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Visible And Invisible: 'Servants' Looks At Life Downstairs.

Author Lucy Lethbridge explores the history of British servants through their diaries, letters and memoirs. She says, "What I found particularly fascinating was how ... butlers were so butlery"; the old caricature of the clever manservant and the silly master is one "butlers have appeared to play to the hilt."


The New British Empire: Pop-Culture Powerhouses.

James Bond and The Rolling Stones both turn 50 this year. As critic John Powers points out, both may have been born in response to a dying British Empire, but their evolving legacies have reflected the times through which these brands have lived.


Even Americans Find Some Britishisms 'Spot On.'

Adding a foreign word to your vocabulary is like adding foreign attire to your wardrobe. Sometimes you do it because it's practical and sometimes just because you think it looks cool. Linguist Geoff Nunberg says Americans' use of "spot on" falls somewhere between affectation and flash.


An 'Iron Lady' Fully Inhabited By Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep stars as Margaret Thatcher in Phyllida Lloyd's biopic about the former prime minister of the United Kingdom. Film critic David Edelstein applauds her performance, calling it "one of the greatest impersonations I'd ever seen."


Astaire, Burns, Allen In 'Distress' In London Town

George and Ira Gershwin wrote some of their best songs for movies -- one of which, 1937's A Damsel in Distress, has just been issued by Warner Archives. Critic Lloyd Schwartz says it may be the oddest of the Gershwin brothers' films.


'Tinker, Tailor': The Greatest Spy Story Ever Told

At its core, John le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy isn't really about espionage, says critic John Powers. The 1974 novel, adapted for the screen in 1979 by the BBC, is actually about secrets and lies and shifting identities -- which is to say, a metaphor for our own daily lives.


The Human Toll Of The War 'To End All Wars'

Historian Adam Hochschild traces the patriotic fervor that catapulted Great Britain into war during the summer of 1914 — as well as the small, but determined British pacifist movement — in his historical narrative To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918.


The Art Of Mimicry: A 'Trip' Down Memory Lane

The Trip, a British comedy featuring two comedians trading their best celebrity impersonations, got critic John Powers thinking about memorable voices from the movies. Famous celebrity voices, he says, are not what they used to be.


British Comedian Steve Coogan's Improv-Based 'Trip'

British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon trade barbs and impressions in the new comedy, The Trip. Coogan, best known for his character Alan Partridge, talks about the improvisational film, which sends the two comedians on a road trip in Northern England.


WWI: A Moral Contest Between Pacifists And Soldiers

Adam Hochschild's pensive narrative history, To End All Wars, focuses on those who fought -- and also on those who refused. Hochschild is a master at chronicling how prevailing cultural opinion is formed and, less frequently, how it's challenged.


For Anglophiles, Three New TV Shows To Enjoy.

Three shows, all with ties to Britain, premiere Jan. 9. TV critic David Bianculli says all three -- a period drama on PBS and two comedic adaptations on Showtime -- are clever, well-acted and pleasures to watch.


'Brit Box' Collects Rock from Across the Pond

In the past 20 years, Great Britain has produced a huge quantity of popular music that's gotten very little attention in the U.S. The Brit Box is a four-CD collection of British rock and pop, including songs by The Smiths, Supergrass, and The Boo Radleys.


Stephen Frears, 'The Queen'

Director Stephen Frears. His new film The Queen explores the tension between Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Blair in the days following the death of Princess Diana as they struggle to come up with the appropriate official response. Frears's other films include My Beautiful Laundrette, Prick up Your Ears, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, Dangerous Liasons, The Grifters, The Hi-Lo Country, High Fidelity and Dirty Pretty Things.


British Journalist Michael Smith, 'Downing Street Memo'

British journalist Michael Smith writes about defense issues for the Sunday Times of London. He's the journalist to whom the so-called Downing Street memo was leaked. The memo -- the minutes of a July 23, 2002, meeting of Britain's War Cabinet -- reveals that President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair began the war on the Iraq before Bush received congressional approval and before a U.N. vote.


Anti-Slavery Movement in 'Bury the Chains'

Book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves by Adam Hochschild. It's about the 18th century anti-slavery movement in the British Empire.


Former war correspondent Aidan Hartley

In the 1990s he covered Ethiopia, Somalia, Rwanda and the Congo for Reuters. Three of his colleagues were killed by a mob in Somolia during a rebellion against the presence of U.S. forces, and he witnessed the atrocities in Rwanda. Hartley grew up in Africa, the son of a British colonial officer. After the death of his father, Hartley found in a chest his father had given him the diaries of his father's best friend who had died mysteriously 50 years earlier. Hartley set out to find out what happened.


British Journalist Peter Stothard

Stothard is the author of the new book, Thirty Days: Tony Blair and the Test of History. Stothard chronicles the 30 days leading up to the Iraq war and the early days of the war. Stothard had unprecedented access to Blair during that time. Stothard is currently editor of The London Times Literary Supplement, and is former editor of The Times from 1992 to 2002.


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