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Really Very Exhilarating

R.W. Johnson: Macmillan and the Guardsmen, 7 October 2004

The Guardsmen: Harold Macmillan, Three Friends and the World They Made 
by Simon Ball.
HarperCollins, 456 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 00 257110 2
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... for reasons which I wholly understand, this experience was not vouchsafed to Mr Gaitskell, Mr Wilson, Mr Brown, Mr Jay and the other leading members of the Labour front bench.’ This probably made little impact on Gaitskell and Co, but for Macmillan’s generation the fact that the entire Labour front bench had avoided active service was something to be ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe, 3 April 2014

The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... or wasn’t only, a pulp craftsman embittered by the faint praise he’d been lobbed by Edmund Wilson before the likes of Eliot and Auden announced themselves as fans. Slick magazine writers were no good either – ‘their scenes are almost tiresomely neat … but they are little men who have forgotten how to pray’ – and when discussing the right way ...


Michael Neve, 3 September 1981

The Opium-Eater: A Life of Thomas de Quincey 
by Grevel Lindop.
Dent, 433 pp., £12, July 1981, 0 460 04358 7
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... moment, Mrs de Quincey withdrew Thomas from the school. The reasons for this are obscure, although Leslie Stephen, in his entry for the Dictionary of National Biography, stresses that she felt Thomas had become ‘vain’ in his learning. It was clearly a damaging thing to do, and may have contributed to de Quincey’s opting, in his mature prose style, for ...

The Leopard

James Meek: A Leopard in the Family, 19 June 2014

... Alex Salmond’s predecessor as leader of the Scottish National Party, the social democrat Gordon Wilson, happened to be our local MP in East Dundee. The gap between him and radical socialists like George Galloway, then cutting his teeth in the bear pit of the Dundee Labour Party, was great, but seemed neither so great nor so significant as the gap between ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy, 6 February 2003

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... full fellowship from the Pepsi Cola Company and did a postgraduate year at Cambridge on a Woodrow Wilson scholarship. Conscription was still in effect, and after his educational deferments ran out, Ellsberg had to decide how to fulfil his military service obligation. On his return from Britain, he applied for officer candidate school in the Marine Corps and ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’, 18 May 2017

Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... but no chorus rises to proclaim Podhoretz the bold young successor to Alfred Kazin, Edmund Wilson, Malcolm Cowley, Stanley Edgar Hyman and Mary McCarthy in the Quality Lit Crit Biz. He is needled as a symptomatic New York intellectual specimen by Benjamin DeMott in the New York Review and cuffed around roughly by Hudson Review’s Marvin Mudrick, who ...


Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... in New York in 1963, how sophisticated it seemed and how camp. He ends up by asking me, as Harold Wilson once did: ‘Were you one of the original four?’ I wonder whether there were any shy, retiring Apostles: ‘Were you one of the original twelve?’ Does the Holy Ghost resent God the Father and God the Son being better known (and certainly more ...

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