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Quiet Sinners

Bernard Porter: Imperial Spooks, 21 March 2013

Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire 
by Calder Walton.
Harper, 411 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 00 745796 0
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... We also learn here that it wasn’t only nationalists who were spied on by MI5, but British MPs. (Barbara Castle had her luggage spirited away when she visited Cyprus in 1958. It was called a ‘black bag op’.) In Palestine, SIS placed limpet mines on (Jewish) refugee ships, and may then have forged documents blaming the mines on the Arabs or the ...

For a Lark

Patricia Beer, 21 March 1996

Hearts Undefeated: Women’s Writing of the Second World War 
edited by Jenny Hartley.
Virago, 302 pp., £12.99, May 1995, 9781853816710
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... torture – that we are in no mood to hear about inferior sandwiches, fun in the elevator, or Barbara Cartland fussing about finding secondhand wedding dresses for brides (who were of course ‘pathetically grateful’) so that on the great day each one might be ‘a woman, lovely, glamorous and enticing, a woman to be wooed and won’. In everyday life ...

Auden Askew

Barbara Everett, 19 November 1981

W.H. Auden: A Biography 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 495 pp., £12.50, June 1981, 0 04 928044 9
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Early Auden 
by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 407 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 11193 9
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... dead about thirty seconds later.” This made a good story, but the truth, according to [Basil] Wright, is that the man was not a guard but a senior railway official, and it was not until some weeks later that he died.’ The difficulties can be measured by saying that such scholars as Carpenter in his new Life, and Mendelson himself in his valuable study ...

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Christopher Turner: Playboy Mansions, 21 April 2016

Pornotopia: An Essay on Playboy’s Architecture and Biopolitics 
by Beatriz Preciado.
Zone, 303 pp., £20.95, October 2014, 978 1 935408 48 2
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Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny 
by Holly Madison.
Dey Street, 334 pp., £16.99, July 2015, 978 0 06 237210 9
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... on contemporary architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, Philip Johnson, Frank Lloyd Wright and Buckminster Fuller. The architects were themselves portrayed as playboys, the architectural and sexual revolutions intimately enmeshed. In Pornotopia, Beatriz Preciado writes that in 1950s issues of Playboy, ‘there were more architecture ...

We want our Mars Bars!

Will Frears: Arsène Who?, 7 January 2021

My Life in Red and White 
by Arsène Wenger, translated by Daniel Hahn and Andrea Reece.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4746 1824 3
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... 12 October 1996, I was no longer in the stands … We were playing away at Blackburn Rovers. Ian Wright scored twice. Victory! On the way to the stadium, the players were chanting: “We want our Mars Bars!” I had started to work with them and apply my ideas, particularly as regards nutrition.’ The football played in England today – the speed, the ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops, 5 June 2014

Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... column. The author lets us know a little about each. Mountbatten may have had an affair with Barbara Cartland; Prince Michael of Kent worked for British intelligence; Duncan Sandys, on being asked if he was the ‘headless man’ being fellated by the Duchess of Argyll, replies, ‘Don’t worry, dear boy! There’s safety in numbers.’ Pincher holds ...

Wire him up to a toaster

Seamus Perry: Ordinary Carey, 7 January 2021

A Little History of Poetry 
by John Carey.
Yale, 303 pp., £14.99, March 2020, 978 0 300 23222 6
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... possibility, charged with answering back to power, and he quoted with approval the sociologist C. Wright Mills: ‘The independent artist and intellectual are among the few remaining personalities equipped to resist and to fight the stereotyping and consequent death of genuinely living things.’ You could hardly put into one sentence more of what Carey ...

St Marilyn

Andrew O’Hagan: The Girl and Me, 6 January 2000

The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe 
Christie’s, 415 pp., $85, September 1999, 0 903432 64 1Show More
The Complete Marilyn Monroe 
by Adam Victor.
Thames and Hudson, 339 pp., £29.95, November 1999, 0 500 01978 9
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Marilyn Monroe 
by Barbara Leaming.
Orion, 474 pp., £8.99, October 1999, 0 7528 2692 1
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... Idyllwild, near PALM SPRINGS, loaned to them for the occasion by Marilyn’s attorney, Lloyd Wright. Here they had the uncommon luxury of two weeks alone together. The upper-case things have entries to themselves. Just as the Christie’s sale of Marilyn’s knick-knacks did better than adjacent sales of German Art and the Ancient Jewels of Persia, so ...

Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... and Ms O’Connell prudently starts by disavowing ‘the middle class’ and in particular L.B. Wright’s Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England, which was the object of Hexter’s particular wrath. But ‘the problem, as even the most sceptical reader of Middle-Class Culture has to admit, is that many Elizabethan authors wrote books specifically ...

Diamonds on your collarbone

Anne Hollander, 10 September 1992

Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham 
by Agnes DeMille.
Hutchinson, 509 pp., £20, April 1992, 0 09 175219 1
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Blood Memory: An Autobiography 
by Martha Graham.
Macmillan, 279 pp., £20, March 1992, 0 333 57441 9
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... an American artist in the undomesticated tradition that includes Emily Dickinson and Frank Lloyd Wright, someone who made things in the risky artistic spirit that seeks personal sources and methods, programmatically refusing to begin by using what lies to hand. Her stage uses of the body, for example, eliminated the whole pictorial memory of represented ...

The earth had need of me

Joanna Biggs: A nice girl like Simone, 16 April 2020

Becoming Beauvoir: A Life 
by Kate Kirkpatrick.
Bloomsbury, 476 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 1 350 04717 4
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Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me, a Memoir 
by Deirdre Bair.
Atlantic, 347 pp., £18.99, February 2020, 978 1 78649 265 4
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Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol. II: 1928-29 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Barbara Klaw.
Illinois, 374 pp., £40, June 2019, 978 0 252 04254 6
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... existentialist you ever saw’ and she lunched her way around Manhattan, becoming close to Richard Wright and his wife, Ellen (left-wing Americans who criticised their country in a way that made you love it more), before taking off for Vassar, then Chicago, California, Texas, New Orleans and New Mexico.She’d been told to look up Nelson Algren when she got to ...

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