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Resentment

John Sutherland, 21 March 1991

Francesca 
by Roger Scruton.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 236 pp., £13.95, February 1991, 9781856190480
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Slave of the Passions 
by Deirdre Wilson.
Picador, 251 pp., £14.99, February 1991, 0 330 31788 1
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The Invisible Worm 
by Jennifer Johnston.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1991, 1 85619 041 2
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The Secret Pilgrim 
by John le Carré.
Hodder, 335 pp., £14.95, January 1991, 0 340 54381 7
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... Scrutons and it is not easy to reconcile them: barrister, aesthetician, champion of Senator Joseph McCarthy, teacher at Birkbeck College (an institution with a tradition of proletarian outreach), editor of the ultra-Tory Salisbury Review foxhunter. And novelist. Fortnight’s Anger (1981) was hard-going – a murky tale of adolescent sexuality full of ...

Just Had To

R.W. Johnson: LBJ, 20 March 2003

The Years of Lyndon Johnson. Vol III: Master of the Senate 
by Robert A. Caro.
Cape, 1102 pp., £30, August 2002, 0 394 52836 0
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... the century – or at any rate its middle years. Johnson was also the architect of the space age: Tom Wolfe correctly makes him a central figure in The Right Stuff and it’s no accident that mission control is anchored in Houston. With the Great Society programme he forced a torrent of social and economic reforms through Congress – only FDR did anything ...
... telling examples. Mr Casaubon is selfish, Rosamond Vincy is selfish, her brother Fred is selfish, Tom Tulliver is selfish, Harold Transome is selfish, Esther Lyon starts out to be selfish but is saved in time by Felix Holt. On the other side of the ledger, Maggie Tulliver is unselfish, Mary Garth is unselfish, the Dissenting minister Rufus Lyon is a pillar of ...

Clan Gatherings

Inigo Thomas: The Bushes, 24 April 2008

The Bush Tragedy: The Unmaking of a President 
by Jacob Weisberg.
Bloomsbury, 271 pp., £16.99, February 2008, 978 0 7475 9394 2
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... he wasn’t such a damn hick’. Hick or not, he was considered dangerous enough. He funded Joseph McCarthy, and Lyndon Johnson wasn’t joking when he told a colleague that he believed Hunt was responsible for inciting the riots in Newark and Detroit in 1964: he thought the tycoon was trying to derail the passage of civil rights legislation. Hunt launched an ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne, 3 September 1981

David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... with W.C. Fields as Micawber; one of the worst, three years later, was a plodding Tom Sawyer. Was Selznick wary of greater challenges – Bleak House or Huckleberry Finn? When he tackled Anna Karenina, also in 1935, he turned it into a glossy vehicle for Garbo; and his very last film, A Farewell to Arms, was an over-reverent flop. The best ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... by Anthony West, who lived in America but was temporarily in London. After depicting Senator McCarthy’s activities in America and exposing the potentialities and nonsense in the concept of security risk, West demonstrated that it was ‘this game’ that Harold Wilson, George Wigg (‘that industrious garbage collector’), Dick Crossman and ...

Barriers of Silliness

J.I.M. Stewart, 1 July 1982

The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations 
by Julian Symons.
Orbis, 143 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 85613 362 0
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Critical Observations 
by Julian Symons.
Faber, 213 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 0 571 11688 4
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As I walked down New Grub Street: Memories of a Writing Life 
by Walter Allen.
Heinemann, 276 pp., £8.95, November 1981, 0 434 01829 5
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... remains unsolved. It is perhaps the lavish, accomplished and indefinably sinister illustrations by Tom Adams that make this so triumphantly a bumper book for buffs. Mr Adams’s portraits of the seven great detectives reappear as a circle of medallions on the dust-jacket. Thus synoptically viewed, they strike me, perplexedly, as patently criminal types. Ellery ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... have a restored print of The Big Sleep, half an hour longer than the original; and, most recently, Tom Hiney’s Raymond Chandler, billed as the first ‘authorised’ biography in twenty years. Chandler would be amused by his power to authorise a biography from beyond the grave, but probably not so amused by the promise of ‘new material’ about the private ...

