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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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... is a lengthy and anecdotal analysis of the transactions between political power in the United States during the last fifty years and the power of the mass media. The latter are exemplified for Halberstam by four conglomerates of the American communications industry, each more or less in the control of a single family: the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), created and run by William Paley; Time Inc ...

Losing the War

Robert Dallek

23 November 1989
A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam 
by Neil Sheehan.
Cape, 861 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 224 02648 8
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... to make policy, and partly out of the delusion that political and military experts knew how to fix the problem before its cost in blood and treasure agitated public questions. As the journalist DavidHalberstam emphasised in 1972 in The Best and the Brightest, the experts were less than wise. More important, the making of far-reaching overseas commitments without a Congressional and public ...

Looking Away

Stephen Holmes: Questions of Intervention

14 November 2002
A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide 
by Samantha Power.
Basic Books, 640 pp., £21.99, January 2002, 0 465 06150 8
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War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton and the Generals 
by David Halberstam.
Bloomsbury, 540 pp., £20, April 2002, 0 7475 5946 5
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... strategically unnecessary unilateralism come from the internationalist wing of the Republican Party (Brent Scowcroft, James Baker) rather than from the Democrats or the Left? Samantha Power and DavidHalberstam did not set out to solve this riddle, but they have unintentionally provided an important part of the answer. Power was motivated to study the history of disappointing US responses to ...

Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... public at home, not those on the contested foreign ground – to substitute for war the image of war. That effort, failing in Vietnam, produced the news reporter as American hero – Neil Sheehan, DavidHalberstam, Seymour Hersch, Jonathan Schell, Peter Arnett. They reported not only the war the government did not want its citizens to see, but also the government efforts to invent a war for domestic ...
18 November 1993
New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... was Harper’s Magazine: Willie Morris, editor-in-chief. By God that masthead had downright dangerous passion. For the English department at Upper St Clair High School, however, the writing of DavidHalberstam, Norman Mailer, Larry King and Marshall Frady, to name just a handful of the Morris Boys, was considered precocious troublemaking, and duly expelled from class as stylistically ...
13 November 1997
The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Harvard, 728 pp., £23.50, October 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: The Secret History of the Cuban Missile Crisis 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 420 pp., £25, September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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... the murky exchanges that go on for pages, the obsessive tongue-tied repetitions, the sentences that occasionally parse but often convey no recoverable meaning? The alleged brilliance of these men DavidHalberstam once called ‘the best and the brightest’ is rarely in evidence. The discussions in the week before and the week after Kennedy’s quarantine speech had none of the intellectual rigour ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy

6 February 2003
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... the King, the Tsar, Stalin etc – had known what was going on, he would have fixed things. Ellsberg calls this the standard ‘quagmire school’ approach to the Vietnam War, led by people like DavidHalberstam and Arthur Schlesinger. The problem is that a close scrutiny of classified documents will not bear it out: ‘For Kennedy, as for Johnson, in fact, it was the President who was deceiving ...

Who do you think you are?

Jacqueline Rose: Trans Narratives

4 May 2016
... is an awakening of her true self … [she] was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to become the person within.’ (Hoyer is the editor of Elbe’s own notes and diaries, not to be confused with David Ebershoff, on whose ghastly novel The Danish Girl is based.) Jan Morris defines her transition as a journey on the path to identity: ‘I had reached Identity’; Ashley speaks of her desire ‘to be ...

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