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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Avatar’, 28 January 2010

Avatar 
directed by James Cameron.
December 2009
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... is Avatar, and the name is not exactly a joke, more like a labelling of narrative machinery, as if James Cameron, writer and director of the work, had decided to call his McGuffin Mr McGuffin. Why would he do that? Because he can, is the short answer. But also because he is trying, as he says in a New Yorker interview, to put ‘a patina of reality in ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: James Cameron under Water, 26 April 2012

... ever attained by a falling human: 614 mph. Kittinger’s feat was brought to mind recently by James Cameron, the movie director, who has just done something almost as astonishing: in a newly designed submarine, he has gone to the deepest place on Earth, the Mariana Trench, in the Pacific Ocean close to the Philippines. The trench is 36,000 feet deep ...

Journos de nos jours

Anthony Howard, 8 March 1990

Alan Moorehead 
by Tom Pocock.
Bodley Head, 311 pp., £16.95, February 1990, 0 370 31261 9
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Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir 
by Carl Bernstein.
Macmillan, 254 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 333 52135 8
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Downstart 
by Brian Inglis.
Chatto, 298 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3390 2
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... The late James Cameron always liked to claim that the only male company in which he felt at home was that of his fellow journalists. They offered him, he wrote in his autobiography, ‘the conversational shorthand of completely common understanding’. Nor was his in any way an exceptional reaction. The existence across the world of various favoured journalistic watering-holes – sometimes grandly known as Press Clubs, more usually simply hotel bars with squatters’ rights established – is one proof of that ...

Editor’s Story

Peter Campbell, 18 November 1982

Of This Our Time 
by Tom Hopkinson.
Hutchinson, 317 pp., £8.95, April 1982, 9780091478605
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... fired him. The disagreements were political. The issue which led to the final break was the story James Cameron and Bert Hardy brought back from Korea about the treatment of prisoners in the South. Hulton would not publish it. Picture Post was a model for a new kind of pictorial journalism. Television documentary and news programmes, where many of the ...

Diary

Zachary Leader: Oscar Talk at the Huntington, 16 April 1998

... Garrison prob’ly, and so naturally that’s what you believe until next month when you get to James Lemon and get convinced that Virginia and Pennsylvania were strongly entrepreneurial and capitalist back in 1740. That’ll last until some time in your second year, then you’ll be in here regurgitating Gordon Wood about the pre-revolutionary utopia and ...

Fog has no memory

Jonathan Meades: Postwar Colour(lessness), 19 July 2018

The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain 
by Lynda Nead.
Yale, 416 pp., £35, October 2017, 978 0 300 21460 4
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... to Nead: ‘The fogs of the 1950s were different … from the fogs of Conan Doyle and Henry James. They drew on the accumulated meanings of the Victorian fogs, but they were also distinctively modern.’ This is, at best, questionable, quasi-anthropomorphic, ascribing to fogs memory and mimetic capacities. Nead goes on to grant meaning to other ...

Why name a ship after a defeated race?

Thomas Laqueur: New Lives of the ‘Titanic’, 24 January 2013

The Wreck of the ‘Titan’ 
by Morgan Robertson.
Hesperus, 85 pp., £8, March 2012, 978 1 84391 359 7
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Shadow of the ‘Titanic’ 
by Andrew Wilson.
Simon and Schuster, 392 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 1 84739 882 6
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‘Titanic’ 100th Anniversary Edition: A Night Remembered 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Continuum, 350 pp., £15.99, December 2011, 978 1 4411 6169 7
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The Story of the Unsinkable ‘Titanic’: Day by Day Facsimile Reports 
by Michael Wilkinson and Robert Hamilton.
Transatlantic, 127 pp., £16.99, November 2011, 978 1 907176 83 8
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‘Titanic’ Lives: Migrants and Millionaires, Conmen and Crew 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 404 pp., £9.99, September 2012, 978 0 00 732166 7
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Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage 
by Hugh Brewster.
Robson, 338 pp., £20, March 2012, 978 1 84954 179 4
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‘Titanic’ Calling 
edited by Michael Hughes and Katherine Bosworth.
Bodleian, 163 pp., £14.99, April 2012, 978 1 85124 377 8
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... turned out to be an abortive attempt to raise an 11-ton section of the hull. The movie director James Cameron, fascinated with what he called the Everest of wrecks, filmed a dive that became part of his blockbuster 1997 movie (the footage was recently repurposed for a documentary). The new 3D version of the movie released in time for the centenary took ...

