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Why the bastards wouldn’t stand and fight

Murray Sayle: Mao in Vietnam, 21 February 2002

China and the Vietnam Wars 1950-75 
by Qiang Zhai.
North Carolina, 304 pp., $49.95, April 2000, 0 8078 4842 5
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None so Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam 
by George Allen.
Ivan Dee, 296 pp., $27.50, October 2001, 1 56663 387 7
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No Peace, No Honour: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam 
by Larry Berman.
Free Press, 334 pp., $27.50, November 2001, 0 684 84968 2
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... role in what was supposed to be a French war from an impeccable source – the CIA. George Allen worked on Indochina from 1949 to 1975, by far the longest involvement of any American, a fly on the wall at the decisions of a quarter-century. Allen is a real-life quiet American who saw his job as answering ...

Wolfish

John Sutherland: The pushiness of young men in a hurry, 5 May 2005

Publisher 
by Tom Maschler.
Picador, 294 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 330 48420 6
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British Book Publishing as a Business since the 1960s 
by Eric de Bellaigue.
British Library, 238 pp., £19.95, January 2004, 0 7123 4836 0
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Penguin Special: The Life and Times of Allen Lane 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Viking, 484 pp., £25, May 2005, 0 670 91485 1
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... Maschler’s achievements as a general trade publisher rank him with Archibald Constable, George Smith, John Blackwood, George Routledge, Frederick Macmillan, David Garnett, Ian Parsons, Allen Lane. It was one of the most highly regarded of today’s younger publishers, Peter ...

We came, we saw, he died

Jackson Lears: Clinton’s Creed, 5 February 2015

Hard Choices 
by Hillary Clinton.
Simon and Schuster, 635 pp., £20, June 2014, 978 1 4711 3150 9
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HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton 
by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes.
Hutchinson, 440 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 0 09 195448 2
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... she and her handlers have been fashioning since the debacle of the 2008 primaries, or so Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes argue in HRC, their inside-dopester account of Clinton’s ‘rebirth’. Allen and Parnes serve as a chorus, commenting portentously on the events described in Hard Choices. Together the two ...

If Only Analogues...

Ange Mlinko: Ginsberg Goes to India, 20 November 2008

A Blue Hand: The Beats in India 
by Deborah Baker.
Penguin US, 256 pp., £25.95, April 2008, 978 1 59420 158 5
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... of the Infinite God.’ Reading that same chapter of the Bhagavad Gita in Darjeeling in 1962, Allen Ginsberg thought of something else: the coloured wheels of psilocybin-induced visions. That two of the 20th century’s most consciousness-altering inventions, the atom bomb and the LSD pill, could be conjoined under the sign of the mushroom cloud is just ...

Grandiose Moments

Frank Kermode, 6 February 1997

Ford Madox Ford: A Dual Life, Vol. II 
by Max Saunders.
Oxford, 696 pp., £35, September 1996, 0 19 212608 3
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... Mizener had the advantage of being able to consult many surviving friends of Ford, including Allen Tate, Herbert Read, Jean Rhys and Rebecca West. He also had access to the papers of Ford’s mistress Violet Hunt and the Ford collections in various American libraries, notably those of Cornell and Princeton. Judd and Saunders were denied by death of ...

Plantsmen

David Allen, 20 December 1984

The John Tradescants: Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen 
by Prudence Leith-Ross.
Owen, 320 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 7206 0612 8
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Sydney Parkinson: Artist of Cook’s ‘Endeavour’ Voyage 
edited by D.J. Carr.
Croom Helm, 300 pp., £29.95, March 1984, 9780709907947
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... Cook’s circumnavigations of the globe, lasted from August 1768 to July 1771. It was financed by George III, in response to an appeal from the Royal Society for an expedition to be dispatched to observe the Transit of Venus. The 25-year-old Banks went at his own expense, meeting also the cost of his eight assistants and servants and most of their equipment ...

