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All the Advantages

C.H. Sisson, 3 July 1980

Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings 
by Richard Kennedy.
Norton, 529 pp., £12, May 1980, 0 87140 638 1
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... the ghosts were there. Mrs Cummings’s diary continued during Estlin’s early life, so Professor Kennedy is able to tell us, for example, that at the age of three the poet uttered his first rhyme: Oh my little birdie oh With his little toe, toe, toe! Stacks of later juvenilia were preserved. Estlin’s first playmate was the daughter of a professor of ...

The Nominee

Andrew O’Hagan: With the Democrats, 19 August 2004

... sidewalk before slowing to a halt outside the green house at 83 Beals Street, the house where John Kennedy was born. The windows on the ground floor had curtains of Irish lace. ‘That dog has no right to be walking over there,’ said the lady. The young man smiled and snapped his fingers. ‘Dog got no sense of history,’ he said, then he laughed. ‘And ...

The Tax-and-Spend Vote

Ross McKibbin: Will the election improve New Labour’s grasp on reality?, 5 July 2001

... Maitland. Portillo, for his part, has significant support on the Left of the Party. Tony Blair and Charles Kennedy would no doubt prefer Portillo, and at the moment, the Euro remains a real obstacle to Clarke’s leadership, unless the Party can formally agree to differ on Europe, as Labour sensibly did in 1975. Which leaves Portillo as the most realistic ...

Let in the Djinns

Maya Jasanoff: Richard Burton, 9 March 2006

The Highly Civilised Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World 
by Dane Kennedy.
Harvard, 354 pp., £17.95, September 2005, 0 674 01862 1
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... and Africa, have made Burton a familiar historical character. The greatest achievement of Dane Kennedy’s stimulating, elegant book is to reveal a fresh and different Burton. Kennedy begins with an arresting photograph. Burton huddles in a blanket on a floor, leaning his tousled head against a wall, glowering into the ...


Rupert Wilkinson: Harvard '61, 20 November 1986

... and shows, panel sessions, exhibitions, sight-singing with the ’61 Glee Club, rowing on the Charles ... all culminating in ‘Commencement’, the graduation ceremonies for the Class of 1986. We were, to be sure, an interesting class, the first one to graduate in the Kennedy years, a transitional period between ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: How to concoct a conspiracy theory, 20 October 2005

... make any claims that can be proved not to be true. It won’t do, for example, to assert that John Kennedy was shot by Jackie Kennedy, because it’s clear from the film footage of the assassination that he wasn’t. Of course, you could make a case for that footage being faked, but how then would you account for eyewitness ...

Someone Else, Somewhere Else

Peter Clarke, 13 November 1997

Virtual History: Alternatives and Counterfactuals 
edited by Niall Ferguson.
Picador, 548 pp., £20, April 1997, 9780330351324
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... different contingencies would not have made any essential difference. John Adamson asks: what if Charles I had avoided the Civil War? In line with revisionist readings of 17th-century history, he uses this question to make a case for the non-inevitability of a clash between the King and his English Parliaments, had he not simultaneously mismanaged his ...

Steamy, Seamy

David Margolick: The Mob’s Cuban Kleptocracy, 20 March 2008

The Havana Mob: Gangsters, Gamblers, Showgirls and Revolutionaries in 1950s Cuba 
by T.J. English.
Mainstream, 400 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 1 84596 192 3
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... from those events reached a long way: as far as the Cold War, the assassination of John F. Kennedy (maybe), Watergate and, every four years to this day, the American presidential election. It is a story that reminds us of the bond – political, cultural, economic, sentimental – between the United States and Cuba, a bond that tightened in the 1950s ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy, 6 June 2002

Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs KennedyThe Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... young Lord Stafford and Lady G. were eventually acted out in full view of the tabloids by Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles. James knew a dramatic subject. In some contemporary writing about lone, long-suffering and much-photographed female celebrities who have haunted our dreams, there is an attempt to compare them to figures from Greek tragedy. In ...

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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... 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 ethos of the republic. Although only John F. ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: ‘Head Shot’, 24 May 2012

... the bullet, angling downward as determined at the official autopsy, to reverse direction inside Kennedy’s body and reflect backward up from inside his back toward his neck bones, striking a vertebra, reflecting again at a high angle before exiting just below his Adam’s apple,’ Paul Chambers writes in Head Shot: The Science behind the JFK ...

Fine Women

Neil Rennie, 6 July 1989

The Pacific since Magellan. Vol. III: Paradise Found and Lost 
by O.H.K. Spate.
Routledge, 410 pp., £40, January 1989, 0 415 02565 6
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Captain Bligh: The Man and his Mutinies 
by Gavin Kennedy.
Duckworth, 321 pp., £14.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2231 5
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The Sublime Savage: James Macpherson and the Poems of Ossian 
by Fiona Stafford.
Edinburgh, 208 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 85224 569 6
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... dark sons’ in the West Indies thought the breadfruit not worth the trouble. Gavin Kennedy, in Captain Bligh: The Man and his Mutinies, also dismisses speculation about homosexuality and has rather more pages to spare for narration and explanation. Most people today would surely agree that the causes of the mutiny two hundred years ago would ...

The Greatest

R.W. Johnson, 4 August 1994

Charles de Gaulle, Futurist of the Nation 
by Régis Debray, translated by John Howe.
Verso, 111 pp., £29.95, April 1994, 0 86091 622 7
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De Gaulle and 20th-Century France 
edited by Hugh Gough and John Horne.
Edward Arnold, 158 pp., £12.99, March 1994, 0 340 58826 8
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François Mitterrand: A Study in Political Leadership 
by Alistair Cole.
Routledge, 216 pp., £19.99, March 1994, 0 415 07159 3
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... the history of France in the last century is embodied in the strange trinity of Philippe Pétain, Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand. Pétain, born in 1856, was old enough to remember the humiliation of France at the hands of Prussia in 1870, and like other French officers of his period, spent his entire military career in anticipation of what he ...

Real Thing

John Naughton, 24 November 1988

Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... ago, during an American Presidential election, rumours began to circulate that Senator Edward Kennedy was again thinking of running for the Democratic nomination. A young reporter had the idea of asking ex-President Nixon for his views on this development. ‘If Teddy Kennedy is serious,’ Nixon is alleged to have ...

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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... experience in that area,’ a fellow Republican says of the testimony of Nixon’s thuggish aide, Charles Colson (post-Watergate, an evangelical minister). Obfuscation was second nature – to the very end. In his resignation speech, Nixon, wily as ever, seemed to suggest that he was stepping down because he had lost the support of Congress. This puzzles ...

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