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Julian Symons, 9 November 1989

The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St George’ Orwell 
by John Rodden.
Oxford, 478 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 19 503954 8
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... strong Thatcherite, John Wain, who invokes Orwell as an opponent of Arthur Scargill, or in America Norman Podhoretz, who feels sure he would be taking his stand with the ‘neo-conservatives against the Left’. The New York Tribune, Rodden notes, went further and called Orwell the father of neo-conservatism. These intellectual claims to or attacks on ...


Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne, 4 November 1993

... mother’s rectitude and parsimony, she did contrive to make a ‘good’ marriage with Montagu Norman, the man who treated the Bank of England’s reserves as if they were his own, and his own as if they were the Bank of England’s. We are afforded the odd glimpse of this old fiscal reactionary, and of some other Thirties dinosaurs like Sir Samuel ...

Further Left

R.W. Johnson, 16 August 1990

Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Hogarth, 357 pp., £9.99, July 1990, 0 7012 0903 8
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Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 398 pp., £18, July 1990, 0 7011 3361 9
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... spoiled darling left behind in the Home Counties’. But his most furious barbs are reserved for Norman Podhoretz, the reactionary editor of Commentary. Hitchens seems almost obsessed by him, returning to the attack over and over again. It is a curious fact that Podhoretz, an immodest man who has much about which to ...

How far shall I take this character?

Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography, 2 November 2000

Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
Faber, 686 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 571 14356 3
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... a bestseller published to considerable critical acclaim, The Adventures of Augie March. Though Norman Podhoretz complained that it was marred by a ‘willed buoyancy’, it was extravagantly praised by more senior and noteworthy critics, including Lionel Trilling, Irving Howe and Leslie Fiedler. In the novel’s memorable first sentence, it is ...

Comedy is murder

Thomas Powers: Joseph Heller, 8 March 2012

Just One Catch: The Passionate Life of Joseph Heller 
by Tracy Daugherty.
Robson, 548 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 1 84954 172 5
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Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller was Dad and Life was a Catch-22 
by Erica Heller.
Vintage, 272 pp., £8.99, October 2011, 978 0 09 957008 0
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... novel about the Allied occupation of Naples, which Heller admired. That gave him pause. Then Norman Mailer’s huge war novel, The Naked and the Dead, stopped him cold. Heller realised immediately that any war novel he was then likely to write would simply disappear in Mailer’s penumbra. Heller later told an interviewer that Mailer was an ...

How to do the life

Lorna Sage, 10 February 1994

Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World 
by Carol Brightman.
Lime Tree, 714 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 413 45821 0
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... of prejudice and convention, or the merely fashionable attraction of the Left for figures like Norman Podhoretz, who turns out to be really interested simply in Making It) they are coming to the same conclusion from very different angles. Brightman, I think, is tacitly accusing her subject of being obsessed, a trifle perversely, with the ...


R.W. Johnson, 2 June 1988

Passion and Cunning, and Other Essays 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Weidenfeld, 293 pp., £18, March 1988, 0 297 79280 6
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God Land: Reflections on Religion and Nationalism 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Harvard, 97 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 674 35510 5
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... a tinge of this in many of O’Brien’s essays. Thus there is a wonderfully funny demolition of Norman Podhoretz – occasioned by Podhoretz’s criticism of O’Brien’s book on Camus. An essay on the press has a long, rambling attack on an editorial from the Observer – without ever mentioning that O’Brien was ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... our man is still scanning the horizon for nay-saying natives. To the not-entirely-lovely Norman Podhoretz, then editor of Commentary, who had presumably just asked Bellow for a piece: ‘And now tell me this: If you were described in someone’s magazine as a “burnt-out case” would you be at all inclined to contribute articles to that ...

The Egg-Head’s Egger-On

Christopher Hitchens: Saul Bellow keeps his word (sort of), 27 April 2000

by Saul Bellow.
Viking, 254 pp., £16.99, April 2000, 0 670 89131 2
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... He signed up with the grandiosely titled Committee for the Free World, run by Midge Decter and Norman Podhoretz, and then let his sponsorship lapse when the same outfit published hysterical slanders against Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal. In the argument about standardised courses in ‘Western Civilisation’, he ...

Even paranoids have enemies

Frank Kermode, 24 August 1995

F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... Leavisians: for example, Karl Miller in this country, Richard Poirier and (perhaps surprisingly) Norman Podhoretz in New York. They fanned out into their own careers, but most, even if alienated or excommunicated, freely allow that he made his mark on them. He had his own idols or heroes: Lawrence, increasingly, Eliot with all kinds of complicated ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... a similar about-face in Paris. Then there are the many American intellectuals who followed Norman Podhoretz from the ranks of the liberal Left into reactionary self-bowdlerisation. For them American power is sacrosanct. In the 1960s V.S. Naipaul began, disquietingly, to systematise the revisionist view of empire. A disciple and wilful misreader of ...


Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... East. In an observation which is on a par with his wife Midge Decter’s about Libya and the IRA, Norman Podhoretz complains about the ‘mindless bias’ of the press in favour of terrorists and Yasser Arafat. In fact, as everybody except Mr and Mrs Podhoretz knows, the American press has been biased in favour of ...

I am Prince Mishkin

Mark Ford, 23 April 1987

‘Howl’: Original Draft Facsimile 
by Allen Ginsberg, edited by Barry Miles.
Viking, 194 pp., £16.95, February 1987, 0 670 81599 3
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White Shroud: Poems 1980-1985 
by Allen Ginsberg.
Viking, 89 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 81598 5
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... increase its underground following. It was Ginsberg’s old Columbia colleagues, John Hollander, Norman Podhoretz and Louis Simpson, all cutting their teeth in the New York literary scene under the approving auspices of Lionel and Diana Trilling, who led the charge against the Beats. ‘It is only fair to Allen Ginsberg to remark on the utter lack of ...

What makes Rupert run?

Ross McKibbin: Murdoch’s Politics, 20 June 2013

Murdoch’s Politics: How One Man’s Thirst for Wealth & Power Shapes Our World 
by David McKnight.
Pluto, 260 pp., £12.99, February 2013, 978 0 7453 3346 5
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... institutions and individuals in the United States. There are the usual suspects: William Kristol, Norman and John Podhoretz and the circle around them, Pat Robertson and Rick Santorum, whom Murdoch supported for the presidency. He employed and was friendly with Roy Cohn, Senator McCarthy’s unpleasant little helper. When ...

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