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Billionaires in the Dock

Rachel Nolan: Operation Car Wash, 23 June 2022

Operation Car Wash: Brazil’s Institutionalised Crime and the Inside Story of the Biggest Corruption Scandal in History 
by Jorge Pontes and Márcio Anselmo, translated by Anthony Doyle.
Bloomsbury, 191 pp., £20, April, 978 1 350 26561 5
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... On​ 6 April 2018, members of the Brazilian federal police hovered uneasily around a crowd of supporters of Luiz Inácio da Silva, known to all as Lula. The previous day, Brazil’s Supreme Court had ruled that Lula – president between 2003 and 2010, and running again in the 2018 elections – must surrender himself to the police to serve a prison sentence for corruption ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes, 26 January 2012

The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... in the novella A Study in Scarlet in 1887, no one took much notice. But when Arthur Conan Doyle repackaged Holmes and Watson in short stories for the Strand Magazine, the trifle improvised for pin money by a struggling young doctor soon turned into an apotheosis that bemused, enriched and finally exasperated him. He tried to exorcise the incubus by ...


John Bayley, 9 September 1993

The Life of Ian Fleming 
by Donald McCormick.
Peter Owen, 231 pp., £18.50, July 1993, 0 7206 0888 0
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... in reality can be worked up by the imagination in order to satisfy private dreams. Conan Doyle started to invent Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes while waiting dejectedly for custom in his own surgery. Not only do cases or patients turn up at the Baker Street sitting-room with dramatic regularity, but each presents its own fascinating problem, which ...

From Lying to Leering

Rebecca Solnit: Penis Power, 19 January 2017

... is a male prerogative, which is to say that the set-up was not intended to include women.As Sady Doyle noted, ‘she can’t be sad or angry, but she also can’t be happy or amused, and she also can’t refrain from expressing any of those emotions. There is literally no way out of this one. Anything she does is wrong.’ One merely had to imagine a woman ...
... and his brilliant book The Speakers attracted the admiration of Harold Pinter, William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, V.S. Pritchett and more, he has gradually achieved the status of super-wizard in a community of nomads, pilgrims and seekers after truth. For two years he successfully ran the Ruff, Tuff, Cream Puff Estate Agency (founded by Wat Tyler in ...

The Runaways

Tessa Hadley: Michael Ondaatje, 8 November 2018

by Michael Ondaatje.
Cape, 299 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 1 78733 071 9
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... Man Booker, celebrating fifty years of the prize (in his acceptance speech he credited the role Anthony Minghella’s film adaptation may have played in that result). These novels, really, are romances, in the sense that everything that happens in them is charged with magic, nothing is merely ordinary or redundant, everything finally connects together ...

Subsistence Journalism

E.S. Turner, 13 November 1997

‘Punch’: The Lively Youth of a British Institution, 1841-51 
by Richard Altick.
Ohio State, 776 pp., £38.50, July 1997, 0 8142 0710 3
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... win military advancement. The reputation of Punch was always curiously high in America, though as Anthony Powell, its one-time literary editor, has pointed out, British advertisers were not supposed to know the extent of its circulation over there. So it is no surprise to find that the Ohio State University Press is behind this immensely long and thorough ...

Boomster and the Quack

Stefan Collini: How to Get on in the Literary World, 2 November 2006

Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 
by Philip Waller.
Oxford, 1181 pp., £85, April 2006, 0 19 820677 1
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... Benson, Hugh Benson, Laurence Binyon, Robert Bridges, Hall Caine, G.K. Chesterton, Arthur Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Maurice Hewlett, Anthony Hope, W.J. Locke, E.V. Lucas, J.W. Mackail, John Masefield, A.E.W. Mason, Gilbert Murray, Henry Newbolt, Owen Seaman, G.M. Trevelyan, H.G. Wells and Israel Zangwill ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... is of the Irish saloon variety, with homosexuality in evidence: Walt Whitman’s boyfriend, Pete Doyle, hovers in the wings. There is always a danger of bawdy breaking in and distracting us from the great events. But Gore Vidal checks himself firmly, and the ‘low life’ scenes have their function, both in ‘tea-tabling’ the narrative or bringing us ...

Who to Be

Colm Tóibín: Beckett’s Letters, 6 August 2009

The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929-40 
edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 782 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 521 86793 1
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... which dominated Beckett’s own household. They were bohemians. They gave parties at which, as Anthony Cronin noted in his biography of Beckett, ‘people sat on the floor and afterwards quite possibly slept on it.’ No one among the Sinclairs minded Beckett staying in bed all morning and having no worldly ambitions and many vague and high-toned ...

Carnival of Self-Harm

Tom Crewe: Good Riddance to the Tories, 20 June 2024

Haywire: A Political History of Britain since 2000 
by Andrew Hindmoor.
Allen Lane, 628 pp., £35, June, 978 0 241 65171 1
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No Way Out: Brexit from the Backstop to Boris 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 698 pp., £26, April, 978 0 00 830894 0
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The Abuse of Power: Confronting Injustice in Public Life 
by Theresa May.
Headline, 368 pp., £12.99, May, 978 1 0354 0991 4
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The Conservative Party after Brexit: Turmoil and Transformation 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 368 pp., £25, March 2023, 978 1 5095 4601 5
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Johnson at 10: The Inside Story 
by Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell.
Atlantic, 640 pp., £12.99, April, 978 1 83895 804 6
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The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson 
by Nadine Dorries.
HarperCollins, 336 pp., £25, November 2023, 978 0 00 862342 5
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Politics on the Edge: A Memoir from Within 
by Rory Stewart.
Vintage, 454 pp., £10.99, June, 978 1 5299 2286 8
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Ten Years to Save the West: Lessons from the Only Conservative in the Room 
by Liz Truss.
Biteback, 311 pp., £20, April, 978 1 78590 857 6
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Tory Nation: The Dark Legacy of the World’s Most Successful Political Party 
by Samuel Earle.
Simon & Schuster, 294 pp., £10.99, February, 978 1 3985 1853 7
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... was no use, and he announced his resignation on 7 July 2022.‘Rarely in three hundred years,’ Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell conclude,and never since 1916 has a prime minister been so poor at appointments, so incompetent at running cabinet government or so incapable of finding a stable team to run Number 10. The prime minister is the chief ...

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