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2 December 1993
John Strachey: An Intellectual Biography 
by Noel Thompson.
Macmillan, 288 pp., £27.50, May 1993, 0 333 51154 9
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John Strachey 
by Michael Newman.
Manchester, 208 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 9780719021749
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... from socialism, which was consummated in 1979 with his appointment as chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies. These two books, by contrast, deal almost exclusively with Strachey’s politics. MichaelNewman writes only briefly about Strachey’s private life, though he does reveal that young Charles Strachey, born at the height of his father’s revolutionary fervour, was promptly put down for ...
4 December 1986
... Camel’, and a series of drawings of his friends, all with their throats cut, Frith, Egg, Dadd, Phillip and O’Neill. He saw himself as a catspaw, Osiris’s right-hand man on earth. His digs in Newman Street contained three hundred eggs, and the earth cracked when he walked on it ...
8 July 1993
Harold Laski: A Political Biography 
by Michael Newman.
Macmillan, 438 pp., £45, March 1993, 0 333 43716 0
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Harold Laski: A Life on the Left 
by Isaac Kramnick and Barry Sheerman.
Hamish Hamilton, 669 pp., £25, June 1993, 0 241 12942 7
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... after forty years in the shadows he now emerges, almost simultaneously, in two new biographies totalling eleven hundred pages, a fact which would have undoubtedly pleased their subject. Both MichaelNewman’s ‘Political Biography’ and Isaac Kramnick and Barry Sheerman’s ‘A Life on the Left’ rightly insist on their man’s public face. But even his political life was peculiar, if only ...

Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens: Donkey Business in the White House

19 February 1998
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 746 pp., $30, February 1998, 0 684 80819 6
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-64 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 416 pp., September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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The Dark Side of Camelot 
by Seymour Hersh.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £8.99, February 1998, 9780006530770
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Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson , Bobby Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade 
by Jeff Shesol.
Norton, 591 pp., £23.50, January 1998, 9780393040784
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The Year the Dream Died 
by Jules Witcover.
Warner, 512 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 446 51849 2
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Without Honor: The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot 
by Jerry Zeifman.
Thunder's Mouth, 262 pp., $24.95, November 1996, 9781560251286
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Howard, 740 pp., £23.50, September 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection 
edited by David Barrett.
Texas A & M, 906 pp., $94, June 1997, 0 89096 741 5
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Taking Charge: The Johnson Whitehouse Tapes 1963-64 
edited by Michael​ Beschloss.
Simon and Schuster, 624 pp., £20, April 1998, 0 684 80407 7
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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes 
edited by Stanley Kutler.
Free Press, 675 pp., $30, November 1997, 0 684 84127 4
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The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy and the Jupiters, 1957-63 
by Philip Nash.
North Carolina, 231 pp., £34.70, October 1997, 0 8078 4647 3
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... of the case for going ahead – lay in the theory that the landings would touch off a mass insurrection against the regime. How unpopular was Castro anyway? I mentioned a series written by Joseph Newman, who had just visited Cuba for the New York Herald Tribune, citing a piece which reported the strength of sentiment behind Castro. Kennedy said quickly: ‘That must have been the fourth piece – I ...

Never for me

Michael​ Wood

2 December 1993
Corona, Corona 
by Michael​ Hofmann.
Faber, 55 pp., £12.99, September 1993, 0 571 16962 7
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... I was not myself. I was just anyone.’ The person who says ‘I’ in Michael Hofmann’s earlier poems is uncertain, diffident, angry; he seems both gnarled and youthful, like some hoary child out of Hardy, although rather better treated: Most evenings I was aphasic ...

Fabian Figaro

Michael​ Holroyd

3 December 1981
Shaw’s Music. Vol. I: 1876-1890 
edited by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 957 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30247 8
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. II: 1890-1893 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 985 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30249 4
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Shaw’s Music. Vol. III: 1893-1950 
by Dan Laurence.
Bodley Head, 910 pp., £15, June 1981, 0 370 30248 6
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Conducted Tour 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 240 pp., £7.50, November 1981, 0 224 01896 5
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... drum and cymbals, never very welcome, are particularly objectionable at Her Majesty’s, the instruments used being utterly destitute of tone. It would be cheaper, and equally effectual, for Sir Michael to employ a stage carpenter to bang the orchestra door at a prearranged signal.’ ‘Why is it that the Master of Ravenswood, whenever he appears on the stage in the opera, proceeds to fling his ...

