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Four Poems

Donald Davie, 21 March 1985

... roar of it enlivens your west-country dell, as a whisper of it mine. Reminded of Bougainville for Howard Erskine-Hill ‘The rest is not our business.’ Come the end or a good deal sooner rest is our only business. Up to and battering that a swarming intelligence names the names, the localities. Who is to say when shearing the boom and in a way we least ...

At Kettle’s Yard

Brian Dillon: ‘Linderism’, 7 May 2020

... after everyone, Linder included, went to see the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in June 1976. Her early designs for friends’ record sleeves featured floating Expressionist heads (Real Life by Magazine) and photomontages inspired by Dada and Surrealism (the Buzzcocks’ ‘Orgasm Addict’). When she formed her own group, her persona was as ...

Sexual Politics

Michael Neve, 5 February 1981

Edward Carpenter, 1844-1929: Prophet of Human Fellowship 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Cambridge, 237 pp., £15, November 1980, 0 521 23371 2
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... network, and eventually to a fellowship in that college, newly relinquished by Leslie Stephen. In June 1870, he was ordained by the Bishop of Ely, and got to know F.D. Maurice, Professor of Moral Philosophy and proponent of Christian Socialism. Carpenter was also friendly with Henry Fawcett and the mathematician W.K. Clifford (not R.K., as Tsuzuki has it); he ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... Churchill was an inveterate war-lover who flatly refused to consider a negotiated exit from the June 1940-June 1941 Anglo-German war. That Churchill was addicted to war is certainly beyond dispute. One reading of his often brilliant observations about nuclear weapons (the 1955 ‘Balance of Terror’ speech said it ...


John Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry, 5 May 2005

by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... that was facing new and unfamiliar challenges saw these young publishers as saviours. Michael Howard, Jonathan Cape’s vice-regent for ten years, entitled the last section of his 1971 history of the firm ‘Regeneration’. It opens with Maschler’s arrival and ends with his ascent – aged 37 – to the chairmanship. ...

For ever England

John Lucas, 16 June 1983

Sherston’s Progress 
by Siegfried Sassoon.
Faber, 150 pp., £2.25, March 1983, 9780571130337
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The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon 
by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 160 pp., £5.25, March 1983, 0 571 13010 0
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Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 
edited by Rupert Hart-Davis.
Faber, 288 pp., £10.50, March 1983, 0 571 11997 2
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... With the appearance of Sherston’s Progress in 1936, Siegfried Sassoon completed what Howard Spring, writing in the Evening Standard, called ‘the most satisfying piece of autobiography to be published in our time’. Other reviewers and commentators, then and later, seem to have agreed with Spring’s assessment ...

Top People

Luke Hughes: The ghosts of Everest, 20 July 2000

Ghosts of Everest: The Authorised Story of the Search for Mallory & Irvine 
by Jochen Hemmleb and Larry Johnson.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780333783146
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Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine 
by Peter Firstbrook.
BBC, 244 pp., £16.99, September 1999, 0 563 55129 1
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The Last Climb: The Legendary Everest Expeditions of George Mallory 
by David Breashears and Audrey Salkeld.
National Geographic, 240 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7922 7538 1
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... In 1921 there was a reconnaissance and, a year later, a fullblown attempt on the mountain. In June 1924 two English climbers were in a position to make a second attempt on the summit. George Mallory, now 37 years old and a Charterhouse schoolmaster, had been on the two earlier expeditions. He was acknowledged as one of the better British rock climbers and ...

Say thank you

Clive James: Witty Words in Pretty Mouths, 23 May 2002

Fast-Talking Dames 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 365 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 300 08815 9
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... to be the height of sophistication. A more typical female role model of the conformist period was June Allyson, pouting loyally at home while James Stewart, camped out in the Mojave Desert, manfully concerned himself with the creation of the Strategic Air Command – a theme that took advantage of the B-36’s capacity to fill the Cinemascope screen. The ...

The smallest details speak the loudest

John Upton: The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, 1 July 1999

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 
by Sir William Macpherson.
Stationery Office, 335 pp., £26, February 1999, 0 10 142622 4
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The Case of Stephen Lawrence 
by Brian Cathcart.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 670 88604 1
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... teenager’s diary, none of which would be admissible evidence in a criminal trial, on 3 June Luke Knight was arrested. Interviewed by the police, he gave a full account of where he had been on the night of the murder. On the same day, Duwayne Brooks picked him out in an identification parade. On 24 June, he was ...

Sad Stories

Adam Begley, 5 January 1989

Capote: A Biography 
by Gerald Clarke.
Hamish Hamilton, 632 pp., £16.95, July 1988, 0 241 12549 9
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Jean Stafford: A Biography 
by David Roberts.
Chatto, 494 pp., £16.95, August 1988, 0 7011 3010 5
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... The June 1947 issue of Life Magazine contains an article called ‘Young US Writers’, a round-up of 11 promising post-war authors. Of the 11, three are well-known today; of this famous trio, one is still alive, the other two subjects of recently published biographies. The first page of the feature is dominated by a large photograph of a superbly arrogant Truman Capote – 22 years old, tiny, but potent ...

The Ultimate Justice Show

Michael Byers: The trial of Saddam, 8 January 2004

... after his arrest. And many of them will wish to retain influence after the elections planned for June 2004, in a country still brimming with hatred for the former regime. In these circumstances, there is no reason to expect them to create a court or appoint judges that could conceivably rule in Saddam’s favour. The inappropriateness of the Iraqi court ...

Rough Wooing

Michael Brown: Flodden, 23 January 2014

Fatal Rivalry: Flodden 1513 
by George Goodwin.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £20, July 2013, 978 0 297 86739 5
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... border castles and towers. In Northumberland, James awaited the English army, led by Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey. Though apparently possessing advantages in ground, equipment and supplies, James allowed himself to be outmanoeuvred by Surrey, who cut off the Scottish army’s route north, forcing it to move to Branxton Hill, where its cannon could not ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... pulled. I’d have liked to have written that, though I’ve no idea who Kevin Whelan is. 8 June. John Fortune rings, just back from a gig with John Bird in (I think) Dubai. It’s for a group of super-rich Arabs, few of whom speak English and who have to have the satirical barbs simultaneously translated via headphones. Unsurprisingly there are not ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy, 6 February 2003

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... thirty years ago. The United States, even the world, desperately needs more Ellsbergs. Sunday, 13 June 1971 is a day I remember very clearly: the day when excerpts from the History of US Decision-Making in Vietnam, 1945-68 (the actual title of the ‘Pentagon Papers’) began to appear in the press. I was serving as a consultant to the CIA’s Office of ...

Scribblers and Assassins

Charles Nicholl: The Crimes of Thomas Drury, 31 October 2002

... to Sir Edward Stafford. But then we start to hear of another side to his character. On 27 June 1580, Lord William Burgh filed a bill of complaint against ‘Thomas Drury, gentleman’, who is without a doubt our Drury. In this document, discovered by Roy Kendall, Burgh alleges that Drury tried to swindle him to the considerable tune of £300. ‘Slyly ...

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