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Thank God for Traitors

Bernard Porter: GCHQ, 18 November 2010

GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency 
by Richard Aldrich.
Harper, 666 pp., £30, June 2010, 978 0 00 727847 3
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... to read and hear almost every message that passes between us. In his new history of GCHQRichard Aldrich claims that this surveillance capability constitutes potentially ‘the most insidious threat to personal liberty’ we face today. Bentham’s panopticon was a fiction. The Victorians who came after him would never have permitted anything ...

Bad Nights at ‘The Libertine’

Keith Walker, 8 October 1992

Handel’s ‘Messiah’: A Celebration 
by Richard Luckett.
Gollancz, 258 pp., £18.99, April 1992, 0 575 05286 4
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The Rise of Musical Classics in 18th-Century England: A Study in Canon, Ritual and Ideology 
by William Weber.
Oxford, 274 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 816287 1
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... the virtual extinction of original English music for more than a hundred years’. Richard Luckett will have no truck with cultural snobbery of this sort, even if he fastidiously forgets ‘Hallelujah’ when he writes that in ‘For now is Christ risen’ Christ is ‘named for the first time in Messiah’. His quirky, learned, acerbic book ...

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Hugh Barnes, 21 February 1985

So Much Love 
by Beryl Reid.
Hutchinson, 195 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 0 09 155730 5
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Knock wood 
by Candice Bergen.
Hamish Hamilton, 223 pp., £9.95, October 1984, 9780241113585
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... Both these books sport impressive supporting casts, which run into the glittering hundreds. Sir Richard Attenborough is the common factor. Bergen was his co-star in a film called The Sand Pebbles, shot on location in the Far East. Out of hours, while the other actors, Steve McQueen amongst them, were busy getting drunk and chasing women, Dickie (bless ...

Traffaut’s Heroes

Richard Mayne, 4 September 1980

The Films in My Life 
by François Truffaut, translated by Leonard Mayhew.
Allen Lane, 358 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 7139 1322 3
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... heroes – including not only Lubitsch, Hawks, Hitchcock and Orson Welles, but also Robert, Aldrich, Frank Tashlin, Robert Wise and Nicholas Ray. Characteristically, his best remarks about them home in on technique. ‘Hitchcock’s mastery of the are grows greater with each film and he constantly needs to invent new difficulties for himself. He has ...

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