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Father’ Things

Gabriele Annan

7 August 1980
The Duke of Deception: Memories of My Father 
by Geoffrey Wolff.
Hodder, 275 pp., £8.25, June 1980, 0 340 25469 6
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... is a biography-cum-autobiography in which the father is more reprehensible by conventional standards – and in the eyes of the law as well – than mere monsters like old Gosse or Butler/Pontifex. Wolff père was a professional conman, if ‘professional’ is the right word. In some ways it isn’t, because his operations were too slapdash, too reckless, and too much part of his dream about himself ...
17 August 1989
This Boy’s Life 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 292 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 7475 0274 9
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... Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life is the story of two boys, Toby and Jack. Toby is an ‘A’ grade student, a boy deeply concerned about the world’s esteem, a loyal support to his mother, destined for ...

Bad Dads

Zachary Leader

6 April 1995
In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of a Lost War 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 210 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 7475 1919 6
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Tallien: A Brief Romance 
by Frederic Tuten.
Marion Boyars, 152 pp., £9.95, November 1994, 0 7145 2990 7
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Roommates: My Grandfather’s Story 
by Max Apple.
Little, Brown, 241 pp., £12.99, November 1994, 0 316 91241 7
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... Personal identity, according to Locke, is a creation of memory. The American writer Tobias Wolff has already published one volume of memoirs. Now, at the age of 49, he has produced a second. Who can blame him? His father was a conman and impostor: Arthur Samuels Wolff, aka Arthur Saunders Wolff ...

A Narrow Band of Liberties

Glen Newey: Global order

25 January 2001
Profit over People: Neo-Liberalism and Global Order 
by Noam Chomsky.
Seven Stories, 175 pp., £26, October 1998, 1 888363 82 7
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Acts of Aggression: Policing ‘Rogue’ States 
by Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark, edited by Edward Said.
Seven Stories, 62 pp., £4.99, May 1999, 1 58322 005 4
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The Umbrella of US Power: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Contradictions of US Policy 
by Noam Chomsky.
Seven Stories, 78 pp., £3.99, December 1998, 1 888363 85 1
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The New Military Humanism: Lessons from Kosovo 
by Noam Chomsky.
Pluto, 199 pp., £30, November 1999, 0 7453 1633 6
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... that the entailment fails, can argue on other grounds that the state is illegitimate. One ground for saying this, apparently endorsed by Chomsky and certainly held by anarchists like Robert Paul Wolff, is that coercion itself – the state’s big shtick – is never justified. The truth is not that power corrupts, but that power’s rationale is corruption, and the best to be hoped for from its ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton

8 March 2001
Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... lovers – Claire Tomalin’s Life of Dickens’s Ellen Ternan, or the now-forgotten but interesting Portrait of Zélide (Benjamin Constant’s mistress, Mme de Charrière) by Wharton’s friend Geoffrey Scott – Mainwaring’s Mysteries is the product of long and deep digging in all kinds of likely and unlikely places. And in this dogged quest, she has been driven by motives quite as mixed and dark ...

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