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Sucking up

Michael Rogin

12 May 1994
Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War 
by John MacArthur.
California, 274 pp., £10, January 1994, 0 520 08398 9
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Live from the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad – 35 Years in the World’s War Zones 
by Peter Arnett.
Bloomsbury, 463 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 7475 1680 4
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... do violence. Senators bemoan television brutality, a national debate on the pros and cons of censorship takes centre stage for a time – displaced by other violent attention-getters like Lorena and John Wayne Bobbitt, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, Singapore’s caning sentence to punish an American teenager, the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ Congressional proposal to jail for life those ...

Noddy is on page 248

Jay Griffiths: On the streets

10 June 1999
The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest 
edited by Brian MacArthur.
Penguin, 440 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87052 8
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DIY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain