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William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... Thomson, benign among proprietors, has come and gone, picking up a peerage in the process. So has Victor Matthews, moving from building-site to Fleet Street and out again in less than ten years. The free or cut-price offers of dictionaries and flower-pots in the 1930s have given way to bingo and cash prizes. As for content, most of the popular papers are as ...


D.A.N. Jones, 8 January 1987

The Old School: A Study 
by Simon Raven.
Hamish Hamilton, 139 pp., £12, September 1986, 0 241 11929 4
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The Best Years of their Lives: The National Service Experience 1945-63 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 7181 2459 6
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Murder without Conviction: Inside the World of the Krays 
by John Dickson.
Sidgwick, 164 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780283994074
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Inside ‘Private Eye’ 
by Peter McKay.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 947795 80 4
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Malice in Wonderland: Robert Maxwell v. ‘Private Eye’ 
by Robert Maxwell, John Jackson, Peter Donnelly and Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 191 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 356 14616 2
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... Scottish headmaster tells how he ‘escaped from the nightmare of Catterick to a commission in the Gordon Highlanders’, but while he was a Catterick ranker he thought the officers ‘shallow and frivolous men, content to leave their soldiers and their troops and squadrons to the mercy of the uncertain tempers of the NCOs’. We liked our troop officer, a ...

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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... the fall of 1941, even if freed of the rather minor British distraction. No matter – whoever the victor, he would certainly have become the unchallenged master of continental Europe. That in turn would have left Britain perfectly isolated and entirely dependent on Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union, as the case might be, for any access at all to ...

Say what you will about Harold

Christopher Hitchens, 2 December 1993

Wilson: The Authorised Life 
by Philip Ziegler.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 297 81276 9
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... point. And they give the same pair of examples. It’s true that Wilson once attacked the Tory victor in Smethwick in 1964 for letting his canvassers say that if you wanted ‘a nigger neighbour, vote Labour’. And it’s true that he became annoyed when Ian Smith kept Joshua Nkomo and Ndabaningi Sithole in a boiling police van, without food or ...

Yeltsin has gone mad

R.W. Davies: Boris Yeltsin and Medvedev, 9 August 2001

Midnight Diaries 
by Boris Yeltsin, translated by Catherine Fitzpatrick.
Phoenix, 409 pp., £8.99, April 2001, 0 7538 1134 0
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Post-Soviet Russia: A Journey through the Yeltsin Era 
by Roy Medvedev, translated by George Shriver.
Columbia, 394 pp., £24, November 2000, 0 231 10606 8
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Zagadka Putina 
by Roy Medvedev.
Prava cheloveka, 93 pp., $8, March 2000, 9785771201269
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... his part Lebed asked his followers to vote for Yeltsin. The ploy worked: on 3 July Yeltsin was the victor, with 54 per cent of the vote. Three months later, Lebed was dismissed and has since sunk into obscurity. In the middle of the elections Yeltsin had a major heart attack. Later in the year he had a quintuple bypass operation. He dealt with this crisis by ...

Tremendous in His Wrath

Eric Foner: George Washington, Slave Owner, 19 December 2019

‘The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret’: George Washington, Slavery and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon 
by Mary Thompson.
Virginia, 502 pp., £32.50, January 2019, 978 0 8139 4184 4
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... working in Washington’s fields upsetting. Lost in the debate was the fact that the artist, Victor Arnautoff, a communist, had used the murals to challenge the prevailing narrative of Washington’s life and, indeed, American history more broadly. His murals were intended to show that the country’s economic growth and territorial expansion ...


Alan Bennett: Bennett’s Dissection, 1 January 2009

... ignoble at all. And today, 15 June, comes George Bush paying a courtesy call on the Queen and Gordon Brown before having a cheering conscience-free get-together with his old mate Tony Blair. And here are the helicopters flying over Regent’s Park to prove it. 26 June, Espiessac. I sit in the wicker rocking-chair in the shade of the willow by the ...

‘Someone you had to be a bit careful with’

David Sylvester: Gallery Rogues, 30 March 2000

Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser 
by Harriet Vyner.
Faber, 317 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 571 19627 6
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... common decency of his father, Lionel, a leading banker and industrialist whose own father had been Gordon Selfridge’s butler. Robert seemed a thorough aristo to his friends in the pop music world, but his nobbier chums looked down on him a bit. John Richardson says: One of the odd things about Robert was that he always dressed up. The rest of us were in ...


Hal Foster: Rem Koolhaas, 29 November 2001

Harvard Design School Guide to Shopping 
by Rem Koolhaas et al.
Taschen, 800 pp., £30, December 2001, 3 8228 6047 6
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Great Leap Forward 
by Rem Koolhaas et al.
Taschen, 720 pp., £30, December 2001, 3 8228 6048 4
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... on the postwar ‘malling’ of suburban and urban space, from the first godfather of the mall, Victor Gruen, to the current one, Jon Jerde. The key inventions here are air-conditioning, which opened up vast interiors to buying and selling, and the escalator, which allowed shoppers to traverse these new expanses with distracted ease. Together they have made ...

In the Hothouse

Peter Howarth: Swinburne, 8 November 2018

21st-Century Oxford Authors: Algernon Charles Swinburne 
edited by Francis O’Gorman.
Oxford, 722 pp., £95, December 2016, 978 0 19 967224 0
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... there is but one tense, and all ages in her sight are alike present,’ he asserted in a review of Victor Hugo’s L’Année terrible, and this must have been one source of T.S. Eliot’s idea of artistic tradition – and modernist technique – as a ‘simultaneous present’. In ‘On the Cliffs’ (1880), Swinburne experimented with blending quotations ...

Born to Lying

Theo Tait: Le Carré, 3 December 2015

John le Carré: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Bloomsbury, 652 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 2792 5
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... on many people. Sisman tells the story of a sad, alcoholic ‘upper-class remittance man’ called Gordon Hobson, who attached himself to Ronnie ‘like a lost dog’. ‘I hope your father knows what he’s doing,’ he told David, ‘because he’s had all my money!’ All the money disappeared, and Hobson killed himself. Ronnie’s first wife, Olive, was ...

Strange, Angry Objects

Owen Hatherley: The Brutalist Decades, 17 November 2016

A3: Threads and Connections 
by Peter Ahrends.
Right Angle, 128 pp., £18, December 2015, 978 0 9532848 9 4
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Raw Concrete: The Beauty of Brutalism 
by Barnabas Calder.
Heinemann, 416 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 0 434 02244 1
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Space, Hope and Brutalism: English Architecture 1945-75 
by Elain Harwood.
Yale, 512 pp., £60, September 2015, 978 0 300 20446 9
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Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings around the World 
by Christopher Beanland.
Frances Lincoln, 192 pp., £18, February 2016, 978 0 7112 3764 3
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This Brutal World 
by Peter Chadwick.
Phaidon, 224 pp., £29.95, April 2016, 978 0 7148 7108 0
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Modern Forms: A Subjective Atlas of 20th-Century Architecture 
by Nicolas Grospierre.
Prestel, 224 pp., £29.99, February 2016, 978 3 7913 8229 6
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Modernist Estates: The Buildings and the People Who Live in Them 
by Stefi Orazi.
Frances Lincoln, 192 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 7112 3675 2
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Architecture an Inspiration 
by Ivor Smith.
Troubador, 224 pp., £24.95, November 2014, 978 1 78462 069 1
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... he went on to see some of the other great modernist works of the North-East. He got to climb on Victor Pasmore’s Apollo Pavilion in Peterlee (‘From that moment on,’ after scraping his knees on the pavilion’s rough surfaces, ‘I fell in love with raw concrete’), and he got to gaze longingly at the Trinity Square Car Park and the Dunston ...

A Pound Here, a Pound There

David Runciman, 21 August 2014

... to review how the gambling industry in Britain had come to be organised. It was chaired by Victor Rothschild and its eclectic membership included the philosopher Bernard Williams, the sports commentator David Coleman and the agony aunt Marje Proops. The report they produced two years later was measured, intelligent, elegantly written, slightly agonised ...

It’s Finished

John Lanchester: The Banks, 28 May 2009

... always a terrible sign. In September 2008, the Big Four bank Lloyds bought HBOS, after its boss, Victor Blank – this is the part you couldn’t make up – bumped into Gordon Brown at a drinks party and got him to give an assurance that a takeover would not be referred to the monopolies commission. Most of us have had a ...

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