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The Review - BOOKS
Published: 3 December 2009
Former London top cop Sir Ian Blair
Pause for applause that never came

Sir Ian Blair was dogged by his own contradictions, writes Illtyd Harrington

IN 2005, Ian Blair became the 24th Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police since 1829. > more
92nd Highlanders during the Napoleonic Wars
Highlanders at war
> more
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Pre-war boots
The curios case of Hunter Davies
> more
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An image from Maria Eliza Rundell’s A New System of Domestic Cookery
Rundell cookery reheated
> more
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Louis Armstrong in a dressing room in Las Vegas nine months before his death.
King Louis Armstrong
> more

Hell hath no fury like a Brooker scorned -
HE'S top stuff – even if the mumbling, jealous critics will say the Guardian’s Charlie Brooker, for all his talent and ...>more

Postscript to the hippy generation - IT'S a bold writer who begins in heaven.
But that’s what north London author Anthony Gardner does in his first ...>more

Franks’ tales of modern cringe-inducing manners - INTENDED or not, the trench metaphor that lends its name to long-serving Times journalist Alan Franks’ latest ...>more

Inside track on a bloody story of rail - THOUSANDS died building them and worked in appalling conditions. The railways brought war and civilisation in equal ...>more

Georgian boom and bust! - ENTRY into the world’s oldest profession still demands only one qualification – namely that you sell your body for another’s sexual ...>more

Is suburbia the real land of the free?
PAUL Barker has been having fun.
The former editor of New Society – oh how we miss that once ...>more

The silent suffering of a very talented chap -
ARE we creatures of our environment? Certainly, some might insist, the arrival of new technologies has ...>more

Ah! Bananas and tinned spaghetti -
THE British Film Institute has in its archives around one billion feet of film. It includes books, documents, letters, posters ...>more

Brian’s longer shot at Gunners -
GOODNESS, not another book about Arsenal, what’s left to say? Every writer whose ever been to Highbury or the new Emirates ...>more

Scenes from a unique friendship -
HANNAH Arendt described the friendship between Brecht and Walter Benjamin as that between “the greatest living German ...>more

The trouble with Harry -
BLOODY Marvellous! shouted the Daily Mirror’s front page after Dunkirk. What had been a rout of the British Army in retreat was turned ...>more

Travels with Keats in the realms of Gold
- BEAUTY is truth, truth beauty’, that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to now. In these two lines, from “Ode ...>more

Seduced by the charm of China
- FOR centuries explorers, missionaries, adventurers and political idealists have been lured by the...>more

It’s broken? Give pieces a chance! - WHILE climate change creates doomsday headlines, the answer to all this may just be lurking at the bottom of the...>more

Welcome to Frank’s house of fun and games - FRANK Johnson died in 2006 aged 63. Born into a traditional working-class family in Stoke Newington, he...>more

Brought to book on the War on Terror
- HE doesn’t much look like a ruthless war crimes prosecutor. Erudite and cheery, Paul Todd seems more a good-natured...>more

Literary masters of a carefully crafted cruelty
IF it wasn’t bad enough already, there is something else significantly missing from our Parliament, amid the debris ...>more

Retracing Chaucer’s steps along the Canterbury trail -
PETER Ackroyd has done it again, almost with ease. His version of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is ...>more

On a path to the liberating sounds of the suburbs -
SUBURBIA is one of those dirty words, like crazy paving or pebble-dash, a term looked on with disdain ...>more

‘We studied Shakespeare but we read Dickens’ - FOR the only English writer who can rival Shakespeare for his posthumous influence and ongoing popularity...>more

Fay’s slice of futuristic National Meatloaf - DON'T put your head under the blankets when those Tory bogeymen Dave Cameron and his young sidekick George ...>more

‘A writer’s life for me – even if it takes a lifetime’ - WILFRED Fraser recites the first verse of the 19th-century ballad “Bingen on the Rhine”, his eyes brimming with ...>more

How Gardens estate bloomed into a model community
I MUST begin by making a declaration of interest. This history of the Lissenden Gardens estate...>more

Poet Porter keeps faith in music -
IT'S a truth universally acknowledged, says Peter Porter, that a Commonwealth poet coming to London must, sooner ...>more

Ensuring that the Tube keeps getting verse - THEY have raised smiles in the rush hour, brought some peace and solace to troubled minds on their way to or ...>more

All at sea: notes from an urban Crusoe wash up at the theatre
DES Marshall has an anxious, pessimistic friend called Robinson Crusoe. Des doesn’t exactly ...>more