Taking Darwin in

Michael​ Mason

16 February 1984
Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and 19th-Century Fiction 
by Gillian Beer.
Routledge, 303 pp., £17.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9505 8
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... reader, even while judging a style as ‘effective’ or ‘convincing’, doesn’t envisage being persuaded. How many critics, in their hearts, have any time for the views of Carlyle, Arnold, or Newman (Ruskin, in Unto this Last, is perhaps just a live issue still)? Darwin is different. Most readers do rightly care about whether The Origin is true or false, and every reader who deems it true must ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’

15 December 2011
... Eye was always keen to make, that post-imperial Britain is a sorry spectacle. Other cartoons on show, mostly familiar, come from dozens of the Eye’s contributors, including the superb Ed McLaghlan, Michael Heath (Great Bores of Today etc), Ken Pyne, whose National Association of Builders Convention (1986) is proudly displayed (as are the many builders’ cracks in the drawing), Barry Fantoni, Nick ...

Consider Jack and Oskar

Michael​ Rossi: Twin Studies

7 February 2013
Born Together – Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study 
by Nancy Segal.
Harvard, 410 pp., £39.95, June 2012, 978 0 674 05546 9
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... Hermann Siemens explored the idea of comparing pairs of identical (monozygotic) twins with fraternal (dizygotic) twins, as a means of further clarifying the effects of heritability. In 1937, Horatio Newman, Frank Freeman and Karl Holzinger introduced the idea of using twins raised in different households, in a study of 19 pairs of twins. And three studies by Cyril Burt between 1943 and 1966 put a ...

What is concrete?

Michael​ Wood: Erich Auerbach

5 March 2015
Time, History and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach 
by Erich Auerbach, edited by James Porter, translated by Jane Newman.
Princeton, 284 pp., £27.95, December 2013, 978 0 691 13711 7
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... what Auerbach means by reality. It is asking what he means by reality. Reality is in a first sense whatever exists or takes place, in the world, in the mind. ‘Whatever happens, happens,’ as Jane Newman, the translator of Time, History and Literature shrewdly renders a difficult German phrase. In a second sense it is whatever piece of the actual or lived, the experienced or the deeply needed, that a ...

Deal of the Century

David Thomson: As Ovitz Tells It

7 March 2019
Who Is Michael​ Ovitz? 
by Michael​ Ovitz.
W.H. Allen, 372 pp., £20, September 2018, 978 0 7535 5336 7
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... By my count​ , of the 37 photographs of Michael Ovitz in this book there are 19 in which his mouth stays shut – while he’s smiling. That isn’t intended as a hostile remark. His mouth stayed closed when he smiled because he was concentrating ...

The Monster Plot

Thomas Powers: James Angleton, Spymaster

10 May 2018
The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton 
by Jefferson Morley.
Scribe, 336 pp., £20, December 2017, 978 1 911344 73 5
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... the development of Angleton’s mind can be found in two previous books, Robin Winks’s Cloak and Gown (1987), which describes his introduction to counterintelligence in London during the war, and Michael Holzman’s James Jesus Angleton: The CIA and the Craft of Counterintelligence (2008). But Angleton laid out on the page is nothing like Angleton in the room. When he wanted someone to understand the ...

When Medicine Failed

Barbara Newman: Saints

6 May 2015
Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation 
by Robert Bartlett.
Princeton, 787 pp., £27.95, December 2013, 978 0 691 15913 3
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... philosopher, Jewish convert, nun and martyr of Auschwitz – aroused such bitter criticism. For liturgical purposes, saints were grouped in hierarchical choirs. After the Virgin Mary, the Archangel Michael and the apostles, the most prestigious were martyrs, followed by confessors (such as doctors of the Church, bishops, hermits and monks) and, in a special category, virgins. Curiously, Byzantium and ...

Through Plate-Glass

Ian Sansom: Jonathan Coe

10 May 2001
The Rotters’ Club 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 405 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 670 89252 1
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... that in those days, the National Front sometimes looked like a force to be reckoned with.’ Coe does kitsch but he also does politics: The Rotters’ Club concerns itself with the Grunwick strike, Michael Edwardes and British Leyland, and the Birmingham pub bombing. Coe is only ever content with full context. His words can seem like a means to an end. They remind. They point things out. They are not ...


Iain Sinclair: Out of Essex

8 January 2004
... miscalculated art galleries, restaurants that change their pitch every time you pass, a pair of narrow, secret alleys, twittens everybody knows, the relief of that, the pub, the slope down into Newman Passage, the opening sequence of Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, a puddle of bloody neon, awkward stone setts, smokers in doorways; and then out, immediately, into another world, Newman Street. Black ...

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