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Should we say thank you?

Hugh Wilford: The Overrated Marshall Plan, 30 April 2009

The Most Noble Adventure: The Marshall Plan and the Reconstruction of Postwar Europe 
by Greg Behrman.
Aurum, 448 pp., £25, February 2008, 978 1 84513 326 9
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Winning the Peace: The Marshall Plan and America’s Coming of Age as a Superpower 
by Nicolaus Mills.
Wiley, 290 pp., £15.99, August 2008, 978 0 470 09755 7
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... for devising the ERP and ensuring it was carried out: Marshall himself, William Clayton, Paul Hoffman, Richard Bissell and Arthur Vandenberg. All are portrayed as extraordinarily talented, dedicated and selfless individuals who acted out of a classical sense of republican virtue and, like Cincinnatus or George Washington, returned to private ...

Seven Miles per Hour

Robert Macfarlane: The men who invented flight, 5 February 2004

First to Fly: The Unlikely Triumph of Wilbur and Orville Wright 
by James Tobin.
Murray, 431 pp., £9.99, November 2003, 0 7195 5738 0
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The Wright Brothers: The Aviation Pioneers who Changed the World 
by Ian Mackersey.
Little, Brown, 554 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 316 86144 8
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Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight 
by Paul Hoffman.
Fourth Estate, 369 pp., £18.99, June 2003, 1 84115 368 0
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Taking Flight: Inventing the Aerial Age from Antiquity to the First World War 
by Richard Hallion.
Oxford, 531 pp., £20, September 2003, 0 19 516035 5
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... treated with such conscientious reverence by Tobin and Mackersey, are the off-stage villains in Paul Hoffman’s book. He depicts them in his introduction as mercenary monomaniacs who had no interest in ‘aerial spirituality’ but were ‘intent on building flying machines for financial gain’. It is a crass moment in an otherwise subtle book. As ...

Fortress Mathematica

Brian Rotman: John Nash and Paul Erdos, 17 September 1998

The Man who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdös and the Search for Mathematical Truth 
by Paul Hoffman.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £12.99, July 1998, 1 85702 811 2
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Proofs from the Book 
by Martin Aigner and Günter Ziegler.
Springer, 210 pp., £19, August 1998, 3 540 63698 6
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A Beautiful Mind: Genius and Schizophrenia in the Life of John Nash 
by Sylvia Nasar.
Faber, 464 pp., £17.99, September 1998, 0 571 17794 8
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... consumed by numbers to the exclusion of all else, sounds deranged. The Hungarian mathematician, Paul Erdös, number theorist and combinatorialist extraordinary, eccentric, socially dysfunctional, obsessive, childishly egocentric, helplessly dependent on fellow number freaks to feed him, transport him, put him up and put up with him, was certainly outside ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ides of March’, 1 December 2011

The Ides of March 
directed by George Clooney.
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... with the territory. No more plot details, I promise. The two campaign managers are Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti, and the film would be worth seeing for them alone. Hoffman is mock-genial but unmistakably fierce, the man for the job; and Giamatti is sinister and snarling, but ...

The Hell out of Dodge

Jeremy Harding: Woodstock 1969, 15 August 2019

Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music 
by Michael Lang.
Reel Art Press, 289 pp., £44.95, July 2019, 978 1 909526 62 4
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... out in the cold. In ‘Wooden Ships’, a post-nuclear daydream, the singers – Grace Slick and Paul Kantner – are sailing away from America, exchanging iodine tablets with other survivors and looking back at figures on the shoreline moving around in silver hazmat suits. ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, a travesty of the national anthem performed on a ...

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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... the stolid Jay Leno succeed Johnny Carson at the Tonight Show. He rejoices in his friendships with Paul Newman, Dustin Hoffman, Barry Levinson and Sydney Pollack. He exults over the way CAA was able to bundle its actors, directors and writers together in single production deals. The agency became a studio. CAA’s ascent was ...

A New Kind of Being

Jenny Turner: Angela Carter, 3 November 2016

The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography 
by Edmund Gordon.
Chatto, 544 pp., £25, October 2016, 978 0 7011 8755 2
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... ladies stuck on the inside cover, as if in illustration of The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, which Carter would have been working on at the time. What was I looking for when I went to look at the Angela Carter Papers? To begin with I didn’t really know. Partly it was professional completism. Journalists are supposed to do as much research as ...

