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Napoleon was wrong

Ian Gilmour, 24 June 1993

Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... weakness of the British economy in the 20th century reduced the demand for their services. Russell Taylor forcibly makes the same point. Professor Rubinstein’s argument is nearly always serious and absorbing and based on detailed and original research, but occasionally he falls well below his usual level. Thus, in an attempt to show that good prose-writing ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!, 14 December 2000

Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... Do you have a friend who keeps a diary, a journal intime? If so, you’d better watch your mouth – indeed, watch everything about yourself, the way you dress, the way you eat, and what you eat, how much you drink, who pays the bill, and so on. Be careful, but be careful not to seem too careful: Dec. 14: Lunch with IH. Shifty fucker, absurdly self-conscious ...

Positively Spaced Out

Rosemary Hill: ‘The Building of England’, 6 September 2001

The Buildings of England: A Celebration Compiled to Mark 50 Years of the Pevsner Architectural Guides 
edited by Simon Bradley and Bridget Cherry.
Penguin Collectors’ Society, 128 pp., £9.99, July 2001, 0 9527401 3 3
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... only one or two bees per bonnet. The Pevsnerian approach was different. In a witty essay, Michael Taylor, who drove Pevsner round Warwickshire, recalls the experience as stimulating and slightly nightmarish, ‘like viewing a video of a thousand years … of history … fast-forwarded’. Pevsner ‘robbed the word “specialist” of its meaning by being a ...

My Wife

Jonathan Coe, 21 December 1989

Soho Square II 
edited by Ian Hamilton.
Bloomsbury, 287 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 7475 0506 3
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... alive. There is still something to be said for this view, and I was reminded of it by D.J. Taylor’s snooty mimicry of textbook journalese in ‘On The Strip’, which purports to describe life on Sunset Strip, Hollywood Boulevard (‘a clotted heatscape of a place, a serpentine coil of stores and diners split in two by a wide thread of tarmac, hazy ...

One for the road

Ian Hamilton, 21 March 1991

Memoirs 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 346 pp., £16.99, March 1991, 0 09 174533 0
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... with protecting his own turf. The writers he likes pose little or no threat – Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Bowen, Anthony Powell: either safely senior or safely underrated by the mob. Philip Larkin used to exhibit the same tendency when asked to name his lineup: Barbara Pym, Stevie Smith, Betjeman. Larkin, of course, is the one contemporary to whom ...

Ahead of the Game

Daniel Finn: The Official IRA, 7 October 2010

The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party 
by Brian Hanley and Scott Millar.
Penguin, 658 pp., £9.99, April 2010, 978 0 14 102845 3
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... In May 1977, Ian Paisley was in a television studio in Belfast when he bumped into Malachy McGurran, a leader of the Official IRA in Northern Ireland. At that time, Paisley was attempting to orchestrate a repeat of the loyalist workers’ strike that had defeated the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement three years earlier ...

Je m’en Foucault

Vincent Descombes, 5 March 1987

Foucault: A Critical Reader 
edited by David Hoy.
Blackwell, 246 pp., £27.50, September 1986, 0 631 14042 5
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Foucault 
by Gilles Deleuze.
Minuit, 141 pp., frs 58, February 1986, 2 7073 1086 7
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... analysis – or rather in the conception of knowledge which this analysis presupposes? Ian Hacking holds that Foucault’s historical construction is in itself Foucault’s philosophy. Certainly it is a study of the ‘conditions of possibility for ideas’, which, according to Hacking, is precisely what we call philosophy. Hacking seems to believe ...

Particularly Anodyne

Richard Norton-Taylor: One bomb in London, 15 July 2021

The Intelligence War against the IRA 
by Thomas Leahy.
Cambridge, 356 pp., £18.99, March 2020, 978 1 108 72040 3
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... Thatcher, or the bombs that killed two of her closest parliamentary aides, Airey Neave and Ian Gow, provoked momentary outrage, as did those that killed guardsmen and their horses in the royal parks. A missile fired from a truck and narrowly missing John Major’s cabinet in Downing Street was met with astonishment as much as alarm. The IRA had come to ...

