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Valet of the Dolls

Andrew O’Hagan: Sinatra, 24 July 2003

Mr S.: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra 
by George Jacobs and William Stadiem.
Sidgwick, 261 pp., £16.99, June 2003, 0 283 07370 5
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... finding instant and compelling evidence to prove he was a complete nightmare. Yet this book by George Jacobs, who was Sinatra’s valet for 15 years, might be understood to be wired in a whole new way: it is perhaps the ultimate diatribe by the disgruntled ex-staffer; a new high point (or low point) in a super-readable genre that should surely be ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Valets, 10 September 2009

... rivals. If you were looking for a rival almost in his exact class, you’d have to mention George Jacobs, valet to Frank Sinatra, who made his name, and unmade Frank’s to a small degree, by detailing his boss’s general dexterity when it came to smashing up a hotel room. Another rival would be Ernest A. Forssgren, Proust’s Swedish valet, a ...

Where are all the people?

Owen Hatherley: Jane Jacobs, 26 July 2017

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs 
by Robert Kanigel.
Knopf, 512 pp., £34, September 2016, 978 0 307 96190 7
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Vital Little Plans: The Short Works of Jane Jacobs 
edited by Samuel Zipp and Nathan Storring.
Random House, 544 pp., £16.99, October 2016, 978 0 399 58960 7
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... of real estate and cash-poor councils were taken into consideration, and that reason is: Jane Jacobs says no. This injunction can be traced back to the epiphany Jacobs experienced as a freelance journalist in Philadelphia in the mid-1950s when she visited new housing estates and old ‘slums’ with the city planner ...

If my sister’s arches fall

Laura Jacobs: Agnes de Mille, 5 October 2016

Dance to the Piper 
by Agnes de Mille.
NYRB, 368 pp., £11.99, February 2016, 978 1 59017 908 6
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... The​ 1940s was the generative decade for American dance. George Balanchine, who was inching towards the founding of the New York City Ballet in 1948, produced eight works for other companies. Antony Tudor moved to New York from London in 1940 and quickly created two visions of psychosexual implosion, Pillar of Fire and Undertow ...

Town-Cramming

Christopher Turner: Cities, 6 September 2001

Cities for a Small Country 
by Richard Rogers and Anne Power.
Faber, 310 pp., £14.99, November 2000, 0 571 20652 2
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Urban Futures 21: A Global Agenda for 21st-Century Cities 
by Peter Hall and Ulrich Pfeiffer.
Spon, 384 pp., £19.99, July 2000, 0 415 24075 1
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... on out-of-town sites. The theoretical origins of this urban renaissance are to be found in Jane Jacobs’s The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961). When Rogers and Power write of a major shift in attitude in the 1960s, ‘against clearance and new building and in favour of inner-city renovation and the protection of traditional communities’, it ...

Diary

John Bayley: On V.S. Pritchett, the Man of Letters, 30 January 1992

... modified circumstances. Pritchett understands this. He observes in passing as he writes about George Eliot that now ‘we do not wish to be better than we are but more fully what we are.’ Most of us, perhaps, but not all, and certainly not all readers of novels. His droll precisions – as when he writes of W.W. ...

Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 1 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... take on this touchy matter is provided by Sinatra’s long-time (African-American) valet, George Jacobs. In his immensely entertaining memoir Mr S: The Last Word on Frank Sinatra (2003), he defends Sinatra and the other Rat Pack roustabouts, and says the only people he ever got a real nasty sizzle of racism from were a few Mafia bosses, and the ...

The Girl Who Waltzes

Laura Jacobs: George Balanchine, 8 October 2014

Balanchine and the Lost Muse: Revolution and the Making of a Choreographer 
by Elizabeth Kendall.
Oxford, 288 pp., £22.99, August 2013, 978 0 19 995934 1
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... In 1973​ , when George Balanchine was asked by his biographer Bernard Taper to appraise the previous decade of his life, he replied: ‘It’s all in the programmes.’ He meant that the most important information was already onstage: in the new ballets he made, the old ones he revived and the dancers he chose to perform them ...

