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George Ball on the Middle East

George Ball, 4 April 1991

... as to the outcome of President Bush’s promise must necessarily be pessimistic. If, as Lloyd George charged in 1909, the House of Lords was ‘Mr Balfour’s Poodle’, the American Congress is today Israel’s spaniel. I doubt that any progress will ever be made unless the Security Council arranges some form of international conference in which the ...

New World

George Ball, 22 June 1989

... as to the current state of affairs: for my part, I strongly agree with the scholar and diplomat George Kennan, who has spent a lifetime studying the Soviet Union, and who has written that the remnants of the Cold War are ‘now being dismantled at a pace that renders it no longer a serious impediment to normal Soviet-American relationships’. A number of ...

Sleepless Afternoons

Avi Shlaim, 25 February 1993

The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement with Israel 
by George Ball and Douglas Ball.
Norton, 382 pp., £17.95, January 1993, 0 393 02933 6
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... In his farewell address in 1796 George Washington counselled the new nation to refrain from ‘passionate attachment’ to or ‘inveterate hatred’ of any other nation and to cultivate instead peace and harmony with all. A passionate attachment to another nation, he warned, could create the illusion of a common interest where no common interest exists ...

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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... But this is in comparison with the clichéridden public pronouncements he was given to making: George Ball, who twice campaigned against him, has written of ‘a plodding fivestar general uttering pedestrian language written by some journalistic hack with all the grace of a gun-carriage being hauled across cobblestones’. It appears from the diaries ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... memorandum, Bundy was told that Henry Fowler (the secretary of the treasury), Robert McNamara and George Ball (the undersecretary of state) all believed that ‘UK troops in Vietnam, while not strictly a necessary condition for us to be forthcoming on sterling, would greatly improve the odds.’ Although Wilson refused the request for troops, he was now ...

Passionate Purposes

Keith Kyle, 6 September 1984

by Christopher Hitchens.
Quartet, 192 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 7043 2436 9
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The Cyprus Dispute and the Birth of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 
by Necati Ertekun.
K. Rustem, Nicosia, PO Box 239, Lefkosa, via Mersin 10, Turkey, 507 pp., £12.50
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... since Barabbas’ was how Adlai Stevenson commended him to his friend Under-Secretary of State George Ball in 1964. The Americans wanted to eliminate any danger of war between two of their allies and to ensure that Cyprus should not fall into hands that were hostile to Nato. They were keenly aware of the strength of Akel, the Cyprus Communist ...

The Pink Hotel

Wayne Koestenbaum, 3 April 1997

The Last Thing He Wanted 
by Joan Didion.
Flamingo, 227 pp., £15.99, January 1997, 0 00 224080 7
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... the candles blowing out at the table in the main dining-room where Douglas Dillon and his wife and George Ball and his wife and Robert McNamara and Arthur Schlesinger are sitting (not eating, no dinner has arrived, no dinner will arrive), the pale linen curtains in the main dining-room blowing out, the rain on the parquet floor, the isolation, the ...

And after we’ve struck Cuba?

Thomas Powers, 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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... That idea is left hanging. There follows much back and forth of we-do-this, they-do-that. Then George Ball introduces a new phrase: ‘This coming in there, a Pearl Harbor, just frightens the hell out of me as to what goes beyond …’ BUNDY: What goes beyond what? BALL: What happens beyond that. You go in there ...

Taking the hint

David Craig, 5 January 1989

The King’s Jaunt: George IV in Scotland, 1822 
by John Prebble.
Collins, 399 pp., £15, November 1988, 0 00 215404 8
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... Prebble’s that all these tartans were nothing but hype: a stunt devised chiefly by Scott to make George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in August 1822 as splendiferous as possible. In his anonymous shilling pamphlet ‘HINTS addressed to the INHABITANTS OF EDINBURGH AND OTHERS in prospect of HIS MAJESTY’S VISIT by an Old Citizen’, Scott dubbed a principal ...

Wrecking Ball

Adam Shatz: Trump’s Racism, 7 September 2017

... cause: the defence of Lee’s statue. ‘So this week, it’s Robert E. Lee … I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?’ Duke praised Trump for his ‘honesty and courage’ in condemning left-wing ‘terrorists’ in Charlottesville. But Duke was not alone in his support for Trump. While many Republican ...


Martin Monahan, 8 October 2015

... slugs decorate an undulating hem; her sleeve is frilled in hedgehog quills, all for this infernal ball in Piccadilly. ‘George, you don’t suppose it’s too much, the flowers? I don’t want them to fall out of my hair and into my soup: though they are quite wonderful.’ Sir ...

Like a Ball of Fire

Andrew Cockburn, 5 March 2020

... to any air or missile defence system’ – ‘It flies to its target like a meteorite, like a ball of fire’ – and treated the audience to a short video animation depicting the weapon zigzagging around the globe before striking Florida. When he had warned Nato leaders about the advent of such strategic systems years earlier, he said, ‘nobody wanted ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: Bette Davis, 12 August 2021

... he was supposed to. She decides to punish him by embarrassing him. She will wear a red dress to a ball where all young ladies are supposed to wear white. Dillard, stubborn in his way, takes her to the ball, forces her stay longer than she wants to and to dance emphatically round the floor with him, making them the only ...

Short Cuts

Paul Myerscough: Zidane at work, 5 October 2006

... Watching Zidane at work in this way is an extraordinary experience. He is in possession of the ball for only a tiny fraction of the game, a total of perhaps two minutes or less. Much of what he does in those two minutes is exhilarating. In one moment, he leaps and curves his body in the air to catch a long, high ball at ...


Nina Bawden, 2 February 1984

At the Jazz Band BallA Memory of the 1950s 
by Philip Oakes.
Deutsch, 251 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 233 97591 8
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... superbly. His trilogy, From Middle England, Dwellers All in Time and Space and At the Jazz Band Ball, is a very funny, lively and often enthralling record of a childhood, adolescence and young manhood, convincing in its detail, and set down with verve and style. His family were poor. His father died when he was four years old and his mother, a ...

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