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Funny Old Fame

Patrick Parrinder, 10 January 1991

Things: A Story of the Sixties, 
by Georges Perec, translated by David Bellos and Andrew Leak.
Collins Harvill, 221 pp., £12.50, July 1990, 0 00 271038 2
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Parcours Peree 
edited by Mireille Ribière.
Presses Universitaires de Lyon, 162 pp., frs 125, July 1990, 2 7297 0365 9
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by Philippe Sollers, translated by Barbara Bray.
Columbia, 559 pp., $24.95, December 1990, 0 231 06546 9
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... Once upon a time, before the Channel Tunnel was built, there were two contemporary French novelists. Georges Perec died in 1982 at the age of 45, and nobody in England who was not a French specialist had ever heard of him. With Philippe Sollers it was different. Editor of the avant-garde theoretical journal Tel Quel, and associate of literary and psycho-analytic thinkers such as Barthes, Kristeva and Lacan, his was a name of which no self-respecting British intellectual could afford to remain entirely ignorant – though his novels, so far as I can discover, were neither translated nor read ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Good Traitor, 25 September 2014

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State 
by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 0 241 14669 9
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... and Poitras’s protectionism and they went to Hong Kong in a posse. Compared to any other major leak in recent times, the material passed on was not only of the highest order but beautifully organised. If there was a Zen prize for whistleblowers, Snowden would win without trying: he checks and labels everything, he thinks out the moral, he cross-references ...

Short Cuts

Mary-Kay Wilmers: Remembering Paul Foot, 19 August 2004

... Smoke Ring: The Politics of Tobacco – ‘a marvellous book’. Later in the piece a ‘glorious leak’ undoes an attempt by the makers of Marlboro cigarettes to stop the world seeing film of the Marlboro cowboys dying of lung cancer. Marvellous, glorious, terrific, delightful: Paul enjoyed the books he wrote about. And when he didn’t like them he enjoyed ...

Making things happen

R.W. Johnson, 6 September 1984

The Missing Dimension: Governments and Intelligence Communities in the 20th Century 
edited by Christopher Andrew and David Dilks.
Macmillan, 300 pp., £16.95, July 1984, 0 333 36864 9
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... outside ‘amateurs’ have to be recruited into the machine – and in the long term such people leak. Without doubt, the richness of the Andrew and Dilks collection owes much to such factors. Most of the essays are concerned with the 1900-45 period, and one learns of such fascinating byways as Japanese covert support for ...

Higher Man

John Sutherland, 22 May 1997

The Turner Diaries 
by Andrew Macdonald’.
National Vauguard Books, 211 pp., $12.95, May 1978, 0 937944 02 5
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... Pierce’s prudently pseudonymous novel ‘the bible of the racist right’, didn’t take long to leak the information that it accompanied Timothy McVeigh on his (alleged) bombing raid on 19 April 1995. Reference to The Turner Diaries was prominent in Rage and Betrayal, the highly prejudicial ABC programme of 12 April 1996, in which the newscaster Peter ...

What sort of traitors?

Neal Ascherson, 7 February 1980

The Climate of Treason 
by Andrew Boyle.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 9780091393403
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... of reconciliation with his friends. Newspapers are ‘they’ and we, after all, are ‘we’. As Andrew Boyle relates, it turned out that a great many old acquaintances of Burgess and Maclean were much more horrified – felt, indeed, much more betrayed – by the fact that the late Goronwy Rees gave a version of their flight to the People than by the flight ...

Lust for Leaks

Neal Ascherson: The Cockburns of Cork, 1 September 2005

The Broken Boy 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Cape, 312 pp., £15.99, June 2005, 0 224 07108 4
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... of the epidemic. A few days later, Patrick was joined in hospital by his nine-year-old brother, Andrew. Their older brother, Alexander, had felt the same headache and pricking in the fingers as their father but, like him, did not fall ill. Andrew seemed at first to be severely affected in his muscles, but eventually ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Narcissistic Kevins, 6 November 2014

... one who spent extended periods of time in his company could stand him: ‘a complete cunt’, as Andrew Strauss let slip in the commentary box this summer. That, incidentally, was a word that tended to attach itself to Rudd as well. Accused of describing Rudd in those terms, the former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer replied: ‘I don’t use ...

Reasons for Being Nice and Having Sex

Andrew Berry: W.D. Hamilton, 6 February 2003

Narrow Roads of Gene Land: The Collected Papers of W.D. Hamilton. Vol. II: The Evolution of Sex 
by W.D. Hamilton.
Oxford, 872 pp., £50, January 2001, 0 19 850336 9
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... On one occasion, his boat started sinking: a naked Royal Society research professor repaired the leak in the course of several lengthy underwater explorations. Some of the most beguiling interstitial passages in Narrow Roads of Gene Land are accounts of life in the field. Hamilton was studying wasps in Brazil when his (ultimately) famous paper on altruism ...

One for the road

Ian Hamilton, 21 March 1991

by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 346 pp., £16.99, March 1991, 0 09 174533 0
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... wants to know about – and if anybody does, too bad. As it happens, quite a bit of such data does leak through, and we are two or three times referred to page so-and-so of Stanley and the Women, or wherever, and he even lets fall the occasional bibliographer’s nugget, if you please: for instance, did you, or Private Eye, know that Amis’s very first piece ...
Northern Antiquity: The Post-Medieval Reception of Edda and Saga 
edited by Andrew Wawn.
Hisarlik, 342 pp., £35, October 1994, 1 874312 18 4
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Heritage and Prophecy: Grundtvig and the English-Speaking World 
edited by A.M. Allchin.
Canterbury, 330 pp., £25, January 1994, 9781853110856
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... years till Bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson acquired it in 1643. Then the news began, slowly, to leak out. The OED records ‘Viking’ as a word first used in 1807, and it had been well established by Longfellow, Bulwer-Lytton and others by mid-century. ‘Saga’ appeared a century earlier in Hickes’s pioneering Thesaurus of the Northern languages, but ...

‘Comrade Jiang Zemin does indeed seem a proper choice’

Jasper Becker: Tiananmen Square, 24 May 2001

The Tiananmen Papers 
by Zhang Liang, edited by Andrew Nathan and Perry Link.
Little, Brown, 513 pp., £20, January 2001, 0 316 85693 2
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... States, still regarded in China as Enemy Number One, where two professors – Perry Link and Andrew Nathan – agreed to translate and edit the documents. Both men have been banned from China so, if this is a deliberate leak, they are an improbable choice. Perry Link, an expert on Chinese literature, was a close ...

Will We Care When Labour Loses?

Ross McKibbin: Gordon Brown’s Failures, 26 March 2009

... almost anywhere except China, the state can’t avoid elections, nor can any politician do what Andrew Mellon was reputed to have recommended in the 1930s – liquidate everything. We live, after all, in a democracy. To do nothing is politically impossible. To do something, however, requires a proper understanding of what went wrong. Here, much of the media ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... Major General Campbell, a US commander in Afghanistan, said that ‘any time there’s any sort of leak of classified material, it has the potential to harm the military folks that are working out here every day.’ The notion got under the skin of many people, including many of the journalists dealing with the leaks, and a feeling grew that WikiLeaks must ...

A Journey in the South

Andrew O’Hagan: In New Orleans, 6 October 2005

... preachin,’ she said. North Carolina was the birthplace of Billy Graham and three US presidents, Andrew Johnson, James Polk and Andrew Jackson, and also, among the twinkling lights out there, you could find the uncelebrated birthplace of Thomas Wolfe, the North Carolinian who wrote Look Homeward, Angel. As the truck got ...

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