Four Moptop Yobbos

Ian Penman, 17 June 2021

One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 642 pp., £9.99, March, 978 0 00 834003 2
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The Beatles and Sixties Britain 
by Marcus Collins.
Cambridge, 382 pp., £90, March 2020, 978 1 108 47724 6
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The Beatles in Context 
edited by Kenneth Womack.
Cambridge, 372 pp., £74.99, January 2020, 978 1 108 41911 6
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... page of Craig Brown’s One Two Three Four, Brian Epstein and his personal assistant, Alistair Taylor, behold the Beatles for the very first time. It is November 1961, in a ‘dank and damp and smelly’ Liverpool basement, and the young band are loud, foul-mouthed, almost purposefully unprofessional.After the show, ...

Whangity-Whang-Whang

Ian Hamilton, 28 May 1992

Damon Runyon: A Life 
by Jimmy Breslin.
Hodder, 410 pp., £17.99, March 1992, 0 340 57034 2
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... nothing but a misprint.’ Jimmy Breslin reckons that Runyon caught the habit either from Samuel Taylor Coleridge or from listening to hoodlums testifying evasively at court hearings. A more likely bet is that he caught it from Ring Lardner, from whom he picked up several other hard-boiled/soft-centred tricks of style. The fact is, though, that the ploy does ...

Loot

Ian Buruma, 9 March 1995

The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War 
by Lynn Nicholas.
Macmillan, 498 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62652 4
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... The Monument men, such as John Nicholas Brown and Mason Hammond, were outraged. But Francis Henry Taylor, director of the Metropolitan Museum, thought that ‘the American people had earned the right in this war to such compensation if they chose to take it.’ Twenty-five officers of the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Commission signed a ...

Rigging the Death Rate

Paul Taylor, 11 April 2013

... operations, two of whom, James Wisheart and Janardan Dhasmana, were struck off even before Ian Kennedy’s report was published. The problems at the infirmary had become public largely through the efforts of Stephen Bolsin, a consultant anaesthetist with an interest in clinical audit, a process in which clinicians’ outcomes are measured. Bolsin ...

Haley’s Comet

Paul Driver, 6 February 1997

The Envy of the World: Fifty Years of the BBC Third Programme and Radio 3 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Weidenfeld, 431 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 297 81720 5
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... thrived – the careers of N.F. Simpson, Pinter and Stoppard were nurtured there. Desmond Shawe-Taylor wrote in the New Statesman that ‘the whole musical landscape’ was ‘likely to be transformed by the arrival of the Third Programme’; Edward Sackville-West in Picture Post thought that it could ‘well become the greatest educative and civilising ...

What’s going on?

Peter Jenkins, 21 November 1985

How Britain votes 
by Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice.
Pergamon, 251 pp., £15.50, September 1985, 0 08 031859 2
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Partnership of Principle 
by Roy Jenkins.
Secker in association with the Radical Centre, 169 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 436 22100 4
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The Strange Rebirth of Liberal Britain 
by Ian Bradley.
Chatto, 259 pp., £11.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2670 1
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Report from the Select Committee on Overseas Trade, House of Lords 
HMSO, 96 pp., £6.30, October 1985, 0 10 496285 2Show More
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... yield of misty perceptions which are all we know of political reality. The philosopher Charles Taylor has remarked that politics is ‘what’s going on’, or something to that effect. But how the hell are we to know what’s going on, I thought while on my way to the Trades Union Congress? What is going on is in some part what we say is going on: but if ...

Long Live Aporia!

Hal Foster: William Gaddis, 24 July 2003

Agapē Agape 
by William Gaddis.
Atlantic, 113 pp., £9.99, January 2003, 1 903809 83 5
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The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings 
by William Gaddis, edited by Joseph Tabbi.
Penguin, 182 pp., $14, October 2002, 0 14 200238 0
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... Ford (assembly line, plant police), Pullman (model town), Mary Baker Eddy (applied ontology), Taylor (time studies), Watson (behaviourism), Sanger (sex) etc, etc.’ Clearly Gaddis is concerned less with mechanisation per se than with the ‘more pervasive principle of organisation’ which continues to govern ‘automation and cybernetics, mathematics ...

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