How to still the chattering monkeys -
ONCE a month, in a quiet room overlooking the rooftops of Belsize Park, a dozen or so people meet. They are there to...>more

A tour round past centuries in today’s streets of London -
WALK up – and look up – from Trafalgar Square towards Charing Cross Road. On your right is...>more

Champ banks on another winning hand -
I’M not super stitious,” Victoria Coren, journalist and poker star says. “But I won’t wear green. It is unlucky.”>more

A candid look at the secrets kept between friends
HANGING around the exits of West End night clubs on a school night does not sound like the usual research ...>more

Clarks and misdemeanours - YOU can blame Hampstead, if you want to.
For it was in the Christmas holidays in 1946 that Alan Clark found himself ...>more

‘In mad rush to the future, important things get lost’
- ACCORDING to Samuel Johnson, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. So what, to take the analogy ...>more

Colourful past of lives lived vividly in the present
EZRA Pound, the poet, said it is only the most insatiable curiosity that keeps the true poet and artist alive and ...>more

Right to Buy comes home to roost
- SITTING in the council chamber earlier this summer listening to Labour councillor Roger Robinson recall the days of the ...>more

Sad end for orphan who rose to cinematic stardom -
THE name Barbara Stanwyck might not mean much to my generation, for whom hell raising Hollywood ...>more

Trials of Kinsellas after Ben stabbing
WHY Ben? by former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella is a book so full of anger and pain that there were times... > more

‘We could certainly do with a new Winstanley to help today’
KEVIN Brownlow admits, disarmingly, that he had never heard of Gerrard Winstanley when... > more

The bohemian rhapsody of life with Dylan
‘I’d like you to come over: I’ve been told my illness is now in the terminal stages,” Aeronwy said with characteristic... > more

A reminder of the ‘demonised Irish’
- THIS book captures, better than any of the histories of the period, what it was like to be young, Irish and demonised in London...>more

No Booker prize special effects, it’s just a great read - ANNE Tyler is best known for her novel, The Accidental Tourist, later filmed with William Hurt as Macon. >more

Loveless childhood in the Organisation -
WHEN a well known TV actress writes a book my first thought is,‘Please, not another celebrity novel’. >more

A book to take a bite out of
- IT'S a strange world when the Food Standards Agency issues a major report claiming there is no difference at all – nutritionally ...>more

American pie and a slice of soul from Godfather
SO, where do you place James Brown in the merit of musical order we all have in the back of our heads? >more

The day war broke out
- SUNDAY, September 3, 1939 was an extraor dinary day, for it is not often that one awakes to witness the beginning of a World War.>more

Writer whose life reads like a thriller
- THE film of Sean Graham’s life has not yet been made, but it is only a matter of time. Separated from his parents at birth...>more

It’s the Lord’s own view of our great cricket grounds -
THAT languid left-hander David Gower once buzzed in a Tiger Moth biplane over his England colleagues ...>more

Yes we can! Unlocking the science of success
- ALONGSIDE such iconic titles as Silent Spring, The Hidden Persuaders and A Brief History of Time, Malcolm ...>more

Dreams of empire fatally flawed
THE Germans, despite winning a huge eastern empire by the Treaty of Brest Litovsk in 1917, lost the First World War when they ...>more

Chevalier’s remarkable fossil pearl -
SHE'S done it again – the woman who brought us the girl with Vermeer’s pearl earring and the family that lived next door to ...>more

Swashbuckling hero trips over gleeful biographer -
LOTHARIO, brawler, polygamist, drug guzzler, mother hater, war correspondent, yachtsman, slave trader...>more

Firebombed publishing house launches new line in comedy -
GIBSON Square, the Islington publishing house fire-bombed after it announced its intention ...>more

McCarthy’s bad guy role in a dark Hollywood drama
HE died a wretch. In 1957, aged just 48. And deservedly so, since he had been drinking a quart... > more

From stamps to anti-war protest – Gentleman’s art
WHEN actor Maggie Smith was starring in Alan Bennett’s stage version of his work The Lady... > more

A blinkered distortion of our history
- MY father arrived in London in 1924 to become a crime reporter in Fleet Street. He had “made his bones” on.... > more

Summer of 1951 revisited
- THOSE in the Prince Charles school of architect criticism say that the best view of London is from the South Bank – because you... > more

A serious search for what made the authentic Muriel Spark tick
- THE conclusion by the end of Martin Stannard’s 627 unyielding pages of Muriel Spark’s biography ...>more

