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The Fall of the Shah

Malise Ruthven, 4 July 1985

Shah of Shahs 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by William Brand.
Quartet, 152 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 7043 2473 3
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The Pride and the Fall: Iran 1974-1979 
by Anthony Parsons.
Cape, 160 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 224 02196 6
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Iran under the Ayatollahs 
by Dilip Hiro.
Routledge, 416 pp., £20, January 1985, 9780710099242
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Obbligato: Notes on a Foreign Service Career 
by William Sullivan.
Norton, 279 pp., £13.95, October 1984, 0 393 01809 1
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Envoy to the Middle World: Adventures in Diplomacy 
by George McGhee.
Harper and Row, 458 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 06 039025 5
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The Persians amongst the English 
by Denis Wright.
Tauris, 273 pp., £17.95, February 1985, 1 85043 002 0
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... expert sufficiently aware of the intellectual currents to provide Parsons with accurate briefings. William Sullivan, US Ambassador to Iran during the crucial two years of the revolution, seems to have been better-informed in this respect, even if his understanding was superficial. ‘Shariati,’ he says, ‘attempted to reconcile socialism with ...

Rug Time

Jonathan Steinberg, 20 October 1983

Kissinger: The Price of Power 
by Seymour Hersh.
Faber, 699 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 571 13175 1
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... Here is a typical sentence: ‘The revived interest in the White House wiretaps also prompted William Sullivan, who was then in the midst of a power struggle with J. Edgar Hoover, to visit Robert Mardian, head of the Justice Department’s Internal Security Division, and warn him, as Mardian later testified, that Hoover could not be trusted and might ...

Public Enemy

R.W. Johnson, 26 November 1987

Secrecy and Power: The Life of J. Edgar Hoover 
by Richard Gid Powers.
Hutchinson, 624 pp., £16.95, August 1987, 0 02 925060 9
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... best-seller, publishing 18 volumes of ‘true crime stories’. The first head of the FBI, William Flynn, edited a popular crime magazine, Flynn’s Weekly. His successor, William Burns, was a national celebrity and the subject of countless feature articles. Like Flynn, Burns was an affable, extrovert Irish cop – a ...

Respectful Perversion

John Pemble: Gilbert and Sullivan, 16 June 2011

Gilbert and SullivanGender, Genre, Parody 
by Carolyn Williams.
Columbia, 454 pp., £24, January 2011, 978 0 231 14804 7
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... and said: ‘That’s what I call poetry!’ He then predicted that the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan would be the most enduring achievement of the Victorian age. The incident is remarkable because the man was Lytton Strachey and he wasn’t joking. No Bloomsbury raspberry here. The famous debunker of eminent Victorians was handing out a bouquet to ...

Snarly Glitters

August Kleinzahler: Roy Fisher, 20 April 2006

The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 
by Roy Fisher.
Bloodaxe, 400 pp., £12, June 2005, 1 85224 701 0
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... In a 1979 review of Roy Fisher’s collection of poems The Thing about Joe Sullivan, probably the most likeable collection by a not always likeable poet, John Ash wrote: ‘In a better world, he would be as widely known and highly praised as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.’ This would be a very strange world, and not necessarily a better one ...

The Ugly Revolution

Michael Rogin: Martin Luther King Jr, 10 May 2001

I May Not Get there with You: The True Martin Luther King Jr 
by Michael Eric Dyson.
Free Press, 404 pp., £15.99, May 2000, 0 684 86776 1
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The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr. Vol. IV: Symbol of the Movement January 1957-December 1958 
edited by Clayborne Carson et al.
California, 637 pp., £31.50, May 2000, 0 520 22231 8
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... Kennedy brothers) conducted a campaign to discredit King. The organisation’s assistant director, William Sullivan, compiled from the Bureau’s wiretaps and bugs a tape of the noises of the civil rights leader’s extramarital activities. He sent it to King with a letter threatening to expose him; purporting to be a ‘Negro’, the letter-writer ...

‘A Little Feu de Joie’

Adam Shatz: Khomeini rises, 25 April 2013

Days of God: The Revolution in Iran and Its Consequences 
by James Buchan.
John Murray, 482 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84854 066 8
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... The American government was divided between those in favour of a military coup, and those, like William Sullivan, the American ambassador in Tehran, who saw Khomeini as a Gandhi-like figure and a potential ally in the fight against communism. The Soviets assumed that America’s loss would be their gain, and that the shouts of ‘God is great!’, the ...

