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Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... accomplice or accomplices. Here the police found an address book containing a note, ‘HH WH’, next to a telephone number. The investigators quickly suspected Howard Hunt, a former CIA agent who was employed as a consultant on special activities at the White House. Evidence soon pointed to the other accomplice at the lookout, Gordon Liddy, legal ...

At the Royal Academy

Eleanor Birne: Tacita Dean, 7 June 2018

... All​ the things I am attracted to are just about to disappear,’ Tacita Dean once told Marina Warner. Dean’s three almost simultaneous new shows – at the Royal Academy, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery – are full of transient things: paintings of an ant moving across a rock; images of clouds, of decaying fruit; portraits on film of people who won’t be around much longer, or who have already died ...

Homage to Tyndale

J.B. Trapp, 17 December 1992

Tyndale’s New Testament 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 429 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04419 4
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Tyndale’s Old Testament, being the Pentateuch of 1530, Joshua to II Chronicles of 1537 and Jonah 
edited by David Daniell.
Yale, 643 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 300 05211 1
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... numbers. If, in the process, it was discovered that the famous proof-text for the Trinity in I John was attested by almost no Greek manuscripts, though it existed in all Latin texts, manuscript and printed, what was to be done? It is, says modern scholarship, probably a late interpolation, designed to combat heretical denial of the doctrine. Leave it ...

To the End of the Line

Ferdinand Mount: The Red Dean, 26 April 2012

The Red Dean of Canterbury: The Public and Private Faces of Hewlett Johnson 
by John Butler.
Scala, 292 pp., £16.95, September 2011, 978 1 85759 736 3
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... Dr Hewlett Johnson was one of the most famous men in the world. Almost from the moment he was made dean of Canterbury in 1931, he became instantly recognisable everywhere as the Red Dean. His faith in the Communist Party, and in Stalin in particular, was unshakeable. Purges and famines, executions and persecutions passed him ...

Brattishness

Colin Burrow: Henry Howard, 11 November 1999

Henry Howard, the Poet Earl of Surrey: A Life 
by W.A. Sessions.
Oxford, 448 pp., £60, March 1999, 9780198186243
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... who also had royal blood. Surrey was unimaginably grand, but was also not unjustly described by John Barlowe, Dean of Westbury as ‘the most foolish proud boy that is in England’. His actions often tread the dividing line between brattishness and defiant aristocratic singularity. In March 1543 he was hauled up before ...

Necessary Bishop

John Robinson, 3 July 1980

Ahead of his Age: Bishop Barnes of Birmingham 
by John Barnes.
Collins, 487 pp., £12.95, November 1979, 0 00 216087 0
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... to which he was nominated by Ramsay MacDonald, who also appointed Hewlett Johnson as ‘red’ Dean of Canterbury. Barnes’s career could scarcely have been more different from that of another near-contemporary who was also a scientist, theologian and prophet – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. While Teilhard worked in obscurity, wrote copiously but could ...

Plenty of Pinching

John Mullan: The Sad End of Swift, 29 October 1998

Jonathan Swift 
by Victoria Glendinning.
Hutchinson, 324 pp., £20, September 1998, 0 09 179196 0
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... o’clock at Night’ in the great aisle of Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral, where he had been Dean since 1714. A tablet of black marble was to be fixed to the wall ‘with the following Inscription in large Letters, deeply cut, and strongly gilded’: HIC DEPOSITUM EST CORPUS JONATHAN SWIFT, S.T.D. HUJUS ECCLESIAE CATHEDRALIS DECANI, UBI SAEVA INDIGNATIO ...

Zeitgeist Man

Jenny Diski: Dennis Hopper, 22 March 2012

Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel 
by Peter Winkler.
Robson, 376 pp., £18.99, November 2011, 978 1 84954 165 7
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... Hopper missed mixing it with the hard-drinking rabble-rousers, Flynn, Bogart and Sinatra, while John Wayne, with whom he acted in The Sons of Katie Elder and True Grit, called him a Communist and offered to explain why he, Wayne, ‘was worth a million per picture’. Hopper was, however, perfectly on time for the upcoming group of heroes, mumbling geniuses ...

Follies

George Melly, 4 April 1991

A Surrealist Life 
by John Lowe.
Collins, 262 pp., £18, February 1991, 0 00 217941 5
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... suppose I am, but I don’t mean to be. I’ve always tried to behave like everyone else.’ We were sitting on the platform of one of the inevitably incomplete concrete follies he was building at enormous expense on a hillside he owned by proxy in a Mexican jungle. He was wearing a poncho, while a macaw, perched on his shoulder, was pulling hairs out of ...

Haig speaks back

Keith Kyle, 17 May 1984

Caveat 
by Alexander Haig.
Weidenfeld, 367 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 9780297783848
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... of his senior cabinet member is made on more than casual acquaintance. It is well-known that John F. Kennedy met Dean Rusk for the first time when he interviewed him for the job: Reagan and Haig had seen each other three times before the Election of 1980 but on only one of these occasions, shortly before Reagan’s ...

Yes and No

John Bayley, 24 July 1986

Lionel Trilling and the Fate of Cultural Criticism 
by Mark Krupnick.
Northwestern, 207 pp., $25.95, April 1986, 0 8101 0712 0
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... Trilling word – perdurable, because founded not on mental enthusiasm but on biological need. We all need to rest, and where better to rest than in the company of cool, humouring, compassionate observers like Matthew Arnold and E.M. Forster, or of Lionel Trilling himself? Naturally if you write as if present and past were one, you tend to write about ...

Edward and Tilly and George

Robert Melville, 15 March 1984

Swans Reflecting Elephants: My Early Years 
by Edward James, edited by George Melly.
Weidenfeld, 178 pp., £8.95, July 1982, 0 297 77988 5
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... the recording had been a rush job for George, occupying four days between two singing dates with John Chilton’s Feetwarmers. Edward asked him to undertake the job because they had both been collectors of Surrealism. Edward had been a collector of Dali and Magritte on a scale that can be called patronage; George made a faultless selection of Magrittes from ...

Stifled Truth

Wyatt Mason: Tobias Wolff and fictions of the self, 5 February 2004

Old School 
by Tobias Wolff.
Bloomsbury, 195 pp., £12.99, February 2004, 0 7475 6948 7
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... Book of Contemporary American Stories. Writing fiction about a writer who is writing the fiction we are reading, Wolff would have us understand, is obscene. A writer reaching out from behind the curtain of the page to wave at the crowd undermines the enterprise: the rich illusion of reality is ruined. The writers whom Wolff esteems most – among them ...

Art and Men

Michael Shelden, 5 December 1991

Bachelors of Art: Edward Perry Warren and the Lewes House Brotherhood 
by David Sox.
Fourth Estate, 296 pp., £18.99, September 1991, 1 872180 11 6
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... could only worship that which was above one’s self.’ Such foolishness was reinforced by the Dean of New College, whose sermons were poisoned by misogyny. In a sermon delivered during Ned’s second year, the dean said of women: ‘Inferior to us God made you, and inferior to the end you will remain.’ David Sox does ...

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