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23 July 1987
An Affair of State: The Profumo Case and the Framing of Stephen Ward 
by Phillip Knightley and Caroline Kennedy.
Cape, 268 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 224 02347 0
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Honeytrap: The Secret Worlds of Stephen Ward 
by Anthony Summers and Stephen Dorril.
Weidenfeld, 264 pp., £12.95, May 1987, 0 297 79122 2
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... been too much blood. Fleet Street had behaved pretty disgracefully, and wanted no more of it. Only reporters who had attended the trial, and members of the judiciary, knew the extent of it. Ludovic Kennedy’s book The Trial of Stephen Ward came out the following year and expressed their indignation. But there was a lot that Kennedy and others didn’t know. Phillip Knightley, who wrote an excellent ...

Friendly Relations

Edward Luttwak: Abe’s Japan

4 April 2019
Japan in the American Century 
by Kenneth B. Pyle.
Harvard, 457 pp., £25.95, October 2018, 978 0 674 98364 9
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... his actual policies turn out to be not right-wing but merely pragmatic. It is a tribute to the power of dogma that for most of Abe’s premiership, even before the arrival of Obama’s ambassador, CarolineKennedy, the US embassy has remained a source of misinformation, misdirection and misunderstanding about both Abe himself and his government. Fixated on his undoubtedly right-wing political ...


Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions

27 September 2012
... his status as a human the subject of national doubt. I went to Tampa that week. The day I showed up the skies were protected by helicopters. ‘Here comes a mob,’ somebody said. At the corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Tampa Street, policemen in riot gear formed a line to meet the Poor People’s March of socialists and anarchists. The cops far outnumbered the protesters. A man with a megaphone and a ...
26 November 1987
Out of the Wilderness: Diaries 1963-67 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 592 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 09 170660 2
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... and Benn his first taste of office. This volume covers the strange episode two decades ago when Labour was not only electorally successful but also, in middle-class terms, fashionable. Tony and Caroline Benn were in the vanguard of that too. There can be few prominent and literate members of any political party in the late Eighties who do not fill the odd moment between division bells or Cabinets ...

No Crying in This House

Jackson Lears: The Kennedy​ Myth

7 November 2013
The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 
by David Nasaw.
Allen Lane, 896 pp., £12.35, September 2013, 978 0 14 312407 8
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Rose KennedyThe Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 
by Barbara Perry.
Norton, 404 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 393 06895 5
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... The story begins with a rollicking Irish Catholic clan, athletic, photogenic and as rambunctious as any crowd of kids in a Frank Capra film. They are presided over by Joseph Kennedy, a fabulously successful self-made father with connections in Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington and London, and by Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, a devout but fashionable Catholic mum, as at home on the ...
31 August 1989
Carrington: A Life of Dora Carrington 1893-1932 
by Gretchen Gerzina.
Murray, 342 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 7195 4688 5
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Lydia and Maynard: Letters between Lydia Lopokova and John Maynard Keynes 
edited by Polly Hill and Richard Keynes.
Deutsch, 367 pp., £17.95, September 1989, 0 233 98283 3
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Mazo de la Roche: The Hidden Life 
by Joan Givner.
Oxford, 273 pp., £18, July 1989, 0 19 540705 9
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Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby: A Working Partnership 
by Jean Kennard.
University Press of New England, 224 pp., £24, July 1989, 0 87451 474 6
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Dangerous by Degrees: Women at Oxford and the Somerville College Novelists 
by Susan Leonardi.
Rutgers, 254 pp., $33, May 1989, 0 8135 1366 9
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The Selected Letters of Somerville and Ross 
edited by Gifford Lewis.
Faber, 308 pp., £14.99, July 1989, 0 571 15348 8
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... said to be descended from an old French Royalist family, and live quietly with her sister. But in fact Mazo de la Roche was Maisie Roche, with an Irish father, not a good provider, while the sister, Caroline, was an adopted cousin. Caroline, ‘tiny, fragile, receptive as a crystal goblet held beneath a tap’, joined the family very young, so that the love between the two women began in childhood. (When ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age

21 June 2001
The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... himself altogether free of the demands of the flesh, he had become like a boy again, or almost.’ In the rewritten version, ‘it was, suddenly, as if he were once again with Blaise’s sister, Caroline, thirty years earlier, the two of them in that rare collusion, a mutual passion that had produced a highly unlovable love child, who had become a nun.’ Neither Caroline nor the unlovable love child ...

