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Sinking Giggling into the Sea

Jonathan Coe: Giggling along with Boris

18 July 2013
The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson 
edited by Harry Mount.
Bloomsbury, 149 pp., £9.99, June 2013, 978 1 4081 8352 6
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... one of its leading figures had been to Oxford or Cambridge and could, therefore, be seen to have at least a foothold in the establishment they were criticising: in the words of Cook’s biographer, Harry Thompson, these were not rebellious outsiders but ‘young men questioning a system they had been trained to lead’ and laughing at ‘the society that had reared them’.The four cast members of ...
9 May 1996
John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... assume the John Wayne role. ‘Lock’n’load’ Pat – the magic words are John Wayne’s in Sands of Iwo Jima – waves two rifles aloft at a gun show before the Arizona Presidential Primary. ‘Mount up everybody, and ride to the sound of the guns,’ says the candidate. Wearing a black cowboy hat (‘I’m the bad guy’), Buchanan is defending American borders against the ‘foreign invasion ...

Rabbit Resartus

Edward Pearce

8 November 1990
Rabbit at Rest 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 505 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 233 98622 7
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... more systematically wrong. It is the genius of Updike that he can take a weak popular medium and invest it with his own delicate understanding. The tenderness of Updike allows complexities to bloom. Harry is supposed to be a conservative, and indeed he will vote for Reagan. But he has little of the hardness, indifference or aggression of many conservatives. He is curious and without contempt, capable ...

Lucky Lad

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Harold Evans

17 December 2009
My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times – An Autobiography 
by Harold Evans.
Little, Brown, 515 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 1 4087 0203 1
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... by provincial Dissenting virtue. In this case they were literally self-helping. From selling ice cream at weekends, the Evanses opened a small corner shop and eased into modest prosperity. Although Harry didn’t make it to grammar school, he won a priceless second chance by taking the Joint Matriculation Board exams. Then it was Loreburn Business College to learn shorthand and typing, his first job ...


Christopher Prendergast: Piss where you like

17 March 2005
... by Mick O’Riordan, then general secretary of the Irish Communist Party. The second took place some months later in Dublin, where I took his ashes to be buried in a plot of unconsecrated ground in Mount Pleasant cemetery belonging to the Gannon family. Bill Gannon, many years my father’s senior, had been weaned by my father from his allegiances as an IRA gunman to the cause of revolutionary ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 2013

9 January 2014
... launching themselves into space before stepping fastidiously round the garden expecting to be fed. 16 July. A book review in the LRB by Jonathan Coe of The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson edited by HarryMount kicks off with some remarks about the so-called satire boom of the early 1960s. It recalls John Bird’s The Last Laugh, the Cambridge Footlights revue of 1959 (which I saw) and while ...

So sue me

Michael Wood

12 May 1994
A Frolic of His Own 
by William Gaddis.
Viking, 529 pp., £16, June 1994, 0 670 85553 7
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... the artist wants to dismantle it and take it away. The judge is infuriating everyone, and there are calls for his impeachment. The plot also involves Oscar’s stepsister Christina and her husband Harry, a lawyer; a socialite friend of Christina’s and her dog; a supposed lawyer who turns out to have forged his credentials; another lawyer with unbearable British manners and mannerisms. Oscar’s ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive

10 June 1999
... Greater Los Angeles last month could be taken to suggest that he is now well and truly out of his hole. Secret negotiations had apparently been going on for two years between five institutions: the Harry Ransom Research Center at Austin, Texas, the University of Southern California, UCLA, New York Public Library and the Huntington. Three of the (alleged) competitors were within a thirty-mile radius ...

