Paul Johnson has written 'an intimate and very personal portrait of the 20th century' called, after John Aubrey, Brief Lives: two hundred portraits of famous people he has known, or met once, or nearly. The blurb calls him a 'shrewdly humorous analyst'. Here are a few examples of his shrewd humour, some of it so shrewd as to be surely unintentional. And the juxtaposition of Picasso and Pinochet is something else.
Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-73) was, in my view, a bad man with some good qualities.
Nikita Krushchev (1894-1971) was the ebullient, ruthless, blood-stained and accident-prone Soviet leader between the end of the Stalin era and the long, comatose reign of Brezhnev.
Richard Nixon (1913-94) led a busy life after his enforced resignation.