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What a Ghost Wants

Michael Newton: Laurent Binet

8 November 2012
by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.
Harvill Secker, 336 pp., £16.99, May 2012, 978 1 84655 479 7
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... of rebellion is depicted in many novels and films, from Hans Fallada’s Alone in Berlin to Michael Verhoeven’s The White Rose. Stauffenberg and the other conspirators of July 1944 understood that their plan to murder Hitler and stage a coup was unlikely to come off. Instead of success, there would be the recorded fact that they had tried. They played ...

At the White House’s Whim

Tom Bingham: The Power of Pardon

26 March 2009
... observers with a mixture of incredulity and bewilderment. One thinks, for example, of the pardon granted by President Ford to his predecessor in 1974: Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States . . . do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offences against the United ...

Who speaks for the state?

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Brexit in Court

1 December 2016
... the law as it stood before Miller, this second argument could succeed only if the ECA actually did grant rights. It probably doesn’t. The United Kingdom has agreed to a series of European treaties, from the Treaty of Rome (1957) to Maastricht (1997) to Lisbon (2007). Individuals’ rights – such as the right to work in any country in Europe, to tariff-free ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Prestige’

14 December 2006
directed by Christopher Nolan.
October 2006
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... with the glass of milk?’ Hitchcock asks, thinking of a famous moment in Suspicion where Cary Grant may or may not have poisoned Joan Fontaine’s evening drink. ‘I put a light in the milk.’ Truffaut responds: ‘You mean a spotlight on it?’ Hitchcock says: ‘No, I put a light right inside the glass because I wanted it to be luminous.’ He wanted ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy

19 April 2017
... theme, and it is not just Benn himself who is drawn to the flame. Eric Heffer, Audrey Wise, Michael Meacher, Ken Livingstone and others feature in earnest discussions about whether the time is right for another attempt to capture the flag and how the forces are assembled. The votes of the unions and the membership seem to allow the possibility that the ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt

6 June 2002
Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... and Nixon in three (1987-91). And though William McFeely won a Pulitzer Prize for his Grant (1981), that did not deter Jean Edward Smith from publishing a massive new Grant (2001), which some politicians have been reading with furtive pleasure because it finds that Gilded Age Administration less corrupt than had ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Alastair Campbell, Good Bloke

18 March 2004
... hundreds of thrusting young Fabians and other ambitious New Labour apparatchiks, not to mention Michael Portillo – with just one heroic heckler. She tolerated the cant for well over an hour, her reticence finally breaking when Campbell said that there are good people who go into politics, and bad people: ‘Like you, Campbell, you lying bastard,’ she ...

Short Cuts

Chase Madar: Human Rights Window Dressing

1 July 2015
... on human rights in the reworked US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Or Michael Posner, the founder of Human Rights First, now a business professor at NYU, who, as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour in Obama’s first term, helped bury the Goldstone Report, commissioned by the United Nations to ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones

4 April 1985
The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... For 27 years Michael Wharton has written the ‘Peter Simple’ column in the Daily Telegraph. He was only 43 when he secured this good, steady job and now he has published an autobiographical account of his 43 apprentice years – dissident, drifting, bohemian years, marked by a lack of will-power, what the Greeks called aboulia ...
7 February 1991
Them: Voices from the Immigrant Community in Contemporary Britain 
by Jonathon Green.
Secker, 421 pp., £16.99, October 1990, 0 436 20005 8
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The Golden Thread: Asian Experiences of Post-Raj Britain 
by Zerbanoo Gifford.
Pandora, 236 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 04 440605 3
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... A series of Immigration Acts was passed, dividing families, stemming the flow. Most of the migrant workers had originally meant to stay a few years; go back with some money. But it didn’t often work out that way. Most of them stayed. Jonathon Green’s book is not easy reading, nor can it have been intended to be. He has interviewed 103 ...

Viscounts Swapping Stories

Michael Wood: Jacques Derrida

1 November 2001
The Work of Mourning 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault.
Chicago, 272 pp., £16, July 2001, 0 226 14316 3
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A Taste for the Secret 
by Jacques Derrida and Maurizio Ferraris, translated by Giacomo Donis.
Polity, 161 pp., £13.99, May 2001, 0 7456 2334 4
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... the pieces are published here in English for the first time. The editors, Pascale-Anne Brault and Michael Naas, are sensitive to what might be ‘impolitic’ or ‘morbid’ about such a collection, but their introduction amply and lucidly justifies their assembly of these works, and the only snag with the book as a whole is that it makes certain rhetorical ...

Is it a crime?

P.N. Furbank

6 June 1985
Peterley Harvest: The Private Diary of David Peterley 
edited by Michael Holroyd.
Secker, 286 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 436 36715 7
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... Reprint Library, with (as readers of the London Review of Books will know) an Introduction by Michael Holroyd, which identifies ‘David Peterley’ as an artistic fiction and argues a persuasive case for the book’s worth and raison d’être. Let me dwell a moment or two on the ‘crime’ aspect. Publishers like to exploit the weakness for mystery of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Synecdoche, New York’

11 June 2009
Synecdoche, New York 
directed by Charlie Kaufman.
April 2009
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... with over an infinite amount of time. It may be that everything that follows from his getting the grant is a dream – it may be that his getting the award is a dream – but it scarcely matters, since this is a dream he never leaves, and we never see its outside. His grand plan is to make a play out of his whole life, and once he has rented or bought the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The International’, ‘Duplicity’

9 April 2009
The International 
directed by Tom Twyker.
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directed by Tony Gilroy.
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... is more convincing in this role than Clive Owen, and the whole caper really needs actors like Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, and generally people who talk faster. But both Roberts and Owen are likeable, and Gilroy’s nifty direction provides some of the pace they can’t supply. The attraction of the film, as it is of the first half of The International, is ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Some Like It Hot’

22 November 2018
... keep falling for saxophone players, including one who is disguised as a millionaire played by Cary Grant? Her own answer in the film, given tapping the side of her head, is that she is not very bright. The truth is she knows what she wants and is waiting for the right wrong man. Her supposed weakness is a conscious fidelity to who she is, and this perspective ...

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