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Downward Mobility

Linda Colley, 4 May 1989

The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians 
edited by John Cannon, R.H.C. Davis, William Doyle and Jack Greene.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £39.95, September 1988, 9780631147084
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Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian, 1772-1794 
by Patricia Craddock.
Johns Hopkins, 432 pp., £19, February 1989, 0 8018 3720 0
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Gibbon: Making History 
by Roy Porter.
Palgrave, 187 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 312 02728 1
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Macaulay 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 9780297794684
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Acton 
by Hugh Tulloch.
Trafalgar Square, 144 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 297 79470 1
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... We live in reactionary times. One indication of this is the growing trend among both politicians and academics to prescribe what historical study should be: how it should be organised and conducted, what it should be about, why it should be pursued at all. Such prescriptions can sometimes stem from genuine scholarly or cultural concern. But they can also betoken a dangerously closed mind ...

Multiple Kingdoms

Linda Colley: The origins of the British Empire, 19 July 2001

The Ideological Origins of the British Empire 
by David Armitage.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 59081 7
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... settlers in North America, Ireland and the Caribbean. But he takes issue with scholars such as Jack Greene who have interpreted all this as evidence of the emergence of an imperial identity. Rather, he suggests, these notions constituted an ideology, and as such were always contested and unstable. In the end, the British failed to find a fully ...

Travelling in circles

Robert Taubman, 3 December 1981

The Mosquito Coast 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 392 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 241 10688 5
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... Dorset, Cape Cod, and now in Honduras; and produced as many different kinds of novel. Graham Greene ranges as widely, but the Greene themes and style impose them selves; and Theroux has written on V.S. Naipaul’s themes. Apparently his own work doesn’t have the same sort of continuities. But we can spot, at least, a ...

Sing Tantarara

Colin Kidd, 30 October 1997

Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency 
by Stephen Knott.
Oxford, 258 pp., £19.50, November 1996, 0 19 510098 0
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The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 367 pp., £25, December 1996, 1 85619 637 2
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American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson 
by Joseph Ellis.
Knopf, 365 pp., $26, February 1997, 0 679 44490 4
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Slave Laws in Virginia 
by Philip Schwarz.
Georgia, 253 pp., $40, November 1996, 0 8203 1831 0
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... imperfectly Americanised to the end. An influential cohort of historians, including John Murrin, Jack Greene and T.H. Breen, has established that anglicisation, the dominant trend in 18th-century colonial life, was a vital precondition of the American Revolution. Only in the 1770s did the notion that a corrupt motherland was excluding her overseas ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck, 16 November 2000

The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... When the American poet Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867) travelled to Europe in 1822 he was carrying letters of introduction to Byron, Scott, Southey, Wordsworth, Lafayette and Talleyrand, though he never actually met any of them – whether through shyness or negligence or something else is not clear. Dickens called on Halleck on arrival in New York in 1842, but later wrote him off as a mere imitator ...

Timo of Corinth

Julian Symons, 6 August 1992

A Choice of Murder 
by Peter Vansittart.
Peter Owen, 216 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7206 0832 5
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Portrait of the Artist’s Wife 
by Barbara Anderson.
Secker, 309 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 9780436200977
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Turtle Moon 
by Alice Hoffman.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 333 57867 8
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Double Down 
by Tom Kakonis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £14.99, April 1992, 0 333 57492 3
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... with the funeral of what a ministerial encomium calls ‘New Zealand’s most venerated writer’, Jack Macalister. Present is wife Sarah, who urges those present to read his books, the Macalister girls Dora and Emily, twenty years apart in age, and Jack’s friend and first publisher Charles Bremner, who was also Sarah’s ...

