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Law v. Order

Neal Ascherson: Putin’s strategy, 20 May 2004

Inside Putin's Russia 
by Andrew Jack.
Granta, 350 pp., £20, February 2004, 1 86207 640 5
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Putin's Progress 
by Peter Truscott.
Simon and Schuster, 370 pp., £17.99, March 2004, 0 7432 4005 7
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Putin, Russia's Choice 
by Richard Sakwa.
Taylor and Francis, 307 pp., £15.99, February 2004, 0 415 29664 1
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... against those whose power is itself illegitimate, and who consider themselves above the law. Andrew Jack points out that Vladimir Putin belongs to a special, transitional generation. He was ‘born too late to share any of the Bolsheviks’ original ideals or struggles, but too soon to be fully inculcated with the culture of corruption and chaos ...

Jack and Leo

John Sutherland, 27 July 1989

The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... Jack London has had difficulty emerging from the blur of his own heroic lies, his family’s whitewash, and the libels of his biographers. All accounts agree, however, that London’s was as mythic an American life as anything in Horatio Alger. Raised in grinding poverty, by the age of ten young Jack was up at three in the morning delivering newspapers to support his family ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... you think you’re enlightened, go spend a weekend with your parents,’ Bob Walker said to Stein. Jack Warner was the type of man whom Stein’s father might have thought of as a business legend. Here’s Dennis Hopper: I was very young in 1955, when Warner Brothers did Rebel without a Cause – 18 or 19 years old. We’d started shooting in black and ...

Bebop

Andrew O’Hagan, 5 October 1995

Jack Kerouac: Selected Letters 1940-56 
edited by Ann Charters.
Viking, 629 pp., £25, August 1995, 0 670 84952 9
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... could hear was the giggles and gasps. On my little TV, where the picture was jumpy at first, was Jack Kerouac. He was sitting up at a white piano, and Steve Allen tinkled away at the keys. Kerouac is very clean, very neat, but he looks nervous. Allen is smug. He’s a polyester-clad uncle sitting at the piano. ‘You nervous?’ says ...

Do you like him?

Ian Jack: Ken Livingstone, 10 May 2012

You Can’t Say That: Memoirs 
by Ken Livingstone.
Faber, 710 pp., £9.99, April 2012, 978 0 571 28041 4
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... next Prime Minister but three’. But the mind’s eye can be wrong – Johnson’s biographer, Andrew Gimson, records that Boris was a quiet boy who had hearing difficulties – and it may be that the reason we can readily conceive Johnson aged seven is that the public persona of Johnson aged 47 is so irrepressibly boys-will-be-boys. With Livingstone the ...

Denizens of Baghdad’s Green Zone, take note

Andrew Bacevich: America’s Forgotten General, 20 April 2006

Leonard Wood: Rough Rider, Surgeon, Architect of American Imperialism 
by Jack McCallum.
New York, 368 pp., $34.95, December 2005, 0 8147 5699 9
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... training camp in Missouri that bears his name – the once famous general is a forgotten figure. Jack McCallum has taken it upon himself to correct that, producing the first biography of Wood in a generation. Although the result is unlikely to vault its subject back into the first rank of American notables, this very serviceable book deserves ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops, 4 June 2014

Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... on: animal slaughter was the social cement of Pincher’s Britain. Harry Hyams, Charles Clore, Jack Profumo, Lord Dilhorne, George Weidenfeld, Maurice Oldfield, Victor Rothschild, Lord Porchester, Andrew Parker Bowles: ideally they should be highlighted in bold type, as was the way in the Hickey column. The author lets ...

Diary

Sean French: Fortress Wapping, 6 March 1986

... and, in retrospect, boring and pointless: all that matters is that the management and our editor, Andrew Neil, told us nothing of their true intentions. By contrast, the crisis itself was simple. Rupert Murdoch demanded a level of compulsory redundancies of his Sogat 82 and NGA employees that he knew they would not accept. The two unions took the bait and on ...

