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Common Knowledge 8.2 (2002) 419

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Book Review

The Game of War:
The Life and Death of Guy Debord

Andrew Hussey, The Game of War: The Life and Death of Guy Debord (London: Jonathan Cape, 2001), 430 pp.

There have been a number of biographies of the tribune of the Situationist International since his suicide in 1994, most notably Christophe Bourseiller's straightforward Vie et Mort de Guy Debord: 1931-1994 (Paris: Plon, 1999), Anselm Jappe's intellectual biography Guy Debord (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), and Jean-Marie Apostolides's imaginative and interpretive Les Tombeaux de Guy Debord (Paris: Exils Editeur, 1999). Covering Debord's early life, his initial association with Isidore Isou's postwar Paris Lettrists, and his work and relationships from the 1970s on—as well as the years 1957-69, when the Situationists set forth their dashing and penetrating critique of modern life—Hussey's book has the distinction of being at once the most exhaustive and the least reliable. Everyone to whom I have spoken who has direct knowledge of any material covered by Hussey has been appalled by his distortions, omissions, mischaracterizations, or what appear to be outright falsehoods or inventions. One principal actor in the book's story divided a review of the work into three categories: (1) This is wrong, (2) How could you imagine anything like this ever took place? (3) Are you out of your mind? There are striking, atmospheric passages in the book, such as Hussey's account of his interview with Isou today, but nothing here can really be trusted.


—Greil Marcus



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