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At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Da Vinci Code’, 8 June 2006

The Da Vinci Code 
directed by Ron Howard.
May 2006
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... The great secret of Ron Howard’s movie version of The Da Vinci Code has nothing to do with murders, cryptology, the Templars, Opus Dei, Mary Magdalene, or the idea that Christ might have been a practising heterosexual. It’s a masterly piece of Hollywood hokum, spoiled only slightly by the fact that it appears to be taking itself seriously ...

Suicide by Mouth

Deborah Friedell: Richard Price, 17 July 2008

Lush Life 
by Richard Price.
Bloomsbury, 455 pp., £12.99, August 2008, 978 0 7475 9601 1
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... A cop has taken his wife to the movies to see something gentle by Ron Howard, but it finishes at the same time as Batman and Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 62, and as the three audiences collide, the cop finds himself surrounded by young entry-level drug dealers (runners, lookouts, bagmen), ‘every goddam kid I ever strip-searched, busted, smacked upside the head ...

You’ve got it or you haven’t

Iain Sinclair, 25 February 1993

Inside the Firm: The Untold Story of the Krays’ Reign of Terror 
by Tony Lambrianou and Carol Clerk.
Pan, 256 pp., £4.99, October 1992, 0 330 32284 2
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Gangland: London’s Underworld 
by James Morton.
Little, Brown, 349 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 356 20889 3
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Nipper: The Story of Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read 
by Leonard Read and James Morton.
Warner, 318 pp., £5.99, September 1992, 0 7515 0001 1
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Smash and Grab: Gangsters in the London Underworld 
by Robert Murphy.
Faber, 182 pp., £15.99, February 1993, 0 571 15442 5
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... occasion. A motor eased alongside Tony at the corner of Blythe Street, Bethnal Green. Ron and Reg were inside, keeping company with a known associate, Dickie Morgan. Reg was nicely cased in a blue three-piece by Woods of Kingsland Road. Dickie matched him. (The Twins were very influential that way. All the faces were expected to dress to a ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... If the enemy of my enemy is my friend, it follows that the enemy of Michael Howard is my hero. So awful was Howard’s long reign at the Home Office that many liberals sought democratic relief from the most blatantly undemocratic section of the establishment: the judiciary. It was the strange sound of Law Lords denouncing Howard’s preposterous insistence that ‘prison works’ and the widespread jubilation at his many snubbings in the courts that led to liberal hosannas for the judges ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... sinister and hapless – CREEP. The investigators also obtained warrants to search a room in a Howard Johnson motel across the street from the Watergate complex, which, the authorities surmised, had been used as a lookout by the burglars’ accomplice or accomplices. Here the police found an address book containing a note, ‘HH WH’, next to a telephone ...

Tea-Leafing

Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... down to the polluted town.’ The publication of Reynolds’s book has coincided with the death of Ron Kray and the release from a 20-year jail sentence of Howard Marks, the Oxford graduate cannabis smuggler, now also at work on his memoirs. So here we have Britain’s best-known gangster (or half of him), the perpetrator of ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... like John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima’. ‘War movies with John Wayne’ sent Ron Kovic to Vietnam: ‘Yes, I gave my dead dick for John Wayne,’ he said when he returned a paraplegic. Vietnam vets and their doctors named ‘John Wayne Syndrome’ a stress disorder in which the soldier fails to live up to ‘an ideal of ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... their knowledge of current affairs and hone their interview techniques. ‘I like that Michael Howard,’ says one. ‘And Kenneth Clarke’s a good bloke too.’ Neither boy, I suppose, has ever known anything but a Tory government nor by the sound of it ever wants to. At Birmingham I have a session with David Edgar’s playwrights’ class, then do ...

Dysfunctional Troglodytes with Mail-Order Weaponry

Iain Sinclair: Edward Dorn, 11 April 2013

Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... and indolence of mainstream critics. He flew off to Las Vegas and took a cab to the hotel where Howard Hughes was rumoured to be sequestered in the penthouse, intending to present him with a copy of the poem in which Dorn shaped his non-existence into a divine comedy of cocaine and cactus; virtual travel through high sierras and white deserts zeroing ...

Obama v. Clinton: A Retrospective

Eliot Weinberger: A Tale of Two Candidates, 3 July 2008

... grassroots organiser, and brought it into the age of the internet – a force first recognised by Howard Dean in his unsuccessful 2004 campaign. Combining the ‘50 state strategy’ that Dean, as the head of the Democratic National Committee, had devised (to the absolute derision of the Clintonistas) with the decentralised nature of the web, Obama realised ...

My God, the Suburbs!

Colm Tóibín: John Cheever, 5 November 2009

Cheever: A Life 
by Blake Bailey.
Picador, 770 pp., £25, November 2009, 978 0 330 43790 5
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... the antic, happy drunk, who one night in 1946 danced the ‘atomic waltz’ with Howard Fast’s wife, Betty, on his shoulders, until she put out a cigarette in his ear and he flung her to the floor. There was Cheever the mean drunk, whose dry wit would suddenly turn vicious at some vague point … And finally – more and more often ...

Here was a plague

Tom Crewe, 27 September 2018

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... Jarman made a note in his diary in April 1989: ‘Since autumn: Terry, Robert, David, Ken, Paul, Howard. All the brightest and best trampled to death – surely even the Great War brought no more loss into one life in just 12 months, and all this as we made love not war.’ In March 1992: ‘We talked of the people who died of Aids this week.’ ‘To say ...

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