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Masters of Art

John Sutherland, 18 December 1980

Loon Lake 
by E.L. Doctorow.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 333 30641 4
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Alice fell 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 124 pp., £5.50, November 1980, 0 224 01872 8
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The Covenant 
by James Michener.
Secker, 873 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 436 27966 5
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Ancesteral Vices 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 231 pp., £6.50, November 1980, 0 436 45809 8
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... plausibly, he can be linked with an opportunistically chauvinist tradition originating in D.W. Griffith and culminating in the Roots bonanza. Not that Michener is in any second division when it comes to reward. He had a million-dollar advance for Centennial (1974) and is reported to find some publishers’ enticements so immense that he cannot bring ...

Middle Way

Paul Addison, 6 December 1979

Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918-1922 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 436 pp., £15
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... the humdrum realities, the second and third tiers of office where men like Worthington-Evans and Griffith-Boscawen manned the engine-room. The argument is rather that the new wartime power bloc had a built-in logic which distinguished it from other combinations. It was a new force in the making, only to be blasted by the peace. To us, it may be axiomatic ...

You’ve got three minutes

J. Hoberman: Sitting for Warhol, 20 July 2006

Andy Warhol Screen Tests: The Films of Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonné: Vol. I 
by Callie Angell.
Abrams, 319 pp., £35, April 2006, 0 8109 5539 3
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... work. He has had a retroactive effect on film history as well: the Lumière brothers, D.W. Griffith and even Hitchcock may be understood in some sense as Warholian too. Hardly a theoretician, Warhol reinvented film practice to suit himself. Unlike Hollywood screen tests, his were not made to audition personnel for prospective movies, although those ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Hating Football, 27 June 2002

... the horror. No sooner had Scotland failed to qualify than I was moved to treat my friends to John Steinbeck’s comment to Jacqueline Kennedy: ‘You talked of Scotland as a lost cause,’ he said, ‘and that is not true. Scotland is an unwon cause.’ Bloody hell. Better make mine a double. Five minutes later I was thinking about Ireland and five ...

Moral Lepers

John Banville: Easter 1916, 16 July 2015

Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland, 1890-1923 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 433 pp., £10.99, May 2015, 978 0 241 95424 9
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... The Republic: The Fight for Irish Independence, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) leader, John O’Leary who, in Yeats’s poem, shared his grave with the corpse of ‘romantic Ireland’, observing that the Brotherhood’s ‘propagandist work was … entirely separatist with practically no reference to Republicanism’. Similarly, and just as ...

Thunder in the Mountains

J. Hoberman: Orson Welles, 6 September 2007

Orson Welles: Hello Americans 
by Simon Callow.
Vintage, 507 pp., £8.99, May 2007, 978 0 09 946261 3
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What Ever Happened to Orson Welles? A Portrait of an Independent Career 
by Joseph McBride.
Kentucky, 344 pp., $29.95, October 2006, 0 8131 2410 7
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... Welles to record an immediate response. Welles was the original activist-actor, the precursor of John Wayne and Jane Fonda, if not Ronald Reagan. Hoping to reclaim the prodigal for the theatre, the Broadway producer Billy Rose addressed an open letter to him: ‘Listen, Thunder-in-the-Mountains, isn’t it about time you made up your mind whether you’re ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies, 26 January 2012

An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... of US-Soviet relations, complete with a speech by Olivia de Havilland … The next day, John Wayne learns that the Selective Service board has extended his 3-A deferment. Hot dog! The star celebrates Thanksgiving Day by carving turkeys at the canteen, even as Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin meet in Tehran to plan the US invasion of Europe. The ...

Davitt’s Part

Charles Townshend, 3 June 1982

Davitt and Irish Revolution 1846-1882 
by T.W. Moody.
Oxford, 674 pp., £22.50, April 1982, 9780198223825
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... developed, to the bafflement or anger of hard-line physical-force men like O’Donovan Rossa or John O’Leary. W.B. Yeats consigned Romantic Ireland to the grave with O’Leary: Davitt discovered its terminal weakness much earlier. He outgrew the Fenian romanticism of his youth – in Moody’s words, ‘the practical revolutionist in Davitt was disgusted ...