Poetic truths from great nephew of the lover who brought down Wilde - THERE are few families with a history as long as that of the Scottish border family Douglas.>more

New Labour have blown it: things can only get better
- PROFESSOR Mary Davis was bemused by the fuss over MPs’ expenses. She suggests it is merely a ...>more

How fancying a bloke took me into a war zone
- ASHTON Kutcher, Hollywood movie hunk and young squeeze to Demi Moore, sat opposite Jane Bussmann and ...>more

Explosive impact of a bout of jealousy? - THE assassins saw the brother of their intended victim, and decided that instead of waiting for the sibling ... > more

A Freud who dined behind enemy lines
- WE'VE all heard of Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology, who escaped from Nazi-occupied Vienna to spend... > more

‘People cannot lose if they resist’
I still cringe when I remember my first meeting with Nawal El-Saadawi. > more

A weird new tale of two cities
CHINA Miéville’s stubborn reluctance to renounce childhood preoccupations is perhaps the reason for his... > more

Keats’s 19th century recaptured -
IF the poet John Keats were to step out of a time machine, he may be shocked by the plethora of 4 X 4s clogging up the streets...>more

The art of judging a book by its cover -
THE waft of brewers yeast, the stench of boiling vats of malt and hops, and the musty scent of dray horses filled the room. >more

Vortex of great talent at the core of a chaotic existence -
GEORGE Gissing’s classic New Grub Street (1891), required reading for anyone who has ever ...>more

Wake up to sleep secrets -
WHY can’t we admit to how much we enjoy sleep? It’s the most glorious, restorative pleasure, something that improves mind and ...>more

Sole survivor Dave Gillies, the heart-throb of old Hampstead -
WITH his slicked-back hair and matinée idol good looks, Dave Gillies used to cause quite a stir ...>more

Glue from north London’s melting pot -
AN elderly German Jew who dresses to kill and calls everyone “dahlink” and a bossy Palestinian handyman, who rides ...>more

Malvina, the ‘recording’ artist tuned into Britain
SHE was born a year after the outbreak of the First World War and was taking her first steps when the... > more

Evil Oliver’s legacy of enduring hate
EVEN today, in Irish-speaking parts of Ireland, the worst curse that one can utter is “Malacht Cromail ort”... > more

Molly, Mendelssohn and how to conduct harmony at home
THERE you are, a woman of high ecological principles, with every intention of saving the planet... > more

‘In life, we are all beginners’
- HE was the artist who devoted his great talent to those at the coal face of life, going down the pits in South Wales to... > more

In the deep end of the history of pools - THE fierce debate over the future of Kentish Town Baths now may be submerged by other arguments and may... > more

Paperback writer looks back at Beatles book 40 years on - BEATLES Towers ought to be the name emblazoned on a house in quiet Boscastle Road, Kentish Town...>more

Georgian love story with real heart - MOST writers would kill for Nicholas Tchkotoua’s romantic pedigree. A Georgian prince forced into exile by the ...>more

‘Money has replaced honour and imagination’
IT was one of the questions I had to ask agony aunt and writer Irma Kurtz. Would she be interested in standing... > more

The banner bright, the symbol plain, of human right and human gain -
JOCK Nicolson was a leading Communist in Camden from 1955 for about 30 years. > more

Bill pointed to his own scandal from beyond the grave -
SCANDAL in Fleet Street! It is perhaps appropriately perverse that while the Daily Telegraph fulfils... > more

Book talk brings the classics to life -
THIS is a book group with a difference, a sitting-room seminar that goes by the name of the Parisian Literary Salon. > more

Did Michael Thomas blow the final whistle on an era? -
FORGIVE the dewy eyes but miracles do happen. I saw one happen, 20 years ago next Tuesday. > more

Berger: love in a time of bad and clumsy laws -
JOHN Berger must surely be one of the world’s great lovers. At 82, he might crack a smile at the idea, but how... > more

Storyteller of very few words -
POSTER art exploded in the inter-war period. > more

Even the bad times were good
IF you want an antidote for the grim budget, then this is it. Hunter Davies’s austerity anthology – Cold Meat And How to Disguise... > more

Battles in times past to keep the planners at bay - AN ATTEMPT to drive a motorway through Swiss Cottage and Belsize Park was one of the best things that... > more

How Che sowed the seeds of Cuba’s success
IT’S 1960, Havana, at the Cuban Ministry for Industry: it was one of the more surreal events John Paul Sartre had... > more

