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Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997

New cloak, Old dagger: How Britain’s Spies Came in from the Cold 
by Michael Smith.
Gollancz, 338 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 575 06150 2
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Intelligence Power in Peace and War 
by Michael Herman.
Cambridge, 436 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 521 56231 7
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UK Eyes Alpha 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 320 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 571 17689 5
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... invested in the War Loan, to protect their finances against any postwar Labour government. As Michael Smith describes, these problems were exacerbated by the budget cuts which followed the end of hostilities. In 1919, MI5’s annual grant dropped from £100,000 to £30,000, forcing it into unsavoury alliances with the political Right. It recruited Maxwell ...

In Memory of Michael Rogin

Stephen Greenblatt, 3 January 2002

... isn’t true, at least not for me. I have had other deaths, but the death last month of my friend Michael Rogin was a shock. It’s not that we had, in recent years, spent much time together. I left Berkeley, where we taught together on the faculty of the University of California, in the mid-1990s, and almost immediately lost touch with most of my network of ...

Did You Have Bombs?

Deborah Friedell: ‘The Other Elizabeth Taylor’, 6 August 2009

The Other Elizabeth Taylor 
by Nicola Beauman.
Persephone, 444 pp., £15, April 2009, 978 1 906462 10 9
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... almost an old lady, invited two friends to luncheon in 1969 and they came on the wrong day: Herman declared Elizabeth had got it wrong and then sent what must have been a forged carbon copy of his original acceptance card ‘proving’ they had been due a day later. But Elizabeth, without ever admitting it to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Mank’, 21 January 2021

... the New Yorker, got lost in the controversy it created. One of her aims was to draw attention to Herman Mankiewicz’s role in writing the screenplay for Citizen Kane (1941), and therefore in the success of the film. But, more interestingly, she was also evoking a whole school of New York writers, for whom Mankiewicz could be made to stand representative: a ...

A Little Holiday

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Ben Hecht’s Cause, 23 September 2021

A Child of the Century 
by Ben Hecht.
Yale, 654 pp., £16, April 2020, 978 0 300 25179 1
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Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures 
by Adina Hoffman.
Yale, 245 pp., £10.99, April 2020, 978 0 300 25181 4
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... In​ the early 1920s, Herman J. Mankiewicz (‘Mank’) and Ben Hecht were not very successful writers in New York. Then Mank ventured west, the first of what was to become an exodus of literary talent to the Hollywood movie studios. In 1925, Mank summoned Hecht to join him with an offer of $300 a week to write for Paramount Pictures: ‘Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots ...

Bonded by the bottle

Michael Wood, 14 June 1990

Writers in Hollywood 
by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 326 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 434 31332 7
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... then began to get organised, quarrelled with their studios:‘Writers of the world unite!’ Herman Mankiewicz sardonically proclaimed. ‘You have nothing to lose but your brains!’ Hamilton evokes the stints in Hollywood of various distinguished figures – Fitzgerald, Aldous Huxley, Nathanael West, the photogenic Faulkner – but also looks at the ...

Sergeant Jones’s Sleeping-Bag

Michael Ignatieff, 17 July 1997

Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture 
by Elaine Showalter.
Picador, 244 pp., £16.99, June 1997, 0 330 34670 9
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... to backwoods institutions, consider Harvard Medical School, which allowed Professor Judith Lewis Herman to purvey extravagantly exaggerated theories of ‘recovered memory’ syndrome. The same institution harbours Professor John Mack, who believes that beings from outer space are abducting men and women and conducting fertility experiments on them. As ...


Denis Hirson, 29 September 1988

by Anthony Sher.
Chatto, 379 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3301 5
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... that Naoksa does not want to leave the cart, not yet at any rate. There follows a scene worthy of Herman Charles Bosman. In it, Sher demonstrates not only his wit but also his ability to enter the minds of characters working at complete cross-purposes, with dire consequences for themselves – and for the future of South Africa.   ‘Right, come ...

