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A Common Playhouse

Charles Nicholl: The Globe Theatre, 8 January 2015

Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle That Gave Birth to the Globe 
by Chris Laoutaris.
Fig Tree, 528 pp., £20, April 2015, 978 1 905490 96 7
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... said to have ‘secret passages towards the water’. Shakespeare bought it for £140 from Henry Walker, ‘citizen and minstrel of London’. The deed of sale is dated 10 March 1613: he put down £80 and the following day signed a mortgage agreement with Walker for the remaining £60. Whether Shakespeare ever lived in ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... damning. He was so selfish, so needful to protect his own reputation.’ Jones’s older son, Bob Walker, remembers Charlie Chaplin coming over to him at a party in Malibu. ‘“You know, kid, whenever I need an adjustment, I just bend over like this.” And he turned his back to the ocean, bent over, and looked out between his knees … A beautiful ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1985, 5 December 1985

... few other ‘viable places of worship’. London. Writing a review of Auden in Love, I come across Stephen Spender’s story of how Auden made Spender pay for the cigarettes he had bummed off him on Ischia. Spender points out that at other times Auden could be conspicuously generous, on one occasion giving Spender £50 towards a pony for his daughter. This ...


Jenny Turner, 24 September 1992

High Cotton 
by Darryl Pinckney.
Faber, 295 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 571 16491 9
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... sense, of being a story which makes use of elements of the author’s life, but in the big, strong Stephen Hero sense, in which the writer is projecting an aggrandised version of his own self and attempting through it to get at society, history, identity, the spirit of the age, all the big themes of the modern novel. Roughly speaking, there are two different ...

All about Me

Kevin Kopelson: Don Bachardy, 9 April 2015

by Don Bachardy.
Glitterati, 368 pp., £45, October 2014, 978 0 9913419 2 4
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... reading – and then reviewing for this very publication – a biography of Franz Liszt by Alan Walker.* I was also reading – for amusement – the biography of Lytton Strachey by Michael Holroyd and one of Dorothy Parker by Marion Meade. In Holroyd’s book, I was most struck by some portraits – reproduced in full colour – that had been done of ...

‘Double y’im dees’

Christopher Tayler: Ben Fountain, 2 August 2012

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk 
by Ben Fountain.
Canongate, 307 pp., £16.99, July 2012, 978 0 85786 438 3
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... most banal sort of personality. He thought of the pro-am round he’d played years ago with George Walker Bush, back in the days when the future president was merely the affable front man for the Texas Rangers. ‘You know how it is with those Latin players,’ the young Bush told Sonny with his trademark smirk. ‘The first thing they do when they get that ...

Who’s sorry now?

Andrew O’Hagan: Michael Finkel gets lucky, 2 June 2005

True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa 
by Michael Finkel.
Chatto, 312 pp., £15.99, May 2005, 0 7011 7688 1
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Burning Down My Master’s House 
by Jayson Blair.
New Millennium, 288 pp., $24.95, March 2004, 9781932407266
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The Journalist and the Murderer 
by Janet Malcolm.
Granta, 163 pp., £8.99, January 2004, 1 86207 637 5
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... from Michael Finkel streaks across a firmament already glittering with apologetic precedents. Stephen Glass, once a popular and ambitious young thing at the New Republic, invented email addresses and whole companies to hide his deceit, and later went on to invent a novel about the affair, The Fabulist, which features a not-entirely-well-concealed ...

Otherwise Dealt With

Chalmers Johnson: ‘extraordinary rendition’, 8 February 2007

Ghost Plane: The Inside Story of the CIA’s Secret Rendition Programme 
by Stephen Grey.
Hurst, 306 pp., £16.95, November 2006, 1 85065 850 1
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... rendition’ thanks to the work of journalists writing for mainstream media. One of these is Stephen Grey, a regular contributor to the New York Times, the Guardian, the Times, the Sunday Times and the New Statesman. His new book divides fairly neatly into an account of how he and his colleagues uncovered the CIA’s secret flights to torture centres and ...

Iraq, 2 May 2005

Andrew O’Hagan: Two Soldiers, 6 March 2008

... combat zones – ‘and turned into an area known to us as “India”,’ says Lance Sergeant Stephen Phipps. ‘We then made our way through the al-Mukatil al-Araby district. I’m not sure if we drove to Green 5 – the streets were getting quieter.’ The patrol was about forty kilometres from Camp Abu Naji and the vehicles trundled along a dimly lit ...

The Common Law and the Constitution

Stephen Sedley, 8 May 1997

... them to be members of either House: in recent decades at least two individuals – Patrick Gordon Walker and Frank Cousins – held ministerial office when they were neither MP nor peer. In spite of these elementary constitutional facts, much of the press has seemed to suggest that executive government is the apex of the democratic structure and that judges ...

Warfare State

Thomas Meaney, 5 November 2020

The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities 
by John J. Mearsheimer.
Yale, 320 pp., £20, November 2018, 978 0 300 23419 0
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Republic in Peril: American Empire and the Liberal Tradition 
by David Hendrickson.
Oxford, 304 pp., £25.49, December 2017, 978 0 19 066038 3
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... fiefdom in the mid-19th century, America produced its own brand of freebooters, including William Walker, the Tennessee doctor who conquered and ruled Nicaragua for ten months and decimated the population of Costa Rica.Until the end of the 19th century the US state was in no position to undertake imperial projects outside its region, and its projected sphere ...

Neutered Valentines

David Bromwich: James Agee, 7 September 2006

‘Let Us Now Praise Famous Men’, ‘A Death in the Family’, Shorter Fiction 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 818 pp., $35, October 2005, 1 931082 81 2
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Film Writing and Selected Journalism 
by James Agee.
Library of America, 748 pp., $40, October 2005, 1 931082 82 0
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Brooklyn Is 
by James Agee.
Fordham, 64 pp., $16.95, October 2005, 0 8232 2492 9
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... of interest to literate businessmen. Sent on assignment to Alabama in 1936, with the photographer Walker Evans, to do an article on tenant farmers, he returned with unorganised pages and sections of finished prose, prose-in-the-rough, poetry, extended captions and descriptions, none of them reducible to an article in Fortune. Agee’s manuscript kept soaking ...


Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... scuttles away, rucksack on stooped shoulders, distancing himself from his earlier disguise as wall-walker, acrobat; a workaday man of the crowd. But even with the rucksack – wrong colour, wrong shape – the man stands out: too furtive, too fiercely concentrated, fleeing the scene rather than jogging or striding like the fortunate denizens of the ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... was surely there to be read, but they would not allow it to be heard. The Commission had announced Stephen Foster when they were actually playing Wagner. Surely, critics who had followed the true score should have pointed that out? A good question, but perhaps one that only literature can answer. ‘Critics’ – the press, the academics, the think-tankers ...
... phase of Confederate commemorations – is more direct: ‘Erected to the memory of the heroes … Stephen Decatur Parish, James West Hadnot, Sidney Harris, who fell in the Colfax Riot fighting for White Supremacy, April 13, 1873.’ When EJI arrived in Montgomery there were more than fifty memorials of one sort or another to the glories of the ...

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