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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. Apocryphal ...
19 December 1985
Aquarium 
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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... before hostilities were due to start. He is a vivid, pacy writer, switching scenes and heightening encounters in the best manner of spy novels; and is very well served by his translator, the veteran DavidFloyd. 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 ...

Afternoonishness

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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... a big name from the Sixties music archive – a piece of psychedelic heritage. Mostly out of it, 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 ...
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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... Some day they’re gonna write a blues song for fighters. It’ll just be for slow guitar, 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 ...

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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... Sonny Liston didn’t really 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 ...
27 June 1991
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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... are well-mannered; they decorate without intruding. He wonders in a letter to a friend what housewives 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 ...

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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... it also helped that no one told the testers that this is what the cyclists were doing. The authorities 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 ...

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 ...

Utterly in Awe

Jenny Turner: Lynn Barber

4 June 2014
A Curious Career 
by Lynn Barber.
Bloomsbury, 224 pp., £16.99, May 2014, 978 1 4088 3719 1
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... like Christ enthroned in a gilded Quattrocentro painting, attended by apostles, the legions of the 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 ...

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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... late-stage revelation as to what is actually in ‘the Entertainment’, the video said to be so hideously 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 ...

Dry Lands

Rebecca Solnit: The Water Problem

3 December 2009
Dead Pool: Lake Powell, Global Warming and the Future of Water in the West 
by James Lawrence Powell.
California, 283 pp., £19.95, January 2010, 978 0 520 25477 0
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... nature photography. The other was by John McPhee, the New Yorker’s science writer. Encounters with the Archdruid recounts what transpired when McPhee managed to get the dam’s chief advocate, Floyd Dominy, and its bitterest opponent, Porter’s publisher and the Sierra Club’s executive director, David Brower, to float together down the Grand Canyon below the dam, arguing all the way. Neither ...

Diary

Jonathan Lethem: My Marvel Years

15 April 2004
... shonour!As a child, I suffered a nerdish fever for authenticity and origins 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 ...
6 January 2000
Adventures in Wonderland: A Decade of Club Culture 
by Sheryl Garratt.
Headline, 335 pp., £7.99, May 1999, 0 7472 7680 3
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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey 
by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.
Headline, 408 pp., £14.99, November 1999, 0 7472 7573 4
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Saturday Night For Ever: The Story of Disco 
by Alan Jones and Jussi Kantonen.
Mainstream, 223 pp., £9.99, April 1999, 9781840181777
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DJ Culture 
by Ulf Poschardt.
Quartet, 473 pp., £13, January 1999, 0 7043 8098 6
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Energy Flash: A Journey through Rave Music and Dance Culture 
by Simon Reynolds.
Picador, 493 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 0 330 35056 0
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More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction 
by Kodwo Eshun.
Quartet, 208 pp., £10, March 1998, 0 7043 8025 0
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... in this decade, clubbing, according to Garratt, became ‘a religion, a release, a way of life’. The most notable New York venues in that era were probably the Sanctuary and the Loft, home to DJ David Mancuso. Saturday Night For Ever includes some enthusiastic reminiscences of the gay scene in London: the drugs, the songs and the very late nights. The camp, glam impulses behind the upsurge in gay ...

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