My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Entertaining, idiosyncractic and absorbing essays on the subject of art theft, destruction, and lost opportunities which have had varying effects on our understanding and appreciation of the history of art and artistic culture. Gekoski is by turns witty, philosophical and strident in the treatment of his subjects, as varied as Graham Sutherlands portrait of Winston Churchill and the bronze plaques of the old City-Kingdom of Benin. Like his other volume, Tolkein’s Gown, each essay is accorded a discreet chapter, but here they are longer, chattier, filled with more of the asides, observation and bon mots that make reading Gekoski’s work an intellectual pleasure. While it’s not always possible to agree with him– he describes NASA’s space program as an appalling waste of money, for example, a view with which I heartly disagree– it’s always possible to revel in the company of Gekoski’s unique voice. This is book by way of after dinner conversation: convivial, declamatory, and as much performance as thesis. Wonderful stuff.