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Andrew O’Hagan: ‘The Trip to Echo Spring’, 12 September 2013

... had Kingsley Amis and Ian Hamilton, imbibing and describing for all they were worth, you now have young men who constantly pat their pockets, plead poverty, dodge their round and worry about their deadlines, in ways that would have made Dylan Thomas reach for some ancient bardic curse. This all started many years ago when a ...


Christopher Andrew, 22 January 1987

Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... encountered what he called the ‘social hierarchy’ in which Burgess and Blunt moved so easily. Andrew Sinclair helps to cut the moles down to size. The real intellectual élite in inter-war Cambridge, he reminds us, were not the moles or their contemporaries (mostly from the arts faculties) in the Apostles but the brilliant scientists at the Cavendish ...

Father Figures

Marguerite Alexander, 1 September 1983

A Journey in Ladakh 
by Andrew Harvey.
Cape, 236 pp., £8.50, May 1983, 0 224 02056 0
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All of us There 
by Polly Devlin.
Weidenfeld, 200 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 9780297782247
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The Far Side of the Lough: Stories from an Irish Childhood 
by Polly Devlin and Ian Newsham.
Gollancz, 118 pp., £5.50, June 1983, 0 575 03244 8
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... region under Kashmiri control which lies between India, Tibet and Pakistan, becomes the object of Andrew Harvey’s quest after he is told by a young Frenchman in Delhi that ‘the mountains of Ladakh have been the setting for Buddhist meditation since three centuries before Christ was born.’ Less spoiled than more ...


Susannah Clapp, 10 November 1988

The Suzy Lamplugh Story 
by Andrew Stephen.
Faber, 198 pp., £10.95, October 1988, 0 571 15152 3
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... are probably (bar the Royals) one of the most well-known families in Britain.’ Andrew Stephen’s book has added to this celebrity. So have the newspaper stories about his story. For three long weeks the Observer carried huge chunks of this tiny book. Their estimate of the story which was most likely to attract readers was the same as that ...

Living the Life

Andrew O’Hagan, 6 October 2016

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency 
by James Andrew Miller.
Custom House, 703 pp., £20, August 2016, 978 0 06 244137 9
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... Jerry says, as Joe drags him out the door. More recently, in Entourage, the HBO series about a young movie star and his gang, we see how the agent-as-harbinger-of-comic-confusion has become, in the modern era, the agent-as-conductor-of-cosmic-chaos. In Series Two, our young actor, a Hispanic on the brink of ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... It is not too early in the morning for Coward to have a pop at both theatre critics and Angry Young Men. ‘Propaganda is death in the theatre,’ he says. But the viry viry wonderful Gertrude Lawrence is lovely. Listening to these recordings, we learn that writing words and speaking them are distinct businesses. It’s not just about accent, but also ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Valets, 10 September 2009

... a spoonful of sugar’. Beer, as he often informed us, he had liked very much when he was young, but now he found it ‘too bitter’. As for nicotine, he agreed with Goethe that the odour of tobacco smoke was the vilest of all. Premature hardening of the veins and arteries of the heart and brain was considered by Hitler to be the consequence of ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Have you seen their sandals?, 3 July 2014

... but for those who care, the shows are like visitations. Last week there was a perfectly tonsured young man in full Berber costume outside the old sorting office in New Oxford Street. He lives in Cockfosters and maintains a blog on male trends. ‘If fashion isn’t everybody’s life then I don’t know who everybody is,’ he said. ‘Well, it’s not the ...

On Being Late

Andrew O’Hagan, 24 January 2019

... from the start that we’re all out of control and maybe that’s more honest. In the old days, young people made plans before leaving the house, largely to avoid the poor business of wandering the streets without a clue. We had regular haunts, which made things easier, but, as I remember it, we pretty much kept to whatever plans had been made because in ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Orders of Service, 18 April 2019

... If​ you are British and no longer young, the title for a brand new Philip Larkin poem is liable to enter your head at least once a day. This morning it was ‘Order of Service’. It’s not as good as ‘High Windows’ or ‘Dockery and Son’, but it has the same doleful ebb. Searching in an old folder, I found an order of service for Larkin’s memorial at Westminster Abbey on 14 February 1986 ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Hearing of Rosemary West, 9 March 1995

... in agreement. They are talking about a group of travelling vandals, said to reside in Dursley. Two young trees have been broken on the Innocks Estate in North Nibley; tiles were ripped from the bus shelter, and Councillor Ray Manning – hero of the moment – has removed a broken seat. I pick up a copy of the Gazette later on, and see there is more. A £300 ...


Iain Sinclair: On the Promenade, 17 August 2006

... I recognised this reverse asylum-seeker, at once, as the performance artist and memory-cannibal Andrew Kötting. Umlaut rising above the lunar o of his surname like a pair of ice-blue staring eyes, too mad to blink. There are only four Köttings to be found, so he tells me, in the United Kingdom phonebooks. If anyone is looking. This stretch of the South ...

Scandal in Pittsburgh

David Nasaw: Andrew Mellon, 19 July 2007

Mellon: An American Life 
by David Cannadine.
Allen Lane, 779 pp., £30, November 2006, 0 7139 9508 4
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... There is nothing so enervating,’ Andrew Carnegie wrote in 1891, ‘nothing so deadly in its effects upon the qualities which lead to the highest achievement, moral or intellectual, as hereditary wealth.’ Boys born with silver spoons in their mouths, Carnegie said, were likely to choke on them. To spare them from ruin, and society from being despoiled by dynastic wealth, he argued for a nearly 100 per cent tax rate on large estates ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: From Bethlehem, 5 June 2008

... the heads of people passing.’ At Birzeit University – sign on the gate, ‘No Guns’ – the young women studying English wanted to talk about Foucault and George Eliot. Near the place where Yasir Arafat is buried, graffiti on the wall says, ‘ctrl+alt+delete’, the command you key in when your computer freezes. And that is the feeling one gets in ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Susan Boyle, 14 May 2009

... YouTube, you could say, is the depot for international self-realisation. Danny MacAskill, a young guy in Edinburgh who can do brilliant tricks on his mountain bike, gets himself filmed and somebody sticks it up on YouTube. Three million views. The young guy’s a legend. Andy McKee, a man who picks and slaps his ...

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