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Infidels

Malise Ruthven, 2 June 1983

The Helen Smith Story 
by Paul Foot and Ron Smith.
Fontana, 418 pp., £1.95, February 1983, 0 00 636536 1
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... sixth floor of a Jeddah apartment block in May 1979. There were no other women, except for Helen Smith, a 23-year-old nurse from Yorkshire who worked in the same private hospital as Richard Arnot, a surgeon. What actually occurred at the party is still the subject of dispute, and is related to a pending legal action. But everyone knows what happened ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... the divisional court for the Government in 1982 in an initially successful attempt to deprive Mr Ron Smith of Leeds of his basic right to an inquest into the death of his daughter who had been found dead in strange circumstances in Saudi Arabia. The law at the time was clear – everyone had a right to an inquest into any dead body they brought to ...

In a Right State

Hilary Mantel: ‘In a Right State’, 18 February 2016

... The kind who roll on the floor and fake peritonitis. Who bring their own supper.Time passes. Ron pulls out his pack of cards and deals his mates in. Rodent’s not part of the inner circle. Neglected, he begins to swivel his eyes around. He shuffles his feet, he huffs and puffs, he’s getting ready to explode: I read the signs. Another minute and ...

Fatty

Tom Shippey, 5 May 1988

Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard 
by Russell Miller.
Joseph, 390 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7181 2764 1
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Dianetics 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 605 pp., £3.50, February 1988, 9781870451185
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Mission Earth. Vol. V: Fortune of Fear 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 365 pp., £10.75, July 1987, 1 870451 01 5
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Mission Earth. Vol. VI: Death Quest 
by L. Ron Hubbard.
New Era, 351 pp., £10.95, October 1987, 1 870451 02 3
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... As its title so obviously shows, the main thesis of Russell Miller’s book is that L. Ron Hubbard, inventor of Dianetics and founder of Scientology, was all his life an incorrigible liar. That being the case, it is a pity that the book starts off with a statement which sounds hypocritical at best. ‘I would like to be able to thank the officials of the Church of Scientology for their help in compiling this biography ...

State of the Art

John Lanchester, 1 June 1989

Manchester United: The Betrayal of a Legend 
by Michael Crick and David Smith.
Pelham, 246 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 7207 1783 3
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Football in its Place: An Environmental Psychology of Football Grounds 
by David Canter, Miriam Comber and David Uzzell.
Routledge, 173 pp., £10.95, May 1989, 0 415 01240 6
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... degeneration. Luckily the hearties don’t have it all their own way. Michael Crick’s and David Smith’s book describes how, at the same time as Stan Cullis was assembling his Wolves team, Matt Busby at Manchester United was embarking on a managerial career uniquely committed to attractive attacking football. The triumph’n tragedy saga of United under ...

The Jump-out Boys

J. Robert Lennon: The Drug-Bust that Wasn’t, 3 August 2006

Tulia: Race, Cocaine and Corruption in a Small Texas Town 
by Nate Blakeslee.
PublicAffairs, 450 pp., £15.99, September 2005, 9781586482190
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... prize, the alleged kingpin of Tulia’s drug trade. Another of those arrested was Donnie Smith. Charismatic, a former star athlete, he had graduated from high school against the odds. But he was soon getting into fights and taking drugs. A failed marriage and a series of dead-end jobs didn’t help. He was known to be on crack, and to have sold small ...

Suicide by Mouth

Deborah Friedell: Richard Price, 17 July 2008

Lush Life 
by Richard Price.
Bloomsbury, 455 pp., £12.99, August 2008, 978 0 7475 9601 1
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... A cop has taken his wife to the movies to see something gentle by Ron Howard, but it finishes at the same time as Batman and Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 62, and as the three audiences collide, the cop finds himself surrounded by young entry-level drug dealers (runners, lookouts, bagmen), ‘every goddam kid I ever strip-searched, busted, smacked upside the head ...

Diary

David Bromwich: The Snowden Case, 4 July 2013

... got their mental picture of it from a 1998 thriller called Enemy of the State. A lawyer (Will Smith), swept up by mistake into the system of total surveillance, suddenly finds his life turned upside down, his family watched and harassed, his livelihood taken from him and the records of his conduct altered and criminalised. He is saved by a retired NSA ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... he was speaking, Glyn Mathias, a BBC political correspondent, was screaming, ‘Are you gay?’ at Ron Davies, the Secretary of State for Wales, who had resigned after being caught searching for the kindness of strangers on Clapham Common. The Director-General of the BBC, Sir John Birt, was knighted by Tony Blair and worked with and befriended Mandelson at ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World, 17 February 2005

Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... that Nixon was not agonising over his situation so much as living out a key scene from Mr Smith Goes to Washington: James Stewart’s character alternately represented his ‘naive’ opponents Voorhis and McGovern, and his own idealistic self. Nixon’s most dreamlike performance came four days before Christmas 1970, when Elvis Presley (who’d ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Fresh Revelations, 20 October 1994

... not 16. Anyone in any doubt should have compared the speech by the civilised and courageous Chris Smith with that of the bigot Tony Marlowe. ‘Predatory’ is a word much in evidence, the frail faltering flame of heterosexuality always in danger of being snuffed out by the hot homosexual wind. 1 March. It seems pretty well accepted now that much of one’s ...

Diary

John Lanchester: A Month on the Sofa, 11 July 2002

... from Peckham, where Damilola Taylor was murdered, and spoke prominently about that, so he and Alan Smith went to the school to express their condolences. This is exactly the kind of thing that English footballers tend not to do, so good for him. This was his first time back to Osaka since then. Mulling over what the photographer said about hooligans, it ...

Diary

Christian Lorentzen: At the Conventions, 27 September 2012

... years later he and his wife Elizabeth left England for Nauvoo, Illinois. There he built Joseph Smith a temple that was not quite completed when the prophet was shot dead by a mob. Another mob burned down Miles’s temple, and he fled Nauvoo with his family. Hounded by animals, Indians and more mobs, they made their way to Salt Lake City, where he helped ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... Pound, Virgil and Sextus Propertius.’ He also introduced his girlfriend to Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Carolee Schneemann. ‘Her eyes opened wide.’In later years, Acker often said that she had studied linguistics under Roman Jakobson. This wasn’t true, Kraus thinks: Jakobson taught at Harvard, which didn’t take girls until the mid-1970s. Acker ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... of an anthology is whether it convincingly brings fresh material forward. Michael Harper, Dave Smith, Albert Goldbarth: Vendler takes risks at the Contemporary end of her Book, and mostly carries them off. Though one looks in vain for Hass or Dulpen, there is much to please, including a clutch of decorously unfeminist women. Louise Glück, for ...

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