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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</a>.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing ShadowsThe 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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... The Watergate complex​ is a set of five buildings – three luxury apartment blocks, an office building and a hotel-office hybrid – built on the banks of the Potomac between 1963 and 1971 in the Foggy Bottom area of Washington DC. Its handy location between the centre of government and the traditional residences of Georgetown proved attractive to congressmen and members of the Nixon administration, who flocked to the new apartments ...
... When George Eliot died in December 1880 no one doubted that England had lost its greatest novelist. It was a reasonable expectation that she would find her place in Poets’ Corner, near the grave of Charles Dickens and the bust of Thackeray. Why has it taken a century to bring this about? In giving notice of her death her husband, John Walter Cross, who had married her in St George’s, Hanover Square, scarcely eight months before, alluded to her wish to be buried here ...

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 ...

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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... In his prime, 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 ...

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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... The woodcut below by Hans Holbein the Younger, made some time before 1526, shows clearly and succinctly what the Reformation – as far as its religious aspects can be disentangled from its political – was all about ...

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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... Free Churchmen lack either the freedom to attain, or the security to retain, the positions from which they can rub up the Establishment. One such who was to rise higher and stay longer than most was Ernest William ...

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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... surviving poems can be read in an afternoon, they represent a major achievement for someone whose life was cut short (literally: he was beheaded) at the age of 30. He invented blank verse, as well as the ‘Shakespearean’ form of the sonnet. His ...

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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... As charm is to Cary Grant, awk wardness to Jerry Lewis, vulnerability to Montgomery Clift, so malevolence is to Dennis Hopper. Very few actors specialised as Hopper did in convincing malice. Vincent Price was too camp to be really alarming, even as the witchfinder general ...

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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... Am I eccentric?’ Edward James once asked me in the days before I was added to his long list of enemies both real and imaginary. ‘I 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 ...

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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... Jonathan Swift’s last formal composition, before he slipped into the dementia that swallowed him for the last five years of his life, was his own epitaph. In May 1740 he made his will, fastidiously apportioning his property and specifying arrangements for his interment ...

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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... In 1935, Edward James, English and very rich, entered into an agreement to purchase from Salvador Dali his most important works. It was a funny sort of agreement, but it lasted until 1939 and during that period James acquired a large number of Dali’s Surrealist works, including the telephone with a lobster replacing the receiver, two of the sofas which represent Mae West’s lips, and the painting Autumn Cannibalism, depicting two ‘Iberian beings’ eating one another with the help of spoon and fork and, according to the painter, expressing the pathos of civil wa...

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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... anything more quaint than a scatological retelling of some nursery tale, or a fiction about a writer writing the fiction you are reading,’ Tobias Wolff confessed in his 1993 introduction to the Picador Book of Contemporary American Stories. ...

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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... Rich and eccentric, Edward Perry Warren was used to indulging his whims. After seeing Rodin’s The Kiss in 1900, he was determined to have a replica carved by the sculptor himself ...

At Las Pozas

Mike Jay: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden, 21 May 2020

... Edward James​ was charming, eccentric, generous and immensely wealthy. For most of his life, his greatest talent was placing himself in interesting situations, often having used his wealth to make them happen ...

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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... Criticism dates far quicker than art. That is only to be expected: just, as well as natural. Now that F.R. Leavis’s sword no longer sleeps – or rather does not sleep – in his hand, his attitudes to chosen texts are no longer inculcated, the students no longer exhorted to place themselves on the side of life by reading books that will show them ‘where life flows ...

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