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Hot Dogs

Malcolm Bull

14 June 1990
Mine eyes have seen the glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America 
by Randall Balmer.
Oxford, 246 pp., $19.95, September 1989, 0 19 505117 3
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In God’s Country: Travels in the Bible Belt, USA 
by Douglas Kennedy.
Unwin Hyman, 240 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 0 04 440423 9
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The Divine Supermarket 
by Malise Ruthven.
Chatto, 336 pp., £14.95, August 1989, 0 7011 3151 9
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The Democratisation of American Christianity 
by Nathan Hatch.
Yale, 312 pp., £22.50, November 1989, 0 300 44470 2
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Religion and 20th-Century American Intellectual Life 
edited by Michael Lacey.
Cambridge/Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars, 214 pp., £27.50, November 1989, 0 521 37560 6
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New Religions and the Theological Imagination in America 
by Mary Farrell Bednarowski.
Indiana, 175 pp., $25, November 1989, 0 253 31137 3
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... elicit anything but a wry smile: how can such a combination of the inconsequential and the theological be of serious social importance? Both Randall Balmer, a professor of history at Columbia, and DouglasKennedy, an American writer resident in London, confronted this question on numerous occasions in their travels through the evangelical sub-culture of America. Their narratives abound with the ...

Knucklehead Truman

Douglas​ Johnson

2 June 1983
The Eisenhower Diaries 
edited by Robert Ferrell.
Norton, 445 pp., £15.25, April 1983, 0 393 01432 0
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The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography 
by Thomas Reeves.
Blond and Briggs, 819 pp., £11.95, June 1983, 0 85634 131 2
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The past has another pattern 
by George Ball.
Norton, 544 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 393 01481 9
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Torn Lace Curtain 
by Frank Saunders and James Southwood.
Sidgwick, 361 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 283 98946 7
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The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power 
by Robert Caro.
Collins, 882 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 00 217062 0
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The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson 
by Ronnie Dugger.
Norton, 514 pp., £13.25, September 1982, 9780393015980
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Years of Upheaval 
by Henry Kissinger.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 1312 pp., £15.95, March 1982, 0 7181 2115 5
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Richard Nixon: The Shaping of his Character 
by Fawn Brodie.
Norton, 574 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 393 01467 3
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Haig: The General’s Progress 
by Roger Morris.
Robson, 458 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780860511885
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Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President 
by Jimmy Carter.
Collins, 622 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 00 216648 8
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Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency 
by Hamilton Jordan.
Joseph, 431 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 7181 2248 8
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Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser 1977-81 
by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Weidenfeld, 587 pp., £15, April 1983, 0 297 78220 7
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... an elderly, puzzled figure who, in his turn, puzzled his contemporaries. How could such an indolent man, so bereft of ideas, have succeeded in reaching the highest offices, both military and civil? Kennedy, for all the wistful romanticism that has surrounded him and his court, was disorganised and unsettled, a showman rather than a statesman, who owned his position to the ambition and wealth of a ...

Real Thing

John Naughton

24 November 1988
Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... Some years ago, during an American Presidential election, rumours began to circulate that Senator Edward Kennedy was again thinking of running for the Democratic nomination. A young reporter had the idea of asking ex-President Nixon for his views on this development. ‘If Teddy Kennedy is serious,’ Nixon is ...

Who Will Lose?

David Edgar

23 September 2008
Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future 
by Newton Minow and Craig LaMay.
Chicago, 219 pp., £11.50, April 2008, 978 0 226 53041 3
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... and reissued). But Minow, as former head of the Federal Communications Commission and a founder member of the Commission on Presidential Debates, can claim particular authority. (‘President John F. Kennedy told me more than once’ is the book’s opening phrase.) His and LaMay’s study is overwhelmingly concerned with the complex and often tortured history of the debates as an institution. There is ...

Dunbar’s Disappearance

Sally Mapstone: William Dunbar

24 May 2001
The Poems of William Dunbar 
edited by Priscilla Bawcutt.
Association for Scottish Literary Studies, £70, May 1999, 0 948877 38 3
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... laxity is more an English than a Scottish phenomenon. But it also shows that it was felt appropriate to associate Dunbar with Englishness. During his lifetime his most serious poetic rival, Walter Kennedy, had done precisely that: ‘In Ingland, oule, suld be thyne habitacione,’ he wrote. ‘Homage to Edward Langschankis maid thy kyn.’ The ‘Flyting’ between Dunbar and Kennedy is a vituperative ...

Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler

17 July 1997
Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... Post from his father-in-law, Eugene Meyer, and his shy, self-effacing wife, Katharine, who took over the company when her husband shot himself in 1963. It was Philip Graham who induced John Kennedy to choose Lyndon Johnson as his running-mate in 1960. This was wise and far-reaching advice, for without Johnson on the ticket Kennedy would not have been elected. Consequently, without Graham’s ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode

22 February 1996
The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... Ann Douglas’s The Feminisation of American Culture, first published in 1977, now appears in Britain at the same moment as its long-delayed successor, Terrible Honesty. Looking back at the earlier book, Douglas ...

That’s democracy

Theo Tait: Dalton Trumbo

2 March 2000
Johnny Got His Gun 
by Dalton Trumbo.
Prion, 222 pp., £5.99, May 1999, 1 85375 324 6
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... in 1956 for his screenplay The Brave One. He passed on work and encouragement to other victims of the anti-Communist purge and began a vigorous media campaign to end the blacklist. In 1960, Kirk Douglas revealed that Trumbo had written the screenplay for Spartacus; President Kennedy crossed the thinning picket lines of Catholic War Veterans to watch the film in a cinema in Washington DC. The ...
21 August 1997
God’s Gift to Women 
by Don Paterson.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 9780571177622
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... Featherhood’ and Janice Galloway’s Foreign Parts. It bridges writing as different as the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy, Kate Clanchy or David Kinloch, and the fiction of Christopher Whyte or A.L. Kennedy. Some of these poets and novelists are wary of each other. Jamie recently refused to read with Irvine Welsh because of what she saw as the misogyny of one of his short stories. Yet even such wariness ...

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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... known to admire Myrna Loy and Ike to enjoy watching shoot-’em-ups; underdog Harry Truman had been 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 ...

The Art of Stealth

Bruce Ackerman: The Supreme Court under Threat

17 February 2005
... the breadth of popular support for the Warren-Burger Court’s interpretation of constitutional rights. Reagan was a tough man to convince. He nominated yet another neo-con academic-turned-judge, Douglas Ginsburg, and challenged his antagonists to continue the struggle. But Ginsburg’s past use of marijuana caused a scandal, and Reagan reluctantly called it quits. He returned to the path of ...

My Little Lollipop

Jenny Diski: Christine Keeler

22 March 2001
The Truth at Last: My Story 
by Christine Keeler and Douglas​ Thompson.
Sidgwick, 279 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 0 283 07291 1
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... as a decent older man like the father she never had, that Ward was a spy, that she’d met Hollis and Blunt in his flat, that they’d discussed nuclear warheads and the like, and even that President Kennedy was in danger (immediately after the Missile Crisis, Ward had said: ‘A man like Kennedy will not be allowed to stay in such an important position of power in the world, I assure you of that ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes

5 November 2015
The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas​ Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... across the whole state in the Texas Senatorial primary of 1948. In the presidential election of 1960, Nixon was outmanoeuvred at the count in several states by his ballot-stuffing opponents: John F. Kennedy, his running mate, Johnson, and their partisan crony, Mayor Daley of Chicago. Nixon was ahead in the vast majority of precincts in Illinois, but still lost the state because of an immense surge of ...
19 February 1987
De Gaulle. Vol III: Le Souverain 
by Jean Lacouture.
Seuil, 870 pp., frs 145, August 1984, 2 02 006969 5
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... him, claiming that beneath his Presidential suit (as seen at Westminster in 1960) they could discern the general’s uniform; that British public opinion was against joining the Community; that the Kennedy offer on Polaris was more favourable to Britain than it was to France; that the British, anxious to join a Community they had tried to stifle at birth, were ill-advised to insist on changing the ...

Hopi Mean Time

Iain Sinclair: Jim Sallis

18 March 1999
Eye of the Cricket 
by James Sallis.
No Exit, 190 pp., £6.99, April 1998, 1 874061 77 7
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... eyed savvy, his innocence. He’s a white man’s black, darker in spirit, thwarted and confused. And New Orleans, the setting for Sallis’s Griffin novels, is a mob town with murky connections to Kennedy conspiracies, voodoo, vampire faggots, jazz, child brothels and all the trash, black and white, of the Delta. It wasn’t a place – with its ‘meaty, rich smell of frying shrimp’, its ‘palms ...

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