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Anti-Liberalism

Alan Brinkley, 7 January 1988

Armed Truce 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 667 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 241 11843 3
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The Wise Men 
by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas.
Faber, 853 pp., £15.95, January 1987, 0 571 14606 6
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Ike 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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May-Day 
by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... to the reckless domestic and international adventurism of his liberal successors. Admirers of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and of the dynamism of their years in office interpret the new defence of Eisenhower – correctly – as an assault on their own belief in active, affirmative government, an assault different in its origins but oddly similar in ...

Mrs Straus’s Devotion

Jenny Diski, 5 June 1997

Last Dinner on the ‘Titanic’: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner 
by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley.
Weidenfeld, 128 pp., £9.99, April 1997, 1 86448 250 8
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The ‘Titanic’ Complex 
by John Wilson Foster.
Belcouver, 92 pp., £5.99, April 1997, 0 9699464 1 4
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Down with the Old Canoe 
by Steven Biel.
Norton, 300 pp., £18.95, April 1997, 9780393039658
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... in first class, and the hopes of the dispossessed in steerage. The Titanic was a ship of fools. As John Wilson Foster tells us, the grand staircase came in William and Mary style, though the balustrade was Louis XIV; the first-class dining saloon and reception rooms were Jacobean, the restaurant Louis XVI, the lounge Louis ...

Acapulcalypse

Patrick Parrinder, 23 November 1989

Christopher Unborn 
by Carlos Fuentes, translated by Alfred MacAdam.
Deutsch, 531 pp., £13.95, October 1989, 0 233 98016 4
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The Faber Book of Contemporary Latin American Short Stories 
edited by Nick Caistor.
Faber, 188 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 15359 3
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Hollywood 
by Gore Vidal.
Deutsch, 543 pp., £12.95, November 1989, 9780233984957
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Oldest living Confederate widow tells all 
by Allan Gurganus.
Faber, 718 pp., £12.99, November 1989, 9780571142019
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... The action spans fifteen years, from the end of the Depression to the advent of Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles. Vidal keeps track of the major political developments but concentrates on the inter-generational conflicts between Burden and Blaise and their respective children. From time to time a famous politician appears in the middle distance ...

A Hell of a Spot

Andrew Bacevich: Eisenhower and Suez, 16 June 2011

Eisenhower 1956: The President’s Year of Crisis: Suez and the Brink of War 
by David Nichols.
Simon and Schuster, 346 pp., £21, March 2011, 978 1 4391 3933 2
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... spring of 1953, during the first ever visit by an American secretary of state to the Middle East, John Foster Dulles made a point of including Cairo on his itinerary. Eisenhower and Dulles wanted Egypt to meet the Europeans halfway, i.e. to settle for something less than full sovereignty; to give Russia the cold shoulder, i.e. to side with the West in ...

Boys will be soldiers

Brian Harrison, 20 October 1983

Sure and Stedfast: A History of the Boys’ Brigade, 1883-1984 
edited by John Springhall.
Collins, 304 pp., £10, June 1983, 0 00 434280 1
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... that had scarcely yet been explored. More empirical work is needed before theory can advance, and John Springhall’s Youth, Empire and Society: British Youth Movements, 1883-1940 (1977) offered one way forward: the systematic study of organisations designed for children. This approach has the additional advantage of illuminating many other dimensions of ...

Hey, Mister, you want dirty book?

Edward Said: The CIA, 30 September 1999

Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War 
by Frances Stonor Saunders.
Granta, 509 pp., £20, July 1999, 1 86207 029 6
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... history. The chapter on CIA infiltration of the art world is riddled with howlers (that John Hay Whitney had his ‘own’ museum is one among several mistakes of this sort), but the gist of her argument about Abstract Expressionism and its uses as propaganda is correct, if not wholly original. Who Paid the Piper? is even so a major work of ...

