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Richard Poirier, 20 December 1979

The Powers that Be 
by David Halberstam.
Chatto, 771 pp., £9.95
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... before Life magazine could come into existence or when he characterises figures of secondary rank. Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post, Frank Stanton of CBS, or Kyle Palmer of the LA Times, do come to life here, perhaps because, being a few rungs down the ladder, they engage in intrigues and power struggles that have more specific, immediate and easily ...

How to be a wife

Colm Tóibín: The Discretion of Jackie Kennedy, 6 June 2002

Janet & Jackie: The Story of a Mother and Her Daughter, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis 
by Jan Pottker.
St Martin’s, 381 pp., $24.95, October 2001, 0 312 26607 3
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Mrs Kennedy: The Missing History of the Kennedy Years 
by Barbara Leaming.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2001, 0 297 64333 9
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... was wealthy; she had, like Jackie, been to Vassar; she was a sister-in-law of Kennedy’s friend Ben Bradlee. She introduced the President to the joys of marijuana and planned, with the help of Timothy Leary, to introduce him to LSD. Leary remembered her as ‘amused, arrogant, aristocratic’. She was added to the list of those who came regularly for ...


Michael Rogin, 13 October 1988

Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North 
by Ben Bradlee.
Grafton, 572 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 246 13364 3
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For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington 
by Donald Regan.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 09 173622 6
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... was totally accurate. And his imaginative mixing of fact and fantasy (the above are only a few of Bradlee’s examples) was a faithful imitation of his President. When Reagan praised North by telling him that the events in which he’d been involved would make a great movie, he might have been alluding to his own old films. Reagan’s recent political amnesia ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Good Traitor, 25 September 2014

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State 
by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 0 241 14669 9
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... in the Guardian’s offices. In historical terms this was bizarre. There was never any question of Ben Bradlee blocking the efforts of his reporters at the Washington Post at the time of Watergate or destroying notes gleaned from Deep Throat, their best source. James Goodale, the lawyer for the New York Times while it was attempting to publish the ...

Seven Days

R.W. Johnson, 4 July 1985

The Pick of Paul Johnson: An Anthology 
Harrap, 277 pp., £9.95, May 1985, 0 245 54246 9Show More
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... hear of ‘its growing reputation for anti-British views’, while we learn that James Reston and Ben Bradlee (of the Washington Post) art ‘left-wing trendies’. Georgetown University, the haunt of so many Reaganite super-hawks (including Jeanne Kirkpatrick), is rubbished as having ‘moved sharply to the Left’. This sort of thing is quite palpable ...
... American hostages in Beirut. The Oliver North that the Middle East got was the thug. Reading Ben Bradlee’s disturbing book Guts and Glory* in West Beirut – where some of Lieutenant-Colonel North’s plotting went so disastrously awry – has been an unsettling experience. It is, for example, a sad tribute to North’s charisma that the author ...

Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens: Donkey Business in the White House, 19 February 1998

Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 746 pp., $30, February 1998, 0 684 80819 6
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-64 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 416 pp., September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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The Dark Side of Camelot 
by Seymour Hersh.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £8.99, February 1998, 9780006530770
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Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson , Bobby Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade 
by Jeff Shesol.
Norton, 591 pp., £23.50, January 1998, 9780393040784
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The Year the Dream Died 
by Jules Witcover.
Warner, 512 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 446 51849 2
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Without Honor: The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot 
by Jerry Zeifman.
Thunder's Mouth, 262 pp., $24.95, November 1996, 9781560251286
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Howard, 740 pp., £23.50, September 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection 
edited by David Barrett.
Texas A & M, 906 pp., $94, June 1997, 0 89096 741 5
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Taking Charge: The Johnson Whitehouse Tapes 1963-64 
edited by Michael Beschloss.
Simon and Schuster, 624 pp., £20, April 1998, 0 684 80407 7
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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes 
edited by Stanley Kutler.
Free Press, 675 pp., $30, November 1997, 0 684 84127 4
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The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy and the Jupiters, 1957-63 
by Philip Nash.
North Carolina, 231 pp., £34.70, October 1997, 0 8078 4647 3
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... the Mafia chief Sam Giancana, who was himself involved in the attempts to murder Fidel Castro. Ben Bradlee has told us of his horrified astonishment at finding that Ms Exner knew all of the secret telephone numbers for contacting the President out of hours. And of course Bradlee’s status as a locker-room buddy of ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... she has to supply the carnal link between JFK, Frank Sinatra and the mob leader Sam Giancana. (Ben Bradlee, JFK’s hagiographer and confidant, says that one of the worst moments of his life came when he saw the diaries of Judith Campbell Exner and found that she did indeed, as she had claimed, have the private telephone codes of the JFK White ...

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