How terribly kind

Edmund White: Gilbert and George, 1 July 1999

Gilbert & GeorgeA Portrait 
by Daniel Farson.
HarperCollins, 240 pp., £19.99, March 1999, 0 00 255857 2
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... careful to keep track when it was his turn to buy drinks (which he often did). Gilbert and George, by contrast, are utterly stylised: they speak in relays, move like robots and strongly hint that there is no within within. This book, left incomplete at the time of Farson’s death and tidied up by Robert Violette, is touching and illuminating in part ...

Paralysed by the Absence of Danger

Jeremy Harding: Spain, 1937, 24 September 2009

Letters from Barcelona: An American Woman in Revolution and Civil War 
edited by Gerd-Rainer Horn.
Palgrave, 209 pp., £50, February 2009, 978 0 230 52739 3
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War Is Beautiful: An American Ambulance Driver in the Spanish Civil War 
by James Neugass.
New Press, 314 pp., £16.99, November 2008, 978 1 59558 427 4
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We Saw Spain Die: Foreign Correspondents in the Spanish Civil War 
by Paul Preston.
Constable, 525 pp., £9.99, June 2009, 978 1 84529 946 0
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... they were a lively, sociable couple. The fourth member of the party on that bucolic outing was George Tioli, an ‘Italian boy . . . quite a civilised and interesting person’. Tioli was a ‘child-psychologist’ according to Lois, who disapproved of all psychology, and according to Charles ‘a refugee from Fascist Italy’ who ‘pretended to be a ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: The Wyatt Continuum, 20 November 2014

... a BBC producer (she worked on the first Woman’s Hour), later a freelance journalist; his father, George Ellidge, an industrial psychologist whose life and earnings were greatly reduced by MS and confinement in a wheelchair (‘It is very odd, isn’t it?’ Wyatt remarks to O’Dair). They were an open, interested, bohemian couple, Fabian socialists with ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar , 2 June 2016

... 1937, his first year working for the French communist daily Ce Soir, he covered the coronation of George VI, turning his back on the royals to capture the event through the reactions of the crowd. He was back for Ascot in 1953, for Churchill’s funeral in 1965, for Princess Anne’s wedding in 1973, and the queen’s silver jubilee in 1977, but nothing here ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’, 12 September 2013

... by drink basis it had also created a life of physical and moral disintegration and despair.’ George Best once said that the greatest disaster of his life was that everybody he met wanted to buy him a drink. You might say, in defence of a well-meaning public, that the disaster was compounded by Best’s inability to refuse. But drinking is in many ways a ...

Petal by Petal

C.K. Stead, 27 May 1993

E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1904-1962 
edited by George Firmage.
Liveright, 1102 pp., £33, January 1993, 0 87140 145 2
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... In the Woody Allen movie Hannah and Her Sisters Eliot (Michael Caine) contrives to cross paths on a Manhattan street with his sister-in-law. Lee (Barbara Hershey), with whom he has fallen in love. He pretends to be hunting for a bookshop: she shows him the way to it and there he finds, as if by chance, E.E. Cummings’s Collected Poems, which he insists on buying for her ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... series of mergers which transformed the firm, the Routledge and Kegan Paul archive, dating back to George Routledge’s ‘railway library’ in the mid-19th century and coming forward to Wittgenstein, was deposited, on ‘permanent loan’, at nearby UCL. The Penguin and Hamish Hamilton archives are, substantially, on loan at Bristol University library, in ...

Diary

Adam Shatz: Ornette Coleman, 16 July 2015

... gave a stately reading on soprano saxophone of Coleman’s 1959 composition ‘Peace’, with Geri Allen on piano. The tenor saxophonists Joe Lovano and David Murray howled their way through Coleman’s most famous tune, ‘Lonely Woman’. There was a haunting duet between Henry Threadgill, on alto flute, and Jason Moran, on piano, and an electric dialogue ...

Yowta

Peter Jenkins, 20 December 1984

Antipolitics: An Essay 
by George Konrad, translated by Richard Allen.
Quartet, 243 pp., £8.95, August 1984, 0 7043 2472 5
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... Europe – has a destiny that anticipates the destiny of Europe in general. The Hungarian writer George Konrad makes a similar point although he makes it more politically than Kundera. The Czech novelist is telling us that our culture is at risk, in that its fate is bound up with that of Central Europe: Konrad’s point is that we cannot expect peace as long ...

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