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What do you know about Chekhov?

Keith Kyle, 19 December 1985

Aquarium 
by Viktor Suvorov, translated by David Floyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 249 pp., £10.95, June 1985, 0 241 11545 0
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Breaking with Moscow 
by Arkady Shevchenko.
Cape, 278 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 224 02804 9
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Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History since 1917 
by Stephen Cohen.
Oxford, 222 pp., £15, May 1985, 0 19 503468 6
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Rise and Fall 
by Milovan Djilas.
Macmillan, 424 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 333 39791 6
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Tito’s Flawed Legacy: Yugoslavia and the West 1939-1984 
by Nora Beloff.
Gollancz, 287 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 575 03668 0
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... If my assessment of what is going on is correct, then you will have to go through very serious examinations. If you wish to pass them you must always be yourself. There is something crooked, something faulty about you. Don’t try to conceal it.’ ‘I am not going to conceal it.’ ‘And be good and kind. Always be good. All your life. Promise me?’ ‘I promise ...

Haig speaks back

Keith Kyle, 17 May 1984

Caveat 
by Alexander Haig.
Weidenfeld, 367 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 9780297783848
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... Considering how essential one might suppose it to be that the President who is in charge of American foreign policy and the Secretary of State who heads the department which specialises in it should not only get on well but be able, under the pressure of competing crises, to operate in almost telepathic harmony with one another, it is remarkable how seldom a new President’s choice of his senior cabinet member is made on more than casual acquaintance ...

Passionate Purposes

Keith Kyle, 6 September 1984

Cyprus 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Quartet, 192 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 7043 2436 9
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The Cyprus Dispute and the Birth of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 
by Necati Ertekun.
K. Rustem, Nicosia, PO Box 239, Lefkosa, via Mersin 10, Turkey, 507 pp., £12.50
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... There used to be a type of book known as the ‘Secret History’ of some international problem. With some passion, extensive citation of material, and a somewhat self-regarding manner, such books made it apparent that there was a great deal in the way of conspiracy and intrigue that ought to be told. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt was a great practitioner of the art in the last century and in this short, sparkling and committed essay Christopher Hitchens writes in somewhat the same tradition ...

As seen on TV

Keith Kyle, 26 September 1991

From the House of War 
by John Simpson.
Hutchinson, 390 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 0 09 175034 2
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In the Eye of the Storm 
by Roger Cohen and Claudio Gatti.
Bloomsbury, 342 pp., £16.99, August 1991, 0 7475 1050 4
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... For many people the BBC Foreign Affairs Editor John Simpson, who stayed behind in Baghdad when Armageddon was scheduled to begin, was the civilian hero of the Gulf War. The only thing that may have puzzled them was his title. How could a man edit reports coming from all quarters of the globe if he deliberately isolated himself under conditions of siege? On this matter From the House of War provides little help, except for a passing reference to the author’s ‘rather empty title’, which apparently carries important psychological impact when dealing with Iraqi (and other) civil servants, perhaps pandering, in the case of the Iraqis, to their notion that the whole world ought to be edited from Baghdad ...

Lacking in style

Keith Kyle, 25 February 1993

Divided we stand: Britain, the US and the Suez Crisis 
by W. Scott Lucas.
Hodder, 399 pp., £25, September 1991, 0 340 53666 7
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Blind Loyalty: Australia and the Suez Crisis 
by W.J. Hudson.
Melbourne, 157 pp., £12.50, November 1991, 0 522 84394 8
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... The late Lord Caccia, who had the misfortune to arrive in Washington as British Ambassador in November 1956 just as the ‘special relationship’ hit its all-time low with the abrupt American-driven ceasefire on the Suez Canal, was much given in later years to recalling how flabbergasted he had been by an encounter he witnessed on the 17th of that month ...

Lines in the Sand

Keith Kyle, 7 February 1991

Saddam’s War: The Origins of the Kuwait Conflict and the International Response 
by John Bulloch and Harvey Morris.
Faber, 194 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 571 16387 4
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Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam’s War 
by Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander.
Gollancz, 352 pp., £9.99, January 1991, 0 575 05054 3
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Cambridge International Document Series: Vol. 1 The Kuwait Crisis 
edited by E. Lauterpacht, C.J. Greenwood, Mark Weller and Daniel Bethlehem.
Grotius Publication, 330 pp., £35.17, January 1991, 0 949009 86 5
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Air Power and Colonial Control 
by David Omissi.
Manchester, 260 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 7190 2960 0
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... Of all the many guises in which Saddam Hussein has appeared before the Iraqi people and the world, the most surprising was that of the great white hope of Arab moderation. Formerly known as a rejectionist – a last-ditch opponent of a negotiated Palestine settlement – he emerged in 1987, under the strains of a war against Iran which he appeared to be losing, as a charter member of what the Jordanians were describing as ‘the great moderate centre ...

