Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

A cover too far

From Sir Anthony Kershaw, MC

Sir: I yield to no one in my contempt and hatred of the Kennedy elan. But I think the use of the word 'Assassination' on the front cover of The Spectator (24 July) goes too far; it demeans you.

Anthony Kershaw

West Barn, Badminton, Gloucestershire

From Mrs Barbara Griffiths

Sir: I have no special interest in the Kennedys but your front cover and the related article (`The real victims of the Kennedy curse', 24 July) strike me as being in incredibly poor taste. Don't sack Mark Steyn, as he is only trying to earn a living, but you should know better.

Barbara Griffiths

From Mr Simon J.B. Pratt

Sir: The wickedly amusing diatribe by Mark Steyn forgets the most recognisable and adored lady - the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe - whose widely publicised infatuation with JFK and subsequently his younger brother, the Attorney General - may well have had something to do with her untimely end.

Simon J.B. Pratt

Down St Mary Vineyard, Down St Mary, Crediton, Devon

From Jeananne Crowley

Sir: Of course we Irish have a vested interest in Kennedy self-mythologising hype and spin but the clan's pathetic attempt to shift the blame on to Lauren Bessette left even the most susceptible of us breathless. I doubt if any publication in Ireland would have had the bottle to run Mark Steyn's expert deconstruction of the so-called curse. What an incisive writer and aren't you lucky to have him!

Jeannane Crowley

Spookish paranoia

From Mr David Turner

Sir: Alex Woodcock-Clarke (Letters, 17 July) indicates that the granting of a knighthood to Rudolf Peierls in 1968 is no guarantee that there was not `serious evidence that he was [a] Soviet spy', as Lord Kagan and Sir Anthony Blunt received honours when they were under `such suspicion'.

It is true that MIS is reported to have long been suspicious of Joe Kagan (the Lithuanian raincoat-manufacturer and jailbird who was an associate of Harold Wilson) and that the spooks' mistrust of him was made more acute by information received from a defector in 1971. However, nothing was ever proved against Kagan and it seems fair to say that he received his knighthood in 1970 and his life peerage in 1976 in the face of MIS paranoia rather than `serious evidence' of treachery. As to Anthony Blunt, it is unclear when MI5 first suspected that he was a spy; but it is certain that MIS had no `serious evidence' against him until 1964, long after he was knighted (in 1956).

David Turner Chestnut Street, Borden, Kent

A true Hemingway

From Mrs Sandy Forsyth

Sir: As a fan of Ernest Hemingway since long ago, I enjoyed Edward Docx's article on the great writer's centenary (`Nick Hornby he wasn't', 24 July). But there are two points on which I disagree.

He refers to `thriller writing . . . which no one need take seriously'. The term 'thriller' is a recent invention describing a tale of high or low adventure, nearly always contemporary, often in a foreign setting, involving a hero, opponents, danger, risk, skulduggery and mortal combat. In their day Kipling, Dumas, Hugo, Conrad, London, Childers, Buchan, Stevenson and Ambler all filled this category. They were the thriller writers of their time.

Mr Docx's second assumption is that all modern authors are wimps who write about wimps. There is a living British author who has written about assassins, Nazis, mercenaries, revolutionaries, gangsters, spymasters, secret agents, fighter pilots and the SAS. Leading characters like Sam McCready, Quin, Mike Martin, Don Walker and Jason Monk appear very masculine to me.

He, the author, did not become familiar with these fictional men from pure invention. He flew single-seater jets as a teenager, moved through murky worlds of killers, forgers, smugglers, mercenaries, spies and arms dealers; flitted through Soviet-occupied East Germany passing for a German and was arrested by the Red Army and the Stasi. …

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