Cover Stories: Tina Brown strikes again; raise a glass to Hugh Johnson; International Writers Day

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The Independent Culture

Tina Brown and Harold Evans no longer dominate New York's social scene.

Tina Brown and Harold Evans no longer dominate New York's social scene. The former power couple may drift further away following publication next year of Brown's The Icarus Complex. Sold by Ed Victor to Random House in the US and HarperCollins here, it's about "money, power and the fall from grace of major figures in American society", among them Enron's Kenneth Lay, Conrad Black (Canadian, but married to an an American) and Martha Stewart. All suffer from what Brown calls "Mad CEO Disease". Some who worked with her at Vanity Fair or the New Yorker might be tempted to talk of pots and kettles.

* Though younger wine enthusiasts may prefer Jancis Robinson or the Independent's Anthony Rose, Hugh Johnson remains, for many, the doyen of wine writers. The French, too, appreciate him, for he has been made a Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merité, one of the country's highest honours. It recognises Johnson's contribution to the understanding of France and its wines over 35 years. His World History of Wine, published in 1971, made history as the first specialist non-fiction book to sell a million. Johnson the horticulturist is now finishing a new edition of The International Book of Trees, due next year. It seems appropriate to raise a glass.

* With freedom of expression under threat in so many corners of the world, International Writers Day assumes an even greater importance. For 29 May, English PEN has organised a one-day festival in celebration of the right to free expression. It's at the Regent Hall, Oxford Street, London; tickets are £22 and £16 for students. Among the writers taking part are Louis de Bernières, Orhan Pamuk, whose novel Snow (see page 25) provoked heated debate in Turkey, and Nina Bawden. She is fighting for truth closer to home, about the Potters Bar train crash which killed her husband. Bawden will be honoured with the ST Dupont Golden Pen award. Further details of the day at: