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Woman/Manly

Kristin Dombek: Kim Gordon

19 March 2015
Girl in a Band 
by Kim Gordon.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2015, 978 0 571 31383 9
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... remember about Sonic Youth was that they seemed very rigorous about what they were doing – they reminded me of the intricate, dissonant classical music I’d learned about growing up. And there was KimGordon, lined up between Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, in the middle of the huge stage, not a token girl bass player, not a riot grrrl in an angry all-girl band, but a musician among musicians ...
2 February 1989
Philby: The Life and Views of the KGB Masterspy 
by Phillip Knightley.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 233 98360 0
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Mask of Treachery: The First Documented Dossier on Blunt, MI5 and Soviet Subversion 
by John Costello.
Collins, 761 pp., £18, November 1988, 0 00 217536 3
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A Divided Life: A Biography of Donald Maclean 
by Robert Cecil.
Bodley Head, 212 pp., £15, October 1988, 0 370 31129 9
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The Storm Birds: Soviet Post-War Defectors 
by Gordon​ Brook-Shepherd.
Weidenfeld, 303 pp., £14.95, November 1988, 0 297 79464 7
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... Only at the very last did my path cross that of the Cambridge spies. It was on a warm, sunny afternoon last May at Kuntsevo Cemetery on the western outskirts of Moscow, when they buried Kim Philby. Guy Burgess had died in 1963, Anthony Blunt and Donald Maclean in 1983. Philby, however, was still alive when I started work in Moscow as the Independent’s correspondent there in early 1987 ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown

2 November 2006
... During Liars’ Week at the Labour Party Conference last month – when Gordon pretended that he still had a lot of time for Tony, on hearing which Cherie said that’s a lie, but being overheard herself had to deny she’d said any such thing, though the next day Tony more or ...

On the Game

Kathryn Tidrick

22 December 1994
Younghusband: The Last Great Imperial Adventurer 
by Patrick French.
HarperCollins, 440 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 00 215733 0
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... does anyone now remember? The heroes of Empire were never the great proconsuls, but young men representatively on the loose – James Brooke of Sarawak, John and Henry Lawrence of the Punjab, Charles Gordon, Lawrence of Arabia, William Sleeman who destroyed Thuggee, Frederick Lugard who conquered Northern Nigeria. If such men became proconsuls it often diminished rather than brightened their radiance ...

Reach-Me-Down Romantic

Terry Eagleton: For and Against Orwell

19 June 2003
George Orwell 
by Gordon​ Bowker.
Little, Brown, 495 pp., £20, May 2003, 0 316 86115 4
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Orwell: The Life 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 448 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 7011 6919 2
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Orwell: Life and Times 
by Scott Lucas.
Haus, 180 pp., £8.99, April 2003, 1 904341 33 0
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... that common sense was socialism. As if all that were not enough, he thought Henry Miller was an outstanding novelist. As judicious (though not hopelessly balanced) accounts, the new biographies by Gordon Bowker and D.J. Taylor confirm what the law of averages might have led one to suspect: some of this is true, some of it questionable and the rest of it false. (Scott Lucas, by contrast, thinks almost ...
8 February 1990
Kingdom come 
by Bernice Rubens.
Hamish Hamilton, 312 pp., £12.99, February 1990, 0 241 12481 6
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The Other Side 
by Mary Gordon.
Bloomsbury, 337 pp., £13.99, January 1990, 0 7475 0473 3
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The Alchemist 
by Mark Illis.
Bloomsbury, 244 pp., £13.95, January 1990, 0 7475 0468 7
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The way you tell them: A Yarn of the Nineties 
by Alan Brownjohn.
Deutsch, 145 pp., £11.95, January 1990, 0 233 98496 8
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... identify Bernice Rubens as a writer who can certainly divine the space between words. Making sure that nothing slips into the crevices between sentences appears to be the obsessive purpose of Mary Gordon’s family saga, The Other Side. This is the story of Ellen MacNamara, implacable, combative, Irish, tender nurse of grudges and rancours, mother and grandmother to sundry Americans who act their ...
23 September 1993
Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon 
by Tom Bower.
Heinemann, 659 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 434 07339 3
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... an early director Gerald Percy, a direct descendant of Hotspur (he had a free house too); the former MI5 officer Nicholas Elliott, whose finest hour in the British secret service was to denounce Kim Philby in time for the spy to run to Moscow; and Paul Spicer, Rowland’s devoted bagman, who is well known to every journalist who ever asked a question about Lonrho and had it suavely deflected ...

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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... etc, Henry shuttles between a series of fiendishly draughty and forbidding royal residences, the bleakest of which is called the Kyle of Tongue. The King’s right-hand man – Brendan Urquhart-Gordon, a.k.a. ‘Bugger’ – has chosen chastity over ‘the reification of his schoolyard nickname’; the King’s own nickname is ‘Hotty’, and his chief manservant is called Love. So Hotty and ...

Born to Lying

Theo Tait: Le Carré

3 December 2015
John le Carré: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Bloomsbury, 652 pp., £25, October 2015, 978 1 4088 2792 5
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... at Heathrow, who drew a handful of coins in different currencies from his pocket ‘and slammed them down on the bar, demanding a large Scotch, in … a faint Irish accent’. It will give you Kim Philby’s astute judgment on le Carré’s work: ‘Although his plots were more complicated than anything within my own experience, they were good reading after all that James Bond nonsense … ...

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