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God bless America

Alan Brinkley, 2 May 1985

God in America: Religion and Politics in the United States 
by Furio Colombo, translated by Kristin Jarrat.
Columbia, 176 pp., $18, December 1984, 0 231 05972 8
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The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War 
by Leo Ribuffo.
Temple, 369 pp., $29.95, August 1983, 0 87722 297 5
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... For nearly ten years Americans watched – with mingled fascination, horror, anger and incredulity – as the Iranian Revolution transformed a nation once assumed to be firmly moored to the world of the modern West into an apparent bastion of anti-Western, anti-modern, fundamentalist values. It was an event that seemed to confound the normal patterns of analysis; and the only explanation with which most Americans have since felt comfortable has been one that stresses a cultural irrationality rooted in the oddities of the Islamic mind or the peculiarities of the Persian character ...

Total Solutions

Alan Brinkley, 18 July 1985

The Heavy Dancers 
by E.P. Thompson.
Merlin, 340 pp., £12.50, March 1985, 0 85036 328 4
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Star Wars: Self-Destruct Incorporated 
by E.P. Thompson and Ben Thompson.
Merlin, 71 pp., £1, May 1985, 0 85036 334 9
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... About ten years ago, I heard Edward Thompson give a public lecture at Harvard University. He was not then an internationally renowned spokesman for the peace movement: there was at that point no peace movement of any consequence to be a spokesman for. He was, however, one of the most influential historians of his time. Thompson was speaking in one of the university’s largest lecture halls, and the room was full to overflowing ...

Keeping out

Alan Brinkley, 7 March 1985

Intervention in World Politics 
edited by Hedley Bull.
Oxford, 198 pp., £12.50, August 1984, 9780198274674
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... Intervention, according to Hedley Bull, is ‘dictatorial or coercive interference, by an outside party or parties, in the sphere of jurisdiction of a sovereign state, or more broadly of an independent political community’. And if there is any principle on which the international community can be said to agree, it is that intervention, so defined, is legally and morally illegitimate ...


Alan Brinkley, 7 January 1988

Armed Truce 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 667 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 241 11843 3
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The Wise Men 
by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas.
Faber, 853 pp., £15.95, January 1987, 0 571 14606 6
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by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... The history of the United States since the close of World War Two has so far produced relatively little in the way of academic scholarship and even less in the way of serious scholarly argument. There are, however, two major issues that have produced both: the origins of the Cold War and the Eisenhower presidency – issues that have been the subject of extensive literature and extensive controversy and for which there are now not only well-established orthodox views but fully-developed revisionist stances as well ...

America is back

Alan Brinkley, 1 November 1984

... Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale have presented the American electorate with as clear an ideological choice as any set of Presidential candidates in the 20th century. The two men disagree fundamentally on their prescriptions for the economy, their approaches to national defence, their views of foreign policy, their stances on social issues. Above all, they differ in their philosophies of government ...
Secret Affairs: Franklin Roosevelt, Cordell Hull and Sumner Welles 
by Irwin Gellman.
Johns Hopkins, 499 pp., $29.95, April 1995, 0 8018 5083 5
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Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley 
edited by Geoffrey Ward.
Houghton Mifflin, 444 pp., $24.95, April 1995, 0 395 66080 7
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No Ordinary Time. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War Two 
by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Simon and Schuster, 759 pp., £18, June 1995, 0 671 64240 5
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The End of Reform 
by Alan Brinkley.
Knopf, 371 pp., $27.50, March 1995, 0 394 53573 1
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... explained to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau (whose own undercutting we can follow in Alan Brinkley’s The End of Reform). This method of human relations worked, paradoxically, better with the women in the President’s private life than with the men in politics. Whereas the men had their own ambitions and agendas, the women were entirely ...

How liberals misread their own history

Michael Ignatieff: The Roosevelt Problem, 29 October 1998

Liberalism and Its Discontents 
by Alan Brinkley.
Harvard, 372 pp., £18.50, May 1998, 0 674 53017 9
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... who have effectively stolen their thunder. In America, the situation is more complex – and Alan Brinkley’s book is an excellent guide to these perplexities. When American liberals try to explain why liberalism is in such a parlous condition, they begin with the assumption that liberalism was the common sense of the country from Roosevelt through ...

Short Cuts

Christian Lorentzen: Fact-checking, 5 April 2012

... Luce’s taste for ‘relentless “departmental” organisation’, according to his biographer Alan Brinkley. Time was first to be called Facts, and its research department ‘was the only non-clerical area of the magazine to hire women … and for many years it hired only women.’ An editor wrote the young ladies a cheering memo: Checking is ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington, 30 November 2006

State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... kind of fall: tragic early death. He wrote books about the CIA and the Pentagon, on Clinton and Alan Greenspan, carrying on at the Post as well, making a name for himself as a reporter and author others wished to emulate. He’d brought down a president: journalistically, what can beat that? He’s now more famous and must be wealthier than any other ...

Somebody Shoot at Me!

Ian Sansom: Woody Guthrie’s Novel, 9 May 2013

House of Earth: A Novel 
by Woody Guthrie.
Fourth Estate, 234 pp., £14.99, February 2013, 978 0 00 750985 0
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... arse. He was also, as it turns out, a part-time novelist. The editors of House of Earth, Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp (yes, that Johnny Depp), describe the recently rediscovered book as Guthrie’s ‘only fully realised novel’. His part-realised novels include, arguably, not only Bound for Glory (1943), his autobiography with added bits of ...

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