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Luke Hughes: The ghosts of Everest

20 July 2000
Ghosts of Everest: The Authorised Story of the Search for Mallory & Irvine 
by Jochen Hemmleb and Larry Johnson.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £20, October 1999, 9780333783146
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Lost on Everest: The Search for Mallory and Irvine 
by Peter Firstbrook.
BBC, 244 pp., £16.99, September 1999, 0 563 55129 1
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The Last Climb: The Legendary Everest Expeditions of George Mallory 
by David Breashears and Audrey Salkeld.
National Geographic, 240 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 7922 7538 1
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... Everest has to date sold more than 26,000 copies through Amazon.com alone. Of its authors, Jochen Hemmleb is an Everest junkie who collects Mallory marginalia with the obsession of a train-spotter, LarryJohnson is a publishing consultant specialising in the marketing of outdoor books, and Eric Simonson is a professional mountain guide who has led more than seventy high altitude expeditions, seven to ...

The President’s Alternate

Fredrik Logevall: Bobby Kennedy

17 May 2017
Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon 
by Larry​ Tye.
Ballantine, 624 pp., £15.58, May 2017, 978 0 8129 8350 0
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... racial healing and social justice to America. It’s a powerful idea, even if it depends on a surviving RFK winning the Democratic nomination and then the presidential election, and it animates Larry Tye’s absorbing new biography. In the current American political moment, with its corrosive polarisation and its deep and pervasive cynicism about politics and politicians, even normally sober ...

Mixed Up

Joanna Kavenna: In the génocidaire’s wake

3 March 2005
The Optimists 
by Andrew Miller.
Sceptre, 313 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 9780340825129
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... his ‘small flat in London’, where he lives next door to Mr Bequa – ‘whose clothes carried their own atmosphere of black tobacco and failed cooking’ – and works as an underpaid translator; Larry from a drugs marathon in LA, where he has been a successful TV actor, though his fortunes are now faded and his marriage has collapsed. Through Alec and Larry, Miller develops a wider opposition ...
18 November 1993
New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... and idealism is empty. Jack Kennedy is alive. Martin Luther King is alive. Bobby Kennedy is alive. James Baldwin is alive. Janis Joplin is alive. Jack Kerouac is alive. Jimi Hendrix is alive. Lyndon Johnson is alive. James Jones is alive. Jim Morrison and Robert Penn Warren are alive. Richard Nixon is dead; and a Soviet-bloc skier named Ivana Trump – someone overhears Sixties psychic Jeanne Dixon ...

Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens

21 July 1994
Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... and they, like his accomplishments, are part of his life and record. But the enduring lesson of Richard Nixon is that he never gave up being part of the action and passion of his times.’ As Dr Johnson correctly and humanely observed, a man is not under oath when delivering a funeral oration. But as Kissinger himself brushed away a tear, this ceremony took on more the aspect of a Central Committee ...
21 February 2002
China and the Vietnam Wars 1950-75 
by Qiang Zhai.
North Carolina, 304 pp., $49.95, April 2000, 0 8078 4842 5
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None so Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam 
by George Allen.
Ivan Dee, 296 pp., $27.50, October 2001, 1 56663 387 7
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No Peace, No Honour: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam 
by Larry​ Berman.
Free Press, 334 pp., $27.50, November 2001, 0 684 84968 2
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... of America’s population – a military miracle – or, even more shameful, the US abandoned a small ally it had solemnly sworn to defend. ‘If we are driven from the field in Vietnam,’ President Johnson had pledged in July 1965, ‘then no nation can ever have the same confidence in American promises or American protection. We will stand in Vietnam.’ Uncomfortable precedents indeed for America’s ...

Mad to Be Saved

Thomas Powers: The Kerouac Years

25 October 2012
The Voice Is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac 
by Joyce Johnson.
Viking, 489 pp., £25, September 2012, 978 0 670 02510 7
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... his first two wives and four occasional lovers – either wrote books about him or were the subject of books. Glassman was the first with a memoir and now, writing under her married name as Joyce Johnson, has added a second, more substantial account. Kerouac’s friend and champion Allen Ginsberg, who longed to be his lover as well, kept a journal famous for its bulk. Many of Kerouac’s friends ...

Doctor Feelgood

R.W. Johnson

3 March 1988
Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home 
by Garry Wills.
Heinemann, 488 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 434 86623 7
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... same group would take over power again just six years later – but this is exactly what happened. Reagan re-installed such Nixon stalwarts as Haig, Shultz, Weinberger and Casey, while Ed Meese and Larry Speakes gave imitations of John Mitchell and Ron Ziegler which had all but the cognoscenti fooled. This time, however, there were no residual concessions to the Eastern Establishment – no Harvard ...

End of an Elite

R.W. Johnson

21 March 1996
Slovo: The Unfinished Autobiography 
by Joe Slovo.
Hodder, 253 pp., £18.99, February 1996, 0 340 66566 1
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... the affectionate pictures he paints of the characters of the Jewish Left are recognisably family portraits, such as that of the Trotskyist leader, Itchke Skikne, who could never forgive his brother Larry for deserting ‘our great cause’ to become the millionaire film actor, Laurence Harvey. (Slovo doesn’t mention him but Sid James, of Carry On and Honcock’s Half-Hour fame, came out of much the ...

