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Was he? Had he?

Corey Robin: In the Name of Security, 19 October 2006

The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government 
by David Johnson.
Chicago, 277 pp., £13, May 2006, 0 226 40190 1
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Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security 
by David Cole and James Dempsey.
New Press, 320 pp., £10.99, March 2006, 1 56584 939 6
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General Ashcroft: Attorney at War 
by Nancy Baker.
Kansas, 320 pp., £26.50, April 2006, 0 7006 1455 9
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State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration 
by James Risen.
Free Press, 240 pp., £18.99, January 2006, 0 7432 7578 0
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Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush 
by Eric Boehlert.
Free Press, 352 pp., $25, May 2006, 0 7432 8931 5
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... about ‘sex depravity’. The scare lasted from 1947 to the 1970s, and in The Lavender Scare David Johnson estimates that thousands lost their jobs. The men and women charged with rinsing the pink from the Potomac were astonishingly ignorant about their quarry. Senator Clyde Hoey, head of the first congressional inquiry into the threat, had to ask ...

In search of Eaffry Johnson

Brigid Brophy, 22 January 1981

Reconstructing Aphra 
by Angeline Goreau.
Oxford, 339 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 19 822663 2
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... by contemporaries of hers. Two of them (and the third does not contradict) give her maiden name as Johnson. All place her family in Kent and two specifically in Canterbury or its immediate neighbourhood. Record of her baptism had been sought by scholars over the past hundred years but not found. It was, accordingly, in records offices and archives connected ...

The Jump-out Boys

J. Robert Lennon: The Drug-Bust that Wasn’t, 3 August 2006

Tulia: Race, Cocaine and Corruption in a Small Texas Town 
by Nate Blakeslee.
PublicAffairs, 450 pp., £15.99, September 2005, 9781586482190
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... citizens, not according to the facts, but to their prejudices. Most remarkable is the case of David Johnson, a 36-year-old black man, who was arrested for the murder of his white ex-girlfriend’s son. The medical examiner had ruled that the child died of pneumonia, but four years later, after the couple fell out, ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Spectator, 25 January 2001

... When, in May, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson gives up his role as Tory MP for the Spectator to take over from Michael Heseltine as the editor of Henley-on-Thames, you have to wonder where they’re going to find someone sufficiently blond to be his successor at Doughty Street (from which sturdy address the organ Johnson currently oversees emerges each week ...

Prisoners

David Saunders-Wilson, 23 November 1989

Inside Out 
by Rosie Johnston.
Joseph, 226 pp., £12.95, October 1989, 0 7181 3115 0
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Life on Death Row: One Man’s Fight against Racism and the Death Penalty 
by Merrilyn Thomas.
Piatkus, 160 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 86188 879 0
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... Rosie Johnston, white and privileged; Edward Johnson, black and poor. For several months between 1986-1987 they shared the experience of imprisonment. Rosie Johnston was to emerge from HMP East Sutton Park in June 1987, having been sentenced to nine months for the possession of heroin and for supplying it to her friends at Oxford University (including a Cabinet Minister’s daughter ...
... was done even now. Oliver Tambo corresponded from London. Someone from England – maybe it was David Astor, he was a friend – sent him the Observer. And he had lots of American friends, especially Martin Luther King. It was a terrible thing for us when Martin was killed. Father had a whole collection of Martin’s speeches on tape and he used to play ...

BJ + Brexit or JC + 2 refs?

David Runciman, 5 December 2019

... in once more, this time, as it turned out, impossibly so. Within two years, she was gone.Now Johnson is making his own attempt at getting the voters to demonstrate that they prefer strong majority government to intransigent factionalism. Although again that is not the option on the ballot paper, the argument this time has more coherence to it. Unlike ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... This​ is a dry and dutiful book which reads like a ghost story. The person being haunted is David Cameron. Theresa May grew up in a Cotswolds village called Church Enstone, where her father was vicar for much of the 1960s. The vicarage is within five miles of what became Cameron’s constituency home when he was MP for Witney and is roughly the same distance from what is now Soho Farmhouse, a members’ club, a little piece of the metropolis that is a haven for the Chipping Norton set ...

