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Laundering Britain’s Past

Marilyn Butler, 12 September 1991

The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 1095 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 297 81207 6
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... Paul Johnson’s thousand-page book is geared to the present age of long print runs and mass marketing. It is one of the currently popular narrative histories written by Britons who position themselves mid-Atlantic, in order to address the American reader. At a thousand pages Johnson’s book is longer than Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, 1988 (subtitle, ‘Economic Change and Military Conflict, 1500-2000’), or Simon Schama’s Citizens, 1989 ...

Huw should be so lucky

Philip Purser, 16 August 1990

Sir Huge: The Life of Huw Wheldon 
by Paul Ferris.
Joseph, 307 pp., £18.99, June 1990, 0 7181 3464 8
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... of the ritual, had he known about it, can only be a matter for speculation, but as recounted by Paul Ferris in Sir Huge the episode quaintly anticipates the row which has broken out over the publication of this biography, and brought such champions of Wheldon’s reputation as Sir Denis Forman, Ludovic Kennedy and Melvyn ...

Deep Down in the Trash

Robert Crawford, 21 August 1997

God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are wary of each other. Jamie recently refused to read with Irvine Welsh because of what she saw as the misogyny of one of his short stories. Yet even such wariness reinforces a sense that these issues are worth ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Head Shot’, 24 May 2012

... the bullet, angling downward as determined at the official autopsy, to reverse direction inside Kennedy’s body and reflect backward up from inside his back toward his neck bones, striking a vertebra, reflecting again at a high angle before exiting just below his Adam’s apple,’ Paul Chambers writes in Head Shot: The ...

Diary

David Bromwich: President-Speak, 10 April 2008

... about the duties and limitations of democracy by John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Adams’s 1821 Independence Day address to the House of Representatives was delivered while he was secretary of state in the administration of James Monroe. A sceptic might see this speech as a cover for the Monroe Doctrine (the first American ...

Dear Sphinx

Penelope Fitzgerald, 1 December 1983

The Little Ottleys 
by Ada Leverson and Sally Beauman.
Virago, 543 pp., £3.95, November 1982, 0 86068 300 1
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The Constant Nymph 
by Margaret Kennedy and Anita Brookner.
Virago, 326 pp., £3.50, August 1983, 0 86068 354 0
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The Constant Novelist: A Study of Margaret Kennedy 1896-1967 
by Violet Powell.
Heinemann, 219 pp., £10.95, June 1983, 0 434 59951 4
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... descended from Jane Austen’. It seems to me much more nearly related to her own contemporaries, Paul Bourget and ‘Gyp’. The passing remarks of Bourget’s characters (‘tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des demi-mondes,’ ‘avec les femmes tout est possible, même le bien’) are in the Leversonian mode, so is the worldly entanglement of ...

Strong Government

Linda Colley, 7 December 1989

The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688-1788 
by John Brewer.
Unwin Hyman, 289 pp., £28, April 1989, 0 04 445292 6
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Cambridge in the Age of the Enlightenment: Science, Religion and Politics from the Restoration to the French Revolution 
by John Gascoigne.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £32.50, June 1989, 0 521 35139 1
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Imperial Meridian: The British Empire and the World 
by C.A. Bayly.
Longman, 295 pp., £16.95, June 1989, 0 582 04287 9
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... of Sea Power upon History (1890), we might stress the derring-do of the Royal Navy, or – as Paul Kennedy did recently – the role of public finance. Brewer concentrates on organisational factors, and isolates three that were crucial. First and foremost, Britain’s army and navy trebled in size in the century after the Glorious Revolution. By the ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... antagonist he explicitly argues with most often is his fellow philo-American of British origins, Paul Johnson (once on the Left, then Thatcherite, now an admirer of Tony Blair), whose own celebratory history of the United States appeared in 1997. In imagining an American narrative around which a renewed progressivism could unite, Evans adopts the Popular ...

Sixtysomethings

Paul Addison, 11 May 1995

True Blues: The Politics of Conservative Party Membership 
by Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd and Jeremy Richardson.
Oxford, 303 pp., £35, October 1994, 0 19 827786 5
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Frustrate Their Knavish Tricks: Writings on Biography, History and Politics 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 417 pp., £20, August 1994, 9780002554954
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... to the world at the Annual Party Conference. From now on there is less excuse for ignorance. Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd and Jeremy Richardson have conducted the first national survey of Conservative Party members, based on a sample of 34 constituency associations in various regions, including Scotland. Since the survey is based on a standardised ...

Losing the War

Robert Dallek, 23 November 1989

A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam 
by Neil Sheehan.
Cape, 861 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 224 02648 8
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... officers aimed to hide unpleasant decisions and realities from them. From 1961 to 1965, when the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations expanded US commitments in Vietnam, the realities of what we were doing and the difficulties confronting us were muted – partly to discourage public debate and inhibitions on executive freedom to make policy, and partly out ...

Shag another

Katrina Forrester: In Bed with the Police, 7 November 2013

Undercover: The True Story of Britain’s Secret Police 
by Rob Evans and Paul Lewis.
Faber and Guardian Books, 346 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 571 30217 8
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... In October 2010, a group of activists announced on the alternative news site Indymedia that Mark Kennedy, an undercover officer working with the NPOIU, had infiltrated them. Since then, a good deal of detail about the tactics of the NPOIU and SDS, the double lives its officers led and the people they exploited and betrayed, has been brought to light. The ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... the skies were protected by helicopters. ‘Here comes a mob,’ somebody said. At the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Tampa Street, policemen in riot gear formed a line to meet the Poor People’s March of socialists and anarchists. The cops far outnumbered the protesters. A man with a megaphone and a black plastic boot on his head addressed the ...

In Memoriam

Paul Sieghart, 19 March 1981

Mandy 
by Mandy Rice-Davies and Shirley Flack.
Joseph, 224 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 7181 1974 6
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... had gone very wrong indeed, though what it was remained at first curiously elusive. It was Ludovic Kennedy, in The Trial of Stephen Ward (Gollancz, 1964), who first put his finger on it. With blinding insight, he reminded us that, in a country that values its liberties, the function of the police is to investigate known crimes, and to discover the perpetrator ...

Diary

Paul Foot: The Buttocks Problem, 5 September 1996

... the chairman of the school’s finance committee, ‘but of course there was nothing.’ Ludovic Kennedy, whose daughter went to Fettes in the Trench years, has revealed that his floggings grew in intensity as the years went on. Often, in desperation, Trench picked out wholly innocent boys for beating. He became ill and resorted increasingly to drink. Early ...

Per Ardua

Paul Foot, 8 February 1996

In the Public Interest 
by Gerald James.
Little, Brown, 339 pp., £18.99, December 1995, 0 316 87719 0
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... to him. Naturally, James was very right-wing. He’d been a disciple, he still boasts, of George Kennedy Young, an MI6 agent who became deputy chairman of Kleinwort Benson. James describes Young as ‘a brave man’ who ‘knew the difference between good and evil’. In fact, Young was a racist of a pretty poisonous variety who never let his business or ...

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