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30 November 1995
Homosexuality: A History 
by Colin Spencer.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85702 143 6
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Virtually Normal: An Argument about Homosexuality 
by Andrew Sullivan.
Picador, 224 pp., £14.99, October 1995, 0 330 34453 6
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Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography 
by David Halperin.
Oxford, 246 pp., £14.99, September 1995, 0 19 509371 2
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... the past’ were free of the ‘taint’ of homophobia, there would still be a gap in the argument: homophobia not being cross-culturally necessary wouldn’t make it an optional part of our culture. AndrewSullivan is considerably more honest about homophobia in the autobiographical fragment with which he starts Virtually Normal, a book rather bizarrely oversold by its publishers. You’d better be ...

Speaking Azza

Martin Jay: Where are you coming from?

28 November 2002
Situatedness; Or, Why We Keep Saying Where We’re Coming From 
by David Simpson.
Duke, 290 pp., £14.50, March 2002, 0 8223 2839 9
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... work to undo the debilitating effects of situatedness? These are the kinds of question that agonise Simpson, who has written Situatedness in the hope of stemming the tide of what he calls, following AndrewSullivan, ‘azza’ declarations – ‘as a colleague of David Simpson’; ‘as a white, middle-class male’ – in the age of identity politics. ‘Agonise’ is the right word here: every page ...

Who’s sorry now?

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Michael Finkel gets lucky

2 June 2005
True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa 
by Michael Finkel.
Chatto, 312 pp., £15.99, May 2005, 0 7011 7688 1
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Burning Down My Master’s House 
by Jayson Blair.
New Millennium, 288 pp., $24.95, March 2004, 9781932407266
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The Journalist and the Murderer 
by Janet Malcolm.
Granta, 163 pp., £8.99, January 2004, 1 86207 637 5
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... concealed character called Stephen Glass, who invented email addresses and whole companies to hide his deceit. ‘I don’t know how I can demonstrate my remorse,’ Glass is reported to have said to AndrewSullivan, the editor who hired him. Sullivan pointed out, not in so many words, that taking a giant book advance and allowing a film to be made from the story of your misdemeanours might not be the ...

When Chicago Went Classical

Andrew​ Saint: A serial killer and the World’s Fair

1 April 2004
Devil in the White City 
by Erik Larson.
Bantam, 496 pp., £7.99, April 2004, 0 553 81353 6
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... allow its skyscrapers to pile one raw, steel-framed storey on another. Instead, they had to have a stone-clad base, middle and top, in attenuated mimicry of the temple-front. No longer could Louis Sullivan, that intellectual loner among American architects, coax businessmen into lavishing his vitalising, Emersonian ornament on their premises. Not only Chicago’s architecture, but the whole of American ...

Cyber-Con

James Harkin: Tweet for the CIA!

2 December 2010
Death to the Dictator! Witnessing Iran’s Election and the Crippling of the Islamic Republic 
by Afsaneh Moqadam.
Bodley Head, 134 pp., £10.99, May 2010, 978 1 84792 146 8
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The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom 
by Evgeny Morozov.
Allen Lane, 408 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84614 353 3
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Blogistan: The Internet and Politics in Iran 
by Annabelle Sreberny and Gholam Khiabany.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84511 607 1
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... a mobile phone could see shocking images of the brutality meted out by the police and the Basij militia. In a series of blog posts fired off within hours of the first demonstrations, the Atlantic’s AndrewSullivan proclaimed Twitter ‘the critical tool for organising the resistance in Iran’. In a piece of electronic agitprop he declared that ‘the revolution will be twittered.’ The technophiles ...
23 May 1996
Homos 
by Leo Bersani.
Harvard, 208 pp., £15.95, April 1995, 0 674 40619 2
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... legalised gay marriages testifies to that.’ In this unthinking assimilation of marriage to monogamy Bersani shows himself a less astute political thinker than even the conservative gay ideologue AndrewSullivan – something which ought to have given him serious pause. It doesn’t occur to Bersani that the reason many lesbians and gay men may want to get married is not in order to flaunt their ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories

24 January 2013
The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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...  undermines social bonds. Waldegrave wasn’t alone in his attractive prescription for what Conservatism might be. In 1985 the Centre for Policy Studies, a Tory think tank, published AndrewSullivan’s pamphlet Greening the Tories. Sullivan contended that environmentalism – ‘our national “green” sensibility’ – was hardwired into English culture, and especially into the Conservative ...

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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... August, and inside is the only place to be. The people around me, each at his own console, were watching their chosen moments in the history of American airtime. Elvis Presley’s top half on the Ed Sullivan Show; John F. Kennedy’s live debate with a melting Richard Nixon; an early episode of I Love Lucy; a dinner-table scene from The Waltons; Neil Armstrong’s One Small Step; the shooting of Lee ...