Death for Elsie

Christopher Ricks, 7 August 1986

Found in the Street 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 277 pp., £9.95, April 1986, 9780434335244
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Private Papers 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 214 pp., £8.95, February 1986, 0 7011 2987 5
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... Patricia Highsmith has been praised by Graham Greene in the good old way as ‘a writer who has created a world of her own’. She can be even better than that – when she takes a world and makes it not only her own but ours. She lurks in the murk where you have to peer to check if this is an – or the – underworld ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... on the life of Sylvia Plath, Alison Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie on Graham Greene, Claire Tomalin on Coleridge, Anthony Burgess on Fielding, other reviews by Anita Brookner, Peter Conrad, Roy Foster and Hilary Mantel), and as the limits on the new paper’s resources became apparent I thought how hard it would be to put together pages ...

Bernie’s War

Philip Purser, 23 May 1991

A German Requiem 
by Philip Kerr.
Viking, 306 pp., £13.99, March 1991, 0 670 83516 1
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... spectrum than he is to the relatively straightforward adventure (Ian Fleming, Geoffrey Household, Jack Higgins), in which the difficulties and dangers of the mission are more important than its secrets. He still needs to send his hero into danger, he still needs an active climax, but he has also got to disentangle the intricate plots-within-plots that he has ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone, 18 March 2004

Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... or heterodox priests appear in some of his books, Stone has frequently been compared to Graham Greene – a writer he thinks entirely ‘phony’. (The most sinister character in A Flag for Sunrise is a loud Englishman.) Like Greene, though, he is much concerned with faith, or the lack of it, and his novels are populated ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Online Goodies, 25 April 2002

... At the Grammy awards the other week, an unusual note was struck by Michael Greene, a record industry bigwig. The only real point of interest at most award ceremonies is the frocks (and sometimes, admittedly, the hair), so it was a break with tradition when Greene and his tuxedo launched into the subject of Internet piracy ...

Putting Religion in Its Place

Colm Tóibín: Marilynne Robinson, 23 October 2014

Lila 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Virago, 261 pp., £16.99, October 2014, 978 1 84408 880 5
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... in a novel without making a dog’s dinner out of the book? Some people, such as Graham Greene, Flannery O’Connor, Chinua Achebe, Georges Bernanos, Kate O’Brien, Maurice Gee, Brian Moore and Andrew O’Hagan, have made a big effort. Others, such as James Joyce, have managed to weave religion into a larger fabric, with all the sheer drama of ...

Shakespeare the Novelist

John Sutherland, 28 September 1989

The Vision of Elena Silves 
by Nicholas Shakespeare.
Collins, 263 pp., £11.95, September 1989, 0 00 271031 5
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Billy Bathgate 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, £11.95, September 1989, 0 333 51376 2
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Buffalo Afternoon 
by Susan Fromberg Schaeffer.
Hamish Hamilton, 535 pp., £12.95, August 1989, 0 241 12634 7
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The Message to the Planet 
by Iris Murdoch.
Chatto, 563 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 7011 3479 8
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... of the Senderista cult. One might have expected Shakespeare to draw on the examples of Conrad, Greene or Paul Theroux for his fantasia on violence and evil at the headwaters of the Amazonian jungle. Instead he borrows the fluid, elliptic techniques of Latin Americans such as Fuentes, Marquez and – above all – Llosa. The Vision of Elena ...

Tio Sam

Christopher Hitchens, 20 December 1990

In the Time of the Tyrants: Panama 1968-89 
by R.M. Koster and Guillermo Sanchez Borbon.
Secker, 430 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 436 20016 3
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... this Panamanian version of the socialism of fools: Torrijos was going to play clever, bold Jack-in-the-beanstalk while Uncle Sam grimaced and growled, ‘Fee, fie, fo, fum!’ and get all kinds of political benefit from the masquerade – in Panama, in Europe, in the Third World and (pricelessly) among liberals in the United States.   But who had ...

Time for Several Whiskies

Ian Jack: BBC Propaganda, 30 August 2018

Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War 
by Edward Stourton.
Doubleday, 422 pp., £20, November 2017, 978 0 85752 332 7
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... weekly broadcasts drew audiences of between 30 and 40 per cent of the population. Graham Greene, no admirer of Priestley as a novelist, declared him second only to Churchill as a national leader. His success made him vain and hard to manage, but the BBC hired him for a second series early in 1941. His demands in these broadcasts that a declared war ...

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