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Pity the monsters

Richard Altick, 18 December 1980

The Elephant Man 
by Bernard Pomerance.
Faber, 71 pp., £2.25, June 1980, 0 571 11569 1
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The Elephant Man: the Book of the Film 
by Joy Kuhn.
Virgin, 90 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 9780907080091
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The Elephant Man 
by Christine Sparks.
Futura, 272 pp., £1.25, August 1980, 0 7088 1942 7
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The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences 
by Frederick Treves.
Star, 126 pp., £95, August 1980, 0 352 30747 1
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The Elephant Man and Other Freaks 
by Sian Richards.
Futura, 197 pp., £1.25, October 1980, 0 7088 1927 3
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The True History of the Elephant Man 
by Michael Howell and Peter Ford.
Allison and Busby, 190 pp., £6.95, March 1980, 0 85031 353 8
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... of the mediocre short stories from which equally mediocre horror films have been made; and Michael Howell and Peter Ford’s The True History of the Elephant Man. The best of the lot is the last, a well-researched and level-headed biography that tells us considerably more about Joseph Merrick than we knew before. For example: Treves recorded 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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... up our stories and in terms of feeling really bad about it afterwards. This new memoir 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 ...

Country Life

David Cannadine, 5 November 1981

The Victorian Countryside 
edited by G.E. Mingay.
Routledge, 380 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 7100 0734 5
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... and Kegan Paul published The Victorian City: Images and Realities, edited by H.J. Dyos and Michael Wolff, a Wagnerian epic in which history went to town in exuberant, zestful and flamboyant fashion. Understandably, the two volumes won immediate and widespread acclaim as a tour de force of entrepreneurial inspiration and editorial skill: ‘a study in ...

Dismantling the class war

Paul Addison, 25 July 1991

The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol I.: Regions and Communities 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 608 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25788 3
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The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750-1950. Vol II.: People and Their Environment 
edited by F.M.L. Thompson.
Cambridge, 392 pp., June 1990, 0 521 25789 1
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The Temper of the Times: British Society since World War Two 
by Bill Williamson.
Blackwell, 308 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 631 15919 3
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... up into a mass of unrelated specialisms. The Cambridge Social History, edited in three volumes by Michael Thompson, looks very much like an ambitious attempt to restore coherence and direction. But the stated aim is the more modest one of communicating ‘the fruits of recent writing and the most recent research in social history to the wider audience of ...

Madly Excited

John Bayley, 1 June 1989

The Life of Graham Greene. Vol. I: 1904-1939 
by Norman Sherry.
Cape, 783 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 224 02654 2
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... romantic hero of his early novels, Andrews in The Man Within, Oliver Chant in Name of Action, and Michael Crane in Rumour at Nightfall. There is too much self-love, too little self-criticism in these early portraits of pleasant anguished young men built up from Greene’s own notion of himself as a young man romantically caught in the toils of love.’ The ...
... of privatisation, attributes the dropping of the ‘re-’ to a fellow Conservative, David Howell, one of the back-room Tory ideas men tinkering obscurely with economic models while Edward Heath and Harold Wilson squared off against the unions in the 1960s and 1970s. (Howell was Thatcher’s first energy minister. He ...

Oedipus was innocent

Malcolm Bull, 10 March 1994

Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith 
by Norman Cohn.
Yale, 271 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 300 05598 6
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... originally formed in the teachings of Zoroaster three thousand years ago. Koresh, born Vernon Howell, was a former Seventh-Day Adventist who gained his interest in apocalyptic from attending an Adventist seminar on the book of Revelation. Almost all who died in the Waco siege were also former Seventh-Day Adventists, recruited by Koresh in the preceding ...

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