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Recoil and Revulsion

        "Ambition and suspicion always go together."
—G.C. Lichtenberg

Back in the 1950's and 60's, when Malcolm Muggeridge was one of the resident personalities of British television, all over Britain people used to wonder what the origins of such a bizarre figure might be. Many of them would watch solely to be amazed by this dark-suited clown with the fleshy nose and wide, loose mouth, the fine, thinning, silver hair, the extravagant gestures, and the outlandish, drawling accent. "Where did they find him?" they would ask each other. "Is he really like that, or is it all an act?"

Muggeridge died, after some years of silence, in 1990. If any of that old curiosity about the Muggeridgean phenomenon survives, Richard Ingrams' absorbing biography will go a long way to satisfy it. American admirers, on the other hand, who never knew Muggeridge in his television glory days, and who idolized him as "St. Mugg," the late-converted Christian sage and stylist, may be in for surprises, some of them possibly unpleasant. Yet that shouldn't stop them from reading the fascinating story that Ingrams tells. He is sympathetic to the later Muggeridge, but it is the earlier Muggeridge, the hard-living, anti-Establishment individualist, mentor to the young satirists of the 60's (including himself),...

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