Melinda and Sandy

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Oprah

4 November 2010
Oprah: A Biography 
by Kitty Kelley.
Crown, 544 pp., £19.50, April 2010, 978 0 307 39486 6
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... makes her see things the way she does,’ Oprah’s cousin Katharine Carr Esters said. ‘I stopped wanting to be white when I was ten years old and saw Diana Ross and the Supremes perform on the Ed Sullivan Show,’ Oprah claimed on one occasion. ‘I was too black-looking,’ she told a reporter when looking back on her struggle to get into television. ‘A lot of producers and directors were looking ...

What Works

Michael Friedman: The embarrassing cousin

31 March 2005
The American Musical and the Formation of National Identity 
by Raymond Knapp.
Princeton, 361 pp., £22.95, December 2004, 0 691 11864 7
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... but with a difference. Its problem is how to make the numbers transcend the book without making the book seem like padding. Musicals that don’t manage this, like most of those by Jerome Kern or Andrew Lloyd Webber, end up as song cycles barely held together by text. When they do pull it off – Oklahoma!, Fiddler on the Roof, The Music Man – they can make for extraordinarily powerful theatrical ...

Hospitalism

Sarah Perry: Victorian ‘Hospitalism’

5 July 2018
The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine 
by Lindsey Fitzharris.
Allen Lane, 304 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 26249 8
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... decay, with pestilence travelling in an infectious miasma that seeped across windowsills. That the most disease-stricken populations lived in the most squalid conditions only bolstered the theory. Andrew Mearns’s survey of urban squalor from 1883, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London, describes rooms ‘black with the accretions of filth which have gathered upon them through long years of neglect. It ...
7 April 1994
The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 659 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 241 12858 7
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The Parnell Split 1890-91 
by Frank Callanan.
Cork, 327 pp., £35, November 1992, 0 902561 63 4
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... by Davitt’s snivelling exculpation of the vicious Kilkenny fight as ‘full of fun and Irish good humour throughout’. It was no better in Sligo, or in Carlow, where the unhappy choice of Andrew J. Kettle as the Parnellite candidate provoked so vigorous a tattoo on the appropriate utensil at Parnell’s meetings as to turn his last campaign into a hideous skimmington. They hunted Mr Fox to a ...

Who Cares?

Jean McNicol

9 February 1995
The Report of the Inquiry into the Care and Treatment of Christopher Clunis 
by Jean Ritchie, Donald Dick and Richard Lingham.
HMSO, 146 pp., £9.50, February 1994, 0 11 701798 1
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Creating Community Care: Report of the Mental Health Foundation into Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness 
by William Utting.
Mental Health Foundation, 76 pp., £9.50, September 1994, 0 901944 17 3
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Finding a Place: A Review of Mental Health Services for Adults 
HMSO, 94 pp., £11, November 1994, 0 11 886143 3Show More
The Falling Shadow: One Patient’s Mental Health Care. Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Events Leading up to and Surrounding the Fatal Incident at the Edith Morgan Centre, Torbay, on 1 September 1993 
by Louis Blom-Cooper, Helen Hally and Elaine Murphy.
Duckworth, 230 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 7156 2662 0
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... The policeman who eventually arrived said that he thought he knew who the culprit was, that he lived locally and that he was mentally-ill – and so was unlikely to be prosecuted. The policeman, a PC Sullivan, seems to have made the connection between Bartlett’s attacker and the elusive subject of an abortive Mental Health Assessment he had attended the week before. He later, rather unconvincingly ...

Call a kid a zebra

Daniel Smith: On the Spectrum

18 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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... got in on the action with an instalment called Kristy and the Secret of Susan. (The secret was that Susan was autistic.) Appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show shortly after Rain Man opened, Ruth Sullivan, the doyenne of American parent advocates, said that the movie had ‘advanced the field of autism by 25 years’. The new public fascination with autism, coupled with the rise in diagnoses, gave ...

Alas! Deceived

Alan Bennett: Philip Larkin

25 March 1993
Philip Larkin: A Writer’s Life 
by Andrew​ Motion.
Faber, 570 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 571 15174 4
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... of mother] at 60, three years before the cancer starts. What a bloody, sodding awful life.’ His, of course, not hers. Eva died in 1977 aged 91, after which the poems more or less stopped coming. Andrew Motion thinks this is no coincidence. Larkin pinpointed 63 as his probable departure date because that was when his father went, turned by his mother into ‘the sort of closed, reserved man who ...

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