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Diary

Nigel Hamilton: Writing Books, and Selling Them, 23 October 1986

... not discuss it until I am halfway out of the door. ‘I didn’t really like it, I have to say, Mr Hamilton. But then you knew that I wouldn’t.’ She is in her seventies now. Yes, I knew – but no one else can read my handwriting as she does! ‘It was quite readable, though.’ Does she mean handwriting or the style? My parents would like to see how the ...

In the field

Nigel Hamilton, 5 November 1981

Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... fight another day. This was a very courageous decision to make, and there are still those – like Nigel Nicolson – who hold that it was too great a risk to take at such a critical moment. One can imagine, therefore, Montgomery’s relief when, four days after giving out his new orders for Alam Halfa, Ultra provided conclusive evidence that Rommel ...

Principal Boy

Nigel Hamilton, 21 March 1985

Mountbatten 
by Philip Ziegler.
Collins, 786 pp., £15, March 1985, 0 00 216543 0
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... Dickie, you’re so crooked that if you swallowed a nail you’d shit a corkscrew!’ Thus the irascible Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer, in a ‘Templerism’ openly addressed to Lord Louis Mountbatten. It is one of Philip Ziegler’s virtues as an official biographer that he is willing to quote the unkind as well as the kind remarks about his hero ...

Gloriosus

E.S. Turner, 4 September 1986

Monty: The Field-Marshal 1944-1976 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 996 pp., £15, June 1986, 0 241 11838 7
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... and public places. You will not, for the present, enter the homes and houses of the Germans.’ Nigel Hamilton, in this robust last volume of his 2732-page trilogy, does not reproduce these orders, which surely have more than a touch of the touching about them. Here was a soldier who had commanded almost a million men in the field and taken the ...

No Fun

David Blackbourn: Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 15 October 1998

Letters of Heinrich and Thomas Mann, 1900-49 
edited by Hans Wysling, translated by Don Reneau.
California, 444 pp., £40, March 1998, 0 520 07278 2
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... Twenty years ago Nigel Hamilton wrote a double biography of the literary Brothers Mann, giving equal billing to the celebrated Thomas and the neglected Heinrich. It was certainly time to look again at Heinrich, whose importance as a public and literary figure had been taken for granted by an earlier generation of writers ...

Montgomeries

David Fraser, 22 December 1983

Monty. Vol. II: Master of the Battlefield 1942-1944 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 863 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 241 11104 8
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Decision in Normandy: The Unwritten Story of Montgomery and the Allied Campaign 
by Carlo D’Este.
Collins, 555 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 00 217056 6
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... of the battlefield. In this second volume of his immensely long biography of the Field Marshal Nigel Hamilton takes position uncompromisingly at the latter end of the spectrum of opinion. He is not blind to Monty’s faults. ‘These,’ he writes of some of Monty’s characteristics, ‘were not the marks of personal greatness or nobility of ...

The Kennedy Boys

R.W. Johnson, 28 January 1993

JFK: Life and Death of an American President. Vol. I: Reckless Youth 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Century, 898 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 7126 2571 2
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... that sense he was a pretty selfish guy. This story sums up in a few lines all the major themes of Nigel Hamilton’s book – the over-whelming shadow of Joe Kennedy, Jacks’s unrelenting promiscuity, indeed his virtually psychopathic drive for sexual satisfaction, and the coldness and detachment which his otherwise pleasant character could never quite ...

Just off Lexham Gardens

John Bayley, 9 January 1992

Through a Glass Darkly: The life of Patrick Hamilton 
by Nigel Jones.
Scribner, 408 pp., £18.95, December 1991, 0 356 19701 8
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... Towards the end of his life (he died aged 58) Patrick Hamilton was taking the cure in some Metroland establishment while Malcolm Lowry was being dried out in another not far off. That was around l960, and the two writers never met; but both had become something of a cult. Hamilton died two years later in more than averagely gloomy circumstances, back on the bottle again; and most of his reputation went with him; but there were always the faithful who remembered and read him, and a few years ago his young man’s trilogy from the early Thirties, Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky, was republished ...

