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What He Could Bear

Hilary Mantel: A Brutal Childhood, 9 March 2006

A Lie about My Father 
by John Burnside.
Cape, 324 pp., £12.99, March 2006, 0 224 07487 3
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... his early life. Talking to his mother’s sister, he learned that the elder Burnside – ‘Tommy Dick, or George McGhee, or whatever his name was’ – had been an abandoned child, found, by whom is not known, on a doorstep in West Fife in the year of the General Strike. Not even to know the name of your finder – that is abandonment of a rare order. And ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... several key officials, including his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman, and the attorney-general, Dick Kleindienst, in an attempt to cordon off the Watergate affair from his presidency. Although one of the scapegoats, Dean, turned against Nixon, the strategy might have worked had it not been for the slip of a White House aide, Alexander Butterfield, who ...

I just hate the big guy

Christopher Tayler: Reacher, 4 February 2016

Make Me 
by Lee Child.
Bantam, 425 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 593 07388 9
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Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of ‘Make Me’ 
by Andy Martin.
Bantam, 303 pp., £18.99, November 2015, 978 0 593 07663 7
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... novel, there’s a quick rundown of his CV for the benefit of a character who hasn’t read his file. (Child keeps the book-to-book continuity to a minimum in order to make new readers feel welcome.) In the army he was the star investigator and later commanding officer of a military police unit that handled thorny cases involving wayward special forces ...

All Too Firmly Planted

Bernard Bailyn, 10 November 1994

Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640 
by Roger Thompson.
Massachusetts, 305 pp., £39.50, April 1994, 0 87023 893 0
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Adapting to a New World: English Society in the 17th-century Chesapeake 
by James Horn.
North Carolina, 461 pp., $65, September 1994, 0 8078 2137 3
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... artisans and farmers, Thompson has clear sailing. These were no ambitious, enterprising, wandering Dick Whittingtons (apparently his base-line point of comparison), whatever their ‘restless, youthful mobility’; they neither wanted nor achieved much betterment. They were ‘resolutely rooted’ people whose families had scarcely budged for generations and ...

The World’s Most Important Spectator

David Bromwich: Obama’s World, 3 July 2014

... there is Victoria Nuland, a neoconservative who made a highly successful transition in 2009 from Dick Cheney’s staff to Hillary Clinton’s. Nuland is married to the co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, Robert Kagan, one of the leading promoters of the Iraq war. We may never know what Obama thought Nuland was up to when she flew in to ...

Nazi Votes

David Blackbourn, 1 November 1984

The Nazi Machtergreifung 
edited by Peter Stachura.
Allen and Unwin, 191 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 04 943026 2
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Stormtroopers: A Social, Economic and Ideological Analysis 1929-35 
by Conan Fischer.
Allen and Unwin, 239 pp., £20, June 1983, 0 04 943028 9
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The Nazi Party: A Social Profile of Members and Leaders 1919-1945 
by Michael Kater.
Blackwell, 415 pp., £22.50, August 1983, 0 631 13313 5
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Beating the Fascists: The German Communists and Political Violence 1929-1933 
by Eve Rosenhaft.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £24, August 1983, 9780521236386
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... usually as NCOs or junior officers. This applied to hardly more than one in twenty of the rank and file. Differences between leaders and led play an important part in Fischer’s interpretation. He argues that the SA as a whole constituted a much more proletarian body than has usually been accepted, and that this offers a key to its awkward political status ...

Who Cares?

Jean McNicol, 9 February 1995

The Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis 
by Jean Ritchie, Donald Dick and Richard Lingham.
HMSO, 146 pp., £9.50, February 1994, 0 11 701798 1
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Creating Community Care: Report of the Mental Health Foundation into Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness 
by William Utting.
Mental Health Foundation, 76 pp., £9.50, September 1994, 0 901944 17 3
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Finding a Place: A Review of Mental Health Services for Adults 
HMSO, 94 pp., £11, November 1994, 0 11 886143 3Show More
The Falling Shadow: One Patient’s Mental Health Care. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Events Leading up to and Surrounding the Fatal Incident at the Edith Morgan Centre, Torbay, on 1 September 1993 
by Louis Blom-Cooper, Helen Hally and Elaine Murphy.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 7156 2662 0
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... when he gave evidence to the Inquiry, but a record of the conversation was entered in the relevant file.) Another social worker phoned the man’s consultant psychiatrist (who had never seen him) on 17 December and after some wrangling about whose responsibility he was – which hospital and which social services department – the two decided that an ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... augmented by a selection from ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of less ordered pages, ‘hard drives, file folders, three-ring binders, spiral-bound notebooks and floppy disks’. Success came to Wallace early, with his first novel, The Broom of the System (1987), written while he was an English and philosophy undergraduate at Amherst. The 70-page thesis written ...


Tom Carver: Philby in Beirut, 11 October 2012

... for ever in grainy black and white television footage. A few weeks later, the FBI closed its file on Philby. Instead of smoking him out, Hoover had unwittingly cleared his name. MI6 had promised the Foreign Office it would never put Philby back on its staff, but there was no reason for him not to be paid as an ordinary freelance agent. Since diplomatic ...

Lace the air with LSD

Mike Jay: Brain Warfare, 4 February 2021

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control 
by Stephen Kinzer.
Henry Holt, 384 pp., £11.99, November 2020, 978 1 250 76262 7
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... the agency. Ford’s chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, was alerted to the danger by his deputy, Dick Cheney. The Olsons received a settlement of $750,000 in exchange for dropping their legal action, and were invited to the White House, where Ford made them a public apology.As the Rockefeller report foundered, a Senate commission under the Idaho member Frank ...

Sisyphus at the Selectric

James Wolcott: Undoing Philip Roth, 20 May 2021

Philip Roth: The Biography 
by Blake Bailey.
Cape, 898 pp., £30, April, 978 0 224 09817 5
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Philip Roth: A Counterlife 
by Ira Nadel.
Oxford, 546 pp., £22.99, May, 978 0 19 984610 8
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Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth 
by Benjamin Taylor.
Penguin, 192 pp., £18, May 2020, 978 0 525 50524 2
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... of affluent Jewish suburbanites: another item for the ‘Philip Roth is Bad News for Jews’ file, even though the blame largely belonged to the lampoonish visuals by the director, Larry Peerce. These hate-bursts Roth could handle, employing his rhetorical ninja skills. Such Sturm und Drang was the price of breaking the sound barrier that separated ...

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