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Is his name Alwyn?

Michael Hofmann: Richard Flanagan’s Sticky Collage, 18 December 2014

The Narrow Road to the Deep North 
by Richard Flanagan.
Chatto, 448 pp., £16.99, July 2014, 978 0 7011 8905 1
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... bark their way ashore through the rushes. That’s how I felt reading the Tasmanian novelist Richard Flanagan’s Booker Prize-winning and almost universally adored (some reviewers reached for their Tolstoy; others forbade any comparisons at all) Narrow Road to the Deep North: watching tourists hoaxed by polystyrene. It used to be that a novel would put ...

Christian v. Cannibal

Michael Rogin: Norman Mailer and American history, 1 April 1999

The American Century 
by Harold Evans.
Cape, 710 pp., £40, November 1998, 0 224 05217 9
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The Time of Our Time 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 1286 pp., £25, September 1998, 0 316 64571 0
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... by acts of courage, generosity and vision unparalleled in the history of man.’ So Harold Evans introduces his lavishly illustrated ‘popular political history’ of ‘the American century’, written to educate American immigrants like himself about the ‘nature of their heritage’. Something goes wrong when the page numbers change from roman to ...

Got to keep moving

Jeremy Harding, 24 May 1990

Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-War Pop 
by Charles Shaar Murray.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.99, November 1989, 0 571 14936 7
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Autobiography 
by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £13.95, February 1990, 0 333 53195 7
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... from the rock canon. One of them, ‘Little Wing’, was often performed by the jazz arranger, Gil Evans. ‘Every time I listen to his tunes,’ Evans said of Hendrix, ‘I hear something new. That’s the mark of a great composer.’ In 1970, Jimi Hendrix and Gil Evans had planned a live ...

Living on the Edge

R.W. Johnson: Nukes, 28 April 2011

Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb 1939-49 
by Jim Baggott.
Icon, 576 pp., £10.99, November 2009, 978 1 84831 082 7
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The Twilight of the Bombs: Recent Challenges, New Dangers and the Prospects for a World without Nuclear Weapons 
by Richard Rhodes.
Knopf, 366 pp., $27.95, August 2010, 978 0 307 26754 2
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Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers 
by Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi.
ICNND, 294 pp., November 2009, 978 1 921612 14 5
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... The story of the making of the atomic bomb has been told countless times before, most notably by Richard Rhodes, but Baggott’s book is rare in giving details not just of the successful Anglo-Canadian-American effort at Los Alamos, but the competing efforts in Germany, Japan and the USSR, culminating with the explosion of Joe-1 (the first Soviet bomb) in ...

Think again, wimp

John Sutherland: Virgin Porn, 16 April 1998

Sugar and Spice: A Black Lace Short Story Collection 
edited by Kerri Sharp.
Black Lace, 292 pp., £7.99, October 1997, 0 352 33227 1
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Ménage 
by Emma Holly.
Black Lace, 261 pp., £5.99, January 1998, 9780352332318
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... Sir, The quicker Richard Branson sells Virgin Railways and moves on the better. The last two occasions my wife has had the misfortune to use his wretched railway she has been 60 minutes and 110 minutes late. We are sick and tired of his artificial smile (it reminds us of Mr Blair’s) and his publicity forever in the press and on television ...

2000 AD

Anne Sofer, 2 August 1984

The British General Election of 1983 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 333 34578 9
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Militant 
by Michael Crick.
Faber, 242 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13256 1
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... their opponents in the propaganda war by a brilliant campaign of softening up the press. Richard Evans of the Times was quoted as saying of their Press Officer, Pat Edlin: ‘He was the best Press Officer I’ve ever come across. He made press men in Whitehall or the big companies look like beginners. He ought to give lessons in it.’ Shrewder ...

