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Diary

David Haglund: Mormons, 22 May 2003

... they are thought of at all. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith in Palmyra, New York, in 1830, shortly after he published the Book of Mormon. The Book purported to be the history of a family of Jews who had sailed to the Americas around 600 BC. According to the Book, shortly after the Resurrection Christ appeared to ...

Court Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith, 30 July 2015

... In his first speech​ as lord chancellor, Michael Gove warned of a ‘dangerous inequality’ in the justice system. There was, he said, a ‘gold standard’ for the wealthy and a ‘creaking, outdated system’ for everyone else. This, from a minister in a government that has made enormous cuts to legal aid, is a little like Orestes asking for mercy on account of his being an orphan ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The United States v. Billie Holiday’, 18 March 2021

... Grainger and Everett Robbins, first performed by Anna Meyers and often associated with Bessie Smith. The song is all about independence, and Holiday seems to return to sassy life as she sings it. ‘If I go to church on Sunday,’ one verse runs, ‘Then cabaret all day Monday/Ain’t nobody’s business if I do.’ But then the song has two later ...

The Big Store

Norman Hampson, 21 January 1982

The Bon Marché: Bourgeois Culture and the Department Store 1869-1920 
by Michael Miller.
Allen and Unwin, 266 pp., £12.50, September 1981, 0 04 330316 1
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Ladies of the Leisure Class: The Bourgeoises of Northern France in the 19th Century 
by Bonnie Smith.
Princeton, 303 pp., £15, November 1981, 0 691 05330 8
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Marianne into Battle: Republican Imagery and Symbolism in France 1789-1880 
by Maurice Agulhon, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge, 235 pp., £18.50, June 1981, 0 521 28224 1
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... the replacement of Squire Allworthy by Mr Bounderby. In this interesting and original book, Michael Miller suggests that they may have ordered these things better in France. His subject is the history of the greatest of the 19th-century Paris department stores, the Bon Marché, from its creation until the 1914 War. In his conclusion, however, he ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... distinguished and competent. That the names of William Hague at the age of 36 and Iain Duncan Smith at any age should now be added to that illustrious roll is bizarre. How did this Conservative descent into absurdity occur? During Major’s premiership by far the greatest cause of dissension in the governing party was Europe. After she had been deprived ...

Nanny knows best

Michael Stewart, 4 June 1987

Kinnock 
by Michael Leapman.
Unwin Hyman, 217 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 04 440006 3
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The Thatcher Years: A Decade of Revolution in British Politics 
by John Cole.
BBC, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 563 20572 5
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Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? 
by Dennis Kavanagh.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 827522 6
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The New Right: The Counter-Revolution in Political, Social and Economic Thought 
by David Green.
Wheatsheaf, 238 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 7450 0127 0
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... man in a position made impossible by historical developments, one will not find much in either Michael Leapman’s sympathetic and readable portrait, or John Cole’s lively and good-humoured canter over the events of the last decade, to change one’s mind. The nature of the Labour Party’s – and Kinnock’s – problem was vividly illustrated ...

How Do You Pay?

Bee Wilson: Falling for Michael Moore, 1 November 2007

Citizen Moore: An American Maverick 
by Roger Rapoport.
Methuen, 361 pp., £8.99, July 2007, 978 0 413 77649 5
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Manufacturing Dissent 
directed by Rick Caine and Debbie Melnyk.
October 2007
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Sicko 
directed by Michael Moore.
October 2007
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... Because the man himself is so ungainly, it is easy to overlook Michael Moore’s voice. Where his body seems ungovernable and a source of embarrassment to him – he often can’t bear to watch himself on screen – his voice is confident, almost suave. There’s a moment in his least known movie, The Big One (1997), where he launches effortlessly into a gravelly imitation of Dylan singing ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ before reverting, with a chuckle, to his own spoken voice ...

