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Liam Shaw: Plant Detectives, 7 September 2023

Planting Clues: How Plants Solve Crimes 
by David J. Gibson.
Oxford, 237 pp., £18.99, August 2022, 978 0 19 886860 6
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... the new study of forensics had given the police, ‘the principle of the trace and so on’. As David Gibson recounts in Planting Clues, Locard was also a keen botanist. One of the scores of cases he included in his textbooks described a man who had been found murdered in the countryside outside Lyon. A group of suspects was rounded up. Inspecting one ...

Thin Ayrshire

Andrew O’Hagan, 25 May 1995

... David Gibson was a man stiff and parsonical; by all accounts the sort of man who got things done. You could say he was obsessed with ridding Glasgow of its slums, with turning them into something bright and high and unquestionably modern. That’s what he wanted, and he’d already made vast advances towards getting it when he became convener of Glasgow Corporation’s housing committee in 1964 ...

Dam and Blast

David Lodge, 21 October 1982

... doubt, we may detect the hand of R.C. Sherriff, for Brickhill makes clear that Squadron Leader Guy Gibson was married, and that the men under his command had normal heterosexual interests. One of the neatest touches in the screenplay comes when Gibson and his chief bombing officer are shown seeking some light relief from ...

Tic in the Brain

Deborah Friedell: Mrs Dickens, 11 September 2008

Girl in a Blue Dress 
by Gaynor Arnold.
Tindall Street, 438 pp., £9.99, August 2008, 978 0 9556476 1 1
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... Too late, David Copperfield realises that he has married an imbecile: Dora is good-looking and affectionate, but she’s useless with a cookery book and incapable of managing servants. She calls her husband ‘Doady’ and begs him to accept that she can never be more to him than a ‘child-wife’. Worst of all, she will never be able to appreciate his genius ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: ‘The Dinner Party’, 19 May 2005

... Defending New Labour in the Observer a few weeks ago, David Aaronovitch identified a sinister world of privilege, prejudice and plotting, where short-sighted, soi-disant left-wing opponents of the government gather ‘in shuttered dining-rooms in Holland Park, Highbury and Kennington’ to exchange vitriol, some of which leaks out into the public realm through such conduits as ‘the pages of the London Review of Books ...

They were expendable

Joost Hiltermann: Iraq and the Kurds, 17 November 2016

Sold Out? US Foreign Policy, Iraq, the Kurds and the Cold War 
by Bryan Gibson.
Palgrave, 256 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 1 349 69552 2
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... Henry Kissinger, then both US secretary of state and national security adviser, as quoted by Bryan Gibson from declassified US government documents: Our hearts bleed to see that an immediate byproduct of [Iran and Iraq’s] agreement is the destruction of our defenceless people in an unprecedented manner as Iran closed its border and stopped help to us ...


McGuire Gibson: The Theft of Iraq’s Antiquities, 1 January 2009

... before the war by the museum authorities at the behest of Saddam. Two days later, in the Guardian, David Aaronovitch seconded Cruickshank, and right-wing commentators in the US took up the story. Later that month, many of the same media figures used part of a statement by Donny George, the director of the Iraq Museum, to bury the story that had embarrassed the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Silly mistakes and blood for Bush, 4 December 2003

... cadillac, alongside the cans of Diet Coke.The LRB has received a sheet of puffs for The Chief, David Nasaw’s Life of William Randolph Hearst (Gibson Square, £9.99), including one from Conrad Black in the Scotsman. That would be the same Conrad Black who wrote the book’s foreword. A helpful yellow post-it note ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays, 8 November 2018

... things​ in the relations between authors and publishers never change. Dear Mr Murray, edited by David McClay (John Murray, £16.99), a collection of letters written to six generations of the Murray family, is full of familiar complaints. Jane Austen was ‘very much disappointed … by the delays of the printers’. Maria Rundell, author of A New System of ...

Life Pushed Aside

Clair Wills: The Last Asylums, 18 November 2021

... strange birds, mammals and fish drawn crudely on small rectangles of paper by an artist known as J.J. Beegan, who was a patient in an English asylum in the 1940s. Most of the drawings were done painstakingly with rudimentary materials: the char from burned matches on Izal medicated toilet paper – the hard, shiny paper that was common in British ...

Cold Sweat

Alan Bennett, 15 October 1981

Forms of Talk 
by Erving Goffman.
Blackwell, 335 pp., £12, September 1981, 0 631 12788 7
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... space”, third turn, and (in the case of other-initiation) second turn.’ It could be David Coleman warming up for a commentary on slalom surfing (Coleman, incidentally, puts his foot into a footnote in Forms of Talk). Systematic Goffman is not. He writes in a vivid, impressionistic way which he concedes is often, as in much of Forms of ...

Better on TV

Jon Day: The Tennis Craze, 8 October 2020

A People’s History of Tennis 
by David Berry.
Pluto, 247 pp., £14.99, May, 978 0 7453 3965 8
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... has it, was brought to him mid-set). ‘At the peak of its popularity in the 16th century,’ David Berry writes in his history of tennis, ‘Paris alone had 250 courts, including one at the Louvre and another at Versailles, the latter of which was occupied in the revolution of 1789 by the Third Estate as a symbolic protest at the elitist nature of this ...

Looking back

Hugh Thomas, 7 July 1983

The Spanish Civil War 
by David Mitchell.
Granada, 208 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 246 11916 0
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... Youth, but that Andres Nin was indeed murdered ‘on our side’. Even the recent book by Ian Gibson has, however, failed to establish his responsibility, or freedom from blame, for the murder of two thousand Republican prisoners at Paracuellos – probably the biggest single atrocity of the Spanish war. In Blood of Spain Ronald Fraser made a splendid ...

Swaying at the Stove

Rosemary Hill: The Cult of Elizabeth David, 9 December 1999

Elizabeth DavidA Biography 
by Lisa Chaney.
Pan, 482 pp., £10, September 1999, 0 330 36762 5
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Waiting at the Kitchen Table. Elizabeth DavidThe Authorised Biography 
by Artemis Cooper.
Viking, 364 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7181 4224 1
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... When Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food appeared in 1950, many of the ingredients it called for were unobtainable. But even after meat came off the ration, few people can have had much practical need for a traditional Turkish recipe for stuffing a whole sheep. That was not the point. Saturated with description, of figs and aubergines, of fishing boats at anchor in Marseille and paella pans left out to dry in Spanish courtyards, Mediterranean Food brought a beakerful of the warm South to chilly, postwar England ...

Out of the Gothic

Tom Shippey, 5 February 1987

Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction 
by Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove.
Gollancz, 511 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 575 03942 6
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by Greg Bear.
Gollancz, 504 pp., £10.95, October 1986, 0 575 03861 6
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts 
by Douglas Adams.
Heinemann, 590 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 434 00920 2
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Humpty Dumpty in Oakland 
by Philip K. Dick.
Gollancz, 199 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 575 03875 6
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The Watcher 
by Jane Palmer.
Women’s Press, 177 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4038 0
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I, Vampire 
by Jody Scott.
Women’s Press, 206 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4036 4
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... and the social condition, a conviction that social conditions are epiphenomena. Aldiss cites David Lodge’s argument that Tony-Bungay is a better novel than it appears because it insists on spreading its focus from the Ponderevos and Bladesover House to ‘the Condition of England’ itself. In similar style, one could argue that much ‘near-Science ...

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