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What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... for access to the details they held on him. The Sun in particular, under the editorship of Rebekah Brooks, made repeated intrusions into his private life in order to get him on the back foot. Brown calls it ‘a direct attempt to distort and suborn the policy of the government’. He accepts that the Tory press was always likely to be hostile, and that ...

So Ordinary, So Glamorous

Thomas Jones: Eternal Bowie, 5 April 2012

Starman: David Bowie, the Definitive Biography 
by Paul Trynka.
Sphere, 440 pp., £9.99, March 2012, 978 0 7515 4293 6
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s 
by Peter Doggett.
Bodley Head, 424 pp., £20, September 2011, 978 1 84792 144 4
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... over the Rainbow’, and before long was singing Yip Harburg’s lyrics as well as Harold Arlen’s tune in live performances of ‘Starman’. In creating Ziggy Stardust, Bowie was acknowledging that it was no longer possible, if it ever had been, to make ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ rock’n’roll, especially if you were a skinny ...

Magic Beans, Baby

David Runciman, 7 January 2021

A Promised Land 
by Barack Obama.
Viking, 768 pp., £35, November 2020, 978 0 241 49151 5
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... to know.’ He read Marx and Marcuse to impress a ‘long-legged socialist’, Fanon and Gwendolyn Brooks for a ‘smooth-skinned sociology major’, Foucault and Virginia Woolf to keep up with an ‘ethereal bisexual who wore mostly black’. It didn’t work. ‘As a strategy for picking up girls my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless. I found ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe, 27 September 2012

All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... Little Review; not to mention Colette, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Djuna Barnes, Romaine Brooks, Virginia Woolf, Janet Flanner, Vita Sackville-West, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Ivy Compton-Burnett, the gallery owner Betty Parsons – even the kooky, spooky, more-than-a-little-ropey Patricia Highsmith, a gothic late-life pal, intriguingly, of ...

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