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Defeated Armies

Scott Sherman: Castro in the New York Times, 5 July 2007

The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of the ‘New York Times’ 
by Anthony DePalma.
PublicAffairs, 308 pp., £15.99, September 2006, 1 58648 332 3
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... On the evening of 15 February 1957, the New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews stepped into a jeep with some anti-government activists and went to meet the young Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra. Castro was supposed to be dead: sailing from Mexico a few months earlier, he had arrived on the coast of Oriente province with 82 men, and was immediately bombarded by coastguard vessels and army aircraft ...

Goodbye to the Comintern

Martin Kettle, 21 February 1991

About Turn. The Communist Party and the Outbreak of the Second World War: The Verbatim Record of the Central Committee Meetings 1939 
edited by Francis King and George Matthews.
Lawrence and Wishart, 318 pp., £34.95, November 1990, 9780853157267
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... In December 1989, as Nicolae Ceausescu was led out from the courtroom in Tirgoviste to his summary execution, he began to hum the opening bars of the ‘Internationale’. More than four decades earlier, Primo Levi recalled that as the Red Army speechlessly liberated the fortunate few from Auschwitz, a fellow survivor, a German named Thylle, sat on his bunk and sang the ‘Internationale’ too: ‘in a low stridulous voice, grotesque and solemn at the same time ...

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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... though the latter continued to dominate, she believes – was a likeable character; and George Matthews (still active today) seemed, as he did to everyone, a man full of ‘earnest honesty’. The Party set up in 1920 was designed to be ready for immediate action. Its modes of speech might suggest that it was already on a war footing; this ...

Cadres

Eric Hobsbawm: Communism in Britain, 26 April 2007

The Lost World of British Communism 
by Raphael Samuel.
Verso, 244 pp., £19.99, November 2006, 1 84467 103 8
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Communists and British Society 1920-91 
by Kevin Morgan, Gidon Cohen and Andrew Flinn.
Rivers Oram, 356 pp., £16.99, January 2007, 978 1 85489 145 7
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Bolshevism and the British Left, Part One: Labour Legends and Russian Gold 
by Kevin Morgan.
Lawrence and Wishart, 320 pp., £18.99, March 2007, 978 1 905007 25 7
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... In the 1950s, Harry Pollitt could still veto the appointment of the middle-class former student George Matthews as his successor and insist on the worker John Gollan. Some twenty years later the industrial organisers of the Party were a Canadian lawyer and the son of an academic, and no adequately qualified worker could be found to take up the post of ...

Carry on up the Corner Flag

R.W. Johnson: The sociology of football, 24 July 2003

Ajax, the Dutch, the War: Football in Europe during the Second World War 
by Simon Kuper.
Orion, 244 pp., £14.99, January 2003, 0 7528 5149 7
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Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 342 pp., £17.99, February 2003, 9780743220798
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... in Rome and that had gone down well. Kuper quotes extensively from the autobiographies of Stanley Matthews and the England captain, Eddie Hapgood, who insist that the team stoutly resisted the idea of giving the salute: Hapgood (so they say) even wagged his finger at the FA official who instructed them to salute and ‘told him what he could do with the Nazi ...

Higher Man

John Sutherland, 22 May 1997

The Turner Diaries 
by ‘Andrew Macdonald’.
National Vauguard Books, 211 pp., $12.95, May 1978, 0 937944 02 5
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... career ‘to devote himself to the service of his people’. In the mid-Sixties he was an aide to George Lincoln Rockwell, editing the American Nazi Party’s magazine, National Socialist World. In late 1967 the ‘American Führer’ (as Rockwell called himself) was assassinated by a disaffected comrade. In 1970, Pierce broke away from the American Nazi ...

Short Cuts

David Bromwich: Stirrers Up of Strife, 17 March 2016

... harm than good and that the avoidable attack of 11 September 2001 stemmed from the incompetence of George W. Bush. Sanders, for his part, mentions with pride his vote against the Iraq War and his aim of delivering national healthcare to all Americans. The extreme positions and the truths that can’t be spoken are uneasily mixed in these candidates. The ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... they were a lively, sociable couple. The fourth member of the party on that bucolic outing was George Tioli, an ‘Italian boy . . . quite a civilised and interesting person’. Tioli was a ‘child-psychologist’ according to Lois, who disapproved of all psychology, and according to Charles ‘a refugee from Fascist Italy’ who ‘pretended to be a ...

Horrid Mutilation! Read all about it!

Richard Davenport-Hines: Jack the Ripper and the London Press by Perry Curtis, 4 April 2002

Jack the Ripper and the London Press 
by Perry Curtis.
Yale, 354 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 300 08872 8
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... The inquest on Charles Bravo in 1876 lasted a month and provided his parents’ solicitor, George Lewis, with the national celebrity which made him the upper classes’ favourite, and most expensive, legal confidant. In 1865, Sir James Willes wept as he sentenced Constance Kent to death for suffocating her little brother and hiding his body in the ...

Turning Turk

Robert Blake, 20 August 1981

The Rise and Fall of the Political Press in Britain. Vol. 1: The 19th Century 
by Stephen Koss.
Hamish Hamilton, 455 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 241 10561 7
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... which produced a clash between Lords and Commons that prefigured the great row about the Lloyd George Budget in 1909. These financial restrictions dated back to 1712. In the early 18th century journalism was vituperative, venomous and virulent, as well as being frequently obscene and licentious. The reigns of William III and Queen Anne were marked by ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Sport Poetry, 23 January 1986

... sounds like Ezra Pound addressing his first publisher:The greatest of all time, veraglioso,   Matthews,Stoke City, Blackpool and England.His first game, though, is cricket, and it is usually Sussex CCC he has in mind when he is musing on the heroic possibilities of ‘poetry in action’. He himself was good enough to almost play for his home county (and ...

Michael Foot’s Fathers

D.A.N. Jones, 4 December 1980

My Life with Nye 
by Jennie Lee.
Cape, 277 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 0 224 01785 3
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Debts of Honour 
by Michael Foot.
Davis-Poynter, 240 pp., £9.50, November 1980, 0 7067 6243 6
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... wish to argue without wounding. Foot tells the tale of Russell receiving the Order of Merit from George VI – who remarked: ‘You have sometimes behaved in a way which would not do if generally adopted.’ Russell wanted to reply: ‘Like your brother!’ But that would have been hitting below the belt. Instead he replied, very drily: ‘How a man should ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... is any general reluctance to tick off the dead. Dick Emery was ‘a talent sadly unfulfilled’, George Brown’s career was ‘hampered’ by ‘his explosive temperament, often aggravated by alcohol’, Enid Bagnold was ‘too fond of the great and the grand to be taken seriously by the literary establishment’. According to Enoch Powell, Nigel Birch ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce, 22 October 1992

Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... of accountancy constituting the present. All the successors, the amiable if cack-handed Victor Matthews, his feverish mayor of the palace, Jocelyn Stevens, and subsequent persons deepening the descent, still aspired to Beaverbrook’s peremptory ways, his habit of punting enthusiasms and nominating heroes. All that was missing was the flair. One ...

Not Pleasing the Tidy-Minded

Ross McKibbin: Postwar Britain, 24 April 2008

Austerity Britain, 1945-51 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 692 pp., £25, May 2007, 978 0 7475 7985 4
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... The mass observers tend either to emphasise the extraordinary and odd (as in the study of King George VI’s coronation day) and the quirky gripe – like the observer quoted here who noted that in his neighbourhood the black market was based ‘in the local Conservative Clubs’ – or the reverse: the boring flatness of life, the extreme social distance ...

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