Fraud Squad

Ferdinand Mount: Imposters

2 August 2007
The Tichborne Claimant: A Victorian Sensation 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Continuum, 363 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 1 85285 478 2
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A Romanov Fantasy: Life at the Court of Anna Anderson 
by Frances Welch.
Short Books, 327 pp., £14.99, February 2007, 978 1 904977 71 1
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The Lost Prince: The Survival of Richard of York 
by David Baldwin.
Sutton, 220 pp., £20, July 2007, 978 0 7509 4335 2
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... asylums. He attracted supporters from every age and class, particularly those who felt that life had given them a raw deal. He was the toast of the racecourse and the music halls. The diminutive Harry Relph began his career in blackface, as ‘Young Tichborne, the Claimant’s Bootlace’, soon to be abbreviated and immortalised as Little Tich, whence ‘tich’ and ‘tichy’ – a delicious way ...


David Bromwich: This was Orson Welles

3 June 2004
Orson Welles: The Stories of His Life 
by Peter Conrad.
Faber, 384 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 571 20978 5
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... relationships, usually rounded up to some sort of friendship, with the great producers of the day who used him as they liked but enjoyed his ambience (Jack Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck, Harry Cohn); warmer if not closer friendships with Cocteau and Renoir, Hemingway and Sinatra; and the frequent company of younger men in theatre and the movies who emulated him (Kenneth Tynan, Peter ...

Were we bullied?

Jamie Martin: Bretton Woods

21 November 2013
The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes,Harry​ Dexter White and the Making of a New World Order 
by Benn Steil.
Princeton, 449 pp., £19.95, February 2013, 978 0 691 14909 7
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... to draft plans for a new international monetary regime. Over the course of several meetings from the summer of 1942, Keynes and his American counterpart, the economist and US Treasury official Harry Dexter White, traded blows over how to rewrite the monetary rules of the international economy. They made curious sparring partners: Keynes, the world-famous economist and public intellectual, pitted ...

One Cygnet Too Many

John Watts: Henry VII

26 April 2012
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 448 pp., £8.99, March 2012, 978 0 14 104053 0
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... his eldest son, Arthur, to the Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. The splendid pageants and tournaments that accompanied the match made much of the king’s achievements. They stressed the ‘rich mount’ of his prosperity, playing on the name of his father’s earldom (Richmond) and his own new palace by the Thames; his likeness to God on earth; the fusing of the white rose and the red in his ...
7 July 1994
The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972 
by Edmund Wilson, edited by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 968 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 374 26554 2
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... McCarthy), The Sixties is brimming over with accounts of visits with and from lots of important and interesting people: Penelope Gilliatt, Lillian Hellman, Isaiah Berlin, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Harry Levin, W.H. Auden, Malraux, James Baldwin, Stravinsky, Robert Lowell etc. None of these people, however, furnishes Wilson with anything like a satisfying number of thoughtful passages in the journals ...

No one hates him more

Joshua Cohen: Franzen on Kraus

7 November 2013
The Kraus Project 
by Jonathan Franzen.
Fourth Estate, 318 pp., £18.99, October 2013, 978 0 00 751743 5
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... and when Kraus’s virtuosic, vitriolic style – halfway between Karl and Groucho – was being introduced to Anglophone readers, in translations by the Viennese refugee and Brandeis professor Harry Zohn:* Many share my views with me. But I don’t share them with them. To have talent, to be a talent: the two are always confused. Why should one artist grasp another? Does Mount Vesuvius ...

White Slaves

Christopher Driver

3 March 1983
Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight against White Slavery, 1870-1939 
by Edward Bristow.
Oxford, 340 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 19 822588 1
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Peasants, Rebels and Outcastes 
by Mikiso Hane.
Scolar, 297 pp., £12.50, October 1982, 0 85967 670 6
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... between VD abroad or malnutrition at home – and there were frequent calls from Latin America for new recruits or ‘remounts’, as they were called in a phrase that would have appealed to Sir Harry Flashman. Hersch Gottlieb, Sam Lubelski, ‘Napoleon’ Dickenfaden and other notorieties negotiated for them with agents and principals (that is, parents) at the equivalent of trade fairs in Poland ...

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