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1 September 1988
Citizen Cohn 
by Nicholas von Hoffman.
Harrap, 483 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 245 54605 7
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... and famous. Cohn knew, dealt with, worked for, went to parties with and generally hobnobbed with more celebrities than any other American. He did favours for them all, and they for him. Nicholas von Hoffman, a liberal news reporter who had been appalled by the young Roy Cohn who wreaked such havoc as Senator Joe McCarthy’s aide, has fallen into Cohn’s web, become entranced by him, and tries to get ...

Cell Block Four

Keith Gessen: Khodorkovsky

25 February 2010
The Quality of Freedom: Khodorkovsky, Putin and the Yukos Affair 
by Richard Sakwa.
Oxford, 426 pp., £55, May 2009, 978 0 19 921157 9
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... a way to turn those imaginary roubles into actual roubles. It was alchemy, but you needed a licence to perform the alchemy, and to get a licence you needed help from the top. The Washington Post’s DavidHoffman, in the best journalistic account of the heroic age of Russian capitalism, The Oligarchs, found an old professor, the head of a giant research institute, who remembered Khodorkovsky and ...


Danny Karlin

23 May 1991
The Clopton Hercules 
by Duncan Sprott.
Faber, 220 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 9780571144082
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Life of a Drum 
by Carlo Gebler.
Hamish Hamilton, 173 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 241 13074 3
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Seventh Heaven 
by Alice Hoffman.
Virago, 256 pp., £12.99, February 1991, 1 85381 283 8
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A Home at the End of the World 
by Michael Cunningham.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £13.99, February 1991, 0 241 12909 5
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A place I’ve never been 
by David​ Leavitt.
Viking, 194 pp., £12.99, February 1991, 0 670 82196 9
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... marriage, straight sex, drugless culture) is shown up, with different degrees of irony or scepticism. A terrible artist’s snobbery is at work here, even in the best of these five books, Alice Hoffman’s Seventh Heaven and Michael Cunningham’s A Home at the End of the World. Carlo Gebler dissents from this attitude; unfortunately he writes less well. Still, there were times when I warmed to ...

Short Cuts

Norman Dombey: False Intelligence

19 February 2004
... as I had suggested. We now know, too, that Colin Powell’s televised statement to the UN Security Council concerning Iraq’s mobile biological weapons laboratories was immediately criticised by David Kelly, who recognised them as trucks bought from Marconi for filling balloons with hydrogen. David Kelly and Brian Jones were not the only ones to have doubts about the dossier: similar doubts were ...

The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969

15 August 2019
Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... wrinkly legends, including the Zombies and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin famously turned down the offer to play fifty years ago) were also billed, alongside veterans from the founding festival: Santana, David Crosby, Country Joe McDonald, the remains of the Grateful Dead, Canned Heat and others. But Lang’s fifty-up began to unravel when his top-dog investor, the Japanese digicoms company Dentsu Aegis ...


Elaine Mokhtefi: Panthers in Algiers

31 May 2017
... responsibility for Americans who arrived without realising that hardly anyone in Algeria spoke English. Later that day I talked to the official in charge of liberation movements, Commandant Slimane Hoffman, a tank specialist who had deserted from the French army to join the Armée de Libération Nationale (ALN) and was close to Boumediene. I explained that Cleaver wished to remain in the country and to ...


Michael Davie

6 June 1985
The Airman and the Carpenter: The Lindbergh Case and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 438 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 00 217060 4
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... not commit; A Presumption of Innocence (1976) brought the Queen into action again to pardon Patrick Meehan for a murder he did not commit; Wicked beyond Belief (1980) was followed by the release of David Cooper and Michael McMahon, also detained for a murder they did not commit. Few readers of Mr Kennedy’s latest book will finish it thinking he has spoiled his immaculate record. The reader may be ...
8 March 1990
Alan Moorehead 
by Tom Pocock.
Bodley Head, 311 pp., £16.95, February 1990, 0 370 31261 9
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Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir 
by Carl Bernstein.
Macmillan, 254 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 333 52135 8
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by Brian Inglis.
Chatto, 298 pp., £15.95, January 1990, 0 7011 3390 2
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... Thanks to Watergate – and its sequel, the book and the film, All the President’s Men – Bernstein also rates as a journalistic superstar, though his fame may have faded a little since Dustin Hoffman represented him in that film, and Jack Nicholson represented him in a later one. He is quite open about the difficulties he has subsequently experienced, making it clear that he started out trying to ...

