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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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... and sponsor regulation of the family relations of the poor. Like Gingrich and Bob Dole, Clinton proposes to help poor children by ending their entitlement to even minimal welfare support. Although AlexanderCockburn and Ken Silverstein twice call Clinton a Republican president, even the view that he has signed the Contract with America does not go far enough for them. Neither Reagan nor Gingrich, in ...
18 February 1988
Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies and the Reagan Era 
by Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 479 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86091 176 4
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... Much the best way to convey appreciation of AlexanderCockburn’s rousing and combative prose is to quote him at length. The protocols of reviewing, however, preclude such a practice, so one has to resort to the altogether drearier method of describing what he ...

Right Stuff

Alexander Cockburn

7 February 1991
An American Life 
by Ronald Reagan.
Hutchinson, 748 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 0 09 174507 1
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... As he neared the end of a recent diatribe against President Bush for plotting war secretly, and in defiance of the US Constitution, the American journalist Anthony Lewis felt impelled to add: ‘None of this argues that George Bush is a bad man. He is not.’ Years ago Roland Barthes wrote about the bourgeois propensity to think in essences, and nowhere is this more evident than in the way Americans ...


Alexander Cockburn

21 December 1989
... The place I’ve called home for the past year or so is a motel just off Route 1 as it heads down the Pacific coast from Santa Cruz to Watsonville. Late on the night of the earthquake a friend called me from where she lived near Carmel, an hour’s drive south, to tell me what had happened. It was early the next day with me, since I was in southern Ireland, having just buried my mother. God was having ...

Human Rights and Wrongs

Alexander Cockburn

9 May 1991
... No Iraqi atrocity seized the public imagination more vividly than the charge that in the days following the 2 August invasion of Kuwait Iraqi soldiers murdered at least 312 prematurely born babies by plundering their incubators. President Bush, according to his publicists, had Amnesty’s December report at his elbow as he planned to go to war. (The fact that it was at an elbow normally secluded from ...


Alexander Cockburn: ‘West of America’

11 July 1991
... From the moment of its opening in mid-March to its closing at the beginning of this month abuse descended heavily on the Smithsonian’s ‘West as America’ exhibition in Washington DC. At the heart of the row was something that will figure even more powerfully next year, in the various commemorations of the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage to the New World: how much should Europe’s conquest ...

The Power of Sunshine

Alexander Cockburn

10 January 1991
City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 462 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 86091 303 1
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... City of Quartz’? Los Angeles is indeed bright, hard, opaque. Even the astonishing sunsets one can see from Interstate 15, looking west towards Pomona, have a sepulchral flush to them as the red light filters through the foul air rolling towards Riverside and the desert seventy miles east of the Pacific. And when the Santa Ana winds blow the other way and clean out the whole basin there’s nothing ...

How to be Green

Mary Douglas

13 September 1990
A Green Manifesto for the 1990s 
by Penny Kemp and Derek Wall.
Penguin, 212 pp., £4.99, July 1990, 0 14 013272 4
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Social Philosophy and Ecological Scarcity 
by Keekok Lee.
Routledge, 425 pp., £40, September 1989, 0 415 03220 2
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Mother Country 
by Marilynne Robinson.
Faber, 261 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 0 571 15453 0
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Blueprint for a Green Economy 
by David Pearce, Anil Markandya and Edward Barbier.
Earthscan, 192 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 1 85383 066 6
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TheFate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon 
by Susanna Hecht and Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 366 pp., £16.95, November 1989, 0 86091 261 2
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Thinking Green: An Anthology of Essential Ecological Writing 
edited by Michael Allaby.
Barrie and Jenkins, 250 pp., £14.95, October 1989, 0 7126 3489 4
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... and comparison, as well as sustained monitoring and enforcement, which would be beyond the capacity of many nations. In a beautifully produced book, The Fate of the Forest, Susanna Hecht and AlexanderCockburn describe the political background to the ecological disaster in the Amazonian jungle. They start with the conquistadores, the blighting of their hopes, the displacement of the Indians, the ...
12 March 1992
After the Fall: The Failure of Communism and the Future of Socialism 
edited by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 327 pp., £32.95, November 1991, 0 86091 540 9
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... diminish their perception. These writers all knew the game was up. Exactly which game that was, however, is a matter which divides them. A few writers are brave enough to admit that they felt sad. AlexanderCockburn, who has always been perfectly lucid about the corruption of Soviet Communism, makes a sardonic prediction about what will follow: ‘accelerating Balkanisation of what was the Union, strife ...

