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Rainy Nights

Sylvia Clayton

1 March 1984
Sidney Bernstein 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Cape, 329 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 0 224 01934 1
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... business style of sentimental hyperbole lingers on. You can hear it in the banquet banalities with which people in the entertainment industry present awards to each other; it seeps into passages of CarolineMoorehead’s biography of Sidney Bernstein. ‘In every field, whether art, medicine, the sciences or technology,’ she begins, ‘there are a few figures who stand out, not only for their personal ...

A Little ‘Foreign’

P.N. Furbank: Iris Origo

27 June 2002
Iris Origo: Marchesa of Val d’Orcia 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Murray, 351 pp., £22, October 2000, 0 7195 5672 4
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... good idea, too. They married in 1918, to the extreme misery of Mary Berenson; and the marriage, though always exceedingly shaky, lasted for nine years. Iris later commented on the marriage with what Moorehead calls ‘exemplary restraint’, saying ‘I watched her become so much younger and so much more vulnerable . . . My instincts told me the choice was not wise.’ Nor did she think it wise when, in ...

Inventing Africa

Caroline Moorehead

18 September 1980
Fantastic Invasion 
by Patrick Marnham.
Cape, 271 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 224 01829 9
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Images of Africa 
by Naomi Mitchison.
Canongate, 139 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 903937 70 0
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... We owe much to your country,’ the Anglican archbishop of Uganda told Patrick Marnham shortly before being shot in 1977. ‘We need you, and not just your knowledge; we need your fellowship. Most people here know this. What we have become, you made us.’ The tragedy of this statement suffuses Fantastic Invasion, the record Patrick Marnham brought back with him from a series of visits to West and ...

Guerrilla International

Caroline Moorehead

6 August 1981
The Terror Network: The Secret War of International Terrorism 
by Claire Sterling.
Weidenfeld, 357 pp., £7.95, June 1981, 0 297 77968 0
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... One of the first reactions to the kidnapping in the spring of 1978 of Aldo Moro, leader of the Italian Christian Democratic Party, was fascinated disbelief. How could such a superbly timed and orchestrated feat, involving some fifty actors, the knocking-out of a local telephone system and the diverting of police cars, as well as routes and steps planned meticulously many months before, possibly be ...

Funnies

Caroline Moorehead

5 February 1981
Siege! Princes Gate 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Hamlyn, 131 pp., May 1980, 0 600 20337 9
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Siege: Six Days at the Iranian Embassy 
by George Brock.
Macmillan, 144 pp., £1.95, May 1980, 0 333 30951 0
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Who dares wins 
by Tony Geraghty.
Arms and Armour, 256 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 9780853684572
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... At 11.32 on a cold morning in London early last year six young men, who had been on a spending spree and had mailed 203 lb of women’s cocktail dresses, children’s toys and ties back to Baghdad, entered and took over the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate. It was not immediately clear who they were or why they were there, but soon Scotland Yard learnt that behind the stuccoed facade overlooking Hyde ...

Making history

Malise Ruthven

19 June 1986
Gertrude Bell 
by Susan Goodman.
Berg, 122 pp., £8.95, November 1985, 0 907582 86 9
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Freya Stark 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Viking, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1985, 0 670 80675 7
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... at her view of the role of women in the destruction of Empire by a somewhat different route. Coming to Baghdad poor and with few connections, she took rooms in a shoemaker’s house whence – as CarolineMoorehead writes – ‘she made sorties by rowing boat across the Tigris, to soirées where she observed the British and local life.’ She scandalised officialdom by appearing at parties in Arab ...

Samuel’s Slave

Caroline Moorehead

15 May 1980
Lover on the Nile 
by Richard Hall.
Collins, 254 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 9780002164719
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Nellie: Letters from Africa 
by Elspeth Huxley.
Weidenfeld, 326 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 297 77706 8
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Black Country Girl in Red China 
by Esther Cheo Ying.
Hutchinson, 191 pp., £5.95, January 1980, 9780091390808
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... And do you think, Dame Freya,’ an interviewer once asked Freya Stark, ‘that travel broadens the mind?’ There was a pause. The explorer pondered; a distant, reflective gaze settled on her face. The young man sat back, well pleased to see his question taken so seriously: for a minute, he could have been forgiven for thinking he was onto a winner. At last it became clear that Dame Freya was about ...

