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Travels on the left

Paul Foot, 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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... Policy Studies. These two books, by contrast, deal almost exclusively with Strachey’s politics. Michael Newman 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 Eton. Noel Thompson calls his book ‘an intellectual ...

The Left’s Megaphone

Eric Hobsbawm, 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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... totalling eleven hundred pages, a fact which would have undoubtedly pleased their subject. Both Michael Newman’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 because this profoundly political man never became ...

The Late Richard Dadd, 1817-1886

Michael Hofmann, 4 December 1986

... 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 ...

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, incapable of speech, worn down by tolerance and inclusion ...

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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... 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 writer or thinker has found words for, or a painter ...

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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... 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 cloak and hat on the ground with a melodramatic air? It is ...

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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... 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 missed it. Could you get it for me?’ I sent it over ...

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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... 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 betoken a certain rhetorical prowess – real rather than ...

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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... 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 Venice revered Old Testament saints, such as Job and the ...

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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... 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 number on the heritability of IQ (77.1 per cent). In the early ...

At the V&A

Jeremy Harding: 50 Years of ‘Private Eye’, 15 December 2011

... 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 Newman, Martin ...

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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... 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 Monster Plot – someone like David Blee, for ...

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. You may not have heard of him, but for maybe a decade and a half starting in the mid-1970s no one in the motion picture business was more focused than Michael Ovitz ...

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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... 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 themselves intended to impress. His prose is neat-o and ...

Diary

Iain Sinclair: Out of Essex, 8 January 2004

... 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, ...

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