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Bland Fanatics

Pankaj Mishra: Liberalism and Colonialism, 3 December 2015

On Politics: A History of Political Thought from Herodotus to the Present 
by Alan Ryan.
Penguin, 1152 pp., £14.99, September 2013, 978 0 14 028518 5
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Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism 
by Larry Siedentop.
Penguin, 448 pp., £9.99, January 2015, 978 0 14 100954 4
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Liberalism: The Life of an Idea 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 496 pp., £16.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 16839 5
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An Imperial Path to Modernity: Yoshino Sakuzō and a New Liberal Order in East Asia 1905-37 
by Jung-Sun Ni Han.
Harvard, 244 pp., £29.95, March 2013, 978 0 674 06571 0
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... and elisions haunted the rhetoric of liberalism from the beginning. ‘How is it,’ Samuel Johnson asked about secession-minded American colonists, ‘that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?’ John Stuart Mill credited India’s free-trading British overlords with benign liberal intentions towards a people ...


Andrew O’Hagan, 14 December 1995

Oswald’s Tale: An American Mystery 
by Norman Mailer.
Little, Brown, 791 pp., £25, September 1995, 0 316 87620 8
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... Mailer warbled to gossip-columnist Liz Smith of the New York Daily News in the mid-Eighties, ‘Larry Schiller makes Baron von Munchausen look like George Washington.’ Yet at the beginning of this new book there is an appreciation: ‘to Larry Schiller, my skilled and wily colleague in interview and investigation, for ...

At least they paid their taxes

Linda Colley, 25 July 1991

Nancy Reagan: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Kitty Kelley.
Bantam, 532 pp., £16.99, April 1991, 0 593 02450 8
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... will have her own identity and her own cause, and they, too, have to be catered to. So Ladybird Johnson pushed environmental issues. Betty Ford backed the Equal Rights Amendment in defiance of her husband. Mrs Carter took up the cause of the mentally ill, and Mrs Bush seems to have associated herself with the literacy campaign. Even if they wanted ...

William Rodgers reads the papers

William Rodgers, 19 February 1987

The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... staff, one of its political correspondents, and its Parliamentary sketch-writer David McKie. Frank Johnson, restored to the back page of the Times after a disappointing sojourn abroad, and Edward Pearce of the Daily Telegraph, are representative of the sketch-writing-as-entertainment school. McKie is more thoughtful. The political team on the Guardian is ...

Living on Apple Crumble

August Kleinzahler: James Schuyler, 17 November 2005

Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-91 
edited by William Corbett.
Turtle Point, 470 pp., £13.99, May 2005, 1 885586 30 2
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... John Hohnsbeen, an art-dealer friend, was having an affair with the architect Philip Johnson, and the ‘unprivate walls’ are those of Johnson’s famous Glass House. Schuyler was 28 and this was his first serious mental breakdown. He had only recently arrived in New York after an extended stay in ...

Capitalism in One Family

Jan-Werner Müller: The Populist Moment, 1 December 2016

... was extraordinary in many ways, in others it has been business as usual. As the American scholar Larry Bartels pointed out, 90 per cent of self-identified Republicans voted for Trump; 89 per cent of citizens who think of themselves as Democrats voted for Clinton. It isn’t surprising either that after two presidential terms for one party, there was plenty ...

Change at MoMA

Hal Foster, 7 November 2019

... highly engineered, fiercely refined, elegantly branded. The first was conceived by Philip Johnson in 1964, the second by Cesar Pelli in 1984, the third by Yoshio Taniguchi in 2004, and the latest by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), a vanguard New York studio, in co-operation with Gensler, a global design firm.* Thus in ninety years MoMA has grown from ...

Mailer’s Psychopath

Christopher Ricks, 6 March 1980

The Executioner’s Song 
by Norman Mailer.
Hutchinson, 1056 pp., £8.85, November 1979, 0 09 139540 2
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... this murderer we need words which acknowledge an undying recalcitrance, words like those which Dr Johnson needed for Othello: ‘yet we cannot but pity him.’ There are a hundred or more people to whom justice and mercy must be done if they are to be done to Gilmore – from Gilmore’s beloved Nicole (19 years old, with three broken marriages, two ...

Here was a plague

Tom Crewe, 27 September 2018

How to Survive a Plague: The Story of How Activists and Scientists Tamed Aids 
by David France.
Picador, 624 pp., £12.99, September 2017, 978 1 5098 3940 7
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Patient Zero and the Making of the Aids Epidemic 
by Richard A. McKay.
Chicago, 432 pp., £26.50, November 2017, 978 0 226 06395 9
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Modern Nature: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1989-90 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 314 pp., £9.99, May 2018, 978 1 78487 387 5
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Smiling in Slow Motion: The Journals of Derek Jarman, 1991-94 
by Derek Jarman.
Vintage, 388 pp., £9.99, August 2018, 978 1 78487 516 9
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The Ward 
by Gideon Mendel.
Trolley, 88 pp., £25, December 2017, 978 1 907112 56 0
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... heterosexual society, often in aggressively heterosexual families. The writer and activist Larry Kramer was told by his father that he wished he’d ‘shot [his] load in the toilet’; when France came out to his family, his father was baffled: ‘It’s like wearing shorts to show off a wooden leg.’ Other men revealed their gayness in the same ...


Paul Farmer: Ebola, 23 October 2014

... to win a presidential election in an African democracy. There were rumours that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was not attending the UN meeting because she was busy dealing with the crisis, or because she faced political instability at home. But we knew that one of her staff had fallen ill with Ebola. A few days ago, we heard that another of our Liberian ...

Loafing with the Sissies

Colm Tóibín: The Trials of Andy Warhol, 10 September 2020

Warhol: A Life as Art 
by Blake Gopnik.
Allen Lane, 931 pp., £35, March, 978 0 241 00338 1
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... him to the work of artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Motherwell, Cy Twombly and Ray Johnson.Opinion is divided about his appearance. ‘He thought of himself as ugly,’ a boyfriend from the early 1960s said. ‘But when you saw Andy naked, he looked like a beautiful boy.’ Another lover from the same period describes him as ‘almost repulsive ...

A Journey in the South

Andrew O’Hagan: In New Orleans, 6 October 2005

... she said. North Carolina was the birthplace of Billy Graham and three US presidents, Andrew Johnson, James Polk and Andrew Jackson, and also, among the twinkling lights out there, you could find the uncelebrated birthplace of Thomas Wolfe, the North Carolinian who wrote Look Homeward, Angel. As the truck got nearer the Waffle House, someone on the radio ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... Jews), a new controversy erupted in 2004 when it was revealed that a key Pentagon official called Larry Franklin had passed classified information to an Israeli diplomat. Israel is hardly the only country that spies on the US, but its willingness to spy on its principal patron casts further doubt on its strategic value. Israel’s strategic value isn’t the ...

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