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Sino-Americana

Perry Anderson

9 February 2012
Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China 
by Ezra Vogel.
Harvard, 876 pp., £29.95, September 2011, 978 0 674 05544 5
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On China 
by Henry Kissinger.
Allen Lane, 586 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 1 84614 346 5
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The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China 
by Jay Taylor.
Harvard, 736 pp., £14.95, April 2011, 978 0 674 06049 4
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... by servility or opportunism. Books of more spirit have been, and continue to be, written within its limiting framework. A case in point is a study that can be read as a pendant to Vogel’s, JayTaylor’s biography of Chiang Kai-shek, The Generalissimo. In many ways, the starting points are close. Taylor too is a former official, a career diplomat in the intelligence apparatus of the State ...

Audrey and Her Sisters

Wayne Koestenbaum

18 September 1997
Audrey Hepburn 
by Barry Paris.
Weidenfeld, 454 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 297 81728 0
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... points that most fascinate me are relations between Hepburn and other female luminaries, including Colette, Edith Head, Deborah Kerr, Leslie Caron, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Marni Nixon, Julie Andrews, Mia Farrow, Jeanne Moreau, Merle Oberon, Capucine and Cher. I could advance a lesbian interpretation of Audrey Hepburn’s oeuvre, though that is not my present aim ...

Slices of Cake

Gilberto Perez: Alfred Hitchcock

19 August 1999
Hitchcock’s Secret Notebooks: An Authorised and Illustrated Look Inside the Creative Mind of Alfred Hitchcock 
by Dan Auiler.
Bloomsbury, 567 pp., £20, May 1999, 0 7475 4490 5
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... found unacceptable; then the little-known Alec Coppel, who met Hitchcock every day for months but whose script, though closer to what he was after, still didn’t satisfy him; and finally Samuel Taylor, recommended because he came from San Francisco, where Hitchcock had decided the film should be set. It was Taylor who proposed giving away the solution to the mystery halfway through the film. This ...
24 September 1992
Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... seems not to know’. The publisher’s blurb laconically informs us that Bradbury lives in Norwich and ‘travels a good deal.’ In form, Doctor Criminale is an old-fashioned quest novel. Francis Jay, a young British journalist – trained in deconstruction and cultural politics at Sussex – is left high and dry when his paper (evidently the ill-fated Sunday Correspondent) folds. Following a ...

The Irish Savant’s Problem

Julian Bell: Diderot on Blindness

21 June 2012
Blindness and Enlightenment: An Essay 
by Kate Tunstall.
Continuum, 238 pp., £17.99, August 2011, 978 1 4411 1932 2
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... I don’t suppose the premises involved in this peculiar form of ‘theatre’ were either more or less confused in 18th-century Europe, when townspeople flocked to watch the oculists perform. John Taylor was the superstar of sight restoration, taking his show around England, Germany, Italy and France: many purblind celebrities would be subjected to his oratorical preambles (I quote from one above ...

Diary

Inigo Thomas: Michael Wolff’s Book Party

8 February 2018
... in the Trump universe. And as a result, everybody treated me like someone they could talk to.Journalistically, what more could you wish for? ‘It was gold,’ as Joan Didion would say. The historian Taylor Branch visited Bill Clinton secretly at the White House once a month in the 1990s. On his first visit, in the spring of 1993, maxims and epigrams were flying about the place. Bill was quoting ...

Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison

4 June 1987
Labour People, Leaders and Lieutenants: Hardie to Kinnock 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 370 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 19 822929 1
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J. Ramsay MacDonald 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 276 pp., £19.50, June 1987, 0 7190 2168 5
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Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical 
by Patricia Romero.
Yale, 334 pp., £17.50, March 1987, 0 300 03691 4
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Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst 
by Barbara Castle.
Penguin, 159 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008761 3
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... of biographies will fertilise the debate. Its clear style promises the first essential: plenty of readers. Most of its 27 biographies originated as book reviews and – in the tradition set by A.J.P. Taylor – they reappear without footnotes or full scholarly apparatus, though with a substantial ‘Select Bibliography’. The newcomer gets double value from a book of this kind, for it combines ...