Disgrace under Pressure

Andrew O’Hagan: Lad mags, 3 June 2004

Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men's Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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Stag & Groom Magazine 
edited by Perdita Patterson.
Hanage, 130 pp., £4, May 2004
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Zoo 
edited by Paul Merrill.
Emap East, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Nuts 
edited by Phil Hilton.
IPC, 98 pp., £1.20, May 2004
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Loaded 
edited by Martin Daubney.
IPC, 194 pp., £3.30, June 2004
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Jack 
edited by Michael Hodges.
Dennis, 256 pp., £3, May 2004
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Esquire 
edited by Simon Tiffin.
National Magazine Company, 180 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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GQ 
edited by Dylan Jones.
Condé Nast, 200 pp., £3.20, June 2004
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Men’s Health 
edited by Morgan Rees.
Rodale, 186 pp., £3.40, June 2004
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Arena Homme Plus: ‘The Boys of Summer’ 
edited by Ashley Heath.
Emap East, 300 pp., £5, April 2004
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... first-rate political and cultural journalism, and even this month, when the newish British lad mag Jack flags on its cover ‘A Speed Special Starring Fast Planes, Bikes and Women’, the much derided Playboy advertises a long piece by Gore Vidal on God and the state. Jack runs a piece about British wrestling in which even ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Kitsch and Kilts in Celtic Park, 20 August 2014

... over Celtic Park, the famous trails of jet smoke, red, white and blue, the colours of the Union Jack. It later emerged that the Ministry of Defence had rejected a proposal from the games organisers that the smoke be simply blue and ...

Valet of the Dolls

Andrew O’Hagan: Sinatra, 24 July 2003

Mr S.: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra 
by George Jacobs and William Stadiem.
Sidgwick, 261 pp., £16.99, June 2003, 0 283 07370 5
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... giving him an easy time of it. We’d sit and play cards late into the night, and he’d drink ‘Jack’ and obsess about his career. Thankfully, Jacobs’s instincts as a friend and a common soul turn out to be less sharp than his flick-knife, which glints a few inches in front of his can-do smile from fairly early in the book. First, we get to know about ...

The Long War

Andrew Bacevich: Motives behind the Surge, 26 March 2009

The Gamble: General Petraeus and the Untold Story of the American Surge in Iraq 
by Thomas E. Ricks.
Allen Lane, 394 pp., £25, February 2009, 978 1 84614 145 4
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... the war for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS); a small group of retired generals and others led by Jack Keane, who, as army vice chief of staff, had enthusiastically supported the war, but since leaving active duty had been appalled by its mismanagement; and Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno, who as the second-ranking officer in Baghdad was in charge of the ...

Rites of Passage

Anthony Quinn, 27 June 1991

The Elephant 
by Richard Rayner.
Cape, 276 pp., £13.99, May 1991, 0 224 03005 1
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The Misfortunes of Nigel 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Peter Owen, 176 pp., £12.95, June 1991, 0 7206 0830 9
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Famous for the creatures 
by Andrew Motion.
Viking, 248 pp., £14.99, June 1991, 0 670 82286 8
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Double Lives 
by Stephen Wall.
Bloomsbury, 154 pp., £13.99, June 1991, 0 7475 0910 7
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... boyhood spent on the edges of Bradford’s tenebrous underworld. At its centre is his father, Jack, one-time RAF ace, part-time undertaker and full-time profligate, a man with one eye on the main chance and the other on any woman who isn’t his wife. His major obsession is cricket, which explains his son’s unfortunate name (Headingley is Yorkshire ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 5 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... is on the phone to the William Morris Agency. Standing in his office are Jerry and Joe – Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis – a bass and a saxophone player. Jerry tries to persuade Poliakoff to give them the job – three weeks in Florida with Sweet Sue and her Society Syncopators – but Poliakoff tells them to beat it, they require female ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Other Atticus Finch, 29 July 2015

... will not easily endure the information that she once wrote: ‘I don’t care what it is, Uncle Jack, if you’ll only tell me what’s turned my father into a nigger-hater.’ Imagine waking up to learn that Hamlet killed his own father, that Pip had been scheming for money all along. Imagine discovering that Sherlock Holmes, in a previous version, was a ...

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