‘I’m sorry I ever left Hampstead’ -
THE Dame is returning. Almost a decade after she left Hampstead, the celebrated novelist... > more

The madness of the annoyed - TIME was when anguished young men as well as fragrant but fraught blue-stockinged maidens beat a path to literary Hampstead and... > more

The tension that simmers in America’s backyard -
AMERICA: land of the free and champion of democracy. Unless, of course, you are a small... > more

Asylum seeker who became English -
A great deal has been written about the arrival of German Jews in the 1930s to this part of London. Intellectuals, all of them. > more

Duffy’s capacity to amaze -
THE simple home truth behind Carol Ann Duffy becoming the first woman poet laureate is that the Prime Minister’s appointments... > more

Engels: ‘Grand Lama’ at No 122 -
CAMDEN was the birthplace of modern communism.
From the British Museum Reading Room to Highgate Cemetery, from... > more

The son of a bitch who killed Sinatra -
THE trouble with Hollywood memoirs is that they kill the fantasy of the films they produce, the ones you have grown up... > more

Journalist Campbell hacking into the world of crime fiction -
POOR old ace crime reporter Laurie Lane’s life couldn’t get much worse. A hard-living hack... > more

Birthday Bard: Will and a way to successfully portray Othello
- IF ever there was a Shakespeare play which needed celebrities to attract a large audience... > more

The shelf life of bookman, Norrie -
THE first time I met Ian Norrie, Hampstead bookseller supreme and publishing world guru, he said: “I thought you were some... > more

A grim fairy story of north London folk
ON a winter’s night, in a desolate piece of heathland, a young woman’s body is heaved into a murky pond. It is an... > more

When we last hit the skids -
SUDDEN snowfall in February and a frosty economic climate for all seasons are very 2009 concerns, but to the writer Alan Brownjohn... > more

One life, straddling 100 years of ‘isms’
WITH his debut novel, British-born author Rana Dasgupta threw his cards on the table as if to announce that here was one... > more

Kate’s detective wins her yet more prizes -
PRESIDENT Obama grabbed the headlines by taking the Tesco Biography of the Year award at the 2009 Galaxy... > more

20 years on, ‘truth’ remains the goal -
HAVE today’s Sky-savvy young football fans even heard of Sheffield Wednesday? The club and its forever haunted... > more

So who’s the greatest swindler of them all?
HE lies in an unmarked grave in Highgate Cemetery, unrecognised, unloved and forgotten. Yet when John Sadleir... > more

When poor Cockneys went to the country
IT is perhaps the greatest of the East End’s many great traditions: the annual trip in the late summer... > more

The unorthodox Russian game
RUSSIAN football – wasn’t that all about tricky awayday assignments on frozen pitches with orange balls... > more

Bet on a long-time dead cert
A LOVEABLE Irish rogue, an upmarket brothel keeper, and the undisputed greatest racehorse of all time are the ingredients... > more

Diary of a Blair regime nobody
MULLIN’S brazen, bare-faced, brass-necked, shameless Harpies’ voice with its dollop of unpardonable chutzpah has... > more

Tips in favour of a work-life balance
- SHE locked the door behind her in the vague hope she would not be heard, and sobbed uncontrollably. > more

‘Here’s my first novel – but my next one will be better’
- THE time: the bleak early 1940s, when the Allies appeared to be losing the war... > more

Bedtime reading from Pom Pom, Storm and Minxy - IF it is sex, money and ideas that make the world go round, then there is a distinct lack of loot at the moment...>more

Visionary architect or destroyer of picture book England? - HIS critics blame him for the destruction of English urban life, the man who turned our pretty, picture...>more

Harry’s White Hart (memory) Lane - OH, Spurs are on their way to Wembley... and although Harry Redknapp’s charges are the underdogs for this Sunday’s... > more

A virtuosity shaped by migration - AT the age of seven, when her toes could touch the pedals, Eva Hoffman started piano lessons. A quiet lady called Mrs Witeszczak ...>more

Did you ever hear such a thing in your life? - JACK and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water… or did they? Children have long been taught this traditional nursery...>more

Reflections on the illusions of battle - HAMISH Henderson is not automatically linked with Alun Lewis, Keith Douglas and Vernon Scannell as among the most ...>more

Science genius who discovered ancient China had the answers - TO anyone lucky enough to hear him talk about the history of science in China, Joseph Needham ...>more

Re-inhabiting a past life - WHEN the poet Dannie Abse decided to write a daily journal following the death of his wife Joan, he hoped it would provide an emotional ...>more

