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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affectionate, irreverant and funny
The remarkable life of Tom Driberg is enlivened but not outshone by the warmth and wit of Francis Wheen's narrative. Never were subject and author better matched than in this affectionate biography - an absolute treasure trove of incident and adecdote about a Zeligesque figure who contrived to be present at practically every defining moment of 20th Century history, from...
Published on 12 Dec 2001 by rupert.higgin@virgin.net

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadnt read other reviews before I bought this.
I bought this biography because I thought it was a link to other books I had waiting to read/ was reading. The bibliography of them featured several quotes or bon mots of Mr Driberg.
Regardless of your political beliefs and however much the authors reviewers say he liked his subject, there is little he could do to get away from the fact that Driberg was a...
Published 3 months ago by Kerrypickle


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Affectionate, irreverant and funny, 12 Dec 2001
This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
The remarkable life of Tom Driberg is enlivened but not outshone by the warmth and wit of Francis Wheen's narrative. Never were subject and author better matched than in this affectionate biography - an absolute treasure trove of incident and adecdote about a Zeligesque figure who contrived to be present at practically every defining moment of 20th Century history, from the Bright Young Things of the 20s through the Spanish Civil War and the prototype New Labour of the 1950s. Dispassionate, irreverent and above all glowing with good humour. Certainly the best book I have read all year, and probably one of the funniest.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the indiscreet charm of the bourgeoise, 7 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
Francis Wheen's account of this extraordinary man's disreputable life begins with a Hollywood flourish. Driberg's publishers intend to release the late peer's autobiography, sparking mass panic among almost everyone who knew him. Would he tell the Bevan story? Or the truth about the Callaghan rumour? The reader can picture a director cutting between scenes of journalists, Lords and ministers exchanging panicked phone calls.

Wheen doesn't shy away from the salacious side of Driberg's private life, in fact The Soul of Indiscretion positively revels in the sleaze, at turns witty, anecdotal, gossipy and bitchy (Wheen describes actress Jane Russell as a `raison-brained fruitcake' for example). One can't help but think the subject would have approved thoroughly.

As an account of one man's foibles, vices and beliefs, and as a social history of the mid twentieth century, this book gets probably my heartiest recommendation yet. Affectionately written without being sycophantic, well-researched without being dry and gossipy without being tawdry, this book is the perfect memorial to Tom Driberg, Lord Bradwell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange mixture of oil and water, 25 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
I knew very little about Driberg before reading this biography. What I did know was more about his reputation as a notorious gay politician in a time when such a label applied to no one. He deserved the label, there is no doubt about that and the book doesn't hold back about Driberg's indiscretions. He boasted about them quite freely himself and some of his colleagues dreaded being trapped in a car with him because they would have to listen to these endless tales of pick-ups and cottaging mixed in with tales of high society living and exquisite dining. It was very much a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. He preferred the working class men himself. Good looking, rough preferably, not too intelligent and completely unlike any of the gay men he would mix with in his political or social life. He made no bones about hiding them either and brought them along to social dinners much to his friends disquiet.

Apart from this side to Driberg the book covers his political stances on issues of the day - left-wing, liberal who joined the Labour Party reluctantly but would have left it had there been a more communist oriented party at the time. Ironically he lived quite a bourgeois life himself which would seem to have been completely at odds with his political views. His was a mixture of oil and water. His religious views, which meant a lot to him, seemed to have no effect whatsoever on his moral behaviour as he mixed with a lot of gay clergy and took their pronouncements on homosexuality with a nod and a wink. He seemed more concerned about the `frumps and frills' of the ceremonies than any doctrinal issues.

His journalism career is well covered and gives a good insight into the background of how these columnists came about their stories and the limitations under which they worked. Driberg was either liked or loathed in equal measure and his attitude to his long suffering wife is explored in detail. He was a complex man and the book does his life and indiscretions justice. It is well researched, indexed and very readable.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rake's prowess, 10 Feb 2011
This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
What a fantastic romp - joy and horror from start to finish. Admiring where the subject deserves it, warm where he was cold, stepping back where he steps forward. A wonderful piece of work with all the best qualities of journalism and history combined.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very readable account, 10 Mar 2014
By 
Mr. J. D. Clegg "Dave Clegg" (Huddersfield West Yorks) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
Francis |Wheel writes well. although this is a book full of name-dropping and the like,it doesn't become boring. But as a gay man, I find Driberg's life fascinating considering the time in which he was living, when to be a gay man was in itself illegal. Extraordinary how he managed to live as he did without ever being imprisoned.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wish I hadnt read other reviews before I bought this., 6 April 2014
By 
Kerrypickle "KLE" (South Glos England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
I bought this biography because I thought it was a link to other books I had waiting to read/ was reading. The bibliography of them featured several quotes or bon mots of Mr Driberg.
Regardless of your political beliefs and however much the authors reviewers say he liked his subject, there is little he could do to get away from the fact that Driberg was a thoroughly dislikeable man in many ways.
His sexual orientation, whilst relevant in view of his time, seemed to take far too prominent a place in the narrative. However I suppose without the homosexual encounters, narrow escapes etc the book would have been a great deal shorter, which might not have been a bad thing.
If some one who likes you writes a book like this wow! Where is the definitive Driberg book?
It isn't his own flawed memoirs, Ive read them, hoped this book would be more objective. It wasnt.
To Summarise, a thoroughly unpleasant malicious man who used and abused many of his acquaintances, friends and lets not ignore his poor wife.
First published in the 1990s it must have rattled some cages then. With some of his protagonists still alive, glad there was probably some restraint due to libel/ legal threat., Time having passed it merely points out what a true bigot a professed smells and bells Christian can be regardless of which side of the doctrinal fence they sit. When they are able to reconcile malice afore thought by going to church in the hope of life eternal, Im glad Im not a Christian.
One final thought,he was a lousy M.P
Hope hes turning in his grave about women Bishops.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good biography, 12 Oct 2006
By 
Henry Ireton (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Soul of Indiscretion: Tom Driberg, Poet, Philanderer, Legislator and Outlaw - His Life and Indiscretions (Paperback)
The unpleasantness of the man is matched by the strength of the biography.
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