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Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens

21 July 1994
Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard​ Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman​ Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... Probably every journalistic wretch in the business has by now tried his or her hand at shoving a ‘gate’ suffix onto the end of some dingy piece of chicanery. There have, admittedly, been a few quite funny examples of the genre. ‘Tailgate’ wasn’t bad for the pants-down ...

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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... Glory that would seem to have had world-historical consequences. William Rogers, then secretary of state, called the president a ‘walking ad’ for the movie. The White House chief of staff, H.R.Haldeman, advised his young aides to see the film to get a handle on Nixon’s mindset. Kissinger saw it as a sign that he had gained admittance to the inner sanctum when he was asked to join Nixon, John ...

The Most Beautiful Icicle

Inigo Thomas: Apollo 11

15 August 2019
Reaching for the Moon: A Short​ History of the Space Race 
by Roger D. Launius.
Yale, 256 pp., £20, July, 978 0 300 23046 8
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The Moon: A History for the Future 
by Oliver Morton.
Economist Books, 334 pp., £20, May, 978 1 78816 254 8
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...  big son of a gun like that … Well, that pisses me off. Hasselblad gone. Find that mother before she or I ends the … Everybody look for a floating Hasselblad. I see a pen floating loose down here, too. Is anybody missing a ballpoint pen?Of the three Apollo 11 astronauts, Collins was the one with charm. All of them went to Nasa’s finishing school, where they were told to wear knee-length ...

Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens: Donkey Business in the White House

19 February 1998
Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 746 pp., $30, February 1998, 0 684 80819 6
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-64 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 416 pp., September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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The Dark Side of Camelot 
by Seymour Hersh.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £8.99, February 1998, 9780006530770
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Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson , Bobby Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade 
by Jeff Shesol.
Norton, 591 pp., £23.50, January 1998, 9780393040784
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The Year the Dream Died 
by Jules Witcover.
Warner, 512 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 446 51849 2
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Without Honor: The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot 
by Jerry Zeifman.
Thunder's Mouth, 262 pp., $24.95, November 1996, 9781560251286
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Howard, 740 pp., £23.50, September 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection 
edited by David Barrett.
Texas A & M, 906 pp., $94, June 1997, 0 89096 741 5
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Taking Charge: The Johnson Whitehouse Tapes 1963-64 
edited by Michael Beschloss.
Simon and Schuster, 624 pp., £20, April 1998, 0 684 80407 7
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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes 
edited by Stanley Kutler.
Free Press, 675 pp., $30, November 1997, 0 684 84127 4
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The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy and the Jupiters, 1957-63 
by Philip Nash.
North Carolina, 231 pp., £34.70, October 1997, 0 8078 4647 3
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... bullet the day after he asked to read the Newman despatches. Let us further suppose that Lyndon Johnson, finding the plans already in place, had authorised the invasion of Cuba. There would now be a herd of revisionist historians and propagandists, all assuring us that if he had lived, ‘Jack’ would never have allowed the CIA and the Joint Chiefs to do anything so barbarous and stupid. Why, just ...

First Puppet, Now Scapegoat

Inigo Thomas: Ass-Chewing in Washington

30 November 2006
State of Denial: Bush at War 
by Bob Woodward.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7432 9566 8
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... or not – are treated as political considerations.Which makes Woodward less journalist and more ambassador or courtier, more like Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, royal diplomat, gossip, host, March Hare, who pops up throughout his trilogy on the Bush administration’s wars, of which this is the third volume.* Woodward is not only granted audiences: he interviews Donald Rumsfeld, and others, at his ...

Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy

6 February 2003
Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... the comments of various Congressmen on how bad it would be for morale should American troops face criminal charges ‘just for killing one Vietnamese civilian in cold blood’. In his 1994 diary H.R.Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, confirmed that it had been Nixon and Kissinger who gave the orders to stop the prosecution – which was exactly what Ellsberg had suspected. ‘It occurred to me,’ he ...

Sucking up to P

Greg Grandin: Henry Kissinger’s Vanity

29 November 2007
Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power 
by Robert Dallek.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, August 2007, 978 0 7139 9796 5
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Henry Kissinger and the American Century 
by Jeremi Suri.
Harvard, 368 pp., £18.95, July 2007, 978 0 674 02579 0
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... largely on recently declassified transcripts of phone conversations Kissinger had secretly recorded, as well as newly available Nixon tapes, White House memos, and the papers and diaries of H.R.Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, and Alexander Haig, Kissinger’s deputy at the National Security Council. In more than seven hundred pages, it is hard to find one foreign policy initiative that was not ...

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Adam Shatz: Mass Incarceration

3 May 2017
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America 
by James Forman.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 306 pp., £21.98, April 2017, 978 0 374 18997 6
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... at first glance to be more limited – young black people who committed drug-related crimes, rather than blacks as a caste – but its reach was national, and the lure of the drug economy would prove hard for poor blacks to resist.By the early 2000s, the number of Americans behind bars had grown from 350,000 in 1972 to more than two million, and an increasing proportion were black: a larger percentage ...

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