Pay me for it

Helen Deutsch: Summoning Dr Johnson, 9 February 2012

Samuel JohnsonA Life 
by David Nokes.
Faber, 415 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22636 8
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Selected Writings 
by Samuel Johnson, edited by Peter Martin.
Harvard, 503 pp., £16.95, May 2011, 978 0 674 06034 0
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The Brothers Boswell: A Novel 
by Philip Baruth.
Corvus, 336 pp., £7.99, January 2011, 978 1 84887 446 6
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The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. 
by John Hawkins, edited by O.M. Brack.
Georgia, 554 pp., £53.50, August 2010, 978 0 8203 2995 6
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... On Saturday, July 30, Dr Johnson and I took a sculler at the Temple-stairs, and set out for Greenwich. I asked him if he really thought a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages an essential requisite to a good education. JOHNSON. ‘Most certainly, sir; for those who know them have a very great advantage over those who do not ...

Was Swift a monster?

Denis Donoghue, 5 June 1986

Jonathan Swift: A Hypocrite Reversed 
by David Nokes.
Oxford, 427 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 19 812834 7
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... The main problem for David Nokes or for any other biographer of Swift is that the agenda has already been prescribed. Within a few years of Swift’s death in 1745, questions were raised which are still the standard issues. What kind of man wrote the fourth Voyage of Gulliver’s Travels? Did his imagination give him away? ‘In painting Yahoos he becomes one himself,’ according to the Earl of Orrery’s Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr Jonathan Swift (1752 ...

Strutting

Linda Colley, 21 September 1995

All the Sweets of Being: The Life of James Boswell 
by Roger Hutchinson.
Mainstream, 238 pp., £17.50, May 1995, 1 85158 702 0
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James Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’ 
edited by Marshall Waingrow.
Edinburgh, 518 pp., £75, March 1995, 0 7486 0471 5
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Johnson and Boswell: The Transit of Caledonia 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 245 pp., £30, April 1995, 0 19 818259 7
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... literary lion, an acquaintance of Rousseau and Voltaire, the close friend, not just of Samuel Johnson, but of a broad sample of London’s cultural and fashionable élite, the celebrated biographer of the Corsican nationalist, Pasquale Paoli, a man, or so it seemed, to watch. Yet Boswell repeatedly failed. He failed to get into the Guards. He failed at ...

What if he’d made it earlier?

David Runciman: LBJ, 5 July 2012

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV: The Passage of Power 
by Robert Caro.
Bodley Head, 712 pp., £30, June 2012, 978 1 84792 217 5
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... Lyndon Johnson always believed he would be president. As a boy in Texas, growing up in poor and sometimes desperate circumstances, he told anyone who would listen that he was headed for the White House. He mapped out a plan to get there from which, as Robert Caro writes, ‘he refused to be diverted.’ It meant first establishing himself in state politics, then winning a seat in the House of Representatives, then moving up to the Senate and finally to the highest office ...

At least that was the idea

Thomas Keymer: Johnson and Boswell’s Club, 10 October 2019

The Club: Johnson, Boswell and the Friends who Shaped an Age 
by Leo Damrosch.
Yale, 488 pp., £20, April 2019, 978 0 300 21790 2
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... house. At No. 9, a more accurately sited plaque marks where, in 1764, Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson founded the Literary Club, or simply the Club, which met weekly to dine in an upstairs room at the Turk’s Head until the landlord died and the dinners moved elsewhere. The building now houses New Loon Moon, one of London’s best-known Chinese ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J. Evans: Michael Gove, 12 September 2019

Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... his days as education secretary were numbered. In a cabinet reshuffle carried out in July 2014, David Cameron moved him to the Whips’ Office. He had become ‘toxic’ to parents and teachers alike. A member of the National Union of Teachers described him as ‘a demented Dalek on speed, who wants to exterminate everything good in education’. His tenure ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... lists were drawn up of such notorious Communists or Communist sympathisers as Brian Walden, David Owen, Robert Mellish, John Stonehouse, Roy Hattersley and Reg Prentice; and even a bogus pamphlet on ‘revolutionary strategy’ for the installation of socialism in Britain was contrived for off-the-record briefing of American journalists, the joint ...

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