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Protocols of Sèvres

Keith Kyle, 21 January 1988

The Failure of the Eden Government 
by Richard Lamb.
Sidgwick, 340 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 283 99534 3
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... candidate for Parliament, Lamb thinks Eden was wrong in failing to back sufficiently Gwilym Lloyd George’s determination to put curbs on coloured immigration, particularly from the West Indies. He puts this down to Eden’s unwillingness to spoil his image as a moderate, which presumably accounted also for the failure to press trade-union legislation ...


John Bayley, 30 November 1995

by Anthony Burgess.
Hutchinson, 150 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 09 179204 5
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... but as happy as a sandboy. I could have imagined him swapping jests and odd bits of learning with Logan Pearsall Smith, the author of Trivia, and spellbinding the old dilettante with the tale, told tongue in cheek, of how a misdiagnosis giving him only a few more months to live had set him writing a few light novels to help support the missus after he’d ...


Richard Altick, 19 July 1984

Thomas Carlyle: A Biography 
by Fred Kaplan.
Cambridge, 614 pp., £25, January 1984, 0 521 25854 5
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Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages 
by Phyllis Rose.
Chatto, 318 pp., £11.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2825 9
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A Carlyle Reader 
edited by G.B. Tennyson.
Cambridge, 544 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 521 26238 0
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... a genius for the quick sketch that captured the essence of a man in a few physical details. Logan Pearsall Smith called him ‘the Rembrandt of English prose’. In his French Revolution, his private letters, and elsewhere, he dashes off one vignette after another. Fred Kaplan quotes one of the less well-known of these cameo portraits, depicting the ...

Lost in Beauty

Michael Newton: Montgomery Clift, 7 October 2010

The Passion of Montgomery Clift 
by Amy Lawrence.
California, 333 pp., £16.95, May 2010, 978 0 520 26047 4
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... working with most of the best Hollywood directors of the time: Hawks, Zinnemann, William Wyler, George Stevens, Hitchcock. In ten or so of his 17 films, he is, by anybody’s reckoning, flawless. It’s not surprising that John Ford never showed an interest; the ‘manly’ directors with whom Clift did work suspected he was gay, and, in John Huston’s ...


Rosemary Hill, 5 December 1991

Gertrude Jekyll 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 323 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 670 82788 6
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People’s Parks 
by Hazel Conway.
Cambridge, 287 pp., £49.50, August 1991, 0 521 39070 2
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The History of Garden Design: The Western Tradition from the Renaissance to the Present Day 
edited by Monique Mosser and Georges Teyssot.
Thames and Hudson, 543 pp., £45, May 1991, 0 500 01511 2
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... for England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She was born in 1843 into a family that Logan Pearsall Smith described as a ‘fine old succession of country people, “quality folk” as they are called’, but with more interest in the arts than many such families. The Jekylls had a life-size cast of the Venus de Milo in the dining-room. They ...

England rejects

V.G. Kiernan, 19 March 1987

The Fatal Shore: A History of the Transportation of Convicts to Australia, 1787-1868 
by Robert Hughes.
Collins Harvill, 688 pp., £15, January 1987, 0 00 217361 1
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Rights of Passage: Emigration to Australia in the 19th Century 
by Helen Woolcock.
Tavistock, 377 pp., £25, September 1986, 9780422602402
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... light are that fun-loving clergyman, Sydney Smith, and the then unregenerate Tory, Gladstone. George Arthur, governor of Van Diemen’s Land or Tasmania from 1824, was a puritanically self-righteous person, convinced that mankind is ‘born and saturated in wickedness’ and that his wards, in particular, required to be treated accordingly. He came from ...


John Lanchester, 21 October 1993

United States 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 1298 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 233 98832 7
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What Henry James Knew, and Other Essays on Writers 
by Cynthia Ozick.
Cape, 363 pp., £12.99, June 1993, 0 224 03329 8
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Sentimental Journeys 
by Joan Didion.
HarperCollins, 319 pp., £15, January 1993, 0 00 255146 2
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... from the Senate wearing nothing but swimming trunks, whereupon ‘finally, the Vice President, Mr Garner – teeth like tiny black pearls and a breath that was all whisky – came down from the chair and said: “Senator, this boy is nekkid.”’) He enlisted in the US Navy at the age of 17, and published a novel about his experiences, Williwaw, two years ...

Time Longer than Rope

Greil Marcus, 16 November 1995

... in his voice, then the hurry bleeding out, the bafflement shading into regret: ‘And I hung my head in shame.’From a country of thousand-mile vistas in the first line of the song, the man who was filled with anticipation has by the end of the verse arrived in a country of hide-outs and become a creature of guilt. The verse is over and the moving train ...

What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... were done for now, the fire-fighting, the press of voices demanding attention – that sounds to me like the life of a professional in the 21st century. We’ve all been there, squeezing out a call in the jostle of the crowded train, wondering whether there’ll ever be time to sit down, never mind wind down. Brown harks back to the age when prime ministers ...

So it must be for ever

Thomas Meaney: American Foreign Policy, 14 July 2016

American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 244 pp., £14.99, March 2014, 978 1 78168 667 6
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A Sense of Power: The Roots of America’s Global Role 
by John A. Thompson.
Cornell, 343 pp., £19.95, October 2015, 978 0 8014 4789 1
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A Superpower Transformed: The Remaking of American Foreign Relations in the 1970s 
by Daniel J. Sargent.
Oxford, 369 pp., £23.49, January 2015, 978 0 19 539547 1
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... for a while longer, a wish shared by many ‘wise men’ of the West, from Alexandre Kojève to George Kennan, who preferred a world of bounded empires to one of nation-states. But by war’s end no one was in a position to gainsay the broad shape of the Pax Americana. Perry Anderson, in American Foreign Policy and Its Thinkers, his first sustained critique ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J. Evans: Michael Gove, 12 September 2019

Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... about the new curriculum. But he was wrong. Gove sent his special political adviser to see me. A slim, balding, casually dressed, youngish man came into my Cambridge office and flopped into an armchair. ‘Well’, he said, ‘we’ve fucked up, haven’t we?’ It was Dominic Cummings. This wasn’t quite what I’d ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan, 7 June 2018

... Moroccan flats’. ‘It was Rania’s habit to cook for everyone,’ her older sister Rasha told me. ‘Everyone was fascinated by the way Rania cooked,’ Naseem said. ‘She would make these huge prawn dishes; she would buy everything, make it wonderfully and hand it over to her neighbours.’ Munira could speak some Punjabi and she took Rania and the ...

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