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How to vanish

Michael Dibdin

23 April 1987
The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis 
by Humberto Costantini, translated by Norman Thomas di Giovanni.
Fontana, 193 pp., £3.50, January 1987, 0 00 654180 1
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Requiem for a Woman’s Soul 
by Omar Rivabella, translated by Paul Riviera.
Penguin, 116 pp., £2.95, February 1987, 0 14 009773 2
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Words in Commotion, and Other Stories 
by Tommaso Landolfi, translated by Ring Jordan and Lydia Jordan.
Viking, 273 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 670 80518 1
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The Literature Machine 
by Italo Calvino, translated by Patrick Creagh.
Secker, 341 pp., £16, April 1987, 0 436 08276 4
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The St Veronica Gig Stories 
by Jack Pulaski.
Zephyr, 170 pp., £10.95, December 1986, 0 939010 09 7
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Kate Vaiden 
by Reynolds Price.
Chatto, 306 pp., £10.95, February 1987, 0 7011 3203 5
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... the brutal and tawdry ambience is played off against a manner of high-profile artifice, featuring elaborate chapter-headings and an insistently chatty authorial persona. Only in the final pages, where the Christian analogy is insisted on rather too stridently, does this tone falter. ‘To keep the reader from raising his hopes too high with regard to the ...
18 August 1994
Israel’s Border Wars, 1949-56: Arab Infiltration, Israeli Retaliation and the Countdown to the Suez War 
by Benny Morris.
Oxford, 451 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 827850 0
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... Israeli responsibility for the Palestinian exodus. Israel’s Border Wars is an impressive sequel bringing the story up to the 1956 Suez War. It is an account of Israel’s dirty war, directed largely against civilians, many of whom were refugees from the 1948 conflict. Almost as soon as the guns fell silent and armistice agreements were concluded between ...

Capital Folly

Avi Shlaim: The Jerusalem Syndrome

21 March 2002
Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Profile, 420 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 1 86197 333 0
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... on the international diplomatic agenda for a century and a half. When Arthur Koestler visited it during the 1948 war, he was filled with gloom at the ‘international quarrelling, haggling and mediation’ that he could see looming. ‘No other town,’ he wrote, ‘has caused such continuous waves of killing, rape and unholy misery over the centuries as this ...


Patrick Parrinder

7 July 1988
Forty Stories 
by Donald Barthelme.
Secker, 256 pp., £10.95, April 1988, 0 436 03424 7
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Tiny Lies 
by Kate Pullinger.
Cape, 174 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 224 02560 0
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Ellen Foster 
by Kaye Gibbons.
Cape, 146 pp., £9.95, May 1988, 0 224 02529 5
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After the War 
by Frederick Raphael.
Collins, 528 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 00 223352 5
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... at the University’, a Dean armed with a Gatling gun confronts a vast herd of sinister rodents bearing down on his campus. They look like ‘badly engineered vacuum-cleaner attachments’. The Dean’s wife suggests that they could take Alternate Life-Styles, but the Dean knows that the course is already fully enrolled. The dust-jacket to Forty Stories ...

Israel’s Caesar

Naomi Shepherd

26 November 1987
Sharon: An Israeli Caesar 
by Uzi Benziman.
Robson, 276 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 9780860514343
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Sands of Sorrow: Israel’s Journey from Independence 
by Milton Viorst.
Tauris, 328 pp., £16.50, September 1987, 1 85043 064 0
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... so loose a rein? Today, despite the overwhelming failure of the Lebanon War, which took place during Sharon’s term of office as Minister of Defence, and the condemnation of his conduct at the time of the Phalangist massacre at Sabra and Shatilla, he remains a member of the coalition cabinet, and a potential candidate for the premiership, should Yitzhak ...