Old, Old, Old, Old, Old

John Kerrigan: Late Yeats, 3 March 2005

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. II: The Arch-Poet 1915-39 
by Roy Foster.
Oxford, 822 pp., £16.99, March 2005, 0 19 280609 2
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... play has tended to muffle its strangeness. It is the great achievement of the second volume of Roy Foster’s superb biography that it delivers us late Yeats in all his troublesome immediacy. Foster does this not just by cutting across the record with new facts from the archive – itself a considerable feat, given that half ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect, 28 November 2002

Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... whose rigid commitment to these ideals brought him enormous success but also ultimate failure. John Thompson offers us a different Wilson. He plays down the President’s Christianity, arguing that this was sincere but not dominating, and portrays him as ‘a practising politician’ who ‘travelled with very little ideological baggage, adopting and ...

Eritrean Revolution

Jeremy Harding, 15 October 1987

... with a legion of flies, before returning to pose the question. The first part was answered by John Foster Dulles, the US Secretary of State at the time of the misbegotten federation. ‘From the point of view of justice,’ he said, ‘the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless the strategic interests of the United ...

Separation Anxiety

David Hollinger: God and Politics, 24 January 2008

The Stillborn God: Religion, Politics and the Modern West 
by Mark Lilla.
Knopf, 334 pp., $26, September 2007, 978 1 4000 4367 5
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... meeting of the leaders of the national, informal ‘Protestant Establishment’. It was chaired by John Foster Dulles, who a decade later would be named secretary of state by Eisenhower. The delegates proclaimed their identity as Americans, but were highly conscious of their independence. A resolution declaring that ‘the Church as such is not at ...

What he did

Frank Kermode, 20 March 1997

W.B. Yeats: A Life. Vol. I: The Apprentice Mage 
by R.F. Foster.
Oxford, 640 pp., £25, March 1997, 0 19 211735 1
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... large-scale biography of Yeats, died in 1983, and after some vicissitudes the task devolved on Roy Foster, the professor of Irish history at Oxford. He has had access to Lyons’s notes and transcripts, invaluable to a successor confronted, as he says, with ‘a vast and unfamiliar subject’. Vast it remains, but the unfamiliarity has clearly ...

The Looting of Asia

Chalmers Johnson: Japan, the US and stolen gold, 20 November 2003

Gold Warriors: America’s Secret Recovery of Yamashita’s Gold 
by Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave.
Verso, 332 pp., £17, September 2003, 1 85984 542 8
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... concerned with postwar Japan highly classified, in violation of its own laws. Most important, John Foster Dulles, President Truman’s special envoy to Japan charged with ending the occupation, wrote the peace treaty of 1951 in such a way that most former POWs and civilian victims of Japan are prevented from obtaining any form of compensation from ...

New Ways of Killing Your Father

Colm Tóibín, 18 November 1993

Paddy and Mr Punch: Connections in Irish and English History 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 305 pp., £22.50, October 1993, 0 7139 9095 3
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... in our glorious past, and it was essential for our past to be glorious if our present, in what Roy Foster in his new book of essays calls ‘the disillusioned tranquillity of the Free State’, was to have any meaning. This was what our ancestors fought for; we had it now; it had to be good. At the launch of his book Thomas Pakenham sat on a podium at the top ...

Yellow Ribbons

Hal Foster: Kitsch in Bush’s America, 7 July 2005

... in fidelity to men gone to battle. Yet this origin is mythical, put in circulation by the 1949 John Ford film She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, which starred John Wayne as a cavalry officer in the Indian battles in the West. And even this source is shaky: as used today, the ribbons date only to the ‘hostage crisis’ of ...

At the Hayward

Hal Foster: Ed Ruscha, 19 November 2009

... 1950s,’ he once remarked, ‘I was awakened by the photographs of Walker Evans and the movies of John Ford, especially Grapes of Wrath, where the poor “Okies” (mostly farmers whose land dried up) go to California with mattresses on their cars rather than stay in Oklahoma and starve.’ Even as Ruscha presents this folk experience as already mediated, he ...

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