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Vigah

Elizabeth Drew: JFK, 20 November 2003

John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917-63 
by Robert Dallek.
Allen Lane, 838 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 7139 9737 0
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... The majority of books about John F. Kennedy have been written either by toadying family retainers or by people bent on destroying the Camelot myth. The historian Robert Dallek is neither; he decided to enter the field, as he explains in his introduction, in part because documents had become available that threw new light on several aspects of Kennedy’s life, and in part because he thought the old ones should be given a fresh reading ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... decency? In a series of articles that first appeared in the New Yorker as Watergate unfolded, Elizabeth Drew confesses a hardened journalist’s shock at ‘the contempt for everyone – the public, the Congress, their colleagues, each other’ the transcripts reveal. ‘He seems to be trying to be candid, but he hasn’t had much experience in that ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party, 8 February 2018

... was it because, by getting inside the White House, he had exposed them for failing to do the same? Elizabeth Drew in the New Republic dismissed Fire and Fury: ‘better books’, she said, would be published soon. Better books? She mentioned David Frum’s Trumpocracy as an example, with its less than thrilling subtitle ‘The Corruption of the American ...

Maughamisms

Elizabeth Mavor, 18 July 1985

A Traveller in Romance 
by W. Somerset Maugham, edited by John Whitehead.
Muller, Blond and White, 275 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 0 85634 184 3
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... of one intriguing anecdote included in this book. It appears that on a visit to Maugham H.G. Wells drew his fingers along the edition of his complete works that he had presented to his fellow author. ‘You know, they’re dead,’ he said. ‘They deal with matters of topical interest and now of course they’re unreadable.’ Maugham considered they were no ...

Anti-Slavery Begins at Home

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, 25 May 1995

The First Woman of the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child 
by Carolyn Karcher.
Duke, 804 pp., £35.95, March 1995, 0 8223 1485 1
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Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life 
by Joan Hedrick.
Oxford, 507 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 19 506639 1
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... her experience that Karcher would have had her draw. Worse, she reproved feminist women, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Victoria Woodhull, who attacked marriage and promoted free love. In Child’s view, such women ‘recklessly ... throw overboard the question of duty toward households, or toward society! ... They are so wild for freedom, that they ...

Women of Quality

E.S. Turner, 9 October 1986

The Pebbled Shore 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Weidenfeld, 351 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 78863 9
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Leaves of the Tulip Tree 
by Juliette Huxley.
Murray, 248 pp., £7.95, June 1986, 9780719542886
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Enid Bagnold 
by Anne Sebba.
Weidenfeld, 317 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 297 78991 0
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... patient editor and Lord Weidenfeld Whose Idea it Was – these we have grown to expect and honour. Elizabeth Longford, now in her eighties, thanks two family doctors who ‘made life so secure for us’ (and who themselves survived to 90 and 86). She is grateful to one son-in-law for ‘introducing me to the perfect diet during a critical time in the writing ...

Best Known for His Guzzleosity

Helen Hackett: Shakespeare’s Authors, 11 March 2010

Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? 
by James Shapiro.
Faber, 367 pp., £20, April 2010, 978 0 571 23576 6
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... wanted produced the forgeries of William-Henry Ireland in the 1790s (which included a letter from Elizabeth I thanking him for his ‘prettye Verses’) and John Payne Collier in the 1830s and 1840s (which showed Shakespeare to have been a well-connected member of metropolitan literary circles from an early stage). But for Shapiro the real villain is Edmond ...

Nasty Lucky Genes

Andrew O’Hagan: Fathers and Sons, 21 September 2006

The Arms of the Infinite 
by Christopher Barker.
Pomona, 329 pp., £9.99, August 2006, 1 904590 04 7
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... Elizabeth Smart was browsing one day between the wars in the bookshops of the Charing Cross Road. Young, blonde and original, unclaimed by her Ottawa upbringing or her mother’s social hopes, Smart came to lean against those London bookshelves as if they alone contained all the answers. That day, she drew her finger over a line of volumes, took one down and read the poems where she stood, deciding by the last page that the author was the man she was put on earth to marry ...

