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How The English Establishment Framed STEPHEN WARD

A fine investigation of a legal injustice and the cultural upheaval that conjured it.

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Modern Britain’s splashiest sex-and-politics scandal led to the persecution of an innocent—or at least not especially guilty—man according to this yeasty exposé of the Profumo Affair, reissued for the 50th anniversary of the debacle.

When it came to light in 1963, the affair between British defense secretary John Profumo and party girl and sometime prostitute Christine Keeler sparked concerns that Keeler could have passed military secrets from Profumo to Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet diplomat and spy who was said to be her lover. Investigative journalists Knightley (The First Casualty, 2004, etc.) and Kennedy discount the espionage angle—Keeler, they argue, was a naïf with no head for worming intelligence out of people and probably had never slept with Ivanov—and instead treat the ruckus as a stew of lust, greed, Cold War fears, political vendettas and moral panic. At the center of the story is Stephen Ward, a London osteopath and artist who died of a drug overdose after he was put on trial for pimping Keeler and other women, charges that the authors dismantle in a meticulous recap of the courtroom drama. A friend of everyone who was anyone in Britain—patients and pals included Elizabeth Taylor and Prince Philip—Ward is a fascinating figure in the book. He was a bohemian and roué and, the authors demonstrate, indeed a spy for Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency; but he was also a kind, sincere soul undone by upper crust scheming and hypocrisy. Originally published under the title An Affair of State (1987), the book recounts facts that may be mostly old news to students of the Profumo Affair, but it’s still a well-paced, engrossing narrative of the scandal and its political and other tendrils; it’s replete with vivid sketches of the participants and their antics, including many kinky toffs. (Sample date night: “She used to tie me to a chair in my leather suit, whip me and then make me watch while she screwed someone in front of me.”) More than that, it’s a revealing portrait of the dawn of swinging London, obsessed with new sexual freedoms—and anxieties that needed a scapegoat.

A fine investigation of a legal injustice and the cultural upheaval that conjured it.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490939896

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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