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Very Inbred

Helen McCarthy: Coeducation Revolutions, 10 May 2018

‘Keep the Damned Women Out’: The Struggle for Coeducation 
by Nancy Weiss Malkiel.
Princeton, 646 pp., £22.95, May 2018, 978 0 691 18111 0
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... At some point​ in the mid-1960s, large numbers of ambitious young men in Britain and North America lost their enthusiasm for elite, male-only colleges. The prospect of spending three or four years in an exclusively masculine environment had diminishing appeal. The absence of women felt ‘unnatural’, ‘unhealthy’, and increasingly at odds with the social and professional worlds in which the sexes now mixed relatively freely ...

The Statistical Gaze

Helen McCarthy: The British Census, 29 June 2017

The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick-Maker: The Story of Britain through Its Census, since 1801 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 4087 0701 2
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... About 15 years ago​ , when I was renting my first flat in London, a man from the Office for National Statistics paid me a call. A letter had arrived a week earlier informing me that my postcode had been randomly selected for the annual General Household Survey and that I could expect a visit. My interrogator was in his mid-fifties, tall, well-spoken, and wearing a long dark overcoat which he didn’t take off ...

Soothe and Scold

Helen McCarthy: Mothers, 12 September 2019

Mother: An Unconventional History 
by Sarah Knott.
Viking, 336 pp., £14.99, March 2019, 978 0 241 19860 5
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... My first child​ was born in a hospital room in East London on a February morning after 12 hours of labour. Our doula, who had arrived the previous evening, bringing cushions in a supermarket carrier bag, fetched me a hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin. It was the best breakfast of my life. This is a maternal anecdote. It is fairly boring, and definitely trivial ...

Triumph of the Poshocracy

Susan Pedersen: Britain between the Wars, 8 August 2013

The British People and the League of Nations: Democracy, Citizenship and Internationalism, c.1918-45 
by Helen McCarthy.
Manchester, 282 pp., £65, November 2011, 978 0 7190 8616 8
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A Lark for the Sake of Their Country: The 1926 General Strike Volunteers in Folklore and Memory 
by Rachelle Hope Saltzman.
Manchester, 262 pp., £65, April 2012, 978 0 7190 7977 1
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... And of those national societies, none was more important than the British League of Nations Union. Helen McCarthy’s book is the first full study of the LNU to be published in more than thirty years. It is an important work of recovery. Almost forgotten today, the LNU was one of the largest and most vibrant voluntary associations of the interwar ...

Audrey’s Eye

Anthony Quinn, 21 February 1991

Leaving Brooklyn 
by Lynne Sharon Schwartz.
Minerva, 146 pp., £4.99, December 1990, 0 7493 9072 7
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Surrogate City 
by Hugo Hamilton.
Faber, 197 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 0 571 14432 2
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... be orchestrated by a man her father calls ‘the pig’, known to the rest of the world as Joseph McCarthy. Audrey listens to her father inveighing fiercely against the Senator, with his ‘balloony face and small mean eyes and snout’, and cannot understand why he hasn’t been overthrown. Why have people truckled to these witch-hunts? She deplores this ...

Knucklehead Truman

Douglas Johnson, 2 June 1983

The Eisenhower Diaries 
edited by Robert Ferrell.
Norton, 445 pp., £15.25, April 1983, 0 393 01432 0
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The Life and Times of Joe McCarthyA Biography 
by Thomas Reeves.
Blond and Briggs, 819 pp., £11.95, June 1983, 0 85634 131 2
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The past has another pattern 
by George Ball.
Norton, 544 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 393 01481 9
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Torn Lace Curtain 
by Frank Saunders and James Southwood.
Sidgwick, 361 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 283 98946 7
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The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power 
by Robert Caro.
Collins, 882 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 00 217062 0
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The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson 
by Ronnie Dugger.
Norton, 514 pp., £13.25, September 1982, 9780393015980
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Years of Upheaval 
by Henry Kissinger.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 1312 pp., £15.95, March 1982, 0 7181 2115 5
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Richard Nixon: The Shaping of his Character 
by Fawn Brodie.
Norton, 574 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 393 01467 3
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Haig: The General’s Progress 
by Roger Morris.
Robson, 458 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780860511885
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Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President 
by Jimmy Carter.
Collins, 622 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 00 216648 8
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Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency 
by Hamilton Jordan.
Joseph, 431 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 7181 2248 8
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Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser 1977-81 
by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Weidenfeld, 587 pp., £15, April 1983, 0 297 78220 7
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... has been repeatedly laid low, whether by the intervention of some violent figure such as Senator McCarthy or by some crusading newspaper such as the Washington Post, whether by its own divisions or its neuroticisms. It has at times been rendered almost powerless by the actions of distant states, such as North Vietnam, Iran and Israel (and may well now be ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... They’re not going to stop,’ Joe McCarthy said of the Communists. ‘It’s right here with us now. Unless we make sure there’s no infiltration of our government, then just as certain as you sit there, in the period of our lives you will see a Red world.’ So began the 1954 Senate hearings on subversive influence in the army ...