A Little Holiday

Geoffrey Wheatcroft: Ben Hecht’s Cause, 23 September 2021

A Child of the Century 
by Ben Hecht.
Yale, 654 pp., £16, April 2020, 978 0 300 25179 1
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Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures 
by Adina Hoffman.
Yale, 245 pp., £10.99, April 2020, 978 0 300 25181 4
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... to tell the truth when a concoction could put life in his prose’. In her new biography, Adina Hoffman claims he was ‘as voracious for words as he was for girls – which was saying a very great deal’. In 1915, he married Marie Armstrong, whom he described as the first ‘good woman’ he had known, though he soon left her and their young daughter for ...

Help Yourself

R.W. Johnson: The other crooked Reggie, 21 April 2005

Reggie: The Life of Reginald Maudling 
by Lewis Baston.
Sutton, 604 pp., £25, October 2004, 0 7509 2924 3
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... Tajir, the billionaire fixer and effective vizier of Sheikh Rashid of Dubai. Next came Jerome Hoffman, an out-and-out fraudster. When Hoffman’s Real Estate Fund of America collapsed Maudling claimed he had only been tangentially involved in it, but in fact he and Hoffman had ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: Libel Tourism, 16 March 2023

... gave Berezovsky and Glushkov permission to sue Forbes’s editor, James Michaels, in London. Lord Hoffman, dissenting, noted that ‘the plaintiffs are forum shoppers in the most literal sense.’ In the years that followed, many international claimants followed their lead. (Berezovsky and Glushkov later fell out with Putin, moved to England and were found ...

Should a real musician be so tormented with music?

Misha Donat: Robert Schumann and E.T.A. Hoffmann, 15 July 1999

Robert Schumann: Herald of a ‘New Poetic Age’ 
by John Daverio.
Oxford, 618 pp., £30, June 1997, 0 19 509180 9
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The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr 
by E.T.A. Hoffman, translated by Anthea Bell.
Penguin, 350 pp., £7.99, April 1999, 0 14 044631 1
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... works is more than able to speak for itself. The two writers whom Schumann most revered were Jean Paul and E.T.A. Hoffmann. For him, Jean Paul’s Flegeljahre was a book ‘like the Bible’, and he once famously declared that he had learned more counterpoint from its author than from his music teacher. On another occasion ...

More like a Cemetery

Michael Wood: The Part about Bolaño, 26 February 2009

Nazi Literature in the Americas 
by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews.
New Directions, 227 pp., £17.95, May 2008, 978 0 8112 1705 7
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by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer.
Picador, 898 pp., £20, January 2009, 978 0 330 44742 3
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... to Paris or Berlin, and from Cordova to Kampala and Rio. One of them, ‘the infamous Ramírez Hoffman’, was born in Santiago de Chile in 1950, three years before Bolaño, and like Bolaño later lived in Lloret del Mar in Spain. He died in 1998, while Bolaño died in 2003; and he was the vicious madman that Bolaño perhaps thought he himself could have ...

The Salinger Affair

Julian Barnes, 27 October 1988

In Search of J.D. Salinger 
by Ian Hamilton.
Heinemann, 222 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 434 31331 9
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... Sol Salinger, the writer’s father, worked for a Chicago firm of cheese importers called J.S. Hoffman, 32 cases of whose Sliced Wisconsin were once seized by the FBI on the charge that they contained ‘faked holes’. With Hamilton’s biography, all the holes are genuine. These enforced absences drive Hamilton into two technical procedures. The first is ...

Nobel Savage

Steven Shapin: Kary Mullis, 1 July 1999

Dancing Naked in the Mind Field 
by Kary Mullis.
Bloomsbury, 209 pp., £12.99, March 1999, 0 7475 4376 3
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... in the garden, Kekulé alone in his dreams, Galileo unappreciated and persecuted. Never mind that Paul Rabinow’s fine book Making PCR makes a persuasive case that many people at the Cetus Corporation in Emeryville, California, where Mullis then worked, had a hand in it, and that the discovery of PCR might be more plausibly referred to a corporate ethos (and ...

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