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Grantham Factor

Martin Pugh, 2 March 1989

Rotten Borough 
by Oliver Anderson.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £5.95, March 1989, 0 947795 83 9
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... be between this portentous national event and a comic novel of the late Thirties? The author, Oliver Anderson, worked as a youthful journalist on the local newspaper in Grantham during the Thirties. This was the period during which Alfred Roberts, a grocer of the borough, became firmly established as a pillar of the business community. In due course ...
... There seem to have been several Oliver Norths. There was Oliver North the Patriot, whom Robert McFarlane would describe as ‘an imaginative, aggressive, committed young officer’, Ronald Reagan’s personally approved ‘hero’. There was Oliver North the Man of God, the born-again Christian from the charismatic Episcopal Church of the Apostles who believed that the Lord had healed his wounds and who – in the words of one former associate at the National Security Council – ‘thought he was doing God’s work at the NSC ...
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... report, a slovenly document which does not even boast an index, starts its story in that year. Col Oliver North, the man who, according to the received version, thought up the idea of selling arms to secure the release of American hostages in Beirut, tells us: ‘My own operational involvement began ... on the afternoon of 17 November 1985.’ The BBC’s ...

One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith, 3 December 1992

An Evil Cradling 
by Brian Keenan.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £16.99, September 1992, 0 09 175208 6
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Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives 
by Con Coughlin.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 316 90304 3
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... Waite was held hostage in Beirut, journalists found themselves asking what his links were with Oliver North. I have on my desk the daubs of a class of five-year-olds from Stockport, Cheshire, who were commissioned to re-create the scenes that the TV man John McCarthy would have missed during his captivity. Employed by the same organisation as McCarthy’s ...

Degrees of Not Knowing

Rory Stewart: Does anyone know how to govern Iraq?, 31 March 2005

What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation Building 
by Noah Feldman.
Princeton, 154 pp., £12.95, November 2004, 0 691 12179 6
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Blinded by the Sunlight: Surviving Abu Ghraib and Saddam’s Iraq 
by Matthew McAllester.
Harper Perennial, 304 pp., $13.95, February 2005, 0 06 058820 9
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The Fall of Baghdad 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Little, Brown, 389 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 316 72990 6
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The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq 
by Christian Parenti.
New Press, 211 pp., £12.99, December 2004, 1 56584 948 5
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... His account of this terrifying experience is modest and precise. The New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson first met Ala Bashir, an Edinburgh-educated plastic surgeon, one of Saddam’s few intimates and his official sculptor, in August 2000. As Bashir evolves from an apologist for Hitler and Saddam into a critic of Saddam’s cabinet, ...

Mailer’s Muddy Friend

Stephen Ambrose, 1 September 1988

Citizen Cohn 
by Nicholas von Hoffman.
Harrap, 483 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 245 54605 7
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... greeting to your little mother who is sitting up in New York watching on television.’ Lt Colonel Oliver North must have been watching. Cohn and McCarthy were disgraced in the hearings, shown up for what they were. Cohn lost his staff position, McCarthy was censured by the Senate. Nevertheless, there was a banquet in Cohn’s honour at the Astor Hotel on ...

Karel Reisz Remembered

LRB Contributors, 12 December 2002

... a teacher and a writer for film journals, one of which, Sequence, he co-founded with Lindsay Anderson and Gavin Lambert. Along with Anderson and Tony Richardson, Reisz aimed to bring a version of auteurism to British film, and they did as much with the documentary movement Free Cinema. In 1959, Reisz directed We Are ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1986, 18 December 1986

... find some students who have gone pot-holing and not come up. A young caver from our village, David Anderson, is one of the rescue team. The water is rising and as he is going down he slips into a narrow gulley. Though he is roped up, the force of the torrent is too much for his companions: as they struggle to pull him out, his light still shining through the ...

Great Thoughts

E.S. Turner, 7 May 1981

The Macmillan Treasury of Relevant Quotations 
edited by Edward Murphy.
Macmillan, 658 pp., £3.95, August 1980, 0 333 30038 6
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... ambushed, no matter what the topic, by D. H. Lawrence (73 entries), J. B. and W. B. Yeats (73), Oliver Wendell Holmes (72). A. C. Benson (67), Sherwood Anderson (64), George Santayana (61), Henry Miller (56), Emerson (55), William James (49), Nietzsche (46) and Anaïs Nin (40). These are only the familiar names; the ...


Alan Bennett: What I Did in 2015, 7 January 2016

... Riding and probably not even in the country. No wonder Corbyn is ahead of the rest.1 September. Oliver Sacks dies, my first memory of whom was as an undergraduate in his digs in Keble Road in Oxford when I was with Eric Korn and possibly, over from Cambridge, Michael Frayn. Oliver said that he had fried and eaten a ...

Radical Aliens

David Cole: The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair, 22 October 2009

The Sacco-Vanzetti Affair: America on Trial 
by Moshik Temkin.
Yale, 316 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 300 12484 2
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... the deportation orders resulting from the raids and reversed most of them; and Judge George Anderson, who declared the raids illegal in 1920, writing in his decision that ‘a mob is a mob, whether made up of government officials acting under instructions from the Department of Justice, or of criminals, loafers and the vicious classes.’ In Europe ...

Singing the Blues

Noël Annan, 22 April 1993

A History of Cambridge University. Vol. IV: 1870-1990 
by Christopher Brooke.
Cambridge, 652 pp., £50, December 1992, 9780521343503
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... out. Oxford took the Robbins criticisms to heart and in 1964 set up a commission of inquiry under Oliver Franks. Franks took evidence in open session and was criticised for washing dirty linen in public. But in so doing he educated his electorate, and showed just how distinguished Oxford was. Some at least of his reforms were accepted, although to the day of ...

Abolish the CIA!

Chalmers Johnson: ‘A classic study of blowback’, 21 October 2004

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to 10 September 2001 
by Steve Coll.
Penguin, 695 pp., $29.95, June 2004, 1 59420 007 6
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... the CIA’s clandestine officers were too timid. He preferred the type represented by his friend Oliver North. Over time, Casey’s position hardened into CIA dogma, which its agents, protected by secrecy from ever having their ignorance exposed, enforced in every way they could. The agency resolutely refused to help choose winners and losers among the ...

Moderation or Death

Christopher Hitchens: Isaiah Berlin, 26 November 1998

Isaiah Berlin: A Life 
by Michael Ignatieff.
Chatto, 386 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6325 9
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The Guest from the Future: Anna Akhmatova and Isaiah Berlin 
by György Dalos.
Murray, 250 pp., £17.95, September 2002, 0 7195 5476 4
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... the place. (His distaste for George Steiner took something of the same form.) Incidentally, Perry Anderson’s general matrix of the ‘White’ intellectual emigration, which suggested that the radical exiles went to America while the conservative ones – with Gellner exempted – settled in England, understates the manner in which Berlin’s Washington ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... introduced them properly, and they didn’t have titles anyway: they were just Carlos or Tina or Oliver or Thomas. One night in Ellingham Hall, a French guy called Jeremy came in with a sack of encrypted phones. Julian always seemed to have three phones on the go at any one time – the red phone was his personal one – and this latest batch was designed to ...

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