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I want to be real

Rosemary Dinnage

27 May 1993
Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon: Theosophy and the Emergence of the Western Guru 
by Peter Washington.
Secker, 470 pp., £20, April 1993, 0 436 56418 1
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... 19th century and which Blavatsky and many others felt to be threatening and arid. At the end of his survey of a century of cults and gurus, of sincerity and fraudulence, of hopes and disappointments, PeterWashington detects the faint sound of Blavatsky’s baboon having the last laugh. Washington presents his subject as the rise of the Western guru: in fact, charisma, faith, leader and follower, have ...
8 February 1990
Fraud: Literary Theory and the End of English 
by Peter Washington.
Fontana, 188 pp., £4.99, September 1989, 0 00 686138 5
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... development, since now we have a particular set of assumptions and assertions – in fact, an orthodoxy – as the reference of a word which used to be about the business of analysing such things. PeterWashington’s book is a polemic against the viewpoint which is often spoken of as if it were quite simply modern theory of literature rather than the particular critical ideology that it is. While ...
10 February 1994
The Age of Innocence 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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The Age of Innocence 
by Edith Wharton, introduced by Peter Washington.
Everyman, 308 pp., £9.99, September 1993, 1 85715 202 6
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... creates a perfect sense of how attractive and hopeless Newland is: subtle enough to resist the assumptions of his social set, and to suffer under them, but nowhere near tough enough to get out. PeterWashington’s edition of The Age of Innocence is discreet and handsome, like all the new Everymans; has a chronology and a helpful and often subtle introduction. Washington reports, for example ...

No Accident

Zachary Leader: Gore Vidal’s Golden Age

21 June 2001
The Golden Age: A Novel 
by Gore Vidal.
Little, Brown, 467 pp., £17.99, October 2000, 0 316 85409 3
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... draws to a close. The novels which comprise it, to list them in order of the historical periods they cover, are Burr (1973), Lincoln (1984), 1876 (1976, of course), Empire (1987), Hollywood (1989), Washington, DC (1967) and now The Golden Age. According to Vidal’s biographer, Fred Kaplan, it was while at work on Lincoln, in the early 1980s, that Vidal conceived of the series in its totality (though ...
26 November 1987
The Korean War 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 476 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780718120689
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The Origins of the Korean War 
by Peter​ Lowe.
Longman, 256 pp., £6.95, July 1986, 0 582 49278 5
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Korea: The War before Vietnam 
by Callum MacDonald.
Macmillan, 330 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 333 33011 0
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... only light equipment for his armed forces. But Rhee was staunchly anti-Communist, and in 1948-50, in the aftermath of the ‘loss’ of China and the Berlin Blockade, that was all that counted in Washington. The Americans did not like him; they could not spare the forces to defend him; but in the last resort he could not be abandoned. How many such figures have emerged in the Third World since! Out of ...
18 August 1983
Dangerous Pursuits 
by Nicholas Salaman.
Secker, 192 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 436 44086 5
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by Robert Moss.
Weidenfeld, 384 pp., £7.95, August 1983, 0 297 78166 9
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The Last Supper 
by Charles McCarry.
Hutchinson, 427 pp., £8.96, May 1983, 0 09 151420 7
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by Nora Ephron.
Heinemann, 179 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 434 23700 0
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August 1988 
by David Fraser.
Collins, 235 pp., £8.50, July 1983, 0 00 222725 8
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The Cure 
by Peter​ Kocan.
Angus and Robertson, 137 pp., £5.95, July 1983, 9780207145896
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... vengeful, conceited, ludicrous monologues of the appalling Croucher represent a form of self-parody. In our next three novels, all candidates for the bestseller list, the wacky, wonderful world of Washington DC and its heroic Press Corps is laid out like a movie-set. That faction-ridden city has enticed many a journalist: once he has entered the Washington Press Corps, even an ordinary British wally may ...

Past Its Peak

Robert Vitalis: The Oil Curse

17 December 2009
Crude World: The Violent Twilight of Oil 
by Peter​ Maass.
Allen Lane, 276 pp., £20, October 2009, 978 1 84614 246 8
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... the Caucasus. Dodds wrote of the waves of ‘inter-racial savagery’ between Muslim Tatars and Armenian Christians that had laid waste to the refineries and the surrounding boom town. Crude World is Peter Maass’s account of the violence, tyranny, poverty, environmental degradation, corporate malfeasance, corruption and state failure that seem to be fuelled by oil. By these lights, what happened in ...