Many Andies

Andrew O’Hagan

16 October 1997
Shoes, Shoes, Shoes 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 35 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2319 4
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Style, Style, Style 
by Andy Warhol.
Bulfinch Press, 30 pp., $10.95, May 1997, 0 8212 2320 8
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Who is Andy Warhol? 
edited by Colin MacCabe, Mark Francis and Peter Wollen.
BFI, 162 pp., £40, May 1997, 9780851705880
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All Tomorrow’s Parties: Billy Name’s Photographs of Andy Warhol’s Factory 
by Billy Name.
frieze, 144 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 9527414 1 5
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The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night 
by Anthony Haden-Guest.
Morrow, 404 pp., $25, April 1996, 9780688141516
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... boy was not the type to bandy words with a world that was bankrupt, and in time he’d find better uses for insanity. But first he wanted to be rich. Warhol’s attitude to money was a cross between Jay Gatsby’s and Holly Golightly’s – he yearned for the world where money allowed you to be whoever you wanted to be, where money was confidence and confidence was character, and where each day was ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee

7 September 2006
‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... of the husbands and fathers he admires in the tenant households. In A Death in the Family, the same question underlies the instructions and acknowledgments that pass between members of the family of Jay Follet on the day after his death. Rufus, the son, wants to believe that his father was good, and he comes to believe it, over the murmur of voices with hints and rumours that he was a drinker and a ...
5 June 1997
...  achieved by the simple, but effective, technique of failing to inform the Ministry of Defence in advance. Then there was the cancellation of the deportation order against the adopted Nepalese, Jay Khadka, by – of all people – Jack Straw. Within a few days, hospital closures had been suspended, as had the privatisation of High Street post offices. None of it earth-shattering, much of it ...

Darling Clem

Paul Addison

17 April 1986
Clement Attlee 
by Trevor Burridge.
Cape, 401 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 224 02318 7
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The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940-1945 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape in association with the London School of Economics, 913 pp., £40, February 1986, 9780224020657
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Loyalists and Loners 
by Michael Foot.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 00 217583 5
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... bankers. Businessmen were roped into ministries dealing with production and supply. Dalton himself, with an eye to party politics, recruited able young socialists like Hugh Gaitskell and Douglas Jay. The diaries reveal the many points of conflict between the career Civil Service and the outsiders. There were quarrels about honours: were the temporaries entitled to them? And there were ...
22 November 1990
Friends in High Places: Who runs Britain? 
by Jeremy Paxman.
Joseph, 370 pp., £16.99, September 1990, 0 7181 3154 1
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The Sunday Times Book of the Rich 
by Philip Beresford.
Weidenfeld, 336 pp., £18.95, October 1990, 0 297 81115 0
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...  the Establishment – and succeeded in denting it without, however, permanently replacing it. The term ‘Establishment’, in its secular modern sense, seems to have originated with A.J.P. Taylor in 1953. He stretched its provenance from the Established Church to cover the governing classes in general. What Henry Fairlie did two years later in a famous article in the Spectator was to gloss ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson

7 September 2016
Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... from a recession in America. As the ailing chancellor, Stafford Cripps, convalesced in a Swiss clinic, the key decisions fell to Wilson and two inexperienced colleagues, Hugh Gaitskell and Douglas Jay. He responded to their calm assurance with a calculating vacillation that laid the basis for a lasting distrust, even as devaluation was agreed on and announced in September 1949. The economy ...

Princely Pride

Jonathan Steinberg: Emperor Frederick III

10 May 2012
Our Fritz: Emperor Frederick III and the Political Culture of Imperial Germany 
by Frank Lorenz Müller.
Harvard, 340 pp., £33.95, October 2011, 978 0 674 04838 6
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... not to feel a pang of regret that such a courageous figure didn’t come to power while he had the youth and energy to make a difference. But regrets of that sort, at lost opportunities, what A.J.P. Taylor called turning points where Germany ‘failed to turn’, afflict every student of the country. Every spring, no matter how eloquent my lectures, Hitler comes to power and doom follows. How many ...

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