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The Embryo Caesar

Eric Foner: After Hamilton, 14 December 2017

The Burr Conspiracy: Uncovering The Story of an Early American Crisis 
by James E. Lewis Jr..
Princeton, 715 pp., £27.95, November 2017, 978 0 691 17716 8
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... that Burr commanded 12,000 armed men (an early instance of fake news). Others claimed that General James Wilkinson, the governor of the Louisiana Territory, was in league with Burr. (The duplicitous Wilkinson was later discovered to have been in the pay of Spain while plotting his own invasion of Spanish territory.) The French and Spanish residents of New ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach, 25 June 1987

Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... subject of increasing critical interest. In her lifetime she was praised by H.L. Mencken, Sinclair Lewis, Louise Bogan, but Edmund Wilson said that One of Ours,* her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, was a complete failure and that My Antonia ended on the level of a Ladies Home Journal serial. Lionel Trilling called The Professor’s House ‘lame’ and Ernest ...

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 Carsonet al.
California, 637 pp., £31.50, May 2000, 0 520 22231 8
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... States and Lincoln over its rebirth in civil war, so the line from Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr places slavery and racial equality at the centre of American national identity. Elevating King to the pantheon of founding fathers, however, has served as a ritual of national self-congratulation that obliterates the radical movement in which King ...

Great Thoughts

E.S. Turner, 7 May 1981

The Macmillan Treasury of Relevant Quotations 
edited by Edward Murphy.
Macmillan, 658 pp., £3.95, August 1980, 0 333 30038 6
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... name relate to works by the unindexed George F. Woodberry (another English humorist, D. B. Wyndham-Lewis, has his entries indexed under Percy Wyndham Lewis). The genuine Wodehouse entries are not really vintage, which may well be the result of trying to find unhackneyed passages. Indeed, the search for the unhackneyed has ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... and idealism is empty. Jack Kennedy is alive. Martin Luther King is alive. Bobby Kennedy is alive. James Baldwin is alive. Janis Joplin is alive. Jack Kerouac is alive. Jimi Hendrix is alive. Lyndon Johnson is alive. James Jones is alive. Jim Morrison and Robert Penn Warren are alive. Richard Nixon is dead; and a Soviet-bloc ...

Populist Palatial

Rosemary Hill: The View from Piccadilly, 4 March 2021

London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 
by Rohan McWilliam.
Oxford, 400 pp., £30, September 2020, 978 0 19 882341 4
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Survey of London: Volume 53, Oxford Street 
edited by Andrew Saint.
Paul Mellon Centre, 421 pp., £75, April 2020, 978 1 913107 08 6
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... West End, with its salubrious air and proximity to the Houses of Parliament and the Court of St James’s, was more attractive than ever. Its rise was unstoppable, its nature always mutable. There was no crisis from which it did not emerge invigorated. John Nash designed Piccadilly Circus as a rond-point for his great picturesque town plan leading up Regent ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich, 2 August 2018

... in the New York field office of the bureau disagreed; and, using their connections with the ex-mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani, they orchestrated a series of selective leaks to throw doubt on the decision by James Comey as director of the FBI to close the investigation. The last and most effective of their leaks ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... go to hell. In her new book on the novelist, Joan Acocella speaks with some reverence of Cath-er’s ‘Duse revelation’: the young writer’s precocious verdict, having seen both actresses perform onstage in the 1890s, that Duse was the superior artist because of the classical restraint she invariably brought to her roles. Bernhardt ...

Liquored-Up

Stefan Collini: Edmund Wilson, 17 November 2005

Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature 
by Lewis Dabney.
Farrar, Straus, 642 pp., £35, August 2005, 0 374 11312 2
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... which the sheer volume and variousness of his writing anyway make difficult. Fortunately, Lewis Dabney appears to be a man of firm purpose. Dabney wrote his PhD on Wilson more than forty years ago, and has been gathering biographical material for decades. Along the way he has contributed to Wilsoniana by editing The Portable Edmund Wilson (1983), the ...

Pseud’s Corner

John Sutherland, 17 July 1980

Duffy 
by Dan Kavanagh.
Cape, 181 pp., £4.95, July 1980, 0 224 01822 1
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Moscow Gold 
by John Salisbury.
Futura, 320 pp., £1.10, March 1980, 0 7088 1702 5
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The Middle Ground 
by Margaret Drabble.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £5.95, June 1980, 0 297 77808 0
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The Boy Who Followed Ripley 
by Patricia Highsmith.
Heinemann, 292 pp., £6.50, April 1980, 0 434 33520 7
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... to succeed in the small and still male-dominated enclave of SF, the talented woman who writes as James Tiptree Jr was obliged to keep her femininity a close secret.) In the 20th century, genre, or ‘category’, fiction has often enforced pseudonymy for the commercial reason that the author’s name must chime ...

A Giant Still Sleeping

Lorna Scott Fox: Mike Davies, 4 April 2002

Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City 
by Mike Davis.
Verso, 202 pp., £10, November 2001, 9781859843284
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... back. He is one of the last relics of madder, more eclectic days. The poet and environmentalist Lewis MacAdams claims that ‘in a Greek restaurant one night I saw him talk his way through an entire dinner, from the spanakopita to the baklava, without taking a bite.’ That struck a chord with me because some way into the first two parts of his projected ...

Is Syria next?

Charles Glass, 24 July 2003

... and local intrigue, presided for thirty years over financial incompetence that successive dei ex machina disguised but failed to correct: Syria survived on Soviet subsidies, hand-outs from Arab oil states which wouldn’t confront Israel themselves and remittances from workers in Lebanon. As the country approached bankruptcy in the early ...

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