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Macédoine de Dumas

Douglas Johnson

6 December 1979
The King of Romance: A Portrait of Alexandre Dumas 
by F.W.J. Hemmings.
Hamish Hamilton, 231 pp., £8.95
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... Angela Thirkell once said that she had read as much of Dumas as anyone alive, but this was only about half of what he had written. It is said that Dumas himself lost count of the work he had written, which probably consisted of some one hundred and thirty novels (ranging from two to 11 volumes each), some sixty plays, twenty or thirty books of travel, memoirs and numberless newspaper articles – probably ...

Papers

Paul Driver

9 October 1986
The Beethoven Sketchbook: History, Reconstruction, Inventory 
by Douglas Johnson, Alan Tyson and Robert Winter, edited by Douglas Johnson.
Oxford, 611 pp., £60, January 1986, 0 19 315313 0
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... knows more or – with the probable exception of Sieghard Brandenburg of the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, who furnished all the information for six chapters, and constantly pops up – as much as Messrs Johnson, Tyson and Winter. They would appear to be beyond criticism – and certainly by me. They have succeeded in relieving the dry tone of their book with an urbane eloquence – the expositions of ...

Knucklehead Truman

Douglas Johnson

2 June 1983
The Eisenhower Diaries 
edited by Robert Ferrell.
Norton, 445 pp., £15.25, April 1983, 0 393 01432 0
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The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography 
by Thomas Reeves.
Blond and Briggs, 819 pp., £11.95, June 1983, 0 85634 131 2
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The past has another pattern 
by George Ball.
Norton, 544 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 393 01481 9
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Torn Lace Curtain 
by Frank Saunders and James Southwood.
Sidgwick, 361 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 283 98946 7
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The Years of Lyndon JohnsonThe Path to Power 
by Robert Caro.
Collins, 882 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 00 217062 0
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The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson 
by Ronnie Dugger.
Norton, 514 pp., £13.25, September 1982, 9780393015980
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Years of Upheaval 
by Henry Kissinger.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 1312 pp., £15.95, March 1982, 0 7181 2115 5
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Richard Nixon: The Shaping of his Character 
by Fawn Brodie.
Norton, 574 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 393 01467 3
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Haig: The General’s Progress 
by Roger Morris.
Robson, 458 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780860511885
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Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President 
by Jimmy Carter.
Collins, 622 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 00 216648 8
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Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency 
by Hamilton Jordan.
Joseph, 431 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 7181 2248 8
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Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser 1977-81 
by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Weidenfeld, 587 pp., £15, April 1983, 0 297 78220 7
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... romanticism that has surrounded him and his court, was disorganised and unsettled, a showman rather than a statesman, who owned his position to the ambition and wealth of a determined father. Lyndon Johnson was a corrupt politician who neither cared about nor understood the implications of his own rhetoric. Nixon was notorious for his deviousness and dishonesty, remarkable for his complex and psychotic ...

A Spot of Blackmail

Douglas Johnson

1 July 1982
J’Accuse 
by Graham Greene.
Bodley Head, 69 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 370 30930 8
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... Hale knew, after he had been in Brighton for three hours, that they meant to murder him.’ The opening sentence of Graham Greene’s most famous novel runs, in menacing innuendo, through his pamphlet J’Accuse. He denounces the world of crime, injustice and corruption which constitutes ‘the dark side of Nice’, and he has let us know that, as he lives in the neighbourhood, at Antibes, he himself ...

Riparian

Douglas Johnson

15 July 1982
The Left Bank: Writers in Paris, from Popular Front to Cold War 
by Herbert Lottman.
Heinemann, 319 pp., £12.50, May 1982, 0 434 42943 0
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... When Sherlock Holmes was seeking to elucidate the mystery of the Six Napoleons, he went on a ten-mile drive from Kensington to Stepney, and Dr Watson records that ‘in rapid succession we passed through the fringe of fashionable London, hotel London, theatrical London, literary London, commercial London and, finally, maritime London.’ One may be puzzled at this description and one might have wished ...

Barchester Popes

Douglas Johnson

16 July 1981
The Popes and European Revolution 
by Owen Chadwick.
Oxford, 646 pp., £28, March 1981, 0 19 826919 6
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... It has long been recognised that one of the saddest moments in the history of the Papacy was the death of Pius VI, on 28 August 1799. He died in captivity, in Avignon. This death seemed to illustrate how the Papacy, and the Catholic Church as a whole, had been brought low, reduced to a state which some thought to be one of complete ruin, humiliated both by the general movement of 18th-century thought ...

Second World War-Game

Douglas Johnson

22 May 1980
1943: The victory that never was 
by John Grigg.
Eyre Methuen, 255 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 9780413396105
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... It is the historians of military events and strategical planning who have all the fun. Whereas those who study the political or economic past are confined to a discussion and analysis of the facts, and are rapped on the knuckles if they speculate about what might have happened if the first Reform Bill had been defeated, or if they dream about all the possible governmental reactions to the economic ...
7 August 1980
Mesrine: the Life and Death of a Super-crook 
by Carey Schofield.
Penguin, 201 pp., £95, April 1980, 0 14 005607 6
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... The summer of 1979 was fine, so far as the French were concerned. In the great annual reshuffle of the social norms, which they have turned into a ritual with all the characteristics of a cult, the instant societies of the beach, the camping-site and the résidence secondaire were readily provided with the stockrooms from which conversations could be organised. There were three focal points. There ...
7 March 1985
The Killing Doll 
by Ruth Rendell.
Hutchinson/Arrow, 237 pp., £7.95, March 1984, 0 09 155480 2
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The Tree of Hands 
by Ruth Rendell.
Hutchinson, 269 pp., £8.50, October 1984, 0 09 158680 1
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... We still have a Queen of Crime. For nearly twenty years Ruth Rendell has been hailed as the successor to Sayers, Christie, Marsh and Allingham, perpetuating the old question of why it is that there should be a particularly feminine talent for detective fiction. Her Chief Inspector, Wexford by name, has joined the ranks of legendary police heroes, and although he is Sussex-based he can occasionally ...