The Forty Years’ Peace

Keith Kyle, 21 October 1993

The United States and the End of the Cold War: Implications, Reconsiderations and Provocations 
by John Lewis Gaddis.
Oxford, 301 pp., £19.50, July 1992, 0 19 505201 3
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Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71 
by Douglas Brinkley.
Yale, 429 pp., £22, February 1993, 0 300 04773 8
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The Quest for Stability: Problems of West European Security 1918-1957 
edited by Rolf Ahmann, A.M. Birke and Michael Howard.
Oxford, 546 pp., £50, June 1993, 0 19 920503 5
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... Early in 1983, when the newly founded Social Democratic Party was acquiring policies by holding study groups, one of these was devoted to East-West relations. At its first session a musty-looking gentleman called Sir John Lawrence proposed that we begin from the assumption that the decline of the Soviet economic system had passed the point of no-return ...

Apartheid gains a constitution

Keith Kyle, 1 May 1980

Ethnic Power Mobilised: Can South Africa change? 
by Heribert Adam.
Yale, 308 pp., £14.20, October 1979, 0 300 02377 4
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Transkei’s Half Loaf: Race Separatism in South Africa 
by Newell Stultz.
Yale, 183 pp., £10.10, October 1979, 0 300 02333 2
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Year of Fire, Year of Ash The Soweto Revolt: Roots of a Revolution? 
by Baruch Hirson.
Zed, 348 pp., £12.95, June 1979, 0 905762 28 2
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The past is another country: Rhodesia 1890-1979 
by Martin Meredith.
Deutsch, 383 pp., £9.95, October 1979, 0 233 97121 1
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... The Habsburg monarchy two decades before its total collapse might seem an odd source to go to for contemporary political solutions. But it is to that period, and above all to the writings of the Social Democratic leader (and later Austrian President) Karl Renner, that Afrikaner intellectuals are turning in their desperate search for a constitutional way out in South Africa ...

Right, Left and Centre

Jeremy Harding: Keith Kyle, 6 August 2009

... Bound for an airport in the US in the 1950s, Keith Kyle, then the Washington correspondent for the Economist, stopped off at a pharmacy, dashed in, dashed out, hailed a cab and only remembered, an hour or so later at altitude, that he’d left his own car at the store with the engine running. His posthumous memoir, Keith Kyle, Reporting the World, is about the world as he saw it, the many things it threw at him – mostly golden opportunities – and others which, despite his prodigious memory for historical detail, he simply couldn’t recall ...

Hook and Crook

Peter Clarke, 15 August 1991

Suez 
by Keith Kyle.
Weidenfeld, 656 pp., £25, May 1991, 0 297 81162 2
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... bloody awful hook-up, are you?’ This anecdote is part of the formidable mosaic of evidence which Keith Kyle has assembled in his study of the making and ending of the 1956 crisis. If there are still secrets of Suez awaiting explosive detonation, they must be well-hidden indeed to have escaped detection in the course of his relentless research, which ...

Scram from Africa

John Reader, 16 March 2000

The Politics of the Independence of Kenya 
by Keith Kyle.
Macmillan, 258 pp., £18.99, April 1999, 0 333 76098 0
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... President Jomo Kenyatta, was shot dead on a Nairobi street on Saturday, 5 July 1969. Mboya, whom Keith Kyle describes in this excellent book as ‘one of the most gifted leaders modern black Africa has yet produced’, belonged to Kenya’s second most powerful ethnic group, the Luo. The man arrested for killing him (a soldier who had undergone special ...

Oh God, can we face it?

Daniel Finn: ‘The BBC’s Irish Troubles’, 19 May 2016

The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles’: Television, Conflict and Northern Ireland 
by Robert Savage.
Manchester, 298 pp., £70, May 2015, 978 0 7190 8733 2
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... was a terrorist ‘godfather’; he denied having any links with the IRA, and the BBC reporter Keith Kyle found his story convincing (a doctor also confirmed the injuries he had received). The programme was ‘referred upwards’ to senior management in Belfast and London for approval, and held over for a fortnight to give the RUC time to ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... look at only half the story, and sometimes even less.To take an obvious example, nobody refers to Keith Kyle as a ‘collusion theorist’ because he explodes the claim that Britain, France and Israel were not acting in concert in 1956. The term ‘organised crime’, which suggests permanent conspiracy, is necessary both to understand and to prosecute a ...

High on His Own Supply

Christopher Tayler: Amis Recycled, 11 September 2003

Yellow Dog 
by Martin Amis.
Cape, 340 pp., £16.99, September 2003, 0 224 05061 3
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... at least staying still in front of it. In fact, his cultural life isn’t all that different from Keith Talent’s in London Fields – Keith Talent, who lived in a high-rise called Windsor House. Apart from the boredom, the condition of royalty is persuasively depicted in Yellow Dog as involving a mixture of media ...

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