Mistrial

Michael Davie, 6 June 1985

The Airman and the Carpenter: The Lindbergh Case and the Framing of Richard Hauptmann 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 438 pp., £12.95, April 1985, 0 00 217060 4
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... The greatest story since the Resurrection was how Mencken described the 1935 trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann for the kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby. Among the three hundred-odd reporters present, besides Mencken, were Damon Runyon, Ford Madox Ford, Edna Ferber, Alexander Woollcott, Heywood Broun, Walter Winchell and Joseph Alsop, who was required to write no less than ten thousand words a day for the Herald Tribune ...

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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... 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 up new ...

Frognal Days

Zachary Leader: Files on the Fifties, 4 June 1998

Previous Convictions: A Journey Through the Fifties 
by Nora Sayre.
Rutgers, 464 pp., £27.95, April 1997, 0 8135 2231 5
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... and the people she met in their living room in New York: Edmund Wilson, James Thurber, Walker Evans, James M. Cain, Nunnally Johnson, S.J. Perelman, Dawn Powell, Joseph Mitchell and John O’Hara. Many of these celebrated figures, artists and authors approaching fifty at the start of the decade or only lately past it, grew up in small provincial ...

Silly Buggers

James Fox, 7 March 1991

The Theatre of Embarrassment 
by Francis Wyndham.
Chatto, 205 pp., £15, February 1991, 0 7011 3726 6
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... itself was perhaps the best in the world, well financed, brimming with talent and zeal. Harold Evans had taken over as Editor the previous year. Francis Wyndham and I later became close friends but at first he seemed formidable, even a little intimidating. He was already a legend among his contemporaries for his intellectual prowess, which seemed far too ...

Was it better in the old days?

Jonathan Steele: The Rise of Nazarbayev, 28 January 2010

Nazarbayev and the Making of Kazakhstan 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Continuum, 269 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 1 4411 5381 4
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... perjury in 1999 he has written books about himself and other public figures who fell from grace: Richard Nixon, his former special counsel Charles Colson, and John Newton, the Anglican hymn-writer who once captained slave ships. Nazarbayev’s life story doesn’t have this trajectory. It is 19 years since he became his republic’s leader and his rise has ...

Informed Sources

Antony Jay: The literature behind ‘Yes, Minister’, 22 May 1980

... the House that ‘no useful purpose’ would be served by re-opening the inquiry into the Timothy Evans case. This was despite a passionate appeal from Sir Frank Soskice, who said in 1961: ‘My appeal to the Home Secretary is most earnest. I believe that if ever there was a debt due to justice and to the reputation both of our own judicial system and to the ...

On my way to the Couch

E.S. Turner, 30 March 1989

On my way to the Club 
by Ludovic Kennedy.
Collins, 429 pp., £15, January 1989, 0 00 217617 3
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... End. On the strength of it, he was later asked by Truth to review a book about the case of Timothy Evans, hanged after his wife and baby daughter had been found murdered at 10 Rillington Place, West London, an address later notorious as the home of the mass murderer John Christie. The same Home Secretary, Maxwell Fyfe, by now a ‘charlatan’ with ‘all the ...

Kissinger’s Crises

Christopher Serpell, 20 December 1979

The White House Years 
by Henry Kissinger.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 1476 pp., £14.95
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... to lucid narration lies in a sentence found in the foreword to the present book: ‘Harold Evans, assisted by Oscar Turnill, read through the entire volume with a brilliant editorial eye; they taught me what skilled and intelligent editing can contribute to organisation and to lightening prose.’ Obviously the book’s main claim to attention must be ...

Time for Several Whiskies

Ian Jack: BBC Propaganda, 30 August 2018

Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War 
by Edward Stourton.
Doubleday, 422 pp., £20, November 2017, 978 0 85752 332 7
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... It employed no reporters – news items were prepared from Reuter’s agency copy – until Richard Dimbleby, a reporter on Southampton’s evening newspaper, applied for a job with a bold letter suggesting that some members of the news staff might be called ‘BBC reporters or BBC correspondents’ and ‘held in readiness, just as are the evening ...

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