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8 June 2006
Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq 
by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor.
Atlantic, 603 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 352 4
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... handiwork. To that effort, this very fine book makes an important contribution. A decade ago, Michael Gordon, a reporter with the New York Times, and Bernard Trainor, a retired US Marine Corps lieutenant general, collaborated on The Generals’ War, still perhaps the best narrative history of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. Cobra II, a worthy ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown

19 February 1998
Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... unhappy. The guiding star of his youth has entirely vanished from his firmament. In 1975 the young Gordon Brown compiled, edited and published a socialist manifesto entitled Red Paper for Scotland. At 24, he had just completed a three-year term as rector of Edinburgh University and chaired the University Court in the face of continuous opposition from some of ...

What a Woman!

J.L. Nelson: Joan of Arc

19 October 2000
Joan of Arc 
by Mary Gordon.
Weidenfeld, 168 pp., £12.99, April 2000, 0 297 64568 4
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Joan of Arc: A Military Leader 
by Kelly DeVries.
Sutton, 242 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 7509 1805 5
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The Interrogation of Joan of Arc 
by Karen Sullivan.
Minnesota, 208 pp., £30, November 1999, 0 8166 3267 7
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... The local context seems the right one to focus on at this early stage of Joan’s career. Mary Gordon is no military specialist, nor a medievalist, yet her account of Joan’s initial motivation rings true: Joan’s mission was a psychological response to the trauma of the church’s destruction and her family’s enforced flight. ...
13 June 1991
Literature and Liberation: Selected Essays 
by Arnold Kettle, edited by Graham Martin and W.R. Owens.
Manchester, 231 pp., £9.95, February 1991, 9780719027734
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... grandly the All Party Alliance, although a wit said that his only allies were Anthony Morton, Gordon Ashe, Michael Halliday and other Creasey pseudonyms.) His books were popular but not highly regarded, and this worried and baffled him. Why, he asked me once, was there thought to be so much difference between Creasey ...
22 November 1990
Leonard Bernstein 
by Joan Peyser.
Bantam, 430 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 593 01454 5
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Leonard Bernstein 
by Michael Freedland.
Harrap, 273 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 245 54499 2
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Leonard Bernstein 
by Peter Gradenwitz.
Berg, 310 pp., £15, October 1987, 0 85496 510 6
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Make the music: The Life and Work of Marc Blitzstein 
by Eric Gordon.
St Martin’s, 605 pp., $29.95, March 1989, 0 312 02607 2
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... domestic and other curtains would have been almost negligible but for one episode recounted by Michael Freed-land. As an example of what he shyly calls Bernstein’s ‘other side’ the episode has a small but central place in his book; and the fact that its real significance seems to have been lost on him only adds to the verisimilitude of his ...

Exit Humbug

David Edgar: Theatrical Families

1 January 2009
A Strange Eventful History: The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and Their Remarkable Families 
by Michael Holroyd.
Chatto, 620 pp., £25, September 2008, 978 0 7011 7987 8
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... Craig, had a career as a designer, director and producer of feminist plays; her brother, Edward Gordon Craig, acted with Irving, but became disillusioned with the English theatre and, like other maverick theatre visionaries since, moved to the Continent, where his (rare) productions and extensive theoretical writings are said to have revolutionised theatre ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Stop-Loss’

8 May 2008
Stop-Loss 
directed by Kimberly Peirce.
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... the war in Vietnam were slow in coming. Saigon fell in 1975, and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter both date from 1978. Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was 1979. In their separate ways these films were all about damage done to Americans; any damage done to others was incidental, part of some larger story that wasn’t ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter

3 November 2016
The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... left behind were that it should be used in any way possible – short of falling into the hands of Michael Winner – ‘to make money for my boys’: Mark Pearce, her second husband, and Alexander, the couple’s son, born in 1983. As Edmund Gordon says towards the beginning of his biography, Carter was never so widely ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Dark Knight’

14 August 2008
The Dark Knight 
directed by Christopher Nolan.
July 2008
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... burning only his half of the proceeds. The background to this event is an anecdote-cum-fable that Michael Caine, as the faithful servant Alfred, tells Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne. There was a bandit in Burma, apparently, who stole jewels at will from almost everyone and was never caught – because he didn’t want and didn’t keep the jewels, he just ...
28 September 1989
... often with non-publishing or foreign management at the highest level. Penguin, Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Frederick Warne and Longman – all once imprints with independent identities – now congregate within the Pearson group (best known for its ownership of the Financial Times). Random House UK (whose American parent was long since swallowed up by ...
3 April 1997
Once a Jolly Bagman: Memoirs 
by Alistair McAlpine.
Weidenfeld, 269 pp., £20, March 1997, 9780297817376
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... become obvious that the Tories were going to lose the election? Was it that golden moment when Michael Portillo, that scourge of unnecessary public spending, announced that £60m of public money was earmarked for a new yacht for the richest woman on earth – even though Her Majesty had made it plain she did not want one? Was it this deranged belief in the ...

North and South

Linda Colley

2 August 2012
... of the Union that all three are of Scottish ancestry, as is the current Conservative pretender, Michael Gove. Gordon Brown was born in Scotland, went to university there and has represented only Scottish constituencies: and this unalloyed Scottishness undoubtedly worked against him in sectors of the English media and ...

Family Values

Michael Wood

17 October 1996
The Last Don 
by Mario Puzo.
Heinemann, 482 pp., £15.99, October 1996, 0 434 60498 4
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... no legacy, to erase the blood and violence and illegality which formed his own career. This is why Michael Corleone is supposed to stay out of his father’s business, to become respectable, a senator maybe, or the governor of a state; and the whole plot of two movies concerns his reluctant, and then not so reluctant, embrace of what seems to him an ...

The Paranoid Elite

Michael Wood: DeLillo

22 April 2010
Point Omega 
by Don DeLillo.
Picador, 117 pp., £14.99, March 2010, 978 0 330 51238 1
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... to himself, in indirect speech, of watching a movie – no, not a movie, an installation, Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, a version of the famous film slowed down to two frames a second, which was in fact, a note in Point Omega tells us, on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2006. The man’s preferred spot for watching the installation is ...
30 November 1995
The New Untouchables: Immigration and the New World Worker 
by Nigel Harris.
Tauris, 256 pp., £25, October 1995, 1 85043 956 7
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The Cambridge Survey of World Migration 
edited by Robin Cohen.
Cambridge, 570 pp., £75, November 1995, 0 521 44405 5
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... press the Prime Minister to ‘play the race card’. The hawks on this subject are the two Michaels, Portillo and Howard, whose fathers were both immigrants, and Peter Lilley, whose holidays in his house in France enabled him to break into colloquial French in the course of a ludicrous comic turn about foreigners coming to this country to partake of ...

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