A History of Disappointment

Jackson Lears: Obama’s Parents, 5 January 2012

The Other Barack: The Bold and Reckless Life of President Obama’s Father 
by Sally Jacobs.
Public Affairs, 336 pp., £20, July 2011, 978 1 58648 793 5
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A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother 
by Janny Scott.
Riverhead, 384 pp., £18.99, May 2011, 978 1 59448 797 2
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... meant to play by the same Washington rules that created the policy disasters he inherited from George W. Bush. Obama had retreated into politics as usual. He never looked back. One did not have to be a sentimental utopian to be disappointed. In domestic affairs, Obama’s obeisance to the Washington consensus led him to abandon the bold approach he ...

Dear Mole

Julian Barnes, 23 January 1986

Flaubert and Turgenev: A Friendship in Letters 
translated by Barbara Beaumont.
Athlone, 197 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 485 11277 9
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... largely complete, is probably the third most important exchange after those with Louise Colet and George Sand; and it comes from the mellower end of Flaubert’s tonal spectrum. The letters to Louise are almost wholly combative: he fights against being in love with her, he fights against seeing her (true lovers, he informed her, can go ten years without ...

Sisters

John Sutherland, 4 June 1981

Tit for Tat 
by Verity Bargate.
Cape, 167 pp., £5.95, April 1981, 0 224 01908 2
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Watching Me, Watching You 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 208 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 340 25600 1
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Maggie Muggins 
by Keith Waterhouse.
Joseph, 220 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 7181 2014 0
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Mr Lonely 
by Eric Morecambe.
Eyre Methuen, 189 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 413 48170 0
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... novelist simply mimics the dominant male practitioner – even to the length of calling herself George. Second is feminist fiction, where the strongest impulse is protest. Third comes ‘female’ writing, in which the main impulse is to investigate the condition of womanhood without any overt point-making. Bargate’s fiction is interestingly poised at the ...

Anglicana

Peter Campbell, 31 August 1989

A Particular Place 
by Mary Hocking.
Chatto, 216 pp., £12.95, June 1989, 0 7011 3454 2
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The House of Fear, Notes from Down Below 
by Leonora Carrington.
Virago, 216 pp., £10.99, July 1989, 1 85381 048 7
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Painted Lives 
by Max Egremont.
Hamish Hamilton, 205 pp., £11.95, May 1989, 0 241 12706 8
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The Ultimate Good Luck 
by Richard Ford.
Collins Harvill, 201 pp., £11.95, July 1989, 0 00 271853 7
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... can seem, by comparison, over-fleshed. In her introductory essay, Marina Warner mentions W.W. Jacobs, James Stephens, Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear and Harry Graham: a reading-list which suggests a mix of the commonsensical and the fantastical which consorts easily with the insect-headed humans and other macabre juxtapositions of Max Ernst’s collage ...

Propaganda of the Deed

Steve Fraser: Emma Goldman, 26 February 2009

Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol I: Made for America, 1890-1901 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 659 pp., $35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07541 4
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Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol. II: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 641 pp., £35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07543 8
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... court injunctions and hurling makeshift weapons at advancing militiamen from behind barricades. George Pullman was so sure that labour insurgents would desecrate his corpse that he left instructions for his lead-lined casket to be covered with tar paper and asphalt and deposited in a vault made of concrete and reinforced steel. Small conspiratorial ...

Haddock blows his top

Christopher Tayler: Hergé’s Redemption, 7 June 2012

Hergé: The Man who Created Tintin 
by Pierre Assouline, translated by Charles Ruas.
Oxford, 276 pp., £9.99, October 2011, 978 0 19 983727 4
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Hergé, Son of Tintin 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Tina Kover.
Johns Hopkins, 394 pp., £15.50, November 2011, 978 1 4214 0454 7
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... speech bubbles, a recent US export which the editors at Le Boy-Scout had disliked. Influenced by George McManus, an American cartoonist whose way with noses Hergé particularly admired, the first Petit Vingtième strips are strange to look at now. Tintin’s instantly identifiable outline – the reason he wore plus-fours for so long – isn’t yet in ...

Goddesses and Girls

Nicholas Penny, 2 December 1982

... Medici Venus was admired, as the Cnidian statue had been, in alarming ways. The bibliophile Henry George Quin, for instance, records in his diary (extracts of which were published in an amusing article by Arthur Rau in the Book Collector in 1964) how, in the winter of 1785, he ‘stole’ into the Tribuna of the Uffizi in Florence when no one was there and ...

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