Between centuries

Frank Kermode

11 January 1990
In the Nineties 
by John Stokes.
Harvester, 199 pp., £17.50, September 1989, 0 7450 0604 3
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Olivia Shakespear and W.B. Yeats 
by John Harwood.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 333 42518 9
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Letters to the New Island 
by W.B. Yeats, edited by George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer.
Macmillan, 200 pp., £45, November 1989, 0 333 43878 7
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The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson: The ‘Little Review’ Correspondence 
edited by Thomas Scott, Melvin Friedman and Jackson Bryer.
Faber, 368 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 571 14099 8
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Ezra Pound and Margaret Cravens: A Tragic Friendship, 1910-1912 
edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo.
Duke, 181 pp., £20.75, January 1989, 0 8223 0862 2
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Postcards from the End of the World: An Investigation into the Mind of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna 
by Larry​ Wolff.
Collins, 275 pp., £15, January 1990, 0 00 215171 5
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Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age 
by Modris Eksteins.
Bantam, 396 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 593 01862 1
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Esprit de Corps: The Art of the Parisian Avant-Garde and the First World War, 1916-1925 
by Kenneth Silver.
Thames and Hudson, 506 pp., £32, October 1989, 0 500 23567 8
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... it was and is to add to the unthinkably vast piles of unread, unremembered novels; hers are discussed here, but it is for her association with Yeats that she is now remembered. A cousin of Lionel Johnson, she was married to the much older, and apparently very dull, Hope Shakespear. Yeats met Olivia at a Yellow Book dinner in 1894. He was 29, she a couple of years older. The nervous hesitations ...

Maybe he made it up

Terry Eagleton: Faking It

6 June 2002
The Forger’s Shadow: How Forgery Changed the Course of Literature 
by Nick Groom.
Picador, 351 pp., £20, April 2002, 9780330374323
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... he maintained, Moore’s Irish Melodies were imitations, and generously acknowledged that some of Moore’s ‘plagiarisms’ were almost as fine as the originals. Moore’s poem Lalla Rookh (or ‘Larry O’Rourke’, as one Englishwoman misheard the title), originally appeared in the Mogul language in the audience chamber of the King of Delhi, so Mahony earnestly claimed. Mahony’s anti-plagiarist ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties

4 June 1998
Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... part memoir, part documentary record, begins with her writer parents and the people she met in their living room in New York: Edmund Wilson, James Thurber, Walker Evans, James M. Cain, Nunnally Johnson, S.J. Perelman, Dawn Powell, Joseph Mitchell and John O’Hara. Many of these celebrated figures, artists and authors approaching fifty at the start of the decade or only lately past it, grew up in ...

Oswaldworld

Andrew O’Hagan

14 December 1995
Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 791 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 316 87620 8
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... odd partners in the worlds of show and tell – had not always got on. ‘When it comes to lying,’ Mailer warbled to gossip-columnist Liz Smith of the New York Daily News in the mid-Eighties, ‘Larry Schiller makes Baron von Munchausen look like George Washington.’ Yet at the beginning of this new book there is an appreciation: ‘to Larry Schiller, my skilled and wily colleague in interview ...

Bland Fanatics

Pankaj Mishra: Liberalism and Colonialism

3 December 2015
On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present 
by Alan Ryan.
Penguin, 1152 pp., £14.99, September 2013, 978 0 14 028518 5
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Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism 
by Larry​ Siedentop.
Penguin, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 0 14 100954 4
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Liberalism: The Life of an Idea 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 496 pp., £16.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 16839 5
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An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzō and a New Liberal Order in East Asia 1905-37 
by Jung-Sun Ni Han.
Harvard, 244 pp., £29.95, March 2013, 978 0 674 06571 0
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... subjugated by British, French and American imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. Contradictions and elisions haunted the rhetoric of liberalism from the beginning. ‘How is it,’ Samuel Johnson asked about secession-minded American colonists, ‘that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?’ John Stuart Mill credited India’s free-trading British overlords with ...

Rising Moon

R.W. Johnson

18 December 1986
L’Empire Moon 
by Jean-Francois Boyer.
La Découverte, 419 pp., August 1986, 2 7071 1604 1
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The Rise and Fall of the Bulgarian Connection 
by Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead.
Sheridan Square, 255 pp., $19.95, May 1986, 0 940380 07 2
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... was to culminate in Reagan’s election in 1980. Rising Tide was warmly greeted by Barry Goldwater and its columns featured articles by such luminaries of the conservative movement as Congressman Larry McDonald (head of the John Birch Society), Fred and Phyllis Schafly, Ray Cline (former deputy-director of the CIA), General Daniel Graham (now leader of the High Frontier – i.e. Star Wars – lobby ...

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