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‘If I Could Only Draw Like That’

P.N. Furbank, 24 November 1994

The Gentle Art of Making Enemies 
by James McNeill Whistler.
Heinemann, 338 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 434 20166 9
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James McNeill Whistler: Beyond the Myth 
by Ronald Anderson and Anne Koval.
Murray, 544 pp., £25, October 1994, 0 7195 5027 0
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... that there will always be room for a further Life. The present one, by the art historians Ronald Anderson and Anne Koval, makes large claims. Whistler, say the authors, fabricated innumerable fictions about his own life, which he then began to believe himself, and his biographers (with the single exception of James Laver) have been gullible ...

Reaganism

Anthony Holden, 6 November 1980

The United States in the 1980s 
edited by Peter Duignan and Alvin Rabushka.
Croom Helm, 868 pp., £14.95, August 1980, 0 8179 7281 1
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... The news from Britain, and elsewhere, is that the distributors of Ronald Reagan’s yellowing old movies are enjoying a windfall of such proportions that supply – as his economic advisers would note with distaste – cannot possibly accommodate demand. All over the free world, it seems, people are cracking up at the sight of its putative leader being upstaged by Errol Flynn (Santa Fe Trail, 1940), stood up by Bette Davis (Dark Victory, 1939), outdrawn by assorted celluloid cowboys (1936-57, passim) and out-acted by a chimpanzee (Bedtime for Bonzo, 1951 ...

The Myth of 1940

Angus Calder, 16 October 1980

Collar the lot! How Britain Interned and Expelled its Wartime Refugees 
by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman.
Quartet, 334 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 7043 2244 7
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A Bespattered Page? The Internment of ‘His Majesty’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens’ 
by Ronald Stent.
Deutsch, 282 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 233 97246 3
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... two new books appear almost simultaneously, each attempting a full account. Both the Gillmans and Ronald Stent have looked at official papers, both have interviewed ex-internees. Yet their work has been less overlapping than complementary. Peter Gillman is a member of the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ team, and he and his wife, scenting conspiracy in top ...

Mailer’s Muddy Friend

Stephen Ambrose, 1 September 1988

Citizen Cohn 
by Nicholas von Hoffman.
Harrap, 483 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 245 54605 7
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... gossip, threats and innuendo. His main characteristic was cynicism. And yet his friends included Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Norman Mailer, Barbara Walters (they almost married), Cardinal Spellman, nearly all the top Mafia people, Richard Nixon, Si Newhouse, Rupert Murdoch, Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, William F. Buckley, an endless list of Congressmen ...

What would socialism be like?

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 1 March 1984

In the Tracks of Historical Materialism 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 112 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 86091 776 2
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The Dialectics of Disaster 
by Ronald Aronson.
Verso, 329 pp., £5.95, February 1984, 9780860910756
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Rethinking Socialism 
by Gavin Kitching.
Methuen, 178 pp., £3.95, October 1983, 0 416 35840 3
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The Economics of Feasible Socialism 
by Alec Nove.
Allen and Unwin, 244 pp., £12.95, February 1983, 0 04 335048 8
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The Labour Party in Crisis 
by Paul Whiteley.
Methuen, 253 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 416 33860 7
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... economy to alleviate waste and disorder. But he did actually say. Few others have. In Perry Anderson’s view, Marxists have been ceasing to do so since the Bolshevik coup in 1917. Ever since the 1880s, they had understandably been more exercised about how to escape from capitalism than about what to do once they had. Lenin’s success and the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Meeting the Royals, 19 February 2015

... waiting like Victorian waxworks for the buzz to turn into a creak on the stairs. My friend Gillian Anderson (she had asked me to accompany her) got the giggles and had to be calmed. But she was completely composed by the time the royal couple entered the room, walking slowly, looking completely and utterly baffled by the spectacle of being themselves. If most ...
... whom Robert McFarlane would describe as ‘an imaginative, aggressive, committed young officer’, Ronald Reagan’s personally approved ‘hero’. There was Oliver North the Man of God, the born-again Christian from the charismatic Episcopal Church of the Apostles who believed that the Lord had healed his wounds and who – in the words of one former ...

Who needs a welfare state?

Deborah Friedell: The Little House Books, 22 November 2012

The Little House Books 
by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Library of America, 1490 pp., £56.50, August 2012, 978 1 59853 162 6
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The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ 
by Wendy McClure.
Riverhead, 336 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 59448 568 8
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... Now more than 250 Hmong live there, and run two grocery stores. Little House on the Prairie was Ronald Reagan’s favourite television programme and also, by some accounts, Saddam Hussein’s. It was based on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s eight novels, which have now entered the Library of America as The Little House Books: the first Tea Party favourites to join ...

Who Will Lose?

David Edgar, 23 September 2008

Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future 
by Newton Minow and Craig LaMay.
Chicago, 219 pp., £11.50, April 2008, 978 0 226 53041 3
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... in 1992. Prep was never more significant than in the debates of 1980 and 1984, in both of which Ronald Reagan’s surrogate opponent was David Stockman, a young former radical who went on to head the Office of Management and Budget before resigning over the budget deficit in Reagan’s second term. Stockman had been employed by the independent candidate ...

You Have A Mother Don’t You?

Andrew O’Hagan: Cowboy Simplicities, 11 September 2003

Searching for John Ford: A Life 
by Joseph McBride.
Faber, 838 pp., £25, May 2003, 0 571 20075 3
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... home to tidy the porch, and Nixon was every part in The Godfather rolled into one. But it took Ronald Reagan to drive the matter past the point of absurdity: president of the Screen Actors’ Guild as well as star of Bedtime for Bonzo. The person who today seems most like a real President is Martin Sheen, who plays one in The West Wing.1 George W. Bush ...

We Do Ron Ron Ron, We Do Ron Ron

James Meek: Welcome to McDonald’s, 24 May 2001

Fast-Food Nation 
by Eric Schlosser.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7139 9602 1
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... ended up with about two thirds of the US market. They too are wary of their employees. A.D. Anderson, one of the founders of the slaughterhouse giant Iowa Beef Packers (IBP), said of the new assembly-line slaughter and carcass-dismembering system he helped pioneer: ‘We’ve tried to take the skill out of every step.’ One night Schlosser makes a ...

High Jinks at the Plaza

Perry Anderson, 22 October 1992

The British Constitution Now 
by Ferdinand Mount.
Heinemann, 289 pp., £18.50, April 1992, 0 434 47994 2
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Constitutional Reform 
by Robert Brazier.
Oxford, 172 pp., £22.50, September 1991, 0 19 876257 7
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Anatomy of Thatcherism 
by Shirley Letwin.
Fontana, 364 pp., £6.99, October 1992, 0 00 686243 8
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... Goldwater (‘regarded more than any other living American with almost universal affection’) and Ronald Reagan (‘about to engage in a great enterprise – indeed this occasion is at once his last, and unlikeliest, chance to back out’). Peering out elf-like from the convivial flux was Oakeshott. Perhaps we should imagine the young Mount too, somewhere ...

Nobel Savage

Steven Shapin: Kary Mullis, 1 July 1999

Dancing Naked in the Mind Field 
by Kary Mullis.
Bloomsbury, 209 pp., £12.99, March 1999, 0 7475 4376 3
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... bloom; Mullis’s little silver Honda Civic was purring through the vineyards and redwoods of the Anderson Valley; and his mind wandered. Life is sweet, he thought: ‘I am a big kid with a new car and a full tank of gas. I have shoes that fit. I have a woman sleeping next to me and an exciting problem, a big one.’ At mile-marker 46.58 on Highway 128 – he ...

Route to Nowhere

Peter Mair: European parties of the Left, 4 January 2001

The Heart Beats on the Left 
by Oskar Lafontaine, translated by Ronald Taylor.
Polity, 219 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7456 2582 7
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... by the evident and overwhelming consensus in favour of neo-liberalism, a consensus which, as Perry Anderson recently argued in his relaunch of New Left Review, ‘rules undivided across the globe: the most successful ideology in world history’. On the other hand, in a post-Cold War and, more locally, increasingly Europeanised environment, there are now ...

A Toast at the Trocadero

Terry Eagleton: D.J. Taylor, 18 February 2016

The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England since 1918 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 501 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 7011 8613 5
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... that body of writing was shaped by avant-garde currents by no means confined to Kensington. Perry Anderson (not, one imagines, Taylor’s favourite political thinker) has argued that modernist experiment on a major scale is generally underpinned by a history of political upheaval, one which culminated in early 20th-century Europe in the general crack-up of ...

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