Ovid goes to Stratford

Michael Dobson: Shakespeare Myths, 5 December 2013

Thirty Great Myths about Shakespeare 
by Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith.
Wiley-Blackwell, 216 pp., £14.99, December 2012, 978 0 470 65851 2
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... semi-secularised version of the Nativity, according to the subtitle supplied to Benjamin Smith’s engraving for the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, ‘Nature is represented with her face unveiled to her favourite Child, who is placed between Joy and Sorrow. On the right of Nature are Love, Hatred & Jealousy; on her left hand, Anger, Envy & Fear.’ The ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Michael Jackson’s frailties, 31 March 2005

... Catching news about the Michael Jackson trial, I can’t help being reminded of a caustic song by Dan Bern, a singer less famous than Jackson by several orders of magnitude, called ‘Too Late to Die Young’. ‘The day that Elvis died was like a mercy killing,’ it begins, before turning its attention to the inglorious late careers of other fallen idols of American popular culture, challenging listeners to ‘name the last good film that Marlon Brando made/While trying to keep his kid from going to jail ...

Unplug the car and let’s go!

John Sutherland, 21 August 1997

The Car that Could: The Inside Story of GM’s Revolutionary Electric Vehicle 
by Michael Shnayerson.
Random House, 295 pp., $25, November 1996, 9780679421054
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... battery-powered and hybrid cars toward practicality.’ Sunraycer was also a triumph for Roger Smith, General Motors’ chief executive. Smith badly needed a triumph. The firm was under fire for its corporate unfriendliness. What was good for GM was generally seen as bad for America. In 1989 ...

Earls’ Sons

E.S. Turner, 20 October 1983

The Man who was Greenmantle: A Biography of Aubrey Herbert 
by Margaret FitzHerbert.
Murray, 250 pp., £15, September 1983, 0 7195 4067 4
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A Classic Connection 
by Michael Seth-Smith.
Secker, 184 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 436 44705 3
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... the Middle East’, volunteered to tackle the papers; and we must all be very glad that she did. Michael Seth-Smith’s A Classic Connection also features the career of an earl’s son, George Lambton, whose father was the second Earl of Durham. Lying fifth in a field of nine sons, he had to seek his own living. An ...

Erratic Star

Michael Foot, 11 May 1995

Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle 
by Simon Heffer.
Orion, 420 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81564 4
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... the raw clash between rich and poor brought about by Thatcherite-Lawsonite-Majorite policies, Adam Smith would have recoiled. The social policy he sought to develop was more civilised than anything on offer today from the Howards and the Heseltines, the Portillos and the Lilleys. To be fair to them, most of the Peterhouse School have chosen to expose skeletons ...

Last Stand

Stephen Smith, 8 May 1997

Solidarity on the Water front: The Liver pool Lock-Out of 1995-96 
by Michael Lavalette and Jane Kennedy.
Liver Press, 147 pp., £5.95, December 1996, 1 871201 06 3
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... story of workers and their families who have found precious little solidarity in other quarters. Michael Lavalette and Jane Kennedy also suggest that the cost of securing foreign support has been some ‘inactivity’ by the men at home: ‘if internationalism and the international dock labour force are going to win the dispute for the Liverpool workers why ...
A Matter of Justice: The Legal System in Ferment 
by Michael Zander.
Tauris, 323 pp., £16.50, February 1988, 1 85043 040 3
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The Coercive State: The Decline of Democracy in Britain 
by Paddy Hillyard and Janie Percy-Smith.
Fontana, 352 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 00 637083 7
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... and many legal theorists believe it is. A literate Martian, for example, would not believe that Michael Zander was writing about the same society as Paddy Hillyard and Janie Percy-Smith, and at the same period of time. There is simply no space in Zander’s world-picture for the possibility that ours is a coercive state ...

Number One Passport

Julian Loose, 22 October 1992

Rising Sun 
by Michael Crichton.
Century, 364 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 0 7126 5320 1
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Off Centre: Power and Culture Relations between Japan and the United States 
by Masao Miyoshi.
Harvard, 289 pp., £22.95, December 1992, 0 674 63175 7
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Underground in Japan 
by Rey Ventura.
Cape, 204 pp., £7.99, April 1992, 0 224 03550 9
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... other icons now under Japanese management include the Rockefeller Center, Universal Studios and Michael Jackson. Such high-profile acquisitions are seized upon by opportunistic commentators, all too keen to foster suspicions of Japanese duplicity, racism and greed. Writing about Japan, its society and its foreign affairs has to an overwhelming degree become ...

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