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As read by Ronald Reagan

David Rieff, 3 September 1987

Red Storm Rising 
by Tom Clancy.
Collins Harvill, 652 pp., £10.95, January 1987, 9780002230780
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... Twenty years ago, there was a fairly well-known English monk at the Hinayana Buddhist Centre in London who liked to cap the account he gave visitors of why he had rejected the West by pointing one slim, denunciatory finger at that most improbable of culprits, the Ealing comedies. ‘How can one possibly defend,’ he would ask rhetorically, ‘a civilisation that considers a film like Kind Hearts and Coronets funny? Think about it for a moment: it’s a comedy about eight separate acts of premeditated murder ...


David Rieff: Cuban Miami, 5 February 1987

... In most parts of the United States, even those voters who could be numbered among Ronald Reagan’s most enthusiastic supporters removed the ‘Reagan-Bush ’84’ bumper-stickers from their cars fairly soon after the 1984 Election was safely in the bag. No one thought the things were supposed to adorn the family automobile in perpetuity in the way that Saint Christopher medals adorned the dashboards of Catholic drivers all over America in the simpler days before Vatican II ...

Seriously Uncool

Jenny Diski: Susan Sontag, 22 March 2007

At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches 
edited by Paolo Dilonardo and Anne Jump, preface by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 235 pp., £18.99, April 2007, 978 0 241 14371 1
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A Photographer’s Life 1990-2005 
by Annie Leibovitz.
Cape, 480 pp., £60, October 2006, 0 224 08063 6
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... now published as At the Same Time to be her final collection of essays. After that, says her son, David Rieff, in his foreword, she intended to get on with what she most valued, writing fiction. Edited by her, somewhat differently no doubt, this would, then, have been her next book. As it is, published two years after her death, and put together by ...

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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... more dramatic than in Miami, a great resort and retirement capital for the Northeast, now – as David Rieff puts it in Going to Miami – a mirror city to Havana. There have been no less than five recent books on Miami, of which those by Rieff and Joan Didion,* quite different in tone and treatment, are the most ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Ryanverse, 11 July 2002

... It’s also the only one of Clancy’s books to have been graced with a review in the LRB. David Rieff concluded: ‘America loves Colonel North and Colonel North must love Red Storm Rising. I would ban it if I could’ (LRB, 3 September 1987). I don’t suppose the presence of Jack Ryan would have eased his mind much. Ryan’s career has been ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... opportunity was offered me – to do some research work for a soc[iology] instructor named Philip Rieff, who is working on, among other things, a reader in the sociology of politics + religion. At last the chance to really involve myself in one area with competent guidance. 12/2/49 Last night, or was it early this (Sat.) morning? – I am engaged to Philip ...

The Beast He Was

Tim Parks: ‘Kapo’, 26 May 2022

by Aleksandar Tišma, translated by Richard Williams.
NYRB, 306 pp., £14.99, August 2021, 978 1 68137 439 0
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... hero of Serbian prose,’ the journalist Luka Mičeta remarked in an interview with Tišma. David Rieff, in an afterword to Kapo, speaks of Tišma’s ‘bottomless pessimism’. But the novel would be much more pessimistic if Lamian were able to ignore his past crimes and simply enjoy life. Instead, he recognises that there is no way back for ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... McCarthy to Edmund Wilson, who locked her in a room to force her to write, Sontag to Philip Rieff, the sociologist she met as a student at 17 and with whom she later co-authored Freud: The Mind of the Moralist – and Sontag took over McCarthy’s old lemonade stand as Partisan Review’s theatre reviewer. Lines of succession make for neat narratives ...

The Mask It Wears

Pankaj Mishra: The Wrong Human Rights, 21 June 2018

The People v. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It 
by Yascha Mounk.
Harvard, 400 pp., £21.95, March 2018, 978 0 674 97682 5
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Not Enough: Human Rights in an Unequal World 
by Samuel Moyn.
Harvard, 277 pp., £21.95, April 2018, 978 0 674 73756 3
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... together, with its particular infrastructure, bureaucracy and fundraising programmes, into what David Kennedy in The Rights of Spring (2009), his acidulous memoir of human rights activism in Uruguay in 1984, called the ‘smooth and knowing routines of professional advocacy’. Kennedy, recalling time spent in the offices of Human Rights Watch in the Empire ...

Communiste et Rastignac

Christopher Caldwell: Bernard Kouchner, 9 July 2009

Le Monde selon K. 
by Pierre Péan.
Fayard, 331 pp., €19, February 2009, 978 2 213 64372 4
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... Among them was the French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who had travelled to Sri Lanka with David Miliband to argue, in vain, for a truce. Rajapaksa’s remark was in one sense a tribute to how Kouchner has changed the world. It is Kouchner, more than anyone, who has eroded the distinction between philanthropy and combat. As a young gastroenterologist ...

There is no cure

Michael Wood: Freud’s Guesswork, 6 July 2006

The Penguin Freud Reader 
edited by Adam Phillips.
Penguin, 570 pp., £14.99, January 2006, 0 14 118743 3
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... which is no doubt appropriate. The selection of Freud’s writings made and introduced by Philip Rieff in 1963 was very clear about its scope – ten volumes – but nowhere mentioned the fact that Freud wrote in German or that someone had turned him into English. The old Penguin series used James Strachey’s translations from the Standard Edition, and said ...

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