Just Good Friends

Caroline Moorehead

2 February 1984
The Brotherhood: The Secret World of the Freemasons 
by Stephen Knight.
Granada, 325 pp., £8.95, January 1984, 0 246 12164 5
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The Calvi Affair: Death of a Banker 
by Larry Gurwin.
Macmillan, 249 pp., £8.95, October 1983, 0 333 35321 8
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... When a Mafia suspect called Joseph Miceli Crimi led police, in March 1981, to an office safe in Castiglion Fibocchi, near Arezzo, which contained the names of prominent Italians and documents linking them to a series of dubious and highly confidential deals, the stability of the entire country came under threat. So, too, did the international institution of Freemasonry. The 962 people listed all belonged ...
21 January 1988
Troublesome People: Enemies of War, 1916-1986 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 344 pp., £14.95, April 1987, 0 241 12105 1
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Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914 
by Susan Kingsley Kent.
Princeton, 295 pp., £22, June 1987, 0 691 05497 5
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Women, Marriage and Politics, 1860-1914 
by Pat Jalland.
Oxford, 366 pp., £19.50, November 1986, 0 19 822668 3
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An Edwardian Mixed Doubles: The Bosanquets versus the Webbs. A Study in British Social Policy, 1890-1929 
by A.M. McBriar.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, July 1987, 0 19 820111 7
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... had earlier been thought. The publication of these four books – all concerned, directly or indirectly, with social movements – enables us to survey the opportunities and hazards of the genre. CarolineMoorehead aims to portray ‘what modern pacifists are actually like’, and to bring out ‘their style, their diversity, their origins and their eloquence’. With much sympathy she emphasises the ...
20 March 1980
Fortune’s Hostages 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Hamish Hamilton, 256 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 241 10320 7
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... daughter simply says: ‘Yes.’ The caller almost seems to be pleading with her to provide a way out of the killing, as if suddenly shocked by the majority decision of his comrades. (According to Ms Moorehead, Moro drowned in his own blood: the bullets were cleverly aimed in a neat circle; none of them penetrated his heart.) He seems not to believe that the despised, corrupt, compromising Christian ...

Dangers of Discretion

Alex de Waal: International law

21 January 1999
Dunant’s Dream: War, Switzerland and the History of the Red Cross 
by Caroline Moorehead.
HarperCollins, 780 pp., £24.99, May 1998, 0 00 255141 1
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The Warrior’s Honour: Ethnic War and the Modern Conscience 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 207 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 0 7011 6324 0
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... Such contradictions are the stuff of the Red Cross, whose ‘International Committee’ was, until recently, drawn from a very small circle within the Protestant haute bourgeoisie of Geneva. Much of CarolineMoorehead’s immense chronicle is about the individuals – some extraordinarily courageous and eccentric, a few disastrously timid – who established ‘a movement which has no equal in size or ...
31 August 1989
Betrayal: Child Exploitation in Today’s World 
edited by Caroline Moorehead.
Barrie and Jenkins, 192 pp., £15, March 1989, 0 7126 2170 9
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The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance 
by John Boswell.
Allen Lane, 488 pp., £20, April 1989, 0 7139 9019 8
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... of motherhood, and definitely against the man-eating shark, on more delicate and less obviously emotive matters they are not prepared to comment. What, for instance, should be expected of children? CarolineMoorehead, the editor, must have an opinion here, but she does not explain what it is. ‘In Medieval Europe,’ she declares, ‘children were regarded as adults in miniature: small, immature grown ...

No Intention of Retreating

Lorna Scott Fox: Martha Gellhorn’s Wars

2 September 2004
Martha Gellhorn: A Life 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Vintage, 550 pp., £8.99, June 2004, 0 09 928401 4
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... in her nature between that letter and the sign she put up in a London bathroom in 1973, after giving up on one of her Kenya homes: ‘When Things Get Bad, Run.’ Here’s an early snippet from CarolineMoorehead on a related theme, the socialite/misanthrope dilemma, which recurs, essentially unchanged, throughout the book: ‘Martha was happy, she had discovered, on her own; happy, but already ...
19 November 1992
Bertrand Russell: A Life 
by Caroline Moorehead.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 596 pp., £20, September 1992, 9781856191807
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... it is entirely in keeping with Russell’s own attitude to his life. High-flown, intense, earnest, idealistic, tragic – this was the quotidian language of Russell’s official self-conception. CarolineMoorehead’s biography is at its least comfortable in dealing with this aspect of its subject: it is as if she can’t quite see where all this is coming from, and is mildly embarrassed by it. Nor ...

The Italianness of it all

Tessa Hadley: Iris Origo

24 May 2018
Images and Shadows: Part of a Life 
by Iris Origo.
Pushkin, 384 pp., £12.99, February 2017, 978 1 78227 266 3
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War in Val d’Orcia 
by Iris Origo.
Pushkin, 320 pp., £9.99, February 2017, 978 1 78227 265 6
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A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary 1939-40 
by Iris Origo.
Pushkin, 200 pp., £14.99, October 2017, 978 1 78227 355 4
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A Study in Solitude: The Life of Leopardi 
by Iris Origo.
Pushkin, 416 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 1 78227 268 7
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The Last Attachment 
by Iris Origo.
Pushkin, 576 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 1 78227 267 0
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... grandchildren. Origo is characteristically reticent about her husband and their relationship in her autobiography, Images and Shadows, published in 1970; there’s a fair amount left over for CarolineMoorehead to explore in her nuanced and generous biography (2000). Antonio seems to have been energetic, capable, humorous and affectionate, not interested in literary talk – and Iris noted that he ...

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