Ministry of Apparitions

Malcolm Gaskill: Magical Thinking in 1918, 4 July 2019

A Supernatural War: Magic, Divination and Faith during the First World War 
by Owen Davies.
Oxford, 284 pp., £20, October 2018, 978 0 19 879455 4
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... In​ 2001 an architect called Danny Sullivan claimed to have found cine film of an angel while rooting around in a Monmouth junk shop. This was, unsurprisingly, a hoax, as were claims that Marlon Brando had paid £350,000 for the footage. But the alleged provenance was intriguing. Sullivan invented a psychical researcher called William Doidge, who had, he said, fought with the Scots Guards at the Battle of Mons in August 1914 ...

Must they twinkle?

John Sutherland, 1 August 1985

British Literary Magazines. Vol. III: The Victorian and Edwardian Age 1837-1913 
edited by Alvin Sullivan.
Greenwood, 560 pp., £88.50, December 1984, 0 313 24335 2
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The Book Book 
by Anthony Blond.
Cape, 226 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 224 02074 9
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... The Gazette set the scene for the first of literary journalism’s battles between editor (William Jerdan) and proprietor and main advertiser (Colburn). Having lost control of the Literary Gazette, Colburn was instrumental in setting up the Athenaeum (1828), the weekly which was to become the top mid-Victorian review.* Again a battle had to be fought ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories, 24 January 2013

The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... for the Darwinian challenges facing their party? For all their failings in the role of leader, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith did try at first to court the elusive middle ground in British politics; but the far from fanciful fear of electoral oblivion prompted a hurried succession of leaders, including Michael Howard, who was less temperamentally ...

Summer Simmer

Tom Vanderbilt: Chicago heatwaves, 22 August 2002

Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago 
by Eric Klinenberg.
Chicago, 305 pp., £19.50, August 2002, 0 226 44321 3
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... city out of the prairie grass. It was ‘all magnificent and wild’, the skyscraper pioneer Louis Sullivan wrote in the 1870s of this former frontier fort, a ‘crude extravaganza’. The city was wresting itself from its surroundings, ‘the primal power assuming self-expression amid nature’s impelling urge’. Others were less sanguine about this conquest ...

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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... don’t know how I can demonstrate my remorse,’ Glass is reported to have said to Andrew Sullivan, the editor who hired him. Sullivan pointed out, not in so many words, that taking a giant book advance and allowing a film to be made from the story of your misdemeanours might not be the subtlest demonstration of ...

Venice-on-Thames

Amanda Vickery: Vauxhall Gardens, 7 February 2013

Vauxhall Gardens: A History 
by Alan Borg and David Coke.
Yale, 473 pp., £55, June 2011, 978 0 300 17382 6
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... customer if Vauxhall offered more nightingales and fewer strumpets. A Virginian gentleman called William Byrd was matter of fact about the amenities in June 1718: We went to Spring Gardens where we picked up two women and carried them into the arbour and ate some cold veal and about 10 o’clock we carried them to the bagnio, where we bathed and lay with ...

Utopia Limited

David Cannadine, 15 July 1982

Fabianism and Culture: A Study in British Socialism and the Arts, 1884-1918 
by Ian Britain.
Cambridge, 344 pp., £19.50, June 1982, 0 521 23563 4
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The Elmhirsts of Dartington: The Creation of an Utopian Community 
by Michael Young.
Routledge, 381 pp., £15, June 1982, 9780710090515
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... merchant turned cattle herdsman), Sir Richard Bulkeley (an early 18th-century hunchback virtuoso), William Blake (‘I see so little of Mr Blake now,’ his wife once complained: ‘He is always in Paradise’), and James Pierrepont Greaves (damned by Carlyle as a ‘blockhead’ and an ‘imbecile’), preferred to leave the world rather than to understand or ...

A Glorious Thing

Julie Peters: Piracy, 4 November 2010

Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to Gates 
by Adrian Johns.
Chicago, 626 pp., £24, February 2010, 978 0 226 40118 8
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... was death to genius. The engineer, arms manufacturer, inventor and industrial ‘wizard’ Sir William Armstrong, who fought for abolition of the patent regime (exploiting others’ inventions when he could get away with it and fiercely protecting his own), explained his view in 1863 in Darwinian terms: As in the vegetable kingdom fit conditions of soil ...

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