Graham Stewart

Special providence …

When Ed Smith became a full-time professional cricketer for Kent in 1999 the county side was preparing for the new millennium by shedding anything that smacked of old-fashioned amateurism. Professionalism was to be a state of mind. Players were henceforth required to sign up to a new code of conduct. This Core Covenant consisted mainly

Bookends: A matter of opinion

In an age when the merely mildly curious believe they can get all they really need to know from Wikipedia for free, A. N. Wilson’s fellow literary professionals must take heart from his expectation that there is still possibl to charge for a work of such succinctness that it is essentially an extended Wikipedia entry

Playing for high stakes

1938: Hitler’s Gamble, by Giles MacDonogh Hitler’s greatest gamble in 1938 was his determination to occupy the Czechoslovak Sudetenland, even at the risk of sparking a European war. Neither Neville Cham- berlain nor the French prime minister, Edouard Daladier, was prepared to play for such high stakes and they threw in their chips, giving the

That worthless piece of paper

Munich, by David Faber David Faber’s account of the Munich crisis has been published to mark the 70th anniversary of the four-power conference that made appeasement a dirty word.  But it is timely as well as commemorative.  True, the recent comparisons drawn between Hitler and Putin are dangerously misplaced. Nonetheless, Western politicians are finding themselves

No need to panic — probably

When there is so much data suggesting the world’s climate is heating up, some may find it presumptuous of Nigel Lawson, who is not a scientist and has undertaken no original research, to hope to challenge the prevailing orthodoxy. Would we take seriously an appraisal of his time as Chancellor of Exchequer written by someone

Too much zeal

Many of us are beginning to weary of the pushier sort of ‘expert’. Gone is the sense of proportion, the admission of scientific doubt, the ability to weigh risks against benefits. Taking seriously a year’s worth of their health warnings would give anyone an eating disorder. It hardly builds confidence when so much of the

A criminal waste

With an estimated one surveillance camera in Britain for every 14 Britons, reality television has never been more invasive. The reason Big Brother has been allowed to watch its citizens so comprehensively in this way rests with the claim that CCTV is a protection rather than an intrusion. Only the guilty should fear the all-seeing

Catch me if you can | 27 October 2007

It is a brave man who attempts to uncover the truth about George Galloway. One slip, one factual infelicity, one unguarded opinion and the biographer can expect to get his head bitten off. For, when it comes to receiving rather than dishing out abuse, the Respect MP and onetime Celebrity Big Brother contestant is no

To flee or not to flee

‘Why is no one talking about what is happening in our country?’ demands the splash across the front cover of the latest book by George Walden. It is therefore something of a surprise in the pages that follow to find the former Conservative minister discoursing at length on the problems of immigration, terrorism, crime and

Toughing it out together

Listing page content here Since the Suez debacle, the chemistry between American presidents and British prime ministers has helped determine the ‘special relationship’s’ potency. Between Harold Macmillan and John F. Kennedy, as with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, it was dynamic. Between Edward Heath and Richard Nixon, John Major and Bill Clinton, it was inert.

Flocking to the standard

Listing page content here Only in the last few years  have major memorials to  the wartime sacrifices of  the British Dominions and Colonies taken their place in the ceremonial plots of central London. They are a welcome if belated tribute. Yet, following the second world war’s end, the government made a more practical gesture. The

The weasels in the wordpile

The etymologists of the Oxford English Dictionary should be alerted that Steven Poole has coined a new word. First used as the title for his book, published in 2006, ‘unspeak’ is a noun for a ‘mode of speech that persuades by stealth’. How, it might be asked, does this differ from ‘spin’? Poole contends that

Instant post-mortem verdicts

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. In every life there is the subject for a sermon. Perhaps that is why so many sons of the manse have ascended into Fleet Street’s paper pulpits. Indeed, if there is one area of journalism that has progressively improved over the last 20

Business as usual

Reality television has demonstrated that it is no longer necessary to possess a distinguishing talent in order to enjoy celebrity status. Critics might argue that Simon Garfield has worked similar wonders for the diarist’s art. Where once we were treated to the inner demons of generals and statesmen, Garfield touts the daily musings of ordinary

Moore means less

Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is the most commercially successful documentary film ever made. It received a prolonged standing ovation from critics at the Cannes film festival where it became the first non-fiction film to win the Palme d’Or. If it does not win an Oscar at the next Academy awards, then do not rule out

Evangelism on the march

When Robert Goizueta, Coca-Cola’s boss, attempted to justify his $80 million annual income to a meeting of shareholders he was interrupted four times — with applause. Attitudes to wealth and opportunity, as to so much else in the United States, are far removed from the prevailing mood in Britain and Europe. During the Cold War,

Two-way traffic: arrivals and departures

Britannia’s Children: Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1600by Eric RichardsHambledon & London, £19.95, pp. 388, ISBN 1852854413 In the middle of the 19th century, Londoners grumbled about the number of Italian urchins grinding barrel organs on street corners. Criminals and people-traffickers had brought many of them to Britain and their melody- making

The lure of the far horizon

In 1795, John Evans, the son of a Methodist preacher, set out from St Louis across the unchartered plains of North America in search of a lost tribe of ‘Welsh Indians.’ He had heard reports of a pale-skinned people speaking a language that sounded like Welsh inhabiting the area that is now North Dakota. Rumour

Rivals at the court of King Adolf

One of the Great War’s consequences may have been the dethronement of the Romanovs, Habsburgs and Hohenzollerns but — as a new generation of scholars are attempting to show — court politics proved far more enduring. Although the costumes may have been cut from coarser cloth and the manners far cruder, the centres of power

Northward and upward

This first volume of Bill Clinton’s biography, taking the story as far as his presidential election victory in 1992, comes at a peculiar time. Unlike many of the hasty invectives pronounced upon the 42nd president, Nigel Hamilton’s study is written on the grand scale, drawing on much of the published record and delving further with