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Bonking with Berenson

Nicholas Penny, 17 September 1987

Bernard Berenson. Vol. II: The Making of a Legend 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 680 pp., £19.95, May 1987, 0 674 06779 7
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The Partnership: The Secret Association of Bernard Berenson and Joseph Duveen 
by Colin Simpson.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £15, April 1987, 9780370305851
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... he asked a friend, adding that he meant this dans le sens le plus vulgaire du mot. Colin Simpson, formerly of the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ team, has written a book which reveals more than has ever formerly been known about the single most important factor in Berenson’s fortune – his association with the most successful art dealer of ...

Secondary Targeting

R.W. Johnson, 23 October 1986

‘The target is destroyed’: What really happened to Flight 007 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 282 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 571 14772 0
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... was to give implicit support to the German version of events. It was not until 1972, when Colin Simpson showed that the Lusitania had, in fact, been loaded with contraband munitions (which may be why it sank so quickly), that a more just appreciation became possible. The issues are the same – the possible abuse of civilian transport for ...


Kwame Dawes: A Story of American Racism, 8 February 1996

... thing to say given all the media attention ‘race issues’ receive in this country – the O.J. Simpson verdict, Susan Smith alleging that a black man killed her children, the Million Man March and Louis Farrakhan, Colin Powell and his non-bid for office, Affirmative Action and so on and on. Anyone would think that ...

On the Shelf

Tom Crewe: Beryl Bainbridge’s Beats, 7 May 2020

... It is a sort of dinner party farce, except better. The aptly named Edward Freeman asks his friend Simpson and Simpson’s wife, Muriel, to spend the evening with him and his mistress, Binny, at Binny’s house. Binny, a divorced single mother, is ‘sick to death of being introduced only to those boozy male acquaintances of ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin, 12 May 1994

Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... aid to this murderous regime right up to the Kuwaiti invasion. It publicised Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson’s hallucinatory accusation that Peter Arnett undermined the US in Vietnam because his brother-in-law was in the Viet Cong, but mostly ignored Simpson’s own pre-war fawning over Saddam Hussein, with whom, lamenting ...

I Could Fix That

David Runciman: Clinton, 17 December 2009

The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History in the White House 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 707 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 1 84737 140 9
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... he entirely understands. This is from 1997: After a White House parley, he had asked Senator Alan Simpson in confidence whether Republican strategists really believed the Clintons did something terrible in Whitewater, like theft or perjury. He mimicked the hearty response. ‘Oh, hell no,’ cried Simpson. ‘But our goal ...

Always the Same Dream

Ferdinand Mount: Princess Margaret, 4 January 2018

Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret 
by Craig Brown.
Fourth Estate, 423 pp., £16.99, September 2017, 978 0 00 820361 0
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... the winning Cambridge eight in the Boat Race). But he was still regarded as a common snapper. Colin Tennant, a founder member of the Princess Margaret Set, had relegated him to the servants’ entrance at his wedding. When Armstrong-Jones tried to introduce himself to the fearsome Betty Kenward, the pseudonymous author of ‘Jennifer’s Diary’ in Queen ...


John Sutherland, 8 June 1995

Empire of Words: The Reign of the ‘OED’ 
by John Willinsky.
Princeton, 258 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 691 03719 1
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... his evidently courteous exchanges with recent custodians of the project (Robert Burchfield, John Simpson, Edmund Weiner) Willinsky detects a quaint mixture of ‘afternoon tea and high-speed computer searches’. His conclusion is friendly, but a little condescending: ‘All told, the OED’s literary, prosaic and omitted citations authorise a definition of ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths, 28 January 2010

... instead inhale the anonymous yet fiercely intimate odour of the crowd. The protagonist of Howard Simpson’s Vietnam spy novel, Someone Else’s War (2003), has information to gather. He makes a call. ‘The phone booth smelled of urine; someone had spat generously on the floor and a loud argument in Cantonese was going on at the stamp counter.’ Booths ...

Wrath of the Centurions

Max Hastings: My Lai, 25 January 2018

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent into Darkness 
by Howard Jones.
Oxford, 504 pp., £22.99, June 2017, 978 0 19 539360 6
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... before murdering them. ‘I just lost all sense of direction, of purpose,’ one soldier, Varnado Simpson, said later. ‘I just started killing in any kind of way I could kill. I didn’t know I had it in me.’ One of the first of those he shot was a child; after that, he said, ‘My whole mind just went.’ My Lai lay in Pinkville – an area dominated by ...

The Tribe of Ben

Blair Worden: Ben Jonson, 11 October 2012

Ben Jonson: A Life 
by Ian Donaldson.
Oxford, 533 pp., £25, October 2011, 978 0 19 812976 9
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The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson 
edited by David Bevington, Martin Butler and Ian Donaldson.
Cambridge, 5224 pp., £650, July 2012, 978 0 521 78246 3
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... sensibility that has often illuminated studies of Jonson makes its mark, most prominently in Colin Burrow’s editing of the poetry. Jonson’s allusions are not merely noted but felt.* Yet how widely will the feeling travel? Has the decline of classical education shamed us by restricting Jonson’s appeal? Or is Jonson’s addiction to classical sources ...


R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... new recruits, he recalled, there was a strong feeling that people ‘like the deposed King and Mrs Simpson’ had deceived the public about Nazism, encouraging them to see it as a bulwark against Bolshevism and depicting the greatest evil as another war with Germany. This naturally led to a counter, pro-Russian feeling, which has since been ...

Who said Gaddafi had to go?

Hugh Roberts, 17 November 2011

... of Gaddafi’s career shown on BBC World Service Television on the night of 20 October, John Simpson stopped well short of endorsing either charge, noting of the Berlin bombing that ‘it may or may not have been Colonel Gaddafi’s work,’ an honest formula that acknowledged the room for doubt. Of Lockerbie he remarked cautiously that Libya ...

The Price

Dan Jacobson: The concluding part of Dan Jacobson’s interview with Ian Hamilton, 21 February 2002

... asked to give his views on this and that. Thus we would have a ‘Letter from America’ by Louis Simpson or some such. So the Review had become more magazine-y than polemical. Something had gone, some genuineness, some verve. Some energy and commitment. It was time to jack it in. That would have been 1971 or 1972. Then I went to America for a year. No. It ...

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