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After Andropov

John Barber, 19 April 1984

Andropov 
by Zhores Medvedev.
Blackwell, 227 pp., £7.50, June 1983, 0 631 13401 8
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Andropov in Power: From Komsomol to Kremlin 
by Jonathan Steele and Eric Abraham.
Martin Robertson, 216 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85520 641 1
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Life in Russia 
by Michael Binyon.
Hamish Hamilton, 286 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 241 10982 5
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The Soviet Union after Brezhnev 
edited by Martin McCauley.
Heinemann, 160 pp., £14.50, November 1983, 0 8419 0918 0
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Yuri Andropov: A Secret Passage into the Kremlin 
by Vladimir Solovyov and Elena Klepikova, translated by Guy Daniels.
Robert Hale, 302 pp., £11.50, February 1984, 0 7090 1630 1
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... Committee, which he did, though giving him an equally responsible role. Jonathan Steele and Eric Abraham characterised Chernenko as a ‘classic apparatchik’ who was ‘nothing but a Brezhnev associate’. But they also noted signs of his ‘continuing power’, and in particular the possibility that his being given the important task of making ...

Divinely Ordained

Eric Foner: Lincoln, 23 October 2003

Lincoln 
by Richard Carwardine.
Longman, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2003, 0 582 03279 2
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Lincoln's Constitution 
by Daniel Farber.
Chicago, 240 pp., £20.50, May 2003, 0 226 23793 1
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... between policies of the Bush Administration since 11 September and the way the Government under Abraham Lincoln responded to the crisis of the Civil War in the 1860s. Both Presidents assumed powers that went well beyond what the Constitution seems to allow. In both cases, thousands of people suspected of assisting the enemy were arrested and held without ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

Lincoln 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... on a cold February morning. Three suspicious characters step warily from a train at a rundown American railway depot. The tallest, a man of 52, has a slouch hat pulled down over his eyes, so that other passengers can see nothing of his face except for a strong nose and high yellow cheekbones above his upturned coat-collar: they cannot even see the ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... the claim that it ‘has new and often trenchant things to say about every aspect and period of America’s past’. No one who knows his earlier writings is likely to be surprised by its strengths and weaknesses. For better or worse, A History of the American People is vintage Johnson. Johnson proudly asserts that he makes ...

An Agreement with Hell

Eric Foner, 20 February 1997

Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution 
by Jack Rakove.
Knopf, 439 pp., $35, April 1996, 0 394 57858 9
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... its own constitution, have come and gone. Britain has yet to commit its constitution to paper. Americans revere their enduring Constitution as a symbol of national identity and the ultimate authority for resolving political controversies. To become a naturalised citizen, it is still necessary to pass a test dealing with the Constitution’s provisions. The ...

Monobeing

Brian Rotman: Why did the eternal one arrive so late?, 17 February 2005

God: An Itinerary 
by Régis Debray.
Verso, 307 pp., £25, March 2004, 1 85984 589 4
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... Jack Goody’s attributing to cuneiform writing the deployment of lists and linear thinking; Eric Havelock’s locating the source of Greek abstract thought and Plato’s ideal forms in the advent of writing; Richard Seaford’s rooting of these features in the monetisation of Greek society; and of course Marshall McLuhan’s celebration of the ...

A Topic Best Avoided

Nicholas Guyatt: Abraham Lincoln, 1 December 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 426 pp., £21, February 2011, 978 0 393 06618 0
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... On the evening of 11 April 1865, Abraham Lincoln spoke to a crowd in Washington about black suffrage. The Civil War had been over for a week. Lincoln had already walked the streets of Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, taking in the devastation at first hand. ‘The only people who showed themselves were negroes,’ the radical senator Charles Sumner noted ...

Can you close your eyes without falling over?