At the V&A

Peter Campbell: Ossie Clark, 21 August 2003

... resting passively on the body’s surface. A modern leader-of-the-nation’s lounge suit, Queen Elizabeth I’s pearl-embroidered dresses, the padded jackets and breeches of her courtiers – all these have more carapace-like, shape-imposing qualities than shape-taking ones. At the other extreme are flowing, liquid garments. Think of Nike adjusting her ...

Among the Antimacassars

Alison Light, 11 November 1999

Flush 
by Virginia Woolf, edited by Elizabeth Steele.
Blackwell, 123 pp., £50, December 1998, 0 631 17729 9
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Timbuktu 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 186 pp., £12.99, June 1999, 0 571 19197 5
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... agents at witchcraft trials, burnt alongside Protestants by Mary Tudor and alongside Catholics by Elizabeth I, roasted at country fairs and persecuted for sport, cats were often given short shrift in Britain. Ancient symbols of fertility, they were commonly deemed lascivious (the female cat was especially lecherous), but feline stand-offishness was the real ...

Round the (Next) Bend

Simon Adams: Sir Walter Ralegh, 6 July 2000

The Letters of Sir Walter Raleigh 
edited by Agnes Latham and Joyce Youings.
Exeter, 403 pp., £45, July 1999, 0 85989 527 0
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... potentially valuable. This is neatly illustrated by Latham’s major discovery: the will Ralegh drew up before departing on the Islands Voyage in 1597, the only one to have survived. Among the clauses of the will is a provision for an illegitimate daughter, the child of an affair with the daughter of an Irish official in 1589. The only other known reference ...

Something about Mary

Diarmaid MacCulloch: The First Queen of England, 18 October 2007

Mary Tudor: The Tragical History of the First Queen of England 
by David Loades.
National Archives, 240 pp., £19.99, September 2006, 1 903365 98 8
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... done to her mother and her mother’s world which Henry’s first annulment crisis represented. Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was equal to Katherine in stubbornness and her definite superior in intelligence: the only one of Henry’s six wives whose marriage to the king was regularly called her ‘reign’ by contemporaries. That she had a mind of her ...

Cambodia: Year One

Elizabeth Becker, 9 February 1995

Cambodia: A Shattered Society 
by Marie Alexandrine Martin, translated by Mark McLeod.
California, 398 pp., $35, July 1994, 0 520 07052 6
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Cambodia’s New Deal: A Report 
by William Shawcross.
Carnegie Endowment, 106 pp., £27.50, July 1994, 0 87003 051 5
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... is faring in Cambodia would have to reflect these very mixed results. The countries which drew up the peace plan should have been much more realistic. The combination of Communist economic policies and ten years of Western sanctions, imposed with the aim of forcing Vietnam to withdraw, so crippled the economy that rehabilitation will take many more ...

That Roomful of Words

Elizabeth Lowry: Jenny Diski’s new novel, 4 December 2008

Apology for the Woman Writing 
by Jenny Diski.
Virago, 282 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 84408 385 5
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... modern scholars acknowledge the value of many of her contributions. For the edition of 1611 she drew up an index of all the subjects and authors referred to, and for the 1617 text she not only traced each of Montaigne’s classical references, but set about translating them into French in an appendix of close to a hundred pages. Did she feel that this total ...

Using the Heavens

John Bossy: Renaissance Astrology, 1 June 2000

Cardano’s Cosmos: The Worlds and Works of a Renaissance Astrologer 
by Anthony Grafton.
Harvard, 284 pp., £21.95, February 2000, 0 674 09555 3
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... his almanacs to find out what line he should take between the poles of English politics, Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots? My natural bent is to think that he is chatting the man up: I do not find him saying such things in his official correspondence with Paris; nor do I find that on such grounds kings and councillors made their decisions about the ...

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