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The Nephew

David Thomson

19 March 1981
Charmed Lives 
by Michael Korda.
Penguin, 498 pp., £2.50, January 1981, 0 14 005402 2
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... This book suggests how an odd mixture of Hungarian nerve, social bluff and show-business instinct once commanded the British cinema. In MichaelKorda’s telling, however, the panorama of picture-making is not always alight with understanding or information. The author may have been born on the night in 1933 when his uncle Alexander Korda’s ...

Robert and Randy

Carey Harrison

27 June 1991
Curtain 
by Michael Korda.
Chapmans, 415 pp., £14.95, May 1991, 1 85592 005 0
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... In MichaelKorda’s Curtain a thinly disguised Laurence Olivier puts at risk his marriage to a thinly disguised Vivien Leigh by having an affair with (stop me if you’ve heard this one) a no less thinly disguised ...

Passion

Anita Brookner

7 October 1982
The President’s Child 
by Fay Weldon.
Hodder, 220 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 340 24564 6
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Silence among the Weapons 
by John Arden.
Methuen, 343 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 413 49670 8
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The Facilitators, or Mister Hole-in-the-Day 
by Peter Redgrove.
Routledge, 173 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 7100 9214 8
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Pleasure City 
by Kamala Markandaya.
Chatto, 341 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 7011 2617 5
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Worldly Goods 
by Michael Korda.
Bodley Head, 347 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 370 30932 4
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Dutch Shea Jr 
by John Gregory Dunne.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £7.50, September 1982, 0 297 78164 2
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... of its own. The handling of this theme is oblique and extremely well-mannered: it is only in the physical descriptions of her characters that Mrs Markandaya reveals her true sympathies. MichaelKorda has polished his first novel, Worldly Goods, up to a high gloss of readability. He deals with weighty matters: the refinements of criminality encountered by members of the Grünwald family in the ...

Could it have been different?

Eric Hobsbawm: Budapest 1956

16 November 2006
Journey to a Revolution: A Personal Memoir and History of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 
by Michael Korda.
HarperCollins, 221 pp., $24.95, September 2006, 0 06 077261 1
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Twelve Days: Revolution 1956 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 340 pp., £20, August 2006, 0 297 84731 7
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A Good Comrade: Janos Kadar, Communism and Hungary 
by Roger Gough.
Tauris, 323 pp., £24.50, August 2006, 1 84511 058 7
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Failed Illusions: Moscow, Washington, Budapest and the 1956 Hungarian Revolt 
by Charles Gati.
Stanford, 264 pp., £24.95, September 2006, 0 8047 5606 6
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... to state papers in the US. All but one of the books discussed here are written by Hungarians old enough to have been participants or contemporary observers, or at least infants, in 1956. Except for MichaelKorda’s lively memory of an Oxford undergraduate jaunt, they are historically serious and not only recollect but analyse emotion in tranquillity. Victor Sebestyen’s Twelve Days is well documented ...

Kindness rules

Gavin Millar

8 January 1987
A Life in Movies 
by Michael​ Powell.
Heinemann, 705 pp., £15.95, October 1986, 9780434599455
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All Our Yesterdays: 90 Years of British Cinema 
edited by Charles Barr.
BFI, 446 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 85170 179 5
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... Though it does not say so, Michael Powell’s 700-page autobiography is merely the first volume of a work which Powell rather surprisingly tells us is ‘what my mother would have wished and what I was born for’. Surprising not for ...

Baby Face

John Bayley

24 May 1990
William Gerhardie: A Biography 
by Dido Davies.
Oxford, 411 pp., £25, April 1990, 0 19 211794 7
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Memoirs of a Polyglot 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 381 pp., £5.95, April 1990, 0 86072 111 6
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Futility 
by William Gerhardie.
Robin Clark, 198 pp., £4.95, April 1990, 0 86072 112 4
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God’s Fifth Column: A Biography of the Age 1890-1940 
by William Gerhardie, edited by Michael​ Holroyd and Robert Skidelsky.
Hogarth, 360 pp., £8.95, April 1990, 0 7012 0887 2
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... managed to earn the publisher’s advance. Yet his reputation never really declined. Robert Donat was keen to do The Polyglots as a film, but eventually decided that ‘only Hollywood or Alexander Korda could do justice to the story.’ Basil Dean, who had filmed The Constant Nymph, was enthusiastic as well, but that too came to nothing. Dr Davies never claims too much for Gerhardie’s achievement ...

Flying Mud

Patrick Parrinder

8 April 1993
The Invisible Man: The Life and Liberties of H.G. Wells 
by Michael​ Coren.
Bloomsbury, 240 pp., £20, January 1993, 0 7475 1158 6
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... perfectly honourable one, and J.B. Priestley was not exaggerating when he said in a funeral oration that the ‘prophet of this age of transition’ was mourned by men and women of all races. Yet to Michael Coren (who, to do him justice, quotes Priestley in full) Wells’s influence on his age and his legacy to the future were ‘pernicious and destructive’. The mediocre scholarship, factual howlers ...
21 August 1997
Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Bantam, 814 pp., £25, April 1997, 0 593 03403 1
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Compañero: The Life and Death of Che Guevara 
by Jorge Castañeda, translated by Marina Castañeda.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 7475 3334 2
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... early July this year, was a skeleton with no hands – the remains of an anti-imperialist buried by the CIA.It was the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli who first brought the famous Alberto Korda photograph – Che in a beret, gazing into the distance – back to Europe in 1967, and it was the Italian Communist Party, feeling its way towards Eurocommunism, that first put the enchanting icon ...

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