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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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... circulated in the city. There were only 1100 American troops in the area, and one newspaper declared 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 ...

Just William

Doris Grumbach

25 June 1987
Willa CatherThe Emerging Voice 
by Sharon O’Brien.
Oxford, 544 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 504132 1
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... both applauded and judged harshly when she was alive. Now, forty years after her death, they are the 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 ...

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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... Conceived in slavery and dedicated to the proposition that black men are created unequal, the United States has attempted to come to terms with its longue durée of white supremacy only twice in its history. The first effort, made by black and white abolitionists in the period of nationalist expansion, and caught up in the conflict between slave and free ...

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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... by Leonard Louis Levenson, which contains more than a hundred and eighty entries credited to L.L.L.; in A Treasury of Humorous Quotations, compiled by Herbert V. Prochnow and Herbert V. Prochnow Jr, with 65 entries by Prochnow senior; and in Quotations For Our Time, by Dr Laurence Peter (author of The Peter Principle), with 37 entries of his own. It’s not wholly a new conceit: even L. T. Hoyt ...
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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... Congress, to determine just how those dreams had been deferred. Yet tonight the cemetery of hope 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 ...

American Breakdown

David Bromwich

9 August 2018
... it by no means warranted prosecution for giving aid and comfort to enemies of the United States. A faction 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 ...

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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... of big-bosomed tragédiennes – would have done: snatch up La Duse and let gabbly old Bernhardt 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  ...

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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... to be anotherEdmund Wilson. All this means that it is hard to get a clear sight of Wilson now, something 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 ...

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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... from the hands-on New Left to the New Left Review, from California to Edinburgh, Belfast and 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  ...

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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... woman reader, the tide of trans-sexual pseudonymy is now running strongly from male to female. (But to succeed in the small and still male-dominatedenclave of SF, the talented woman who writes as James TiptreeJr was obliged to keep her femininity a close secret.) In the 20th century, genre, or ‘category’, fiction has oftenenforced pseudonymy for the commercial reason that the author’s name  ...

Is Syria next?

Charles​ Glass

24 July 2003
... military position is matched by its economic weakness. Assad Senior, master strategist in foreign affairs and local intrigue, presided for thirty years over financial incompetence that successive deiex 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 ...

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