No Law at All

Stephen Sedley: The Governor Eyre Affair

2 November 2006
A Jurisprudence of Power: Victorian Empire and the Rule of Law 
by R.W. Kostal.
Oxford, 529 pp., £79.95, December 2005, 0 19 826076 8
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... a matter of no little embarrassment. And so it proved both for Eyre’s enemies and for his supporters. To begin with, it was unclear what martial law meant. The view expounded by Chief Justice Cockburn to the grand jury which was asked to indict Colonel Nelson – the commanding officer – and Lieutenant Brand for the murder of George Gordon was that it permitted the use of lethal force against ...

Boulevard Brogues

Rosemary Hill: Having your grouse and eating it

13 May 1999
Girlitude: A Memoir of the Fifties and Sixties 
by Emma Tennant.
Cape, 224 pp., £15.99, April 1999, 0 224 05952 1
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... to write and squirms to overhear Lord Glenconner telling a friend that ‘Emma has had a great success with her caftans.’ Shoes remain a problem. Marching down a Paris boulevard in 1968 with AlexanderCockburn, the compañero of her political phase, her feet are killing her. They stop off to get new footware, but ‘the trouble is I want smart shoes – we are still in a banlieue. I select in the ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens

4 April 1991
Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... get their chance to ‘set the record straight’. Others discern a sort of semiotic inquisition, useful for disciplining errant or over-imaginative reporters into the uses of impartiality. (AlexanderCockburn comes right out and says that its purpose is to convince the public that everything else in yesterday’s Times was historically and morally true.) Anyway, last November the paper ran a ...

Don’t look at trees

Greg Grandin: Da Cunha’s Amazon

8 October 2014
Scramble for the Amazon and the ‘Lost Paradise’ of Euclides da Cunha 
by Susanna Hecht.
Chicago, 612 pp., £31.50, April 2013, 978 0 226 32281 0
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... written in human blood and in the tracings of geography.’ In The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers and Defenders of the Amazon, published in 1990 (and reissued in 2010), Susanna Hecht and AlexanderCockburn argued that capitalist development wasn’t the primary threat to the Amazon. The combined market value of Amazon-sourced beef, lumber, minerals, latex and crops doesn’t add up to much, at ...

Miami Twice

Edward Said

10 December 1987
Going to Miami: Exiles, Tourists and Refugees in the New America 
by David Rieff.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 7475 0064 9
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by Joan Didion.
Simon and Schuster, 224 pp., $17.95, October 1987, 0 671 64664 8
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... Didion is a writer, not a journalist, and despite her skilful use of out-of-the-way sources, she is not fully an alternative or oppositional figure, not a C. Wright Mills, nor a Chomsky, nor an AlexanderCockburn. It is not only that she doesn’t articulate the full setting of the problems that anger her: she seems unaware of the US policy of acquiring and then disposing of right-wing clients ...

Lust for Leaks

Neal Ascherson: The Cockburns of Cork

1 September 2005
The Broken Boy 
by Patrick Cockburn.
Cape, 312 pp., £15.99, June 2005, 0 224 07108 4
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... vaccine, which was soon to obliterate the disease in the Western world. As for the treatment of those who caught it, the doctors knew of none that would make much difference. (In this book, Patrick Cockburn concludes that Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year still offers the soundest advice for those caught in epidemics: run away.) But although this was not Cork’s first epidemic, it was the ...

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