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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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... October 1962 was not August 1914 because John Kennedy had learned the lessons of Munich, which may be summarised as follows: get angry in private, think before you speak, say what you want, make clear what you’re prepared to do, ignore bluster, repeat yourself as often as necessary and keep the pressure on. Where Kennedy learned the mixture of forbearance and resolution which lies at the heart of international peace and good marriages is a mystery; his mother and father were no better at solving problems than Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler ...

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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... In Arthur Schlesinger’s court history, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, which might without unfairness be called the founding breviary of the cult of JFK, there appears the following vignette. Schlesinger had been asked to carpenter a ‘White Paper’ justifying Washington’s destabilisation of Cuba, in which the high-flown rhetoric of the New Frontier might form a sort of scab over the fouler business of empire ...

Jihad

James Wood

5 August 1993
TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... Poetry anthologies are now expected to make holy war; but what to do with The New Poetry, which strives so earnestly to turn its trumpet-majors into angels? The 55 poets collected here are, it seems, seraphs of a benevolent novelty, somehow singing their good news at once uniquely and in shimmering unison. ‘A multicultural society,’ write the editors in their introduction, ‘challenges the very idea of a centre, and produces pluralism of poetic voice ...

We stop the words

David Craig: A.L. Kennedy

16 September 1999
Everything you need 
by A.L. Kennedy.
Cape, 567 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 224 04433 8
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... Near the start of A.L. Kennedy’s latest novel, its chief character and overriding consciousness, Nathan Staples, a successful writer of horror fiction, emerges slowly from a bout of compulsive masochistic fantasies, puts Glenn Gould on his CD player, and gets ready to hang himself from an iron hook in the central beam of his cottage, or almost hang himself – well, just enough to give himself ‘that big, blank, hot-mouthing, hair-lifting, sexy, sexy fear that he only ever met at times like this ...

Steamy, Seamy

David Margolick: The Mob’s Cuban Kleptocracy

20 March 2008
The Havana Mob: Gangsters, Gamblers, Showgirls and Revolutionaries in 1950s Cuba 
by T.J. English.
Mainstream, 400 pp., £17.99, September 2007, 978 1 84596 192 3
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... from those events reached a long way: as far as the Cold War, the assassination of John F. Kennedy (maybe), Watergate and, every four years to this day, the American presidential election. It is a story that reminds us of the bond – political, cultural, economic, sentimental – between the United States and Cuba, a bond that tightened in the 1950s ...

Incandescences

Richard Poirier

20 December 1979
The Powers that Be 
by David Halberstam.
Chatto, 771 pp., £9.95
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... went on TV during his campaigns against a Stevenson who had a patrician disdain for it), President Kennedy (who won the election of 1960 thanks in part to the disastrous appearance of Nixon in the first of the televised debates), and finally Presidents Johnson and Nixon, both of whom were severely damaged, as was Senator Joe McCarthy, by the dramatisations on ...

Diary

David Bromwich: President-Speak

10 April 2008
... about the duties and limitations of democracy by John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. Adams’s 1821 Independence Day address to the House of Representatives was delivered while he was secretary of state in the administration of James Monroe. A sceptic might see this speech as a cover for the Monroe Doctrine (the first American ...

Who Lost?

David Edgar: the third presidential debate

16 October 2008
...  ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Postscript

19 February 2004
... condemnation of the BBC’s apology (and its abjectness) by its most distinguished broadcaster, David Attenborough. With a constituency that far outnumbers that of the Labour Party and a voice that is more respected and indeed loved than any politician’s can hope to be, if David Attenborough is on the other side, the ...

The Monster Plot

Thomas Powers: James Angleton, Spymaster

10 May 2018
The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton 
by Jefferson Morley.
Scribe, 336 pp., £20, December 2017, 978 1 911344 73 5
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... like Angleton in the room. When he wanted someone to understand the Monster Plot – someone like David Blee, for example, who took over as chief of the Soviet Bloc Division in the CIA’s clandestine wing in 1971 – Angleton would schedule time for ‘the briefing’. He didn’t tell Blee what it was all about in twenty minutes: he walked him through ...

Subject, Spectator, Phantom

J. Hoberman: The Strangest Personality Ever to Lead the Free World

17 February 2005
Nixon at the Movies: A Book about Belief 
by Mark Feeney.
Chicago, 422 pp., £19.50, November 2004, 0 226 23968 3
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... inspired by Frank Capra’s 1948 State of the Union and, as the son of a sometime Hollywood mogul, Kennedy was groomed for glamorous stardom. But no American president before Nixon had ever made a public pronouncement based on his experience of a movie, and, Ronald Reagan’s professional interest in the medium notwithstanding, no president since Nixon has ...
22 June 2000
The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper 
by Dominick Dunne.
Crown, 218 pp., £17.99, October 1999, 0 609 60388 4
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Gary Cooper Off Camera: A Daughter Remembers 
by Maria Cooper Janis.
Abrams, 176 pp., £22, November 1999, 0 8109 4130 9
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... of class. He was also a lowlife from Hoboken, New Jersey, who had been used and snubbed by the Kennedys and used and courted by the Mob. He knew he could get away with having Dunne humiliated – Dunne was peanut brittle – but, because of all the above and these uncontrollable scenes of temper, he could never get into that inner circle that he yearned ...
1 September 1988
Citizen Cohn 
by Nicholas von Hoffman.
Harrap, 483 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 245 54605 7
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... for the position of staff counsel to McCarthy’s investigating committee. His rival was Robert F. Kennedy, whose father and older brother were McCarthy supporters. These two intensely ambitious and utterly ruthless young men, as alike as peas in a pod, hated each other. Their rivalry ended only with Bobby’s death. Cohn got the much sought-after prize of ...

Several Doses of Wendy

Robert Baird: David Means

10 August 2016
Hystopia 
by David Means.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 0 571 33011 9
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... David Means​ wrote a novel. David Means wrote a novel! Reading the hype around Hystopia – the new novel, the first novel, so far the only novel by the American writer David Means – you have to wonder how much pressure Means resisted from his publishers to forswear the pleasures of the customary gnomic cipher (American Enchiridion, The Accidental Occidental) and just call the book that: David Means Wrote a Novel: A Novel Written by David Means ...

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