A classic novel before it was film
- RICHARD Yates was transparently learning his craft in his first novel, Revolutionary Road. It has the sensitivity of language and... > more

A tale to be taken with a pinch of garlic - PUT Highgate Cemetery Vampire into Google and you will have enormous fun reading endless entries for the... > more

If it’s Sunday night, it’s Rety – difficult, yet we love him so - AMONG the behind-closed-doors world of poetry, the word Rety has become an adjective. > more

In times of Troubles, priest who fought for parishioners - IF there is an important autobiography to come out of the recent “Irish Troubles”, this is it.> more

Stellar Sybil, outspoken sage of stage
SYBIL Thorndike was a woman for all seasons. In 68 years she appeared in more than 300 plays and was constantly... > more

Sheer vindictiveness keeps this sick old rascal Ronnie Biggs inside -
RONNIE was just a rascal, one of the chaps who got in a little too deep and was cheeky enough... > more

The Crafty Cockey - Eric Bristow
THE riveting victory of Ted “The Count” Hankey over Tony “Silverback” O’Shea in the BDO World Championship Finals on...> more

Structural cracks in the credit system-
WHO is to blame for the credit crunch? Is it the banks? The regulators? The politicians? The market? Multinationals? > more

Top of the tyrants: who’s the greatest dictator of them all?
JOE Stalin has been resurrected in Russia, where he just been voted the country’s third-greatest... > more

Strictly misses the point-
NEVER mind all those ball gowns and improbable leotards you see on Strictly Come Dancing and the mumbo-jumbo that comes out of... > more

Casting light on the city chick, the romantic and the rebel -
WITH the slogan “Illuminating words”, independent publishers Tall-Lighthouse do just that, with a stable... > more

Italian who carries England’s hopes for World Cup glory -
ACCORDING to the preface, Mark Ryan “first thought about writing this book in March 2008”. I am... > more

Foot in mouth: occupational disease of our politicians
GORDON Brown made a faux pas during question time in the House of Commons last week, and had... > more

Murder most foul among East Enders
COR blimey, murderous events on the streets of the East End? Sounds like perfect Christmas reading. East End Murders... > more

Perilous life of a Victorian explorer
- THE forgotten life of an Amazonian adventurer whose trips into the rainforest in the 1800s helped bolster... > more

An improbable musical genius
HE was a maestro, an impresario with a formidable presence and passion for music who could bring a great... > more

Growing up with Woolfs
- FIVE years ago, Gail Pirkis and Hazel Wood, two editors at John Murray, the publishers of Lord Byron and Sir John Betjeman... > more

War on the front line and life on the home front
- AS he walked home from Hampstead to Highgate along the Spaniards Lane, and gazed out across... > more

Our champ who took on the Yank NO offence to the population of the town in Hampshire
which prides itself on an annual air show and its nearby military... > more

Winston’s distant mother - WINSTON Churchill always claimed that he was the political heir of his father, the brilliant but maverick Lord Randolph... > more

Clues and the blues in life of star Humph - IF you haven’t played a trumpet, a trombone or even a tuba it’s difficult to appreciate how holding a brass... > more

Stories from the City and tales from the underground
JAMES Curtis was a figure known in the pubs along Kilburn High Road, always happy to pass the time... > more

My stellar son and parents who didn’t follow the script
IT wasn’t easy being an overly sensitive young teenager trying to bring up two starstruck parents on his own... > more

It’s jazz, but if you have to ask... -
LOUIS Armstrong, asked to define jazz, famously said: “If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand anyway." Musical definitions, in... > more

Take a trolley bus ride to Lyons corner house -
RICHARD Tames remembers riding on a trolleybus, shopping in Gamage’s, drinking from London street fountains... > more

Where were you when the world was ransacked by the rich and greedy?
WHEN I told a group of Americans in Alaska that I had dived under a hedge as a kid when a... > more

Bohemian rhapsody: a birds eye view of ‘Italian’ Bloomsbury-
FROM a perch in the front room, the owl would glower silently at any one who entered, descending from... > more

Masud Khan - inside the mind of a brilliant, flawed analyst
- OUTRAGEOUS analyst, Muslim, alcoholic, genius, snob, serial adulterer, and anti-Semite: this... > more

Alexei has a kinda change of heart
BEFORE Alexei Sayle was an author, film actor and columnist, he was a stand-up comic. Today, as his fifth book, Mister... > more

Author’s Suspicions clinch a top award
- AS a journalist and former national newspaper literary editor, Kate Summerscale knows the inside secret score and the hassle... > more

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