Deal of the Century

David​ Thomson: As Ovitz Tells It

7 March 2019
Who Is Michael Ovitz? 
by Michael Ovitz.
W.H. Allen, 372 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 7535 5336 7
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... as the most effective operator in the motion picture business was at some point swept into the dustbin of ‘Whatever happened to … ?’ So who was he? Michael Ovitz was born in Chicago in 1946 to David, the son of Jewish Romanian immigrants. David was a liquor salesman for Seagram’s but he worked weekends too, selling patio furniture to support his family after they moved to Encino in the San ...

Posthumous Gentleman

Michael Dobson: Kit Marlowe’s Schooldays

19 August 2004
The World of Christopher Marlowe 
by David​ Riggs.
Faber, 411 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 571 22159 9
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Christopher Marlowe and Richard Baines: Journeys through the Elizabethan Underground 
by Roy Kendall.
Fairleigh Dickinson, 453 pp., $75, January 2004, 0 8386 3974 7
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Tamburlaine Must Die 
by Louise Welsh.
Canongate, 149 pp., £9.99, July 2004, 1 84195 532 9
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History Play: The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe 
by Rodney Bolt.
HarperCollins, 388 pp., £17.99, July 2004, 0 00 712123 7
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... supplies, the biographers’ Marlowe is always liable to be defined by his death, if only because a sizeable proportion of the detailed evidence we have about him dates from May and June 1593. For David Riggs, coming to the subject of Marlowe after writing Ben Jonson: A Life (1989), the paucity of material must have been fairly dismaying. The long-lived Jonson went out of his way to make things easy ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter

3 November 2016
The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... The Self and Others. All incredibly tidy, with underlinings in red. And exploding flowers and nudie ladies stuck on the inside cover, as if in illustration of The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, which Carter would have been working on at the time. What was I looking for when I went to look at the Angela Carter Papers? To begin with I didn’t really know. Partly it was professional ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper

22 March 2012
Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... dealing with his awe of Taylor by emptying his bladder in full sight of her, the crew and several thousand movie-struck onlookers. (A good moment to recall Laurence Olivier’s comment to Dustin Hoffman, who had stayed up several nights to play a scene in which his character had stayed up several nights: ‘Try acting, dear boy.’) But then Dean died in a car crash, aged 24, after, according to ...

Operation Barbarella

Rick Perlstein: Hanoi Jane

17 November 2005
Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon 
by Mary Hershberger.
New Press, 228 pp., £13.99, September 2005, 1 56584 988 4
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... by maintaining that the war was wrong and that they had had a right to criticise it were cast as the agents of American defeat. One, Abel Kavanaugh, facing a court martial, shot himself. Another, David Wesley Hoffman, had been one of the pows who volunteered to meet with Fonda. He hoped to remain in the military. He met with Pentagon officials on his release; then, on 13 April 1973, all three ...
28 April 1994
Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives 
edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta Manning.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £35, September 1993, 0 521 44125 0
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Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant 
by Amy Knight.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, January 1994, 0 691 03257 2
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This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow 
by Anna Larina.
Hutchinson, 385 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 09 178141 8
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Stalin i Ordzhonikidze: Konflikty v Politbyuro v 30-e gody 
by O.V. Khlevnyuk.
Rossiya Molodaya, 144 pp., December 1993, 5 86646 047 5
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... narrative, arguing that the ‘arrest operation’ following the decree coincided (!) with the climax of the local terror. The powerful role of the Politburo in the Great Purge is again made clear in DavidHoffman’s chapter on Moscow. According to Hoffman, ‘the tone of party committee meetings at factories changed overnight’ after a secret letter had been received passing on the Politburo’s ...

A Glorious Thing

Julie Peters: Piracy

4 November 2010
Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 626 pp., £24, February 2010, 978 0 226 40118 8
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... work of trade artisans, unworthy of special patents. Patents did develop for devices of all kinds, but there were plenty of ways around them. In 1817, the Scottish evangelical naturalist and editor David Brewster filed a patent for an optical instrument he called the ‘kaleidoscope’. But the craftsman he had hired immediately took the instrument to a variety of London ‘tinmen’ and ‘glaziers ...

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