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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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... of Hungarian nerve, social bluff and show-business instinct once commanded the British cinema. In Michael Korda’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 first great ...

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 Michael Korda’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 Danny Kaye. Well! Well? As a piece of writing, the novel is aimed with charming accuracy at the station bookstall trade, where it should thrive ...

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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... in the physical descriptions of her characters that Mrs Markandaya reveals her true sympathies. Michael Korda 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 Hungary of the 1930s and 1940s. 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 have been participants or contemporary observers, or at least infants, in 1956. Except for Michael Korda’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, based on up to date knowledge, and vividly ...

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 the reference to his mother, since he always speaks of her with the greatest affection and respect, but for the seeming dedication to letters in a man who never ceases to proclaim his lifelong devotion to images ...

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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... 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 and reputation; her scholarship has produced an absorbing ...

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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... 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 and slipshod style of this much-publicised biography have ...

The Ribs of Rosinante

Richard Gott, 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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... 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 onto its banners. Posters of Guevara were soon pinned to ...

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