Seamus Heaney. Some writers – Joyce, Milosz, Stevenson – have to stand well back from the native canvas in order to see the composition, but others dwell inside the painting, loving the paint, the smell of oils and the fine smear of themselves. This new book – written ‘for both with love’ – is ...

A Man without Regrets

R.W. Johnson: Lloyd George, 20 January 2011

David Lloyd George: The Great Outsider 
by Roy Hattersley.
Little, Brown, 709 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 1 4087 0097 6
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... to keep his own sons safe, it might have. By this time, he was living with his secretary Frances Stevenson in London while maintaining his marriage in Wales. Stevenson was devoted to him in the selfless way he required of all his women. She was many years younger than him but happily recorded in her diary how he had begged ...

Auchnasaugh

Patrick Parrinder, 7 November 1991

King Cameron 
by David Craig.
Carcanet, 212 pp., £12.95, May 1991, 0 85635 917 3
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The Hungry Generations 
by David Gilmour.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 194 pp., £13.95, August 1991, 1 85619 069 2
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O Caledonia 
by Elspeth Barker.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 241 13146 4
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... David Craig has an unfashionable concern with truth-telling in fiction. In his earlier role as a literary critic, he wrote a book called The Real Foundations in which he showed how some of the most respected 19th and 20th-century novelists and poets had blatantly falsified social reality. If a work of realistic fiction is to be convincing in general, according to Craig, it ought to convince us in particulars ...

At Tate Britain

Frank Kermode: William Blake, 14 December 2000

... there, with informative if inaccessible commentary adjacent on the walls. The admirable Juliet Stevenson provides an audio commentary. And there are lots of educational backups, some, like lectures by Peter Ackroyd and Tom Paulin, now over, others, including various conferences and courses, still to come. The most visible, and in some ways the most ...

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