Diary

Elisa Segrave: On the Pier at Key West, 18 April 1996

... there at seven. An old lady is already in their sitting-room, looking very composed. She is called Helen Rosen – she knew Lillian Hellman and Dashiel Hammett and stood out against McCarthy. She is the widow of a doctor who made a break-through with an operation for the deaf. She assisted her husband in his lab for thirty ...

Who Cares?

Jean McNicol, 9 February 1995

The Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis 
by Jean Ritchie, Donald Dick and Richard Lingham.
HMSO, 146 pp., £9.50, February 1994, 0 11 701798 1
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Creating Community Care: Report of the Mental Health Foundation into Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness 
by William Utting.
Mental Health Foundation, 76 pp., £9.50, September 1994, 0 901944 17 3
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Finding a Place: A Review of Mental Health Services for Adults 
HMSO, 94 pp., £11, November 1994, 0 11 886143 3Show More
The Falling Shadow: One Patient’s Mental Health Care. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Events Leading up to and Surrounding the Fatal Incident at the Edith Morgan Centre, Torbay, on 1 September 1993 
by Louis Blom-Cooper, Helen Hally and Elaine Murphy.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 7156 2662 0
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... All three thought Clunks was still potentially dangerous. But only three days after the trial, Dr McCarthy, a consultant psychiatrist at Guy’s, rang Kneesworth and told the doctors there that Clunis was to be immediately transferred to a general psychiatric ward at Guy’s. Dr McCarthy insists that he was told Clunis was ...

Nixon’s Greatest Moments

R.W. Johnson, 13 May 1993

Nixon: A Life 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Weidenfeld, 633 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 297 81259 9
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... a $1,000 campaign contribution from his father for the bitter Senate fight against Helen Douglas. No less ironic is the way Nixon, as Vice-President, rushed to visit an apparently dying JFK in hospital in 1954, prompting an effusive letter of thanks from Jackie (‘I don’t think there is anyone in the world he thinks more highly of ...

Look over your shoulder

Christopher Hitchens, 25 May 1995

... At different pitches and with different timbres, this refrain has been part of the Joe McCarthy movement, the George Wallace campaign and every Republican surge from Nixon to Gingrich. (But let’s not be too partisan about it; the rhetoric evolved from the days when the Ku Klux Klan and the Southern Democratic Party were each other’s official ...

Andy Paperbag

Hal Foster: Andy Warhol, 21 March 2002

Andy Warhol 
by Wayne Koestenbaum.
Weidenfeld, 196 pp., £12.99, November 2001, 0 297 64630 3
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... proclivity for ‘multiplication and archiving’ to gay taste in New York, which in ‘the bleak McCarthy era paradoxically flourished in the home’. In this ‘domestic avant-gardism’ public signs were ironised in private ways that ‘interrupted the distinction’ between the two spheres. Such customising of images is close to ‘camp’ as defined by ...

A Hammer in His Hands

Frank Kermode: Lowell’s Letters, 22 September 2005

The Letters of Robert Lowell 
edited by Saskia Hamilton.
Faber, 852 pp., £30, July 2005, 0 571 20204 7
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... quite like this. At the other, gentler end of the scale of violence are many exercises in what Helen Vendler calls ‘minimalist colloquiality’. Poems, unlike manic episodes, were subject to control. Such was Lowell’s strong conviction when, as an undergraduate, he chose to study with Ransom and Tate. His unflagging concern with verse technique is ...

The Buffalo in the Hall

Susannah Clapp: Beryl Bainbridge, 5 January 2017

Beryl Bainbridge: Love by All Sorts of Means, a Biography 
by Brendan King.
Bloomsbury, 564 pp., £25, September 2016, 978 1 4729 0853 7
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... but for the depth of her feeling. He was rueful about his tussles with his co-panellists Mary McCarthy and Edna O’Brien when chairing the Booker in 1973. He had wanted The Dressmaker to win. J.G. Farrell’s The Siege of Krishnapur – incidentally, the only book by a man on the shortlist – got the award. When I was on the panel in 1990, I wanted An ...

To Stir up the People

John Barrell: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm, 23 January 2014

Unusual Suspects: Pitt’s Reign of Alarm and the Lost Generation of the 1790s 
by Kenneth Johnston.
Oxford, 376 pp., £30, July 2013, 978 0 19 965780 3
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... Joseph Priestley, were veterans of public discussion; others, like William Godwin, Coleridge, Helen Maria Williams and James Montgomery, were just setting out on careers that promised extraordinary achievements. They are unusual suspects because they were not organisers and activists, orators and pamphleteers who urged direct action in support of ...

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