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Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens, 21 July 1994

Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... if the Mussolini question was Italy’s internal affair. Standing next to Reagan, Bush, Carter and Ford, Clinton reached as high as a cornball can reach. He began by recalling that Nixon’s father had ‘built’ his own house (actually sending off by mail-order to a pre-fabricator back East and putting up a featureless dwelling in the groves of ...

On Some Days of the Week

Colm Tóibín: Mrs Oscar Wilde, 10 May 2012

Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs Oscar Wilde 
by Franny Moyle.
John Murray, 374 pp., £9.99, February 2012, 978 1 84854 164 1
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The Picture of Dorian Gray: An Annotated, Uncensored Edition 
by Oscar Wilde, edited by Nicholas Frankel.
Harvard, 295 pp., £25.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 05792 0
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... hatred was of dullness, which is very dangerous and can raise a whole nation in its defence.’ Ford Madox Ford, in an article written in 1939, agreed about Wilde’s essential harmlessness, but viewed his antics as a mask to cover his own basic dullness. He remembered the visits Wilde made to his grandfather, ...

Dark Emotions

Jenny Turner: The Women’s Liberation Movement, 24 September 2020

Misbehaviour 
directed by Philippa Lowthorpe.
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Nightcleaners 
directed by the Berwick Street Film Collective.
Lux/Koenig/Raven Row, £24, July 2019
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Sisterhood and After: An Oral History of the UK Women's Liberation Movement, 1968-present 
by Margaretta Jolly.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.99, November 2019, 978 0 19 065884 7
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... was to Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners in the 1980s, and Made in Dagenham (2010) was to the Ford sewing machinists’ strike of 1968 – to allow viewers some minutes of unchallenging celebration that sometimes, passingly and briefly, the people who deserve to win really sort of do. At one point, the film shows us Alexander’s little daughter, prancing ...

Don’t Die

Jenny Diski: Among the Handbags, 1 November 2007

Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre 
by Dana Thomas.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, September 2007, 978 0 7139 9823 8
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... in this sense is the very opposite of stylish. Luxury is not having ‘an eye’ but, as Tom Ford, formerly of YSL and Gucci, explains: ‘It’s like you’ve gotta have it or you’ll die.’ Sumptuary laws belong to a different age. Democracy demands that luxury is something everyone can have – well, let’s not be silly, capitalism demands it and ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... were unwilling to support the peace plan. Nixon had almost certainly asked an intermediary – Anna Chennault, a wealthy Asian-American – to persuade Thieu to spurn the Democrats’ peace offer in the hope of a better deal from the Republicans. Incensed that Nixon had scuppered peace initiatives for the sake of domestic political advantage, LBJ ordered ...

What does a chicken know of bombs?

David Thomson: A Key to Brando, 5 December 2019

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando 
by William J. Mann.
HarperCollins, 718 pp., £22, November 2019, 978 0 06 242764 9
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... Terry Malloy, and accepted it with good grace. Then came 18 years of turmoil, a bad marriage (to Anna Kashfi, Christian’s mother), a mounting dread of his own work, and a need to sabotage projects. He scorned Hollywood, but started living there. He disdained phony projects, but took the money, all the while declaring that the entertainment medium was ...

Diary

Patricia Lockwood: Insane after coronavirus?, 16 July 2020

... and told her it was as if I was living in that terrible movie Regarding Henry, in which Harrison Ford gets shot in the head during a convenience-store hold-up and afterwards becomes a mental child and can no longer make love to his wife. I used to be able to do this; I know I used to be able to do this. I used to be able to make love to Harrison ...

All change. This train is cancelled

Iain Sinclair: The Dome, 13 May 1999

... Chichester, visits by Samuel Pepys, location work for the latest Jane Austen or for Harrison Ford (more bombs) in Patriot Games – are trumpeted, while the dark history of the Greenwich marshes, a decayed industrial wilderness, is brutally elided. The tongue of poisoned land, a couple of miles to the east of the Royal Naval College (film set, banqueting ...

Gentlemen and ladies came to see the poet’s cottage

Tom Paulin: Clare’s anti-pastoral, 19 February 2004

John Clare: A Biography 
by Jonathan Bate.
Picador, 650 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 330 37106 1
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‘I Am’: The Selected Poetry of John Clare 
edited by Jonathan Bate.
Farrar, Straus, 318 pp., $17, November 2003, 0 374 52869 1
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John Clare, Politics and Poetry 
by Alan Vardy.
Palgrave, 221 pp., £45, October 2003, 0 333 96617 1
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John Clare Vol. V: Poems of the Middle Period 1822-37 
edited by Eric Robinson, David Powell and P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 822 pp., £105, January 2003, 0 19 812386 8
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... placed in the London Magazine, and Hessey sent Clare a Cremona violin. When their first daughter, Anna Maria, was born, Clare and his wife moved into the tenement next door to his parents. Despite the money that was beginning to come to Clare from the annuities, gifts from patrons, and remittances from Taylor and Hessey, he had to take up manual labouring in ...

From Progress to Catastrophe

Perry Anderson: The Historical Novel, 28 July 2011

... characters perform much as if they were contemporaries of the author. It is enough to look at Anna Karenina to see how far we are in the same universe. War and Peace thus offers the curiosity of a historical novel with a very weak sense of history, not because Tolstoy was incapable of one – Hadji Murad shows the opposite – but because at this point he ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... dared to write congratulating Leavis on his CH (‘Dead Sea fruit’, said his wife). Boris Ford was accused of killing Scrutiny off by stealing its contributors for the Penguin Guide to English Literature. Few friends, however loyal, escaped. Wilfrid Mellers, H.A. Mason and others all fell foul of him in one way or another. As to his enemies, the ...

The Girl Who Waltzes

Laura Jacobs: George Balanchine, 9 October 2014

Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer 
by Elizabeth Kendall.
Oxford, 288 pp., £22.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 995934 1
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... in this book too. In her preface Kendall writes that as a cub critic in 1981 she was sent by the Ford Foundation to interview Balanchine, then 77 (he died two years later). Having finished her questions she prepared to leave – but no, he wanted to keep talking. He told Kendall of his life in 1920s revolutionary Petrograd, ‘tales about starving, and ...

Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin, 26 November 1998

Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... the pleadings of Alsop to Mac Bundy did succeed in getting the latter to release a huge tranche of Ford Foundation money to endow Wolfson College, Oxford, the foundation of which was Berlin’s noblest enterprise. So perhaps he was on to something when he expatiated about ethical ‘trade-offs’ between contrasting or alternative positions: the one ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... with her? At the end of the mangy, scrambling movie decade that gave us Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, there was nary a murmur from her (just imagine what she might have made of Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky). We know from Nunez and others that Sontag boogied in Studio 54, and yet where was her disco ...

Time Unfolded

Perry Anderson: Powell v. the World, 2 August 2018

... besetting weaknesses of romanticism – traits he detected in many well-regarded writers: Wilde, Ford, Greene, West, even Joyce. How did he square this dislike with his admiration for Proust? He often remarked – it was one of his most characteristic sayings – that with any writer of significance, even the greatest, you always had to put up with ...

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