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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... funding operation for the Contras, with dramatic ads signed by Jeane Kirkpatrick, Midge Decter, Michael Novak, Charlton Heston (who raised funds in Europe for the cause) and the usual right-wing backers. Bo Hi Pak led off the campaign – backed by Reagan ‘with all my heart’ – with a $100,000 contribution. Such gestures win the Moonies hearts and ...


John Lanchester, 6 October 1994

The Magician’s Doubts 
by Michael Wood.
Chatto, 252 pp., £18, August 1994, 0 7011 6197 3
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... interesting thing about the writer in question. Often, though, this invented self is a problem. Michael Wood’s oustandingly brilliant new book is in part a corrective to the public persona adopted by his subject. Wood calls this persona ‘Nabokov the mandarin’, and robustly describes it as ‘a set ... of ...

Traven identified

George Woodcock, 3 July 1980

The Man who was B. Traven 
by Will Wyatt.
Cape, 326 pp., £8.50, June 1980, 0 224 01720 9
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The Government 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 356 2
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The Cotton-Pickers 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 200 pp., £5.50, October 1979, 0 85031 284 1
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The White Rose 
by B. Traven.
Allison and Busby, 209 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 0 85031 369 4
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... same man. The two most recent books on Traven before Mr Wyatt’s The Man who was B. Traven – Michael Baumann’s scholarly B. Traven: An Introduction and Judy Stone’s journalistic The Mystery of B. Traven – agree that Marut and Traven were the same man. Moreover, Judy Stone, who questioned Torsvan-Croves remorselessly when she visited him, was ...

How to be Green

Mary Douglas, 13 September 1990

A Green Manifesto for the 1990s 
by Penny Kemp and Derek Wall.
Penguin, 212 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 14 013272 4
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Social Philosophy and Ecological Scarcity 
by Keekok Lee.
Routledge, 425 pp., £40, September 1989, 0 415 03220 2
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Mother Country 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 261 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15453 0
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Blueprint for a Green Economy 
by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward Barbier.
Earthscan, 192 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 1 85383 066 6
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The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon 
by Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 366 pp., £16.95, November 1989, 0 86091 261 2
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Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Barrie and Jenkins, 250 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 7126 3489 4
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... always hated each other move towards co-operation?There is also a genre of ecological literature. Michael Allaby, former editor of the Ecologist, has collected a set of golden quotables from ancient and modern thinkers. In Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing, quotes from doomsayers such as Malthus and Paul Ehrlich are sprinkled in ...

The Slap

Michael Wilding, 17 April 1986

The Image, and Other Stories 
by Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Cape, 310 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 224 02357 8
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... wondering why. There is a recoil from the cruelties of man to man and of man to the natural world. Herman in Enemies was always planning to become a vegetarian: Aaron in Shosha did become one, and in Love and Exile Singer describes his own conversion. In a note on his most recent novel, The Penitent, he writes: ‘I’m still as bewildered and shocked by the ...

Gesture as Language

David Trotter, 30 January 1992

A Cultural History of Gestures: From Antiquity to the Present 
edited by Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg.
Polity, 220 pp., £35, December 1991, 0 7456 0786 1
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The New Oxford Book of 17th-Century Verse 
by Alastair Fowler.
Oxford, 830 pp., £25, November 1991, 0 19 214164 3
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... resource. What is true of folded arms is also true of a more commonplace gesture, the handshake. Herman Roodenburg suggests that the handshake only took over from more ceremonial forms of greeting around 1800: in Britain first, then in Holland, France and Russia. In his Memoirs, written in the 1790s, Casanova describes a ‘shake-hand amical’ bestowed on ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray Archive Disaster, 18 March 2004

... what the firm itself sold for on the open market. On the face of it, the valuation is astounding. Michael Bott, currently in charge of ” the Reading collection, said that he first thought a decimal point had gone missing. And if the Murray archive is worth those many millions, how much is the (firmly closed) Aladdin’s cave, the Faber ...

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