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Father Figures

Marguerite Alexander

1 September 1983
A Journey in Ladakh 
by Andrew Harvey.
Cape, 236 pp., £8.50, May 1983, 0 224 02056 0
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All of us There 
by Polly Devlin.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 9780297782247
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The Far Side of the Lough: Stories from an Irish Childhood 
by Polly Devlin and Ian Newsham.
Gollancz, 118 pp., £5.50, June 1983, 0 575 03244 8
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... Ladakh, a mountain region under Kashmiri control which lies between India, Tibet and Pakistan, becomes the object of AndrewHarvey’s quest after he is told by a young Frenchman in Delhi that ‘the mountains of Ladakh have been the setting for Buddhist meditation since three centuries before Christ was born.’ Less spoiled ...

Turf Wars

Andrew​ Sugden: Grass

14 November 2002
The Forgiveness of Nature: The Story of Grass 
by Graham Harvey.
Vintage, 372 pp., £7.99, September 2002, 0 09 928366 2
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... the Middle Ages to the present, punctuated with entertaining digressions on groundsmen’s turf technology and the history of the lawnmower, and firmly rooted in tradition and organic farming. Graham Harvey quite possibly contributes more to agricultural awareness than any other person in Britain. It is through him that many of us learn about rotations with red clover, the pros and cons of subsidies ...

Short Cuts

Andrew​ O’Hagan: The Oscars

26 February 2009
... staple, but is the single biggest thing an Oscar-hungry movie can have going for it. Milk (starring Sean Penn, who is also nominated for Best Actor) is about the San Francisco gay rights martyr Harvey Milk; The Reader is a Holocaust drama laced with a coming-of-age narrative; Slumdog Millionaire, as Michael Wood said rather beautifully in the last issue, is about the ‘war on error’, revealing ...


Andrew​ O’Hagan

14 December 1995
Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 791 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 316 87620 8
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... would find himself in Moscow. The new documents would bear on many things, but Schiller, as usual anything but slow on the uptake, knew they might tell us something we needed to know about Lee Harvey Oswald, perhaps the most mysterious and most tragic American figure in the age of Schiller. If the gods of reason were attentive, it would make sense for him to be reunited with his sparring partner ...

Short Cuts

Andrew​ O’Hagan: Jeffrey Epstein’s Little Black Book

15 August 2019
... quiet at that time by one of Epstein’s friends, but she didn’t: she filed a motion not only naming Epstein as her abuser but claiming she’d also been told to have sex with his friends Prince Andrew and Alan Dershowitz. Who were the ‘potential co-conspirators’ granted immunity under the Florida plea bargain? All the named parties have denied the allegations, but the question of ‘Jeffrey ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Basingstoke’s Paisleyite

21 April 2005
... of a cross, then let me draw the second. All highly irregular, no doubt, though even if his ballot had been discounted it wouldn’t have made any difference: the new Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Andrew Hunter, would just have been elected with a majority of 12,451 rather than 12,450. Hunter won’t be seeking re-election in May, having seen his majority – which peaked in 1992 at 21,198, making ...

Scandal in Pittsburgh

David Nasaw: Andrew​ Mellon

19 July 2007
Mellon: An American Life 
by David Cannadine.
Allen Lane, 779 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 7139 9508 4
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... There is nothing so enervating,’ Andrew Carnegie wrote in 1891, ‘nothing so deadly in its effects upon the qualities which lead to the highest achievement, moral or intellectual, as hereditary wealth.’ Boys born with silver spoons in ...

On and Off the Scene

Jessamy Harvey

6 February 1997
edited by Mark Simpson.
Cassell, 163 pp., £9.99, September 1996, 0 304 33144 9
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... or attend political meetings, I was at a loss to think where I might find a desirable gay gang hanging out and what to talk about once I got there. Now I keep meeting – to borrow the title of Andrew Sullivan’s book – virtually normal men and women and wondering what all the fuss was about. Sometimes we have things in common, and sometimes we don’t. Mark Simpson, along with most of 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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... hell by Filipinos to one run like heaven by Americans’. Denizens of Baghdad’s Green Zone, take note. Wood died in 1927, not in Manila but in a Boston hospital, as a team led by the famous surgeon Harvey Cushing botched an attempt to excise a brain tumour. McCallum, himself a doctor, describes the operation in gory detail: ‘When Cushing pulled the last of the tumour from under the bone, the great ...


Peter Barham: Henry Cotton

18 August 2005
Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine 
by Andrew​ Scull.
Yale, 360 pp., £18.95, May 2005, 0 300 10729 3
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... all other patients put together. There was a need to reduce the amount of money spent on the mentally ill and to modernise the discipline of psychiatry, just as surgery had been brought up to date. Andrew Scull’s splendid new book, entertaining and disturbing in equal measure, is an account of the career of Henry Aloysius Cotton, an ebullient, ambitious American psychiatrist who met this challenge ...

Not Mackintosh

Chris Miele

6 April 1995
‘Greek’ Thomson 
edited by Gavin Stamp and Sam McKinstry.
Edinburgh, 249 pp., £35, September 1994, 0 7486 0480 4
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... In an 1866 pamphlet attacking Scott’s Gothic designs for the University of Glasgow, Thomson expressed unqualified admiration for Thomas Hamilton’s Royal High School in Edinburgh (1825-9) and Harvey Elmes’s St George’s Hall in Liverpool (begun in 1841). His own Caledonian Road Church and Moray Place display more imagination than even these works, with many details that seem to have no ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll

1 December 2011
Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... tend not to find much of interest in the killing of one person by another, especially when the killer seems to have been a dysfunctional misfit. Of course, the assassination had puzzling aspects: Lee Harvey Oswald’s lengthy stay in the Soviet Union during some of the hottest years of the Cold War; the unlikely trajectory of one of the three bullets fired from the Texas School Book Depository, the ...


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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... 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 Harvey Oswald; the pilot show of Roseanne. Each viewer wore headphones; all you could hear was the giggles and gasps. On my little TV, where the picture was jumpy at first, was Jack Kerouac. He was sitting ...

Short Cuts

Amjad Iraqi: Anti-BDS Law

19 July 2018
... the anti-apartheid boycott in the 1980s – that are involved in boycotts of Israel. Maryland, Louisiana, Wisconsin and New York have already issued such orders. After signing his, in June 2016, Andrew Cuomo declared in the Washington Post: ‘If you boycott Israel, New York will boycott you.’ It isn’t just that those who participate in or help enable boycotts are boycotted themselves, or ...
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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... also with brunch, and with political action. Perhaps it’s too much to expect the brunch aspect to be explored in Spencer’s scrap-book, but mightn’t he have found space for the name of Harvey Milk? For the first openly gay elected public official? Clone culture voted him in, and clone culture rioted when his murder was condoned by the courts. But these trivia fail to turn our author on ...

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