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Prince and Pimp

Paul Foot, 1 January 1998

The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken 
by Luke Harding and David Leigh.
Penguin, 205 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 14 027290 9
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... of State for Defence Procurement, in January 1994. It was put to the then editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston. The words ‘we all’ referred to Aitken himself, his wife Lolicia and his faithful Arab friend Said Ayas. The answer to the question was ‘yes’. They were all bare-faced liars, but none more so than the debonair minister himself. Why did ...


Conor Gearty: Various Forms of Sleaze, 24 November 1994

... was evident last week in the terrible, passionate animosity shown towards the Guardian editor Peter Preston from all sides of the Party in the Commons debate on the now famous ‘cod fax’. What the Tories miss most in these years of victory and of hegemonic calm is the opportunity to express real hatred. Indeed, the modern personality of the Party ...


Ian Aitken, 13 May 1993

Changing Faces: The History of the ‘Guardian’, 1956-88 
by Geoffrey Taylor.
Fourth Estate, 352 pp., £20, March 1993, 1 85702 100 2
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... says, Hetherington’s style contrasted sharply with the non-aligned style of his successor, Peter Preston, who took over in 1975 when Alastair left to join the BBC in Scotland. PP, as he is universally known to colleagues, was the winner of a contest whose defeated candidate was John Cole, when members of the editorial staff were for the first time ...

Riots, Terrorism etc

John Lanchester: The Great British Press Disaster, 6 March 2008

Flat Earth News 
by Nick Davies.
Chatto, 408 pp., £17.99, February 2008, 978 0 7011 8145 1
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... of Flat Earth News, including a bizarrely hostile (as opposed to merely negative) review by Peter Preston, editor of the Guardian, Davies’s paper, from 1975 to 1995. Preston had a number of harsh things to say about ‘Saint Nick’, one of which had some traction: that he exaggerates the extent to which there ...


David Trotter, 14 September 1989

The Rainbow 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Mark Kinkead-Weekes.
Cambridge, 672 pp., £55, March 1989, 0 521 22869 7
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D.H. Lawrence in the Modern World 
edited by Peter Preston and Peter Hoare.
Macmillan, 221 pp., £29.50, May 1989, 0 333 45269 0
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D.H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination: Essays on Sexual Identity and Feminist Misreading 
by Peter Balbert.
Macmillan, 190 pp., £27.50, June 1989, 0 333 43964 3
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... taste of the new fastidiousness. Lawrence’s critics, on the other hand, are rarely fastidious. Peter Balbert’s challenge to feminist ‘misreadings’ of Lawrence, for example, is nothing if not combative. Balbert insists that the ‘seminal’ doctrines of the ‘phallic imagination’ have been seriously misrepresented by the (presumably ...

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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... is free, but facts are sacred.’ By such lofty standards even the Guardian of Peter Preston falls short. Its reporters are men and women with opinions that shine out from its pages. Even if they start their careers with the news, they are hoping for preferment to the editorial pages. With luck, long service and a reputation for ...

The Antagoniser’s Agoniser

Peter Clarke: Keith Joseph, 19 July 2001

Keith Joseph 
by Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett.
Acumen, 488 pp., £28, March 2001, 9781902683034
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... not really one at all.)’ There followed a succession of well-publicised speeches, notably one at Preston in which he proclaimed his disillusion with the Keynesian policies that every Government had followed since the Second World War. ‘Inflation,’ he warned, ‘is threatening to destroy our society.’ The Times obliged by carrying the full text, as ...

Pissing on Pedestrians

Owen Bennett-Jones: A Great Unravelling, 1 April 2021

Fall: The Mystery of Robert Maxwell 
by John Preston.
Viking, 322 pp., £18.99, February, 978 0 241 38867 9
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... disloyalty, ambition, greed, insecurity and all the British hypocrisies that he crashed into. John Preston has made the most of it, providing not only a very readable and amusing book but also the fullest account yet of what actually happened. Some of his sourcing could be clearer – there are rather vague appendices and no footnotes – but he is ...

Homage to Spain

Douglas Johnson, 22 May 1986

Homage to Catalonia 
by George Orwell.
Secker, 260 pp., £12.95, April 1986, 0 436 35028 9
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The Spanish Civil War 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 1115 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 241 89450 6
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The Triumph of Democracy in Spain 
by Paul Preston.
Methuen, 274 pp., £14.95, April 1986, 0 416 36350 4
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... as one of the first volumes of the complete works of George Orwell, for which the editor, Dr Peter Davison, uses Orwell’s original manuscripts, letters and proofs to establish the text that Orwell would have wished to have. In the case of this work, among the most personal and directly political of Orwell’s writings, he has made particular use of the ...

Bunny Hell

Christopher Tayler: David Gates, 27 August 2015

A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me 
by David Gates.
Serpent’s Tail, 314 pp., £12.99, August 2015, 978 1 78125 491 2
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by David Gates.
Serpent’s Tail, 339 pp., £8.99, August 2015, 978 1 78125 490 5
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... He is, he says, “a reluctant writer”, though he doesn’t really know why.’ A second novel, Preston Falls, appeared in 1998 to respectful rather than awestruck reviews; a year later a story collection, The Wonders of the Invisible World, went down pretty well. This time he was on leave from Newsweek when the interviewer called. ‘I’m supposed to be ...

Why Darcy would not have married Elizabeth Bennet

Linda Colley: Women in Georgian England, 3 September 1998

The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Victorian England 
by Amanda Vickery.
Yale, 436 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07531 6
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... table or across the assembly room, Vickery has instead haunted the Lancashire Record Office at Preston and pored over all the letters, diaries and account books there written by privileged women between 1730 and 1825. The comparison is not a facetious one, because this research strategy has resulted in an image of English society very similar to that on ...

Follow the Money

David Conn, 30 August 2012

... in the glory years of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now he was ousting the deeply unpopular Peter Swales, who had been chairman for twenty years, and I was in the stands cheering his arrival. But when I interviewed Lee, I was unsettled to discover that the takeover was in fact a corporate deal. He and his associates were buying 29.99 per cent of the ...

The smallest details speak the loudest

John Upton: The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, 1 July 1999

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 
by Sir William Macpherson.
Stationery Office, 335 pp., £26, February 1999, 0 10 142622 4
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The Case of Stephen Lawrence 
by Brian Cathcart.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 670 88604 1
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... this case the legal process had run its course and the case against these men was overwhelming.’ Peter Preston, the former editor of the Guardian, concluded that the alternative verdict reached by the Mail (whose editor, Paul Dacre, knew Neville Lawrence) was ‘a valid way of expressing the extreme anger at the state this case has been left in’. In ...

Monetarism and History

Ian Gilmour, 21 January 1982

... and those of Eden and Macmillan. The new monetarism was brought to England from America by Mr Peter Jay, but politically the beginning of monetarism can be dated from Sir Keith Joseph’s Preston speech of 5 September 1974. The key sentence in that speech was: ‘it is the method that successive governments have used to ...

Chucky, Hirple, Clart

David Craig: Robert Macfarlane, 24 September 2015

by Robert Macfarlane.
Hamish Hamilton, 387 pp., £20, March 2015, 978 0 241 14653 8
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... where I live, a swing made out of rope and a stick on which children went swooping out over the Preston-Kendal canal has disappeared, and a shelter made of branches in a disused orchard has fallen in and rotted away. These things have not been replaced. Macfarlane’s hope is that a conserving and reviving of country words will encourage ‘creative ...

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