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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Captain America: Civil War’

15 June 2016
Captain America: Civil War 
directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
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... a battle outside and inside a hospital in Lagos, the heroes trying to prevent the villains from stealing a biological weapon. Captain America is there, and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Falcon (Anthony Mackie), War Machine (Don Cheadle), Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen). Between them, they can fly, mechanically calibrate distances, drop bombs, kickbox like maniacs, and shoot fire from their fingers ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Avengers: Endgame’

6 June 2019
... other battlefields, like an airport, or a lunar landscape where every combatant is a soldier of some kind. This is where we wind up – or come close to winding up in Endgame – directed by Joe and AnthonyRusso, the fourth Avengers film produced by Marvel Studios – the other two were Age of Ultron (2015) and Infinity War (2018). Josh Brolin, alias Thanos the Titan, having destroyed half the ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy

6 February 2003
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... four Presidents and their Administrations over 23 years, to conceal plans and actions of mass murder. I decided I would stop concealing that myself.’ On 1 October 1969, aided by his Rand colleague AnthonyRusso and using a primitive Xerox machine in the office of Russo’s friend Lynda Sinay, the owner of a small advertising agency, Ellsberg began his monumental task. Working through the night, he and ...
18 September 1997
By the Banks of the Neva: Chapters from the Lives and Careers of the British in 18th-Century Russia 
by Anthony​ Cross.
Cambridge, 496 pp., £60, November 1996, 0 521 55293 1
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... itself, in 1704. It is safe to assume that no installation of comparable strategic significance in Britain has ever been taken for a Russian colony. In an earlier book, On the Banks of the Thames, Anthony Cross attempted something like a comprehensive account of ‘Russians in 18th-century Britain’. Their profile was modest. Cross started with Peter I’s celebrated visit of 1698. Of around four ...

Capos and Cardinals

Jonathan Steinberg

17 August 1989
Fascism and the Mafia 
by Christopher Duggan.
Yale, 322 pp., £19.95, January 1989, 0 300 04372 4
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A Thief in the Night: The Death of Pope John Paul I 
by John Cornwell.
Viking, 301 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 670 82387 2
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... in Gioia Tauro outside a large garage which the family owns. Certainly the heads of the Mafia families in New York exist, men with names like Antonio ‘Tony Ducks’ Corallo of the Lucchese, or Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno of the Genovese. The hundreds of corpses left on mean streets in Palermo, Naples or Brooklyn exist too. But is there a Mafia with rules and regulations, based on secret ...
24 November 1988
Macmillan 1894-1956 
by Alistair Horne.
Macmillan, 537 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 27691 4
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... the phrase ‘not a very good Tory’ clearly meant different things to biographer and subject. Macmillan’s rival, Rab Butler, chose a biographer from outside his own party, but his and Anthony Howard’s political outlooks may have been closer to each other than Mr Horne’s and Macmillan’s ‘not very good’ Toryisms. After an undistinguished three years at Eton, a first in Mods at ...
25 June 1987
Klaus Fuchs: The man who stole the atom bomb 
by Norman Moss.
Grafton, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 246 13158 6
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... in the same Communist cell when we were students at Bristol.’ Max Born, Fuchs’s former chief at Edinburgh, wrote about Fuchs: ‘He never concealed that he was a convinced communist. During the Russo-Finnish war everyone’s sympathies in our department were with the Finns, while Fuchs was passionately pro-Russian.’ On the other hand, Peierls had no idea that Fuchs was a Communist. When Fuchs ...
20 December 1990
From Early Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 180 pp., £13.95, August 1990, 0 333 52367 9
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Son of Adam 
by Denis Forman.
Deutsch, 201 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 9780233985930
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A Welsh Childhood 
by Alice Thomas Ellis and Patrick Sutherland.
Joseph, 186 pp., £15.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3292 0
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Alarms and Excursions: Thirty Years in Israel 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Collins, 220 pp., £16, August 1990, 0 00 215333 5
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Birds of Ill Omen 
by Marie Seurat, translated by Dorothy Blair.
Quartet, 168 pp., £10.95, September 1990, 0 7043 2694 9
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... of her clothes – ‘boring,’ as she admits, ‘but if you wish to remember the past it helps to remember what you were wearing.’ She was the daughter of Liverpool people, a Welshwoman and a Russo-Finn: her father belonged to a Positivist sect, called the Church of Humanity, and her mother to the Church in Wales. The young Alice used to attend the English Congregational Church and read the ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust

19 July 2018
Anthony​ Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... received two thousand from Norman Sherry. These are huge tomes. Even such a minuscule figure as Kingsley Amis has been encased in an obese 995 pages from Zachary Leader. Hilary Spurling’s Life of Anthony Powell breaks with this pattern. The longest-lived of all significant novelists of the last century, his 94 years are covered in fewer than 450 pages of text. In part, that’s because she confines ...
25 February 1993
... by the ethnic Abyss. It is a pretty feeble substitute, in the obvious sense that, even if some worst-possible-case scenario were to unfold – what Misha Glenny calls a ‘Third Balkan War’ or a Russo-Ukrainian war over the Crimea, or the break-up of the Indian state, or whatever – the consequences would not, by the standards of 1948 to 1988, be all that serious. Nobody would have to worry about ...

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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... I am an intellectual taxi; people flag me down and give me destinations and off I go’ was all he would ever offer, when pressed to say what his intellectual agenda had been.Ignatieff, himself a Russo-Canadian exile or émigré, never seems quite able to make up his mind about whether this was a joke, and (if it was) whether it was one of those jokes that are revealing and confessional. His ...

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