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What a Ghost Wants

Michael Newton: Laurent Binet, 8 November 2012

HHhH 
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 Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Prestige’, 14 December 2006

ThePrestige 
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 ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Lincoln’, 20 December 2012

... states, but by then Lincoln was dead, assassinated in April, six days after Lee had surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. We see both the assassination and the surrender in the movie, but the bulk of its action takes place in the weeks leading up to the January vote. There are moral dramas. Should Lincoln allow his elder son to enlist? Can he stop him? What if ...

Diary

Melanie McFadyean: In the Wrong Crowd, 24 September 2014

... that intent, even if you didn’t share it. On the afternoon of 6 August 2013 Alex Henry, Janhelle Grant-Murray, Younis Tayyib and Cameron Ferguson, all aged 20 or 21, were involved in a fight in an Ealing street. The fight lasted around forty seconds and resulted in the death from a single stab wound of 21-year-old Taqui Khezihi; his brother Bourhane, aged ...

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

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 ...

At the White House’s Whim

Tom Bingham: The Power of Pardon, 26 March 2009

... 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 States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974. Nixon himself had ...

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 ...

Stalker & Co

Damian Grant, 20 November 1986

... be felt, five of the six men who were ambushed and shot were unarmed at the time; and a sixth – Michael Tighe, shot dead in the barn – had no paramilitary connections. John Stalker’s special brief was to determine the involvement of the RUC in these events. One of the most disquieting revelations made in the press has been the degree to which the ...

The Art of Arno Schmidt

Michael Irwin, 2 October 1980

Evening Edged in Gold 
by Arno Schmidt.
Marion Boyars, 215 pp., £60, September 1980, 9780714527192
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Confessions of a Lady-Killer 
by George Stade.
Muller, 374 pp., £6.95, September 1980, 0 584 31057 9
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Seahorse 
by Graham Petrie.
Constable, 169 pp., £5.95, August 1980, 0 09 463710 5
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... or collage rather than as a novel. The parts are not fused, imaginatively or stylistically. Victor Grant, the narrator of Confessions of a Lady-Killer, is deserted by his wife after feminist friends raise her consciousness. He decides, reasonably enough, to murder the ringleaders in revenge. The early sections of the novel contain some lively satire against ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The International’, ‘Duplicity’, 9 April 2009

The International 
directed by Tom Twyker.
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Duplicity 
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: ‘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: ‘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 ...

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 ...

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