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Is it a crime?

P.N. Furbank, 6 June 1985

Peterley Harvest: The Private Diary of David Peterley 
edited by Michael Holroyd.
Secker, 286 pp., £8.95, April 1985, 0 436 36715 7
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... or even Vermeer-forging, sense. Some gentlemanly code of ethics enfolds the activities of Thomas Wise and his fellows. As for purely literary, as opposed to bibliographical forgery, it receives no censure at all. Indeed, it receives rather high esteem. James Crossley, the distinguished 19th-century antiquarian and bibliographer, plumed himself on having ...

Nanny knows best

Michael Stewart, 4 June 1987

Kinnock 
by Michael Leapman.
Unwin Hyman, 217 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 04 440006 3
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The Thatcher Years: A Decade of Revolution in British Politics 
by John Cole.
BBC, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 563 20572 5
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Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? 
by Dennis Kavanagh.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 827522 6
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The New Right: The Counter-Revolution in Political, Social and Economic Thought 
by David Green.
Wheatsheaf, 238 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 7450 0127 0
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... man in a position made impossible by historical developments, one will not find much in either Michael Leapman’s sympathetic and readable portrait, or John Cole’s lively and good-humoured canter over the events of the last decade, to change one’s mind. The nature of the Labour Party’s – and Kinnock’s – problem was vividly illustrated by what ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Nightmare Alley’, 24 February 2022

... fun and when is it an exploitation of vulnerable people? The dialogue in each case is full of wise-guy cynicism: ‘People are desperate to know who they are’; someone ‘wants to be found out, like everyone else’. But what more can be said? The story starts in a fairground and moves to a city, shifting from mind-reading to psychoanalysis. At the ...

Anti-Liberalism

Alan Brinkley, 7 January 1988

Armed Truce 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 667 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 241 11843 3
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The Wise Men 
by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas.
Faber, 853 pp., £15.95, January 1987, 0 571 14606 6
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Ike 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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May-Day 
by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... that does not so much challenge the arguments of the revisionists as ignore them altogether. The Wise Men is a graceful and intelligent portrait of the careers of six Americans who for more than twenty years were pillars of their country’s post-war foreign policy ‘establishment’: Dean Acheson, Charles Bohlen, George Kennan, Robert Lovett, John McCloy ...

Roll Call

Michael Stewart, 5 September 1985

Crowded Hours 
by Eric Roll.
Faber, 254 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13497 1
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... There is little in most of this to quarrel with. He is experienced, he is well-informed, he is wise. It is, however, reassuring to lesser mortals to observe that even such a great man as Lord Roll does not entirely lack an Achilles heel. Could there be a touch of vanity in his makeup? The photographs chosen to illustrate the book, for example, are ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew’, 21 March 2013

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew 
directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.
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... when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,/ Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews?’ In Pasolini we see more faces: all looking as Italian as Charlton Heston, say, playing Moses, looks American. But these are ancient faces, and if we haven’t looked at ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Martian’, 22 October 2015

The Martian 
directed by Ridley Scott.
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... the movie allows us constantly to think of alternative attitudes and solutions, to indulge all our wise and gloomy thoughts about what our basic instincts usually look like, and resolutely goes its own way. This is one of the film’s challenges to us, but it is not where its energy lies. This is in its eager closeness to adventure games and puzzles. When ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Awful Truth’, 24 May 2018

... a little harder to say why. The film is not as fast and zany as Bringing up Baby, and not as wise and worldly as His Girl Friday. Part of the answer to the question is, as Haskell says, the touch that McCarey brought from ‘silent film to the talky genre’, and the ‘blend of hilarity, nonsense and lyricism’ he had already created in Duck ...

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 success, The Private Life of Henry ...

In the Twilight Zone

Terry Eagleton, 12 May 1994

The Frankfurt School 
by Rolf Wiggershaus, translated by Michael Robertson.
Polity, 787 pp., £45, January 1994, 0 7456 0534 6
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... There was once a king who was troubled by all the misery he observed about him. So he summoned his wise men and commanded them to inquire into its causes. The wise men duly looked into the matter, and reported back to the king that the cause of all the misery was him. So runs Bertolt Brecht’s parable of the founding in 1923 of the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research, a centre for Marxist studies endowed by a wealthy German capitalist ...

Truly Terrifying Things

Walter Nash, 10 January 1991

51 Soko: To the Islands on the Other Side of the World 
by Michael Westlake.
Polygon, 258 pp., £8.95, September 1990, 0 7486 6085 2
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Behind the Waterfall 
by Chinatsy Nakayama.
Virago, 213 pp., £12.99, November 1990, 1 85381 269 2
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Dirty Faxes, and Other Stories 
by Andrew Davies.
Methuen, 243 pp., £13.99, October 1990, 0 413 63270 9
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... of unspeakable amatory and alcoholic excess. We never quite got the hang of each other, code-wise. I think he may have been disappointed at my failure to respond in kind with ‘Hey, ma MAN!’ or ‘You betchar-ASS!’, professional courtesies not often heard by the banks of the Trent. For my part, I had some difficulty in understanding his general ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: The Belgrano Affair, 7 February 1985

... A campaigning politician is wise to be ever-alive to the possibility of being set-up and made to look ridiculous. In the light of the Belgrano affair, I do not doubt that I have accumulated a large and distinguished number of enemies, who would be only too delighted to see me slip on the ice. If a campaigner is proved hideously wrong in one matter, those who wish to destroy his case can gleefully point to the possibility of error in a related matter ...

Diary

Michael Stewart: Staggeringly Complacent, 6 June 1985

... 50p part-paid shares have risen to over 160p). But the head asks whether such a pledge is wise. Will the numerous shareholders of BT be pleased? What would be the effect on the PSBR? However all this may be, things have changed. Replacing Labour is no longer the name of the Alliance game (if indeed it ever was: some at least of the founders of the SDP ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘L’Armée des ombres’, 21 June 2007

L’Armée des ombres 
directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.
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... but still damaging weakness. Mathilde, magnificently played by Simone Signoret in her best brisk, wise, broken-hearted manner, is a brilliant Resistance organiser who among other things orchestrates Gerbier’s extraordinary escape from what looked like certain death. But she has a flaw: not her love for her 17-year-old daughter, but her unwillingness to let ...

Anglo-Irish Occasions

Seamus Heaney, 5 May 1988

... terms a pamphlet of mine, published in Belfast as part of a series that included Seamus Deane, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Stewart Parker, James Simmons, and several other Northern Irish poets whose voices were beginning to raise themselves in the mid-Sixties. To hear John Carey now, almost a quarter of a century later, go farther still along that road ...

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