Quashed Quotatoes

Michael Wood: Finnegans Wake, 16 December 2010

Finnegans Wake 
by James Joyce, edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon.
Houyhnhnm, 493 pp., £250, March 2010, 978 0 9547710 1 0
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Joyce’s Disciples Disciplined 
edited by Tim Conley.
University College Dublin, 185 pp., £42.50, May 2010, 978 1 906359 46 1
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... we don’t know. Another reference: And there many have paused before that exposure of him by old Tom Quad, a flashback in which he sits sated, gowndabout, in clericalease habit, watching bland Sol slithe dodgsomely into the nethermore, a globule of maugdleness about to corrugitate his mild dewed cheek and the tata of a tiny victorienne, Alys, pressed by his ...

They roared with laughter

Amber Medland: Nella Larsen, 6 May 2021

Passing 
by Nella Larsen.
Macmillan, 160 pp., £10.99, June 2020, 978 1 5290 4028 9
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... uniform, and wore antique necklaces and jade earrings on the hospital ward. According to Mary McCarthy, her stories always contained the sentence: ‘And there I was in the fullest of full evening dress.’ She gravitated towards people who stood out, like Audrey in her ‘shivering apricot frock’ in Quicksand (the character was based on the Black ...

Bounty Hunter

John Sutherland, 17 July 1997

Riders of the Purple Sage 
by Zane Grey.
Oxford, 265 pp., £4.99, May 1995, 0 19 282443 0
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The Man of the Forest: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 383 pp., $15, September 1996, 0 8032 7062 3
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The Thundering Herd: The Authorised Version 
by Zane Grey.
Nebraska, 400 pp., $16, September 1996, 0 8032 7065 8
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... of few words, invincible in gunplay, and a dispenser of Solomonic justice. As portrayed first by Tom Mix, then by Randolph Scott, the Lassiter type descends directly to Clint Eastwood. The last scene in Unforgiven (even down to the whipping) is the first scene of Riders of the Purple Sage. All that’s been added is a sadism which would have appalled ...

A Short History of the Trump Family

Sidney Blumenthal: The First Family, 16 February 2017

... He believes he can win her back through displays of wealth and manners, but she is now married to Tom Buchanan, an upper-class boor. Trump’s claim to have risen Gatsby-like is the opposite of Gatsby’s magical self-invention. Gatsby was careful to maintain the air of the gentleman he wished to be taken for. Trump is the uncouth son of privilege for ...

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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... the independent producer Walter Wanger to buy the rights to Howard Fast’s novel Citizen Tom Paine for him to direct and, as the FBI noted (they had a dossier on Welles), planned a series of educational short films on ‘minority problems’. The Stranger (1946) – a frankly commercial production which Welles made for another independent, Sam ...

Was he? Had he?

Corey Robin: In the Name of Security, 19 October 2006

The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government 
by David Johnson.
Chicago, 277 pp., £13, May 2006, 0 226 40190 1
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Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security 
by David Cole and James Dempsey.
New Press, 320 pp., £10.99, March 2006, 1 56584 939 6
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General Ashcroft: Attorney at War 
by Nancy Baker.
Kansas, 320 pp., £26.50, April 2006, 0 7006 1455 9
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State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration 
by James Risen.
Free Press, 240 pp., £18.99, January 2006, 0 7432 7578 0
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Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush 
by Eric Boehlert.
Free Press, 352 pp., $25, May 2006, 0 7432 8931 5
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... all dismissals in the State and Commerce Departments, and in the CIA. Only 25 per cent of Joseph McCarthy’s fan letters complained of ‘red infiltration’; the rest fretted about ‘sex depravity’. The scare lasted from 1947 to the 1970s, and in The Lavender Scare David Johnson estimates that thousands lost their jobs. The men and women charged with ...

Call a kid a zebra

Daniel Smith: On the Spectrum, 19 May 2016

In a Different Key: The Story of Autism 
by John Donvan and Caren Zucker.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 1 84614 566 7
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NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently 
by Steve Silberman.
Allen and Unwin, 534 pp., £9.99, February 2016, 978 1 76011 364 3
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... stoking public awareness. This all changed in 1988, the year Rain Man was released. In the film, Tom Cruise plays a callow grifter who kidnaps his autistic older brother – Dustin Hoffman in full Stanislavskian splendour – and takes him on a soul-enlarging road trip to Las Vegas. ‘In the year before the film came out,’ Silberman writes, ‘fewer than ...

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