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Tariq Ali: Richard Sorge’s Fate

19 November 2019
An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent 
by Owen Matthews.
Bloomsbury, 448 pp., £25, March, 978 1 4088 5778 6
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... unmatched. Sorge has always attracted particular attention. Ian Fleming called him the ‘most formidable spy in history’; other admirers included John le Carré, Tom Clancy and General MacArthur. OwenMatthews – whose new biography of Sorge is the fifth to appear in English – is well qualified to write this book: his Ukrainian maternal grandfather was Boris Bibikov, a factory worker in Kharkov ...

Defeated Armies

Scott Sherman: Castro in the New York Times

5 July 2007
The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews​ of the ‘New York Times’ 
by Anthony DePalma.
PublicAffairs, 308 pp., £15.99, September 2006, 1 58648 332 3
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... On the evening of 15 February 1957, the New York Times correspondent Herbert Matthews stepped into a jeep with some anti-government activists and went to meet the young Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra. Castro was supposed to be dead: sailing from Mexico a few months earlier, he had ...

Monopoly Mule

Anthony Howard

25 January 1996
Plant Here the ‘Standard’ 
by Dennis Griffiths.
Macmillan, 417 pp., £35, November 1995, 0 333 55565 1
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... proud proprietor likes to see too much praise being given to a predecessor. Nevertheless, to speak of the present Lord Rothermere – or, worse, of Sir Jocelyn Stevens or the late Lord (‘Whelks’) Matthews – in the same tone of voice as Beaverbrook is a substantial affront to natural justice. Fortunately, Griffiths is more generous to the other main agent in the building up of the modern Evening ...

Gangs

D.A.N. Jones

8 January 1987
The Old School: A Study 
by Simon Raven.
Hamish Hamilton, 139 pp., £12, September 1986, 0 241 11929 4
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The Best Years of their Lives: The National Service Experience 1945-63 
by Trevor Royle.
Joseph, 288 pp., £12.95, September 1986, 0 7181 2459 6
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Murder without Conviction: Inside the World of the Krays 
by John Dickson.
Sidgwick, 164 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 9780283994074
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Inside ‘Private Eye’ 
by Peter McKay.
Fourth Estate, 192 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 947795 80 4
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Malice in Wonderland: Robert Maxwell v. ‘Private Eye’ 
by Robert Maxwell, John Jackson, Peter Donnelly and Joe Haines.
Macdonald, 191 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 356 14616 2
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... come across these repulsive boys in real life: most of them went to work on the staff of Private Eye. The righteous Harry Wharton, of course, joined the Labour Party, under the name of David Owen or Tony Benn, and screwed the whole thing up with public-school Character and Leadership. These Frank Richard types could have been recognised at our ordinary day-schools but (such is the gang spirit ...

The Old, Bad Civilisation

Arnold Rattenbury: Second World War poetry

4 October 2001
Selected Poems 
by Randall Swingler, edited by Andy Croft.
Trent, 113 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 1 84233 014 4
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British Writing of the Second World War 
by Mark Rawlinson.
Oxford, 256 pp., £35, June 2000, 0 19 818456 5
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... Henderson with his elegiac sense of ‘our human civil war’, his ‘wronged proletariat of levelling death’; the wonderfully precise Australian John Manifold; and another soldier-poet, Geoffrey Matthews, who ended an ‘Elegiac Sonnet’ of 1943 about flowers at a graveside: . . . For his first low home Pastelled sweet-peas and grass For his green simplicity; And the gay daughter marigold For his ...

Darkness Audible

Nicholas Spice

11 February 1993
Benjamin Britten 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Faber, 680 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 571 14324 5
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... while he composed it’, even down to his ‘delight in discovering the Suffolk countryside’ ‘Peter Grimes becomes Britten’s dream of what he might be like if he abandoned Pears’; Owen Wingrave’s sigh ‘I am so tired’ expresses ‘the weariness which by 1970 was so often perceptible in Britten’. Much of the time all that Carpenter is doing as a critic is matching up aspects ...

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