Charles Townshend, 19 April 1984

Theobald Wolfe Tone: Colonial Outsider 
by Tom Dunne.
Tower Books, 77 pp., $1.90, December 1982, 0 902568 07 8
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Partners in Revolution: The United Irishmen and France 
by Marianne Elliott.
Yale, 411 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 03 000270 2
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De Valera and the Ulster Question 1917-1973 
by John Bowman.
Oxford, 369 pp., £17.50, November 1982, 0 19 822681 0
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Sean Lemass and the Making of Modern Ireland 
by Paul Bew and Henry Patterson.
Gill, 224 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 7171 1260 8
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... this ugly reality. Their incomplete mental adjustment to the fact of partition is the subject of John Bowman’s remarkable study. His revisionist stance may seem unnecessarily aggressive – it is after all no secret that in the private session of Dail Eireann on 22 December 1921 de Valera endorsed the so-called ‘county option’ – but he points out ...


Iain Sinclair: London’s Lost Cinemas, 6 November 2014

... by the much decorated Audie Murphy. Oswald fixed his time and period just as the bank robber John Dillinger confirmed both the status of the FBI and the date, 22 July 1934, by getting himself shot to pieces emerging from the Biograph in Chicago, after watching Clark Gable play an amiable gangster in Manhattan Melodrama. While trying to ignore my ...

Where will we live?

James Meek: The Housing Disaster, 9 January 2014

... the master builder of a new town for coal-miners in Peterlee, County Durham. Yet as his biographer John Allan has shown, Lubetkin didn’t step back from his vocation till much later.2 Indeed, he was responsible for the overarching design of Cranbrook. Each month he would come up to London, sketchbook bulging with plans.Lubetkin and his protégés, backed by ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair, 21 February 2013

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... military establishment and the new government in Washington, a town presided over by another John/Jack the lad. Profumo’s go-getting reputation and unstuffy demeanour made him attractive to the men around JFK, who liked that he didn’t seem like a typical Brit, never mind a typical Tory. He was extremely sociable, and well suited to the work ...


Jeremy Treglown, 6 August 1992

Writers on World War Two: An Anthology 
edited by Mordecai Richler.
Chatto, 752 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7011 3912 9
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Legacies and Ambiguities: Post-war Fiction and Culture in West Germany and Japan 
edited by Ernestine Schlant and Thomas Rimer.
Woodrow Wilson Center Press/Johns Hopkins, 323 pp., $35, February 1992, 0 943875 30 7
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... takes many forms, including a kind of nervous male bluster masquerading as chivalry. When Mervyn Griffith-Jones put his famous question to the Lady Chatterley trial jury about the reading-matter appropriate to wives and servants, he may have had in mind the criteria applied by a Sunday Times editor in 1949 to The Naked and the Dead. ‘No decent man could ...

The Shape of Absence

Hilary Mantel: The Bondwoman’s Narrative, 8 August 2002

The Bondwoman’s Narrative: A Novel 
by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates.
Virago, 338 pp., £10.99, May 2002, 1 86049 013 1
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... religious tracts and poems – but sometimes white authors pretended to be black. Mattie Griffith, the author of Autobiography of a Female Slave (1856), revealed herself to be white within weeks of publication. Even where the hand that held the pen was black, a certain blurring of the boundaries of authenticity is evident in many texts. The stories ...

‘What is your nation if I may ask?’

Colm Tóibín: Jews in Ireland, 30 September 1999

Jews in 20th-century Ireland: Refugees, Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust 
by Dermot Keogh.
Cork, 336 pp., £45, March 1998, 9781859181492
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... The pogrom in Limerick, which took place in 1904, was incited by the fiery preaching of Father John Creagh to the arch-confraternity: The Jews came to Limerick apparently the most miserable tribe imaginable ... but now they had enriched themselves and could boast of very considerable house property in the city. Their rags have been exchanged for ...

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