Ronan Bennett

11 February 1993
by Oriana Fallaci, translated by James Marcus.
Chatto, 599 pp., £15.99, November 1992, 0 7011 3835 1
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... is so called because ‘his gentle face emanated an almost sugary sweetness.’ Then there is String, who is nicknamed String ‘because besides being very tall, he was as thin as a string.’ Fallaci makes an extra effort with his characterisation: ‘like a st...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

6 March 2014
The Wolf of Wall Street 
directed by Martin Scorsese.
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... raw and too close to the action for that. And too recent. Only this week one of the partners of Jordan Belfort, whose memoir forms the basis for the film, announced that he was suing Paramount for $25 million because of his portrayal in the film. He hadn’t liked the way he looked in the book but the film depicts him as … er … a criminal. In many ways ...
4 July 2013
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of ‘The Great Gatsby’ 
by Sarah Churchwell.
Virago, 306 pp., £16.99, June 2013, 978 1 84408 766 2
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The Great Gatsby 
directed by Baz Luhrmann.
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... to the war, but at officers’ training school in Alabama he fell in love with a girl of bewildering brilliance and beauty who would cost as much to keep as a yacht or a racehorse. But Fitzgerald and Wilson remained close till the end and Fitzgerald’s ardour, like Wilson’s respect, never dimmed. ‘Greatest’ is still hotly argued but no one would ...
9 May 1996
Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream: Power, Politics and Ideology from Begin to Netanyahu 
by Colin Shindler.
Tauris, 324 pp., £25, August 1995, 1 85043 969 9
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Summing Up: An Autobiography 
by Yitzhak Shamir.
Weidenfeld, 276 pp., £19.99, April 1994, 0 297 81337 4
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Broken Covenant: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis between the US and Israel 
by Moshe Arens.
Simon and Schuster, 320 pp., $25, February 1995, 0 671 86964 7
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A Zionist Stand 
by Ze’ev Begin.
Cass, 173 pp., £15, January 1993, 0 7146 4089 1
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Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism 
by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Farrar, Straus, 152 pp., $17, October 1995, 0 374 15492 9
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... Likud union of nationalist and liberal parties won their first electoral victory on 17 May 1977, bringing to an end three decades of Labour rule. The Likud was to dominate Israeli politics for the next 15 years. Colin Shindler’s book provides the first comprehensive survey of the Party’s origins, rise and decline, while paying particular attention to the ...


Ian Gilmour: Our Ignominious Government

23 May 1996
... To go to Beirut just when Shimon Peres is doing his uniquely energetic electioneering both there and in southern Lebanon does not seem well-timed. However, a friend in Beirut says it’s quiet there this morning and the weather is good. As the four of us are heading not for the beaches but for the refugee camps on behalf of Medical Aid for Palestinians, the weather is not decisive ...

Is Palestine Next?

Adam Shatz: The No-State Solution

14 July 2011
... No one in the Arab world was watching the news more closely than the Palestinians during the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The first emotion they experienced was disbelief; the second – particularly when they saw Palestinian flags being raised in Tahrir Square – was relief that they were no longer alone. Arab lethargy has been a virtual article of faith among Palestinians, who felt that their neighbours had betrayed them in 1948 and had done nothing to help them since ...


Stephen Wall

26 March 1992
Surviving: The Uncollected Writings of Henry Green 
edited by Matthew Yorke.
Chatto, 302 pp., £18, February 1992, 0 7011 3900 5
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Pack my bag 
by Henry Green.
Hogarth, 242 pp., £9.99, February 1992, 0 7012 0988 7
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by Henry Green.
Harvill, 225 pp., £6.99, February 1992, 0 00 271185 0
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... and his adolescent pose as an aesthete fostered some paragraphs which are subjected to a withering critique in his remarkable self-portrait Pack My Bag, written in 1938-9 under the threat of war and now reissued. He began his first novel Blindness while still at school; it came out while he was at Oxford. His account of undergraduate life there in Pack My ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers

16 July 2014
... necessarily a splash but probably a page one story with a spread inside. And I think that will bring it to an end.’ The following Sunday, the News of the World splashed the story. Four months later, Blunkett resigned from the cabinet. We now know the answer to Blunkett’s question. The News of the World – first when Rebekah Brooks was editor, then ...

The Push for War

Anatol Lieven: The Threat from America

3 October 2002
... The Administration has therefore been warned of the dangers. And while a new attack by al-Qaida during the war would help consolidate anti-Muslim American nationalism, the Administration would also be widely accused of having neglected the hunt for the perpetrators of 11 September in order to pursue an irrelevant vendetta. As far as the Israeli lobby is ...

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