Craig Brown has been a columnist for Private Eye since 1989. His most recent book is Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret.
 (February 2018)

IN THE REVIEW

Doing the New York Hustle

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983–1992

by Tina Brown
The finest diarists are able to view themselves with the detachment they apply to others. They become, in this sense, their own sharpest biographers, dividing themselves into both observer and observed, audience and performer, hovering eagle-eyed above themselves, ever curious to record, however unfavorably, their own imperfect ways. As Claire Tomalin puts it in her biography of Samuel Pepys: “In writing it down, he detached himself from the self who acted out the scene.” In her diaries of her years at Vanity Fair, Tina Brown is certainly adept at noting, with her unforgiving eye, the flaws in others. Revulsion brings out the best in her.