Hugh Pennington: Symptoms of Syphilis, 11 September 2003

Pox: Genius, Madness and the Mysteries of Syphilis 
by Deborah Hayden.
Basic Books, 379 pp., £20.99, January 2003, 0 465 02881 0
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... Nietzsche, Joyce, Karen Blixen, van Gogh. Hayden reminds us, too, that politicians – Hitler, Abraham Lincoln and his wife – can, like anyone else, catch sexually transmitted diseases. Her approach is profitable and her choice of sufferers sensible: many of them left records of their views – and fears – about syphilis and its effects on their ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 7 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... story goes. New versions of this cross-generational vaulting circulate now and then: a man who saw Abraham Lincoln being shot in 1865 was on a TV show in 1956; a retired friend in Canada recalls her now deceased Hungarian friend Dorothy telling her that her mother had been walking in the park at the age of four with her mother when the Emperor Franz Joseph ...

Orwell and Biography

Bernard Crick, 7 October 1982

... life when the reception of 1984 both impressed and worried him. Frankly I do not think that the ‘Eric Blair/George Orwell’ disjunction need trouble one greatly. Even Stansky and Abrams had dropped it by their second volume: I think their idea of a character change when he adopted the pseudonym was more of a formal excuse for not writing about ‘George ...

The Corrupt Bargain

Eric Foner: Democracy? No thanks, 21 May 2020

Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? 
by Alexander Keyssar.
Harvard, 544 pp., £28.95, May, 978 0 674 66015 1
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Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College 
by Jesse Wegman.
St Martin’s Press, 304 pp., $24.50, March, 978 1 250 22197 1
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... Every​ four years Americans wake up to the fact that a president can be elected despite receiving fewer votes than another candidate. Until 2000 the electorate couldn’t be blamed for being unaware of this possibility, because it hadn’t happened since 1888. But twenty years ago George W. Bush squeaked into office with a five vote majority in the electoral college even though Al Gore outpolled him by half a million votes ...

Clutching at Insanity

Frank Kermode: Winnicott and psychoanalysis, 4 March 2004

Winnicott: Life and Work 
by Robert Rodman.
Perseus, 461 pp., $30, May 2003, 0 7382 0397 1
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... not only his daughter but himself. Donald Winnicott was the analyst of Melanie Klein’s son Eric, so couldn’t go to her himself, but his analyst was Joan Riviere, very close to Klein, and his wife was a patient of hers. Readers of this journal may recall Wynne Godley’s complaint that his analyst, Masud Khan, was himself a patient and confidant of ...

Provenly Unprovable

Solomon Feferman: Can mathematics describe the world?, 9 February 2006

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel 
by Rebecca Goldstein.
Norton, 224 pp., $13.95, February 2006, 0 393 32760 4
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... this. Postmodernists have claimed to find support in it for the view that objective truth is chimerical. And in the Bibliography of Christianity and Mathematics (there really is such a publication) it is asserted that ‘theologians can be comforted in their failure to systematise revealed truth because mathematicians cannot grasp all mathematical truths in ...

The Ugly Revolution

Michael Rogin: Martin Luther King Jr, 10 May 2001

I May Not Get there with You: The True Martin Luther King Jr 
by Michael Eric Dyson.
Free Press, 404 pp., £15.99, May 2000, 0 684 86776 1
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The Papers of Martin Luther King Jr. Vol. IV: Symbol of the Movement January 1957-December 1958 
edited by Clayborne Carson et al.
California, 637 pp., £31.50, May 2000, 0 520 22231 8
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... free labour modes of production, brought hereditary legal servitude to an end. Its national hero, Abraham Lincoln, announced at Gettysburg that a nation ‘conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’ had experienced ‘a new birth of freedom’ in civil war. But with the defeat of Reconstruction a decade after ...

Responses to the War in Gaza

LRB Contributors, 29 January 2009

... in Israel-Palestine.Tariq Ali’s latest book is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power. David Bromwich Like the suicide bombings of the Second Intifada, the rockets from Gaza were a choice of tactics of a spectacular vengefulness. The spectacle was greater than the damage: no Israeli had been killed by a rocket before the IDF launched ...

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