Who’s best?

Douglas Johnson

27 September 1990
The Rise and Fall of Anti-Americanism: A Century of French Perception 
edited by Denis Lacorne, Jacques Rupnik and Marie-France Toinet, translated by Gerald Turner.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £35, August 1990, 0 333 49025 8
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... During the academic year 1982-83 Alain Besançon, a French specialist on Soviet affairs, became a visiting professor at the Hoover Institute in Stanford. He arranged with his Parisian colleague, Jean Plumyene, that they would write regularly to each other and that their correspondence would be published. The interest of this exchange of letters between French academics, the one in California and the ...

He knows a little place

Douglas Johnson

13 February 1992
Expensive Habits 
by Peter Mayle.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 191 pp., £14.95, October 1991, 1 85619 055 2
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... The contents of this vulgar and irritating book – can the author have deliberately set out to be irritating? – are totally predictable. It is, however, unexpected that we have to wait until page 166 before encountering a familiar example of what some consider to be admirable behaviour. A man leaves a restaurant, naturally a grand and expensive establishment, after paying his bill. The mâitre d’hotel ...

Anglophobics

Douglas Johnson

25 April 1991
The Battle of France: Six weeks which changed the world 
by Philip Warner.
Simon and Schuster, 275 pp., £16, April 1990, 0 671 71030 3
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The Last War between Britain and France 1940-1942 
by Warren Tute.
Collins, 334 pp., £16, January 1990, 0 00 215318 1
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Darlan 
by Hervé Coutau-Bégarie and Claude Huan.
Fayard, 873 pp., frs 190, May 1989, 2 213 02271 2
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... During those days when the war in Western Europe had not yet got under way, so that it was called ‘the phoney war’, the drôle de guerre or the twilight war, an English journalist, with Labour sympathies, visited a number of French factories. He subsequently called on the minister responsible for industrial production, and posed the question of whether or not French workers were being obliged to ...
27 June 1991
The Noble Savage: Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1754-1762 
by Maurice Cranston.
Allen Lane, 399 pp., £20, February 1991, 0 7139 9051 1
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Writings of Rousseau. Vol I: Rousseau: Judge of Jean-Jacques. Dialogues. 
translated by Judith Bush, edited and translated by Christopher Kelly and Roger Masters.
University Press of New England, 277 pp., $40, March 1990, 0 87451 495 9
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... About Rousseau, as about Romanticism, it is tempting to use the word ‘disorderly’. Maurice Cranston showed us in the first volume of this, the most masterly of biographies how he had spent his early life as a wanderer and adventurer, he had been an itinerant tutor, a humble music-copier, an ambitious composer; the lover of a Swiss countess and the secretary to a diplomat; he had become a fashionable ...

A Flat in Neuilly

Douglas Johnson

3 February 1983
Ideology and Experience: Anti-Semitism in France at the time of the Dreyfus Affair 
by Stephen Wilson.
Associated University Presses, 812 pp., £30, August 1982, 0 8386 3037 5
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Cinq Années de ma Vie 
by Alfred Dreyfus.
Maspéro, 263 pp., frs 15
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La Républic et les Juifs après Copernic 
by Schmuel Trigano.
Les Presses d’Aujourd’hui, 272 pp., frs 75, April 1982, 2 901386 03 2
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... she said, that I spoke French, but in order that we might avoid any possible misunderstanding she wanted to put a question to me in English. Then, speaking excellent English, she asked: ‘Professor Johnson, are you Jewish?’ I looked her straight in the eyes and replied that to the best of my knowledge I was not Jewish. There followed a long silence. I wondered if I should have been more vehement in ...

Althusser’s Fate

Douglas Johnson

16 April 1981
The Long March of the French Left 
by R.W. Johnson.
Macmillan, 345 pp., £20, March 1981, 0 333 27417 2
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One-Dimensional Marxism 
by Simon Clarke and Terry Lovell.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 85031 367 8
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Communism and Philosophy 
by Maurice Cornforth.
Lawrence and Wishart, 282 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 85315 430 9
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The Crisis of Marxism 
by Jack Lindsay.
Moonraker, 183 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 239 00200 8
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Class in English History 1680-850 
by R.S. Neale.
Blackwell, 250 pp., £12, January 1981, 0 631 12851 4
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... until, in practice, 1970) and Georges Marchais. The meeting at Argenteuil may well have been held, not to settle questions of Party philosophy, but to bring the intellectuals into line, in what R.W. Johnson, in his new book, has picturesquely called ‘the long march of the French Left’, culminating in the Communist-Socialist alliance which hoped to win the legislative elections of 1978 but failed to ...

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