I adore your moustache

James Wolcott: Styron’s Letters

24 January 2013
Selected Letters of William Styron 
edited by Rose Styron and R. Blakeslee Gilpin.
Random House, 643 pp., £24.99, December 2012, 978 1 4000 6806 7
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... addressing me as usual on the subject of his latest openings. Benevolent, even comradely in a Jewish-1915 way, but would never think of saying a word, asking a word, about anyone else’s work … CarolineKennedy (Schlossberg) was there. The Pete Gurneys, daughter a graduate of the Yale English school, now a financial officer at the ad agency whose long name still ends in Benton and Bowles. That ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution

18 December 2014
The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... against the inequalities of American society. But for how much longer? A rampant dynasticism – verging on royalism – threatens the efficacy of this opiate. The tragedies that befell the house of Kennedy in the 1960s served to fend off – indeed to render distasteful – any suggestion that the unobtrusive political entitlement of the glamorous First Family might constitute an offence against the ...
2 December 1993
The Wives of Bath 
by Susan Swan.
Granta, 237 pp., £8.99, October 1993, 0 14 014081 6
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... Morley couldn’t wait to get home and see Lady.’ (Lady is the dog.) To compensate, Mouse writes letters to another father-figure, who appears more accessible. ‘You always look brand-new, Mr Kennedy. Whether you are clapping at Caroline doing a handstand in your office or smiling down at her in her nice white party dress at Hyannis Port.’ The novel is set in Bath Ladies’ College, a boarding ...
12 September 1991
The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 1095 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 297 81207 6
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... of the currently popular narrative histories written by Britons who position themselves mid-Atlantic, in order to address the American reader. At a thousand pages Johnson’s book is longer than Paul Kennedy’s The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, 1988 (subtitle, ‘Economic Change and Military Conflict, 1500-2000’), or Simon Schama’s Citizens, 1989. At first glance it looks as if the reader gets ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange

6 March 2014
... story. ‘He wants a kind of manifesto, a book that will reflect this great big generational shift.’ He’d been to see Assange in Norfolk and was going again the next day. He said he and the agent Caroline Michel had suggested me for the job and that Assange wanted to meet me. I knew they’d been talking to other writers, and I was at first sceptical. It’s not unusual for published writers to get ...

Comet Mania

Simon Schaffer

19 February 1981
The comet is coming! 
by Nigel Calder.
BBC, 160 pp., £8.75, November 1980, 0 563 17859 0
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... a separation. The objectivity of scientific knowledge is closely connected to the taboo placed around its producers. The screams of rage emanating from a medical profession recently assailed by Ian Kennedy in the Reith Lectures bear eloquent testimony to this. Similarly, an obvious user of comets like Immanuel Velikovsky came under fire precisely because of his appeal to the wrong – that is, the ...

The Stamp of One Defect

David Edgar: Jeremy Thorpe

29 July 2015
Jeremy Thorpe 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 606 pp., £25, December 2014, 978 0 316 85685 0
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Closet Queens: Some 20th-Century British Politicians 
by Michael Bloch.
Little, Brown, 320 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4087 0412 7
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... and Oxford, where he defeated Dick Taverne (later a Labour MP) and William Rees-Mogg (later the editor of the Times) for the Union presidency. Like one of his successors as Liberal leader, Charles Kennedy, he became an MP at a young age and came to public notice through his entertaining performances on radio (particularly in Any Questions?) and television. By the time of his election to the Liberal ...
25 October 1990
Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... on the Ministry of Technology. (Ah! The DEA! The Ministry of Technology! The tantrums of George Brown! Later that same day, Crossman dined with ‘Wedgwood Benn’ to discuss the menace of Radio Caroline. There is a decomposing madeleine wedged between every leaf of these diaries, which I have just reread.) In his lenient and chivalrous biography of Crossman, Mr Howard gallantly does not mention the ...

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