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Extraordinarily Graceful Exits from Power

Nicholas Guyatt: George Washington’s Reticence, 17 November 2005

His Excellency George Washington 
by Joseph J. Ellis.
Faber, 320 pp., £20, March 2005, 0 571 21212 3
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... his cabinet. (‘Pablo’ for the hapless Paul O’Neill; ‘Z-Man’ for Robert Zoellick.) George Washington, on the other hand, was so aloof that even his contemporaries tried to make light of the fact. According to one story, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, Alexander Hamilton dared his fellow delegate Gouverneur Morris to clap ...

The Lobby Falters

John Mearsheimer: Charles Freeman speaks out, 26 March 2009

... Many people in Washington were surprised when the Obama administration tapped Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, the body that oversees the production of National Intelligence Estimates: Freeman had a distinguished 30-year career as a diplomat and Defense Department official, but he has publicly criticised Israeli policy and America’s special relationship with Israel, saying, for example, in a speech in 2005, that ‘as long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected ...

Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler, 17 July 1997

Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... successively, the most influential publishers in the world: Philip Graham, who inherited the Washington Post from his father-in-law, Eugene Meyer, and his shy, self-effacing wife, Katharine, who took over the company when her husband shot himself in 1963. It was Philip Graham who induced John Kennedy to choose Lyndon ...

Back to Byzantium

John Thompson, 22 January 1981

Destinations 
by Jan Morris.
Oxford, 242 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 19 502708 6
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The Venetian Empire 
by Jan Morris.
Faber, 192 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 9780571099368
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... down in a quick succession of trouble-torn areas – India in the Emergency, post-Watergate Washington, Southern Africa, Panama, even London with its National Front marches – then screams off again for a further twenty culturally-absorbent pages elsewhere. As Ms Morris says, Rolling Stone is an ‘urgent kind of magazine’, so all this rushing around ...

Radical Literary Theory

John Ellis, 8 February 1990

Fraud: Literary Theory and the End of English 
by Peter Washington.
Fontana, 188 pp., £4.99, September 1989, 0 00 686138 5
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... as the reference of a word which used to be about the business of analysing such things. Peter Washington’s book is a polemic against the viewpoint which is often spoken of as if it were quite simply modern theory of literature rather than the particular critical ideology that it is. While his title accepts the identification of theory with this ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dick Cheney’s Homepage, 18 November 2004

... where one can.In his recent book Dick: The Man who Is President (New Press, £14.99), John Nichols, the Nation’s Washington correspondent, makes a persuasive case for the (by now fairly familiar) idea that the vice-presidency is the real locus of power in the current US administration: Cheney runs the show ...

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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... about Woodward? He’s a former navy man, who wrote several hundred articles on Watergate for the Washington Post with his colleague Carl Bernstein. The two then wrote famous books about the fall of Nixon, All the President’s Men and The Final Days, the first made into a well-known movie. Bernstein went to New York and wrote a book about the papacy, but he ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical. Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing that given to any other state. It has been the largest annual recipient of direct economic and military assistance since 1976, and is the largest recipient in total since World War Two, to the tune ...

Done Deal

Christopher Hitchens: Nixon in China, 5 April 2001

A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China 
by Patrick Tyler.
PublicAffairs, 512 pp., £11.99, September 2000, 1 58648 005 7
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... reverted to resembling, in the American mind, something far worse than partes infidelium. The John Birch Society, an important orchestrator of American paranoia in the 1950s, was named for an American missionary who had supposedly been martyred by the Reds. Indeed, the Cold War and McCarthyite atmosphere in the United States was attributable much more to ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’, 6 August 2009

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 
directed by Tony Scott.
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... The chief pleasure of the new version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is the sight of John Travolta as the model bad guy. He is genial and livid by turns, entirely persuasive in both moods, the very image of crazed behaviour, and far more engaging and unhinged than he was in Pulp Fiction. That film brought certain of his earlier roles to mind, but this one makes us want to rethink Grease entirely, and maybe the whole genre of the musical ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

Lincoln 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... that make him a target for killers. This is Abraham Lincoln, the newly-elected President, come to Washington to take over from Buchanan and become a warlord. The little sharp-eyed man at Lincoln’s flank, with a derringer bulging in his pocket, is a detective called Pinkerton. The hulking young bodyguard with two conspicuous guns is Ward Hill Lamon, who ...

Lumpy, Semi-Dorky, Slouchy, Smarmy

John Lanchester, 23 August 2001

Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous 
by Don Foster.
Macmillan, 340 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 333 78170 8
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... the cops had in December consulted a New York psychiatrist called James Brussel, described by John Douglas as ‘the father of behavioural profiling’. Douglas is the FBI man who inspired Thomas Harris to invent the character Jack Crawford in the Hannibal Lecter novels, so he should know. This is the psychological portrait Brussel came up with of the Mad ...

Damnable Deficient

Colin Kidd: The American Revolution, 17 November 2005

1776: America and Britain at War 
by David McCullough.
Allen Lane, 386 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 7139 9863 6
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... authority of the ancients, even as they embarked on a revolutionary political experiment. George Washington, for example, identified himself with Cato of Utica, whom the 18th-century British knew best through the medium of Addison’s popular tragedy Cato (1713). Lines from the play found their way into Washington’s ...

Let him be Caesar!

Michael Dobson: The Astor Place Riot, 2 August 2007

The Shakespeare Riots: Revenge, Drama and Death in 19th-Century America 
by Nigel Cliff.
Random House, 312 pp., $26.95, April 2007, 978 0 345 48694 3
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... in republican America than it has ever been in Britain, at the Belasco on West 44th, with Denzel Washington as Brutus. Just as in Forrest’s day, many of the audience talked unabashedly whenever their hero was absent from the stage, though given the standard of what was very much a supporting cast, this didn’t seem as inappropriate as it might have ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: On Bullshit, 17 April 2003

... expressed at this piece of enemy callousness by the paired Presidents, the one in Washington and the other in London? The assumption that we should all share that outrage was an insult, in the face of what is being inflicted on the population of Iraq. It’s not even clear that the airing of such images is an offence against the Geneva ...

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