At the Royal Academy

Peter​ Campbell: Hungarian Photography

28 July 2011
... 20.4 cm. The full-page reproduction in the catalogue is, necessarily, slightly smaller. In André Kertész, the splendid catalogue of the 2005 exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, there is a reproduction of a contact print from 1924 of the same image. It measures 5.1 cm x 3.8 cm and is reproduced to that size: a small dark rectangle in the middle of a large white page. Other ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter​ Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam

20 November 2008
... Vietnam.’ The evidence confirms that Wilson initially tried to ensure that no such connection was made by the Johnson administration. In March 1965 he told Michael Stewart, who was about to visit Washington: should the president try to link this question with support for the pound, I would regard this as most unfortunate and no doubt you will reply appropriately. If the financial weakness we inherited ...

The Light at the Back of a Sequence of Rooms

Peter​ Campbell: Pieter de Hooch

29 October 1998
Pieter De Hooch 1629-84 
by Peter​ Sutton.
Yale, 183 pp., £30, September 1998, 0 300 07757 2
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On Reflection 
by Jonathan Miller.
National Gallery, 224 pp., £25, September 1998, 1 85709 236 8
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... Some good places for looking at pictures retain the feel of the private houses they once were (the Phillips Collection in Washington, or Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge), but there are no rules – re-hangings at the Tate gave new life to pictures which seemed to have lost heart, just by putting them in the right company. In places ...

Don’t do what Allende did

Greg Grandin: Allende

19 July 2012
Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War 
by Tanya Harmer.
North Carolina, 375 pp., £38.95, October 2011, 978 0 8078 3495 4
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... large haciendas to peasants and to nationalise various industries, including mining. By 1970, electoral democracy in Chile meant socialism. Allende’s domestic programme alone was enough to trouble Washington, but it was his foreign policy that most alarmed Kissinger, then Nixon’s national security adviser. Poor, remote, sparsely populated and oddly shaped, Chile, Kissinger once quipped, was a dagger ...


Christopher Andrew

22 January 1987
Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... spends more of its time reading the newspapers. Much of the intelligence which can be obtained only by covert means in the East is freely available through open sources in the West. A KGB officer in Washington might begin an average day by reading articles on defence and defence contractors in the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, then move on to more detailed scrutiny of Aviation ...

Young Marvin

Frank Kermode

24 January 1991
A Tenured Professor 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 197 pp., £12.95, November 1990, 1 85619 018 8
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Shade those laurels 
by Cyril Connolly and Peter​ Levi.
Bellew, 174 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 0 947792 37 6
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... to oppose this well-established method of ensuring military requisition. How Marvin responds to the challenges of high politics, or low politicians, and how Harvard and, even more important, Washington respond to Marvin, is the remainder of the story. There is some genial padding, and the whole thing is good fun, stylishly written and altogether civilised. Cyril Connolly is famous for having wanted ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter​ Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... against the effects of verbal descriptions and visual images. War becomes entertainment that, properly orchestrated, can make Americans feel good again, however briefly, about their country: ‘Washington is not the backwater that it seemed to some when the action was in the streets to Prague or at the Berlin Wall,’ New York Times reporter R.W. Apple wrote during the Gulf War; ‘Is making a ...

Every Club in the Bag

R.W. Johnson: Whitehall and Moscow

8 August 2002
The Secret State: Whitehall and the Cold War 
by Peter​ Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 234 pp., £16.99, March 2002, 0 7139 9626 9
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Know Your Enemy: How the Joint Intelligence Committee Saw the World 
by Percy Cradock.
Murray, 351 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 7195 6048 9
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... seated anti-Bolshevism, cited the French proverb: ‘One always returns to one’s first loves – and one’s first hatreds.’ The nuclear age transformed the worlds of strategy and Intelligence. Peter Hennessy describes step by step how Britain got the bomb and what it was then used for. From 1945 on, the Chiefs of Staff took it for granted that Britain had to have ‘every club in the bag’, and ...

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