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Enter Hamilton

Eric Foner, 6 October 2016

American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 
by Alan Taylor.
Norton, 704 pp., £30, November 2016, 978 0 393 08281 4
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... of the Jim Crow era, and more recent hucksters and demagogues including Joe McCarthy and George Wallace. Not to mention more respectable types such as Richard Nixon, whose ‘Southern strategy’ offered a blueprint for mobilising white resentment over the gains of the Civil Rights movement. (That ‘respectable’ and ‘Nixon’ can be included in ...

Hogshit and Chickenshit

Michael Rogin, 1 August 1996

Washington Babylon 
by Alexander Cockburn and Ken Silverstein.
Verso, 316 pp., £31.95, May 1996, 1 85984 092 2
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... William Jefferson (‘Bill’) Clinton is not the man from Hope for nothing. And the major story in the American media this election year recounts his resurrection from the politically dead. Indeed, Clinton’s rise is matched in American history only by the equally spectacular fall of George (‘Desert Storm’) Bush, the collapse that put the Arkansas Governor in the White House in the first place ...

Muldoon – A Mystery

Michael Hofmann, 20 December 1990

Madoc – A Mystery 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 261 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14489 6
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... home in the person of the 19th-century (Irish?) artist and painter of ‘native Americans’, George Catlin, whose Rushes through the Middle graces the cover of Madoc. Oh, and one other thing. The narrative is sectioned-off into short, mostly self-contained poems, each given the name of a philosopher or quasi-philosopher (such as Frederick the Great or ...

His Whiskers Trimmed

Matthew Karp: Robert E. Lee in Defeat, 7 April 2022

Robert E. Lee: A Life 
by Allen Guelzo.
Knopf, 585 pp., $27.99, September 2021, 978 1 101 94622 0
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... spring, Lee got the chance to make his mark. With Richmond besieged by Union forces under General George McClellan, an injury to the Confederate commander left Lee in charge of the army of Northern Virginia. To save the rebel capital, he worked frantically to concentrate nearly a hundred thousand troops at the gates of Richmond, the largest single army ever ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration, 4 May 2017

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... and the Capitol Building ‘coated in chocolate’. ‘They still call it the White House,’ George Clinton said on the title track, ‘but that’s a temporary condition, too.’In 1975, David Clarke, a white civil rights lawyer on the city council, introduced a proposal to decriminalise marijuana possession. He pointed out that marijuana arrests had ...

Evil Man

Simon Schaffer: Joseph Priestley, 21 May 1998

The Enlightenment of Joseph Priestley: A Study of His Life and Work from 1733 to 1773 
by Robert Schofield.
Pennsylvania State, 328 pp., £35.95, January 1998, 0 271 01662 0
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... as one more sign of the evils and hopes of troubled times presaging the imminent millennium. Jefferson thought his was ‘one of the few lives precious to mankind for the continuance of which every thinking man is solicitous’. Priestley’s enemies were equally eloquent. William Blake, whose own spirituality entitled him to dismiss this kind of ...

Damnable Deficient

Colin Kidd: The American Revolution, 17 November 2005

1776: America and Britain at War 
by David McCullough.
Allen Lane, 386 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 7139 9863 6
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... to the authority of the ancients, even as they embarked on a revolutionary political experiment. George Washington, for example, identified himself with Cato of Utica, whom the 18th-century British knew best through the medium of Addison’s popular tragedy Cato (1713). Lines from the play found their way into Washington’s letters and speeches, and, in ...

At the Huntington

Jack Hartnell: Relocating the Yokoi House, 8 October 2020

... the autograph manuscript of Thoreau’s Walden, and documents and letters belonging to Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Lincoln. The German botanist William Hertrich was commissioned to design the gardens: Californian, Australian, Japanese, Chinese, Jungle, Palm, Rose and Desert; a maze of meandering pathways across 120 acres. They hold more than four ...

Dangerously Amiable

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal: Lafayette Reconsidered, 16 February 2017

The Marquis: Lafayette Reconsidered 
by Laura Auricchio.
Vintage, 432 pp., £11.99, August 2015, 978 0 307 38745 5
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... for his arrest on grounds of filial disobedience. In America, Lafayette attached himself to George Washington, who appreciated the young man’s companionship, bravery and money. Though Lafayette was a general in name, his role in the army initially had little to do with actual fighting. When the signing of a Franco-American alliance in 1778 brought ...

Wrecking Ball

Adam Shatz: Trump’s Racism, 7 September 2017

... cause: the defence of Lee’s statue. ‘So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee … I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?’ Duke praised Trump for his ‘honesty and courage’ in condemning left-wing ‘terrorists’ in Charlottesville. But Duke was not alone in his support ...


Christian Lorentzen: Homo Trumpiens, 3 November 2016

... I put “liberals” in quotes because liberals today are not real liberals at all. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were real liberals.’ He takes his news from the Drudge Report and Infowars and has soured on the GOP: ‘These corrupt establishment neoconservatives actually want Hillary Clinton to win in ...


Deborah Friedell: The Heart and the Fist, 24 May 2018

... the two men shared the same campaign. Rather than drain the swamp, Eric swore to ‘blow up’ Jefferson City, the state capital, while also promising – presumably this would happen first – to throw out all the lobbyists, ‘even if in sight of the statue of Thomas Jefferson I have to throw you down the steps of the ...


Anthony Pagden, 13 June 1991

The Cambridge History of Latin America. Vol. VII: 1930 to the Present 
edited by Leslie Bethell.
Cambridge, 775 pp., £70, October 1990, 0 521 24518 4
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Magical Reels: A History of Cinema in Latin America 
by John King.
Verso, 266 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 86091 295 7
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Democracy and Development in Latin America: Economics, Politics and Religion in the Post-war Period 
by David Lehmann.
Polity, 235 pp., £29.50, April 1990, 0 7456 0776 4
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... of Graham Greene and Gabriel García Márquez) and then under Manuel Noriega (former friend of George Bush), is now firmly back in its control. (As John Major says in the Cambridge History, the Panama Canal has been the ‘outstanding symbol of Washington’s power to dominate the weaker states of the hemisphere’.) It still exercises direct colonial rule ...

Thanks to the Tea Party

Steve Fraser: 1970s America, 17 March 2011

Pivotal Decade: How the United States Traded Factories for Finance in the 1970s 
by Judith Stein.
Yale, 367 pp., £25, May 2010, 978 0 300 11818 6
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Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class 
by Jefferson Cowie.
New Press, 464 pp., £19.99, September 2010, 978 1 56584 875 7
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... to respond effectively to industrial and working-class decline. The New Politics embodied in George McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign was deeply estranged from the labour liberalism of the party’s New Deal wing. McGovern’s core constituencies – anti-war and counter-cultural youth, minorities and middle-class social liberals – were ...

Propaganda of the Deed

Steve Fraser: Emma Goldman, 26 February 2009

Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol I: Made for America, 1890-1901 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 659 pp., $35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07541 4
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Emma Goldman: A Documentary History of the American Years Vol. II: Making Speech Free, 1902-1909 
edited by Candace Falk.
Illinois, 641 pp., £35, August 2008, 978 0 252 07543 8
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... court injunctions and hurling makeshift weapons at advancing militiamen from behind barricades. George Pullman was so sure that labour insurgents would desecrate his corpse that he left instructions for his lead-lined casket to be covered with tar paper and asphalt and deposited in a vault made of concrete and reinforced steel. Small conspiratorial ...

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