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When the barracks were bursting with poets

David A. Bell: Napoleon, 6 September 2001

Napoleon the Novelist 
by Andy Martin.
Polity, 191 pp., £45, December 2000, 0 7456 2536 3
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... Andy Martin is unlikely to convince many readers that Napoleon conquered Europe only as compensation for his inability to write a sentimental novel. His attention to the Emperor’s literary ambitions is, however, not unreasonable. Napoleon dreamed of literary as well as military glory, wrote copiously at various moments in his life, and had real talent for it (Sainte-Beuve called him ‘a great critic in his spare time’, while Thiers elevated him to ‘greatest writer of the century ...

I just hate the big guy

Christopher Tayler: Reacher, 4 February 2016

Make Me 
by Lee Child.
Bantam, 425 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 593 07388 9
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Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of ‘Make Me’ 
by Andy Martin.
Bantam, 303 pp., £18.99, November 2015, 978 0 593 07663 7
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... In The Enemy he takes aim at a villain who’s transparently modelled on Dick Cheney. Andy Martin, reviewing Nothing to Lose (2008), called Reacher ‘a liberal intellectual with … arms the size of Popeye’s’. It wasn’t much of an exaggeration at either end. Make Me, the latest Reacher novel, is a return to form after Personal ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 17 July 2014

... The affair came to an end in the summer of 2004. A few weeks later, on Friday 13 August, Andy Coulson, editor of the News of the World, showed up at Blunkett’s office in Sheffield to ask whether he was having an affair with a married woman. Blunkett recorded their conversation. The tape became the most important single piece of evidence in the ...

House of Miscegenation

Gilberto Perez: Westerns, 18 November 2010

Hollywood Westerns and American Myth 
by Robert Pippin.
Yale, 198 pp., £25, May 2010, 978 0 300 14577 9
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... The hero of the Toy Story trilogy is a toy cowboy. In Toy Story 3 when the toys belonging to Andy, now about to leave for college, find themselves at a daycare centre, and a kindly bear welcomes them into a community of toys freed from their owners, the cowboy alone stays loyal to Andy; and when the toy bear turns out to be a dictator worse than any owner, the cowboy, who was never persuaded by the rhetoric of toy solidarity, is proved right ...

The Things We Throw Away

Andrew O’Hagan: The Garbage of England, 24 May 2007

... on the earth. I took everything to extremes in my old life.’ Alf is 33 years old. His friend Martin, a fellow Freegan, popped his head through from the back of the van and pushed his glasses up his nose. Martin is 36 and comes from Sydney. He said he was disillusioned as a teenager by the way everyone was obsessed with ...

Motorised Youth Rebellion

Andy Beckett: Radical LA, 18 February 2021

Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties 
by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener.
Verso, 788 pp., £25, April 2020, 978 1 78478 022 7
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... local businesses’ and then as ‘neighbourhood resistance to military occupation’. They quote Martin Luther King, who visited Watts at the end of the violence and encountered a young man who told him: ‘We won!’ King was baffled: ‘Thirty-some people are dead [and] all but two are Negroes. You’ve destroyed your own [businesses]. What do you ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Tintin, 15 April 2004

... Hergé’s original drawings, some of the sources that he drew on (and drew), a portrait of him by Andy Warhol, and various seafaring artefacts. The boy reporter’s first assignment was to Russia. The strips from Le Petit Vingtième were collected in a book published in 1930, Tintin au pays des Soviets. The Bolsheviks are fantastically evil: in one of the ...

At the Hayward

Rosemary Hill: David Shrigley, 23 February 2012

... in Brain Activity he moves on from persona into something more like impersonation. There is his Martin Creed, an animation of a hand turning a light switch on and off; his Gillian Wearing, a stuffed dog holding a placard saying ‘I’M DEAD’; and his Andy Goldsworthy, a photograph of some nicely coloured leaves, on one ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The 1970s, 18 November 2010

... The 1990s don’t yet have a mood. They may forever be defined by the style they preceded, what Martin Amis, rather horrifically, called Horrorism. Others may see it as a last golden age of selling the silver and weeping over Diana and burning the dead cows, a Blairite meandering into the chaos of international worries. It sometimes takes a while for a ...

Cod on Ice

Andy Beckett: The BBC, 10 July 2003

Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride And Paranoia 
by Richard Lindley.
Politico’s, 404 pp., £18.99, September 2002, 1 902301 80 3
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The Harder Path: The Autobiography 
by John Birt.
Time Warner, 532 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 316 86019 0
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... the nation, the best-known and most watched edition of the programme of his – or any – era was Martin Bashir’s interview with Princess Diana in 1995, a one-off scoop that owed little to his conception of current affairs, or to Panorama’s pre-Birt traditions. And when the programme did attempt a thorough analysis of how Britain functioned in the late ...

Travels with My Mom

Terry Castle: In Santa Fe, 16 August 2007

... ironically, starting with the jackalopes and the women who love them.And who, precisely, is Agnes Martin? Her semi-obscurity is exactly the point. True, her paintings now reside in all the fabled modern collections and sell for millions of dollars. True, like O’Keeffe she lived near Taos and Santa Fe for much of her life. But she remains a cult figure ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Scorsese, 16 November 2006

The Departed 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
October 2006
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... how the story goes. The real point of the crown is that your psychosis has the world to itself. Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990) opens with three gangsters on the road and a noise coming from the boot of the car. There is a corpse there who is not quite dead. The two older gangsters (Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci) take care of this problem, and the ...


Wendy Steiner, 19 October 1995

Gertrude Stein in Words and Pictures 
by Renate Stendhal.
Thames and Hudson, 286 pp., £14.95, March 1995, 0 500 27832 6
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‘Favoured Strangers’: Gertrude Stein and Her Family 
by Linda Wagner-Martin.
Rutgers, 346 pp., $34.95, August 1995, 0 8135 2169 6
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... Bergson and Benjamin. With her repetitions and outrageous banalities, she is a clear forerunner of Andy Warhol, and though she didn’t become really famous until she was in her fifties, her fame has certainly lasted longer than fifteen minutes. Alone among the literary avant garde she has entered popular idiom and not only with a ‘Rose is a rose is a ...


Hal Foster: Sigmar Polke, 19 June 2014

... and he passed it on to subsequent artists who were also wayward performers, such as the German Martin Kippenberger and the American Mike Kelley. Appropriately, the Polke retrospective currently on view at MoMA is called Alibis (it will open at Tate Modern in October and move to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne early next year). ‘Moderne ...

At Dia:Beacon

Hal Foster: Fetishistic Minimalist, 5 June 2003

... as an exhibition space (this was the birth of Chelsea as an art neighbourhood), and, with the Andy Warhol Foundation, initiated the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Both these spaces were industrial structures redesigned by Richard Gluckman, who is as much an architect of the Dia aesthetic – a Modernist transparency of structure rendered with a Minimalist ...

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