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Yugoslavia’s Past

Robert Kee, 5 June 1980

Moscow Diary 
by Veljko Micunovic, translated by David Floyd.
Chatto, 474 pp., £12.95, April 1980, 0 7011 2469 5
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... The story runs that the reason Tito lived so long in his last illness was that no one in the Presidential Council dared be the first to suggest that the various life-supporting machines should be switched off. Maybe in the end someone dared. Or maybe Tito, whose body in life had done so much to reconcile the politically irreconcilable in Yugoslavia, performed its final patriotic service in death ...

What do you know about Chekhov?

Keith Kyle, 19 December 1985

by Viktor Suvorov, translated by David Floyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 249 pp., £10.95, June 1985, 0 241 11545 0
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Breaking with Moscow 
by Arkady Shevchenko.
Cape, 278 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 224 02804 9
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Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History since 1917 
by Stephen Cohen.
Oxford, 222 pp., £15, May 1985, 0 19 503468 6
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Rise and Fall 
by Milovan Djilas.
Macmillan, 424 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 333 39791 6
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Tito’s Flawed Legacy: Yugoslavia and the West 1939-1984 
by Nora Beloff.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 575 03668 0
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... in the best manner of spy novels; and is very well served by his translator, the veteran David Floyd. This is the fourth volume he has distilled from his experience and he is about to produce a fifth, on the Spetsnaz – against whom Britain’s expensive ‘Brave Defender’ exercise was directed earlier this year. Having completed his ...


Jeremy Harding: Syd Barrett, 2 January 2003

Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd’s Lost Genius 
by Tim Willis.
Short Books, 175 pp., £12.99, October 2002, 1 904095 24 0
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... very flowers-and-frillsy, yet clever certainly and likeable apparently, he wrote the two 1967 Pink Floyd hits ‘Arnold Layne’ and ‘See Emily Play’ before stumbling into a maze of mental distress from which there was no obvious exit. Rapid decline and obscurity are part of the Barrett legend, as are ideas of madness and genius. And so, as he turns 57, it ...

Peine forte et dure

Hazel V. Carby: Punishment by Pressing, 30 July 2020

... The​ city of Minneapolis, in which George Floyd lived and died, has been plagued not only by Covid-19 but also by an epidemic of police violence. As Mike Griffin, a community organiser, put it, he was ‘just as likely to die from a cop as from Covid’. Major news outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, seemed astonished at the scale of structural and environmental racism exposed by the pandemic ...

Ready to Rumble

John Upton, 16 March 2000

King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero 
by David Remnick.
Picador, 326 pp., £14.99, October 1999, 0 330 37188 6
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Muhammad Ali: Ringside 
edited by John Miller and Aaron Kenedi.
Virgin, 128 pp., £14.99, September 1999, 1 85227 852 8
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... soft trumpet and a bell.’ So said Sonny Liston in 1962, after he’d beaten his closest rival, Floyd Patterson, and become Heavyweight Champion of the World. Liston was not known for his sensitivity. Indeed, the facts of his life read like a blueprint for a Hollywood film of the flawed fighter. He was born in Arkansas, the 24th of 25 children. He never ...

Out Hunting

Gary Younge: In Baltimore, 29 July 2021

We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption in an American City 
by Justin Fenton.
Faber, 335 pp., £14.99, February, 978 0 571 35661 4
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... last year, their target was not Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd. Floyd’s murder resonated so widely because Chauvin’s brutality signified something deeper and more pervasive. The video footage of Floyd’s death offered evidence of both an ...

Pure TNT

James Francken: Thom Jones, 18 February 1999

Sonny Liston was a Friend of Mine 
by Thom Jones.
Faber, 312 pp., £9.99, February 1999, 9780571196562
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... have any friends. Not, at least, among the reporters covering his heavyweight title fight with Floyd Patterson in 1962. Intimidated by Listen’s criminal record and connections with organised crime, the press took his sullenness for the recalcitrance of an underworld brawler. The former heavyweight champion is no less threatening in Thom Jones’s two ...

Warthog Dynamism

David Bromwich, 19 November 2020

... was also a way of calling to mind the urban riots that followed the police killing of George Floyd last summer. These outbreaks – euphemistically referred to as ‘unrest’ by the liberal press – were recurrent in Minneapolis, Austin, Philadelphia, New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Louisville, Chicago, Washington DC, Atlanta, Seattle and ...

Everybody gets popped

David Runciman: Lance Armstrong’s Regime, 22 November 2012

The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups and Winning at All Costs 
by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle.
Bantam, 290 pp., £18.99, September 2012, 978 0 593 07173 1
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... only discovered that the cyclists were micro-dosing when one of Armstrong’s former teammates, Floyd Landis, confessed to the practice in 2010. The testers did have one thing in their favour. A cyclist only had to make one mistake, or be unlucky once, and he would become damaged goods. The code of omertà, which guaranteed that the riders on the Tour never ...

Outfoxing Hangman

Thomas Jones: David Mitchell, 11 May 2006

Black Swan Green 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 371 pp., £16.99, May 2006, 0 340 82279 1
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... David Mitchell’s first book, Ghostwritten (1999), which describes itself as ‘a novel in nine parts’, is a collection of loosely interconnected stories. The protagonist of one will have a walk-on role in the next; a minor character from someone else’s story will later reappear as the narrator of their own. The first narrator is a member of a Japanese doomsday cult, the perpetrator of a poison gas attack on the Tokyo subway, now on the run in Okinawa ...

Ask Mike

David Runciman: City Government, 18 June 2020

The Nation City: Why Mayors Are Now Running the World 
by Rahm Emanuel.
Knopf, 256 pp., £20.89, February 2020, 978 0 525 65638 8
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... Chicago is one of many American cities where riots have broken out following the killing of George Floyd by a city police officer in Minneapolis. An article in the Atlantic asked of the increasingly militarised response: ‘Are they police departments or armies?’ The governor of Illinois, like many of his counterparts, has called in the national guard. The ...
Dance till the stars come down 
by Frances Spalding.
Hodder, 271 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 340 48555 8
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Keith Vaughan 
by Malcolm Yorke.
Constable, 288 pp., £25, October 1990, 0 09 469780 9
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... make of his sailors, like the one who leans on a table spread with good things in Elizabeth David’s Book of Mediterranean Food. The housewives doubtless thought they were nice lads; in life and art the physical types which attracted Minton were butch. The boys in Hockney’s Cavafy illustrations would not have stepped so easily or so politely onto Mrs ...

Utterly in Awe

Jenny Turner: Lynn Barber, 5 June 2014

A Curious Career 
by Lynn Barber.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £16.99, May 2014, 978 1 4088 3719 1
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... damned at her feet: Marianne Faithfull, the ‘Fabulous Beast’ herself, doing a photo-shoot for David Bailey, ‘sprawling with her legs wide apart, her black satin crotch glinting between her scrawny 55-year-old thighs’. Melvyn Bragg, filming his reaction shots for the South Bank Show, ‘smiling, simpering, giggling, looking down at his ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... gratifying that people die while watching it, round and round for ever, in an endless loop. David Foster Wallace always had trouble finishing his novels. And yet he put in this one a thought so absorbing and delightful that you could easily imagine yourself, like the rat in the experiment, pressing the lever over and over. ‘Thousands of times an ...


Jonathan Lethem: My Marvel Years, 15 April 2004

... of all kinds, one which led me into some very strange cultural places. Any time I heard that, say, David Bowie was only really imitating Anthony Newley, I immediately lost interest in David Bowie and went looking for the source, sometimes with the pitiable results that this example suggests. So I was always moving backwards ...

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