Whapper

Norman Page, 8 January 1987

Beloved Emma: The Life of Emma, Lady Hamilton 
by Flora Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 410 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 297 78895 7
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Loving Emma 
by Nigel Foxell.
Harvester, 201 pp., £8.95, March 1986, 0 7108 1056 3
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... One might say that the problem with Emma Hamilton is knowing quite how to take her. Near the end of her book, Flora Fraser quotes a startlingly vivid account of Emma’s behaviour just after receiving news of Nelson’s death: it was, an eye-witness concluded, ‘a very serio-comic performance’. Is Emma’s story a tragedy or a comedy? Certainly it begins according to the approved model of classical comedy: from early adversity, and in the face of immense difficulties, she moves triumphantly towards marriage, a title, and happiness ...

The Mothering of Montgomery

John Keegan, 2 July 1981

Monty: The Making of a General, 1887-1942 
by Nigel Hamilton.
Hamish Hamilton, 871 pp., £12, June 1981, 0 241 10583 8
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The War between the Generals: Inside the Allied High Command 
by David Irving.
Allen Lane, 446 pp., £9.95, June 1981, 0 7139 1344 4
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... writing, the depth of his research and his admirable capacity for organising material. Mr Hamilton has not only been through the enormous archive of papers left by the Field-Marshal himself, but also worked extensively in several others. He has corresponded and talked with almost everyone still living who knew Montgomery well. He has read very widely ...

Madder Men

Hal Foster: Richard Hamilton on Richard Hamilton, 24 October 2019

Richard HamiltonIntrospective 
by Phillip Spectre.
König, 408 pp., £49, September 2019, 978 3 88375 695 0
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... the shepherd boy Giotto sketching a pastoral scene with perfect skill. Born in 1922, Richard Hamilton was a working-class kid whose gift for drawing was recognised early on: at 12, he talked his way into adult classes, and at 16, not long before the Second World War, into the Royal Academy of Art. Yet, as we might expect of this ‘father of Pop’, his ...
Sleaze: Politicians, Private Interests and Public Reaction 
edited by F.F. Ridley and Alan Doig.
Oxford, 222 pp., £10.99, April 1996, 0 19 922273 8
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Changing Trains: The Autobiography of Steven Norris 
Hutchinson, 273 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 0 09 180212 1Show More
The Quango Debate 
edited by F.F. Ridley and David Wilson.
Oxford, 188 pp., £10.99, September 1995, 9780199222384
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... The abject surrender of Neil Hamilton, the ‘envelope man’ who changed the law so that he could sue the Guardian for libel, deprived the nation of an exhilarating and informative court case. When the Guardian alleged that Hamilton, Tory MP for Tatton, had taken money from Mohammed AI Fayed, chairman of Harrods to lobby Parliament against a Department of Trade inquiry which eventually denounced Fayed as a liar, the cocky MP announced that he was at last going to get even with the liberal press ...

Passing-Out Time

Christopher Tayler: Patrick Hamilton’s drinking, 29 January 2009

The Slaves of Solitude 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Constable, 327 pp., £7.99, September 2008, 978 1 84529 415 1
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The Gorse Trilogy 
by Patrick Hamilton.
Black Spring, 603 pp., £9.95, June 2007, 978 0 948238 34 5
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... said, was always in the pub but never really of it. Much the same could be said of Patrick Hamilton, who was best known in his lifetime for his stage chillers Rope (1929) and Gaslight (1938), but is mostly remembered for the expert depictions of joyless interwar boozing in Hangover Square (1941) and the trilogy Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky ...

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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... helping, what they need’s a double helping, as at their heels those hounds of time are yelping. Nigel Williams is on even dodgier ground with his ‘Extracts from The Good Doctor – A Comedy’, which is (presumably) motivated by anger about current attitudes towards the NHS. I may be missing a very clever point, but the mixture of glibness and cunning ...

The Comic Strip

Ian Hamilton, 3 September 1981

... is more hooked into the media than is Coyote, and more conventionally slick. Peter Richardson and Nigel Planer have been together now for eight years – ‘We do everything together. We piss into each other’s mouths’ – but for most of that time they played music, with the jokes as decoration. Now a lot of the jokes (many of them too esoteric for my ...

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