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Freebooter

Maurice Keen: The diabolical Sir John Hawkwood

5 May 2005
Hawkwood: Diabolical Englishman 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Faber, 366 pp., £17.99, November 2004, 9780571219087
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... The greatest mercenary of an age when soldiers of fortune flourished,’ says the cover flap of FrancesStonorSaunders’s biography of Sir John Hawkwood (c.1320-94), one-time leader of the White Company made famous by Conan Doyle’s historical novels. The 14th century was indeed an age of opportunity for military ...
30 September 1999
Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... US Government agency called the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) and his kind of common-sense voice, commenting on the enterprise from within, isn’t ever heard from again. On the other hand, FrancesStonorSaunders’s gripping book is stuffed with names of individuals, organisations and publications, whose sleazy history she gives in painstaking detail. Unfortunately, not all of her information ...

The Writer and the Valet

Frances Stonor Saunders: Pasternak and the Valet

24 September 2014
... Isaiah Berlin​ was on his honeymoon – he married late – when he first read Dr Zhivago. It was the evening of Saturday, 18 August 1956, and he had just made the short journey back to Moscow from the village of Peredelkino, where he had spent the day with Boris Pasternak. Pasternak’s dacha was part of a complex set up on Stalin’s orders in 1934 to reward the Soviet Union’s most prominent ...

Where on Earth are you?

Frances Stonor Saunders

3 March 2016
... The one border​ we all cross, so often and with such well-rehearsed reflexes that we barely notice it, is the threshold of our own home. We open the front door, we close the front door: it’s the most basic geographical habit, and yet one lifetime is not enough to recount all our comings and goings across this boundary. What threshold rites do you perform before you leave home? Do you appease household ...

Stainless Splendour

Stefan Collini: How innocent was Stephen Spender?

22 July 2004
Stephen Spender: The Authorised Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Viking, 627 pp., £25, May 2004, 0 670 88303 4
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... the last two years (during which Spender was mostly away in the United States), gave a characteristically rueful account of their shared deception in his memoir, Not Entitled, in 1996. Since then, FrancesStonorSaunders has published her controversial study, Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (1999), based on extensive research in official and unofficial archives on both sides of ...

Stuck on the Flypaper

Frances Stonor Saunders: The Hobsbawm File

8 April 2015
... On 25 January​ 1933, the 16-year-old Eric Hobsbawm marched with thousands of comrades through central Berlin to the headquarters of the German Communist Party (KPD). When they arrived at Karl Liebknecht Haus, on the Bülowplatz, the temperature was –18°C. They shuffled and waited in the bone-numbing cold for four hours to hear the podium speeches of the party cadres. As Hobsbawm would recall much ...

Degeneration Gap

Andreas Huyssen: Cold War culture conflicts

7 October 2004
The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War 
by David Caute.
Oxford, 788 pp., £30, September 2003, 0 19 924908 3
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... had been repressed under the Nazis and again under GDR socialism. Nevertheless, the canard that the international success of American Modernism was all due to CIA machinations was resurrected by FrancesStonorSaunders in Who Paid the Piper? (1999). Saunders does an excellent job in tracing the financial and organisational trail left by the CIA’s involvement in cultural politics. She has little to ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry

4 October 2001
Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... non-publication or ridicule, falsehood and misrepresentation of all Communists and their associates who had not been otherwise disposed of. We know now, particularly from the meticulous research of FrancesStonorSaunders in Who Paid the Piper? (1999), that this was a warfare at least co-ordinated, sometimes paid for, by the CIA – a fact both bruited and denied at the time. Of course there were ...

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