Political Profiles, By A Master Of The Art

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The political profile is a paradoxical thing, and that is part of its fascination. Power is rarely introspective: at its height it is usually unable to reflect or describe itself, and even at rest the last person you would ask for insight into the politician is the politician. But there comes a phase in political careers when the essential battles are over, when there is no message to stay on, but all is still recent enough to be vivid in the mind and to inform some part of the present day political contest. This is the moment that the eminent historian of government Peter Hennessy chooses to conduct the profiles that are collected in his new book Reflections: Conversations With Politicians.

First published on CapX: read more here

Remembering Jane Howard

From Economist.com

ELIZABETH JANE HOWARD who died on January 2—‘Jane’ to all who knew her—was an English writer of great originality and honesty. Only at the end of her long life did she receive the recognition she deserved. “I feel like I’ve been playing second fiddle my whole life,” she told me a few weeks before her death. “Now I’m playing first violin and I quite like it.”

by Richard Walker

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We Are All Film Directors Now

A WHILE BACK while out sailing I met up with one of the best broadcasters in Britain. He is called Dylan Winter and right now he is spending quite a lot of his time on a madcap scheme to sail his small and very ugly boat round every last inch of the British coastline, what he calls the slowest circumnavigation in history. I ended up making a short film for him.

by Richard Walker

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The Killer Dads

I can only recall ever being asked to write two obituaries in my career, but it is kind of fitting that they should be a bookmatched pair: Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. I found these obits in a folder as I was searching for some background on the current fight to oust the blood-soaked president of Syria – so, bedtime reading for Mr Assad, perhaps.

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A Portrait of Gareth Evans

WHAT a library is YouTube! When I first saw it I thought, great – old clips of Johnny Cash! Now I begin to see that the library is more Alexandrian than it is special interest. The Man In Black does have a place, but so does The Woman In White, and every shade in between – and yes, that does include cult philosophers of language and linguistics …

 

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Kubrick’s World

 

THIS profile of film director Stanley Kubrick was written for GQ magazine, and then filed away in editor Michael VerMeulen’s ‘maybe’ drawer. “I like it,” he said, “but …”.

 

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In The Pink

IT IS EASY to forget the river, in London. So when I was ushered (at an early hour) into the riverside office of the Financial Times – to discuss with the editor a profile of the great financial newspaper – I was startled suddenly to see the Thames running so close and so fast, almost lapping the FT‘s panoramic windows beneath Southwark Bridge.

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A Creature Of The Shallows

Book Review: Jacques Cousteau: The Sea King by Brad Matsen

THIRTY years ago Jacques Yves Cousteau was reckoned to be one of the ten most recognised individuals in the world. This biography, uncritical but revealing, shows how that happened.

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A Killing In Pakistan

OSAMA bin Laden has been killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, a figure of fascination and horror to the end. A journalist who had risked his life to interview bin Laden was asked what the man was like. “Personally? He was charming,” he said. “And very clever.” I never met bin Laden, but soon after he was chased out of Afghanistan, one of the US broadcast networks asked me to prepare this obituary.

 

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The Man Who Was Saddam

IN Iraq Saddam Hussein has been put to death, in circumstances as shocking and repulsive as the dictator himself. But who was he, really? Just before the invasion of Iraq, one of the US broadcast networks asked me to prepare this obituary.

 

 

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