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Oppressors

V.G. Kiernan, 18 September 1986

What’s happening to India: Punjab, Ethnic Conflict, Mrs Gandhi’s Death and the Test for Federalism 
by Robin Jeffrey.
Macmillan, 249 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 333 40440 8
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Lions of the Punjab: Culture in the Making 
by Richard Fox.
California, 259 pp., £25.50, January 1986, 0 520 05491 1
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... new province of Haryana. This still left a large minority of Hindus in the remaining Punjab. Dr Jeffrey dwells on the Punjabi cult of machismo and taste for violence, and of widespread possession of home-made and other firearms. History’s legacy of a warlike spirit has been at times heroic, often a nuisance. The shock of the 1947 bloodshed and forced ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘The Constant Gardener’, 3 November 2005

... loved, or slept with, anyone but him. There’s no doubt who the goodies and baddies are here. Jeffrey Caine, the screenwriter, has no time for people who’ll say that ‘Big Pharma is too obvious a target.’ He’s right that there’s nothing wrong with obvious targets. And it’s certainly true that drug companies’ top priority is making money: they ...

Ages of the Train

Christopher Driver, 8 January 1987

The Railway Station: A Social History 
by Jeffrey Richards and John MacKenzie.
Oxford, 440 pp., £15, April 1986, 0 19 215876 7
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The Railways of Britain: A Journey through History 
by Jack Simmons.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £15.95, May 1986, 0 333 40766 0
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... Trans-Siberian railway, a Soviet architect-poet scribbled down for me an example of his work which Robin Milner-Gulland later translated: Why were you late (a few years late)? Or perhaps you were a whole lifetime late? Why is there no time-table for love? And it comes with no bell and no signal ... For the trains there are green signals waiting. The trains ...

If everybody had a Wadley

Terry Castle: ‘Joe’ Carstairs, the ‘fastest woman on water’, 5 March 1998

The Queen of Whale Cay: The Eccentric Story of ‘Joe’ Carstairs, Fastest Woman on Water 
by Kate Summerscale.
Fourth Estate, 248 pp., £12.99, August 1997, 1 85702 360 9
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... come in all shapes and sizes: from the obvious ghouls and werewolves (Rasputin, Hitler, Idi Amin, Jeffrey Dahmer) to various mid-rank demigods and unicorn-people (T.E. Lawrence, Wittgenstein, Che Guevara, Greta Garbo, Edith Sitwell, JFK, Maria Callas, Howard Hughes, Andy Warhol, Glenn Gould, the late Princess of Wales) down to minor bog-sprites such as Eartha ...

Get over it!

Corey Robin: Antonin Scalia, 10 June 2010

American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 
by Joan Biskupic.
Farrar, Straus, 434 pp., $28, November 2009, 978 0 374 20289 7
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... articles and several shorter pieces, few featuring a distinctive or even audible personal voice. Jeffrey Toobin, the New Yorker’s legal correspondent, has known Kagan since they were first-year law students; he admits that ‘her own views were and are something of a mystery’ to him. ‘On the court,’ he adds, ‘Kagan will have to do something she’s ...

Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... doors, suggesting that they might do better to walk along the platform to the restaurant car. Jeffrey Archer may have dreamed of routes as straight as an executive jet’s runway, but McKie knows that a true bus journey is a wandering, much interrupted affair that takes for ever to arrive at anything resembling a destination. Characterised by ...

Feel what it’s like

James Davidson: Pagans, Jews and Christians, 2 March 2000

A World Full of Gods: Pagans, Jews and Christians in the Roman Empire 
by Keith Hopkins.
Weidenfeld, 402 pp., £25, November 1999, 0 297 81982 8
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... Christians in the Roman Empire, implies an even-handed survey of religions, something rather like Robin Lane Fox’s Pagans and Christians, which divides more or less neatly in half. But although Hopkins includes chapters on the heathen and the Dead Sea Scrolls, it is the third group he is interested in: early Christianity takes up by far the largest portion ...

Cod on Ice

Andy Beckett: The BBC, 10 July 2003

Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride And Paranoia 
by Richard Lindley.
Politico’s, 404 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 1 902301 80 3
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The Harder Path: The Autobiography 
by John Birt.
Time Warner, 532 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 316 86019 0
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... Monday night fixture for between six and eight million people … The current muster has Robin Day, tenacious as a badger; Ludovic Kennedy, whose line is artistic, faintly raffish melancholy; James Mossman, the ardent Galahad who will never take for granted that men are sometimes wicked on purpose; Robert Kee, the hot-eyed public prosecutor … When ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... have marked his card. Living off your own entrails is for middle-class tossers, leave it to your Jeffrey Bernards. A real mirror chaser, that one. McVicar lost the respect of his peers when he went public. It was like grassing yourself. Why didn’t he settle for an ‘as told to’ like any other hardnut looking for a stock-market flotation? Reg Kray saw ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... not be contrived to send the small pox among those disaffected tribes of Indians,’ wrote General Jeffrey Amherst, the British commander in North America during the great Indian rebellion led by Pontiac in 1763, another notorious utterance that finds no place in the Oxford History. The fate of the Canadian Indians, too, is largely ignored in these ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... Irons, Clement Freud, Norman Tebbit, Barbara Castle, Elaine Paige, Cecil Parkinson, Nigel Lawson, Robin Day. It’s like being compulsorily inducted into a dinner party from hell, a nightmare mix of half-forgotten careerists and political dinosaurs who can’t switch off. But there’s a great view of the Dome, beyond the bend in the river, a shape that gives ...

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