Taking the hint

David Craig, 5 January 1989

The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, 1822 
by John Prebble.
Collins, 399 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 00 215404 8
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... is still to be found in one of its many forms in thousands of crofters’ living-rooms; James Cameron the Kirkcaldy publisher, whose The Old and the New Highlands (1912) brought the terrible epic up to the time of the sporting estates, the Crofters’ War, and the Crofters’ Act of 1886; and Tom Johnston, first Labour Secretary of State for ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... They were reckless and factional men in a reckless and factional age: E.S. Turner has something of James Boswell’s felicity when it comes to conveying the whiff and fever of the period in question. He shows us the men whom Cowper deplores in ‘The Task’: The pastor, either vain By nature, or by flatt’ry made so, taught To gaze at his own splendour, and ...

Every Latest Spasm

Christopher Hitchens, 23 June 1994

A Rebel in Defence of Tradition: The Life and ‘Politics’ of Dwight Macdonald 
by Michael Wreszin.
Basic Books, 590 pp., £17.99, April 1994, 0 465 01739 8
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... in spite of its invocation of the conservative revolutionary. While a genuine radical like James Cameron could famously say of himself that he was ‘conservative about everything except politics’, and while it’s true that the Anglo-American political culture holds a special niche permanently vacant for those bookish old ranters (Michael ...

Brown and Friends

David Runciman, 3 January 2008

... the same subject. As well as the two Milibands, Balls and Cooper, Jacqui Smith, Ruth Kelly, James Purnell, David Cameron and William Hague all went to Oxford and read PPE. The exceptions to this rule are George Osborne (Oxford, history), Boris Johnson (Oxford, classics), Michael Gove (Oxford, English) and a few, like ...

Success and James Maxton

Inigo Thomas, 3 January 2008

... James Maxton – Independent Labour Party MP, socialist, orator, Scotsman and the subject of a biography written by Gordon Brown twenty years ago – was not a successful leader, although some of his contemporaries in the 1920s thought he might become one. ‘Maxton was never a government minister,’ Brown wrote of his subject, ‘and his failure to achieve any high office may have been the result of a proper disinclination on the part of a man who knew that his talents were inappropriate ...

How wars begin

Jon Halliday, 23 May 1985

The Korean War: History and Tactics 
edited by David Rees.
Orbis, 128 pp., £7.99, September 1984, 0 85613 649 2
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Der Koreakrieg 1950 bis 1953: Das Scheitern der Amerikanischen Aggression gegen die KDVR 
by Olaf Groehler.
Militarverlag der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 120 pp., DM 6.50
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The Rainy Spell, and Other Korean Stories 
translated by Suh Ji-moon.
Onyx, 255 pp., £12.95, December 1984, 9780906383179
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The Complete Book of MASH 
by Suzy Kalter.
Columbus, 240 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 86287 080 1
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The Last Days of MASH 
by Alan Alda and Arlene Alda.
Columbus, 150 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 88101 008 1
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... its own misdeeds on the Communists, and this attribution was widely accepted in the West. When James Cameron tried to write about Rhee’s atrocities for Picture Post, his report was suppressed. The declassified files in the PRO show the British Government making very feeble gestures to dissuade Rhee from atrocities. The British officials seem to have ...

Diary

James Wood: These Etonians, 4 July 2019

... upwards, but perhaps true ambition has a pair of silent claws. None of us identified David Cameron as the boy marching inexorably towards Downing Street. When he became Tory leader in 2005, I had difficulty recalling him: wasn’t he that affable, sweet-faced, minor fellow at the edge of things? I remembered him as quite handsome, with the Etonian’s ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories, 26 April 2007

... being the buzzword for the shearing off of voter-unfriendly associations. Before David Cameron, or ‘DC’, as he’s known, took over in December 2005, Conservative strategists had noted anxiously that focus groups would turn against almost anything – even, or especially, tax cuts – as soon as they were told it was Tory policy. ...

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