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Imperial Graveyard

Samuel Moyn: Richard Holbrooke

27 January 2020
Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century 
by George Packer.
Cape, 592 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 1 910702 92 5
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... Yet this desperation to keep his reputation warm may indicate the American liberal elite’s waning capacity for mythmaking rather than the resuscitation of the ‘liberal international order’.GeorgePacker, arguably the most renowned American journalist of his generation, is more aware of the dangers of hagiography than most members of Holbrooke’s mourning party. He wrote a profile of him for ...

Degrees of Not Knowing

Rory Stewart: Does anyone know how to govern Iraq?

31 March 2005
What We Owe Iraq: War and the Ethics of Nation Building 
by Noah Feldman.
Princeton, 154 pp., £12.95, November 2004, 0 691 12179 6
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Blinded by the Sunlight: Surviving Abu Ghraib and Saddam’s Iraq 
by Matthew McAllester.
Harper Perennial, 304 pp., $13.95, February 2005, 0 06 058820 9
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The Fall of Baghdad 
by Jon Lee Anderson.
Little, Brown, 389 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 316 72990 6
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The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq 
by Christian Parenti.
New Press, 211 pp., £12.99, December 2004, 1 56584 948 5
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... build good relationships with rural leaders, deliver services and win respect. The quality of journalists in Iraq has been high: Elizabeth Rubin for the New York Times Magazine and the New Republic, GeorgePacker for the New Yorker, Rory McCarthy for the Guardian and James Astill for the Economist have produced great pieces. But even the most energetic analysts cannot move freely. Astill’s longest ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr

8 February 2018
Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... Schlesinger was born and bred to be a progressive historian. His parents were outspoken activists and feminists. On his mother’s side, Schlesinger was a Mayflower Wasp who claimed descent from George Bancroft, the Michelet of American historical writing. His father was a Midwest-born social historian with a German-Jewish background, for whom the prairie populism of the turn of the century was ...

Why do white people like what I write?

Pankaj Mishra: Ta-Nehisi Coates

22 February 2018
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy 
by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Hamish Hamilton, 367 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 32523 0
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... colleagues and supporters – who recommended war and condoned torture while advancing America’s mission to bring democracy to the world’s benighted. In The Fight Is for Democracy (2003), GeorgePacker argued that a ‘vibrant, hardheaded liberalism’ could use the American military to promote its values. The subtitle of The Good Fight (2006) by Peter Beinart, the then editor of the New ...

Diary

Ben Lerner: On Disliking Poetry

17 June 2015
... of poetry. When Barack Obama announced that he would revive the practice of having a poem read at his 2009 inauguration – Clinton had done it twice; Kennedy had done it in 1961 – many scoffed. GeorgePacker wondered on the New Yorker’s website: ‘Is it too late to convince the president-elect not to have a poem written for and read at his inauguration?’ He explained: ‘For many decades ...
13 October 1988
A History of West Indies Cricket 
by Michael Manley.
Deutsch, 575 pp., £17.95, May 1988, 0 233 98259 0
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Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top 
by Garfield Sobers and Brian Scovell.
Macmillan, 204 pp., £11.95, June 1988, 0 333 37267 0
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... Sobers does not conceal his contempt for these tactics, to which he would never have resorted. The captaincy was one of the most widely discussed public questions of the late Fifties. It is true that George Headley had been appointed to lead in two matches against England as far back as 1947 (he was unfit to play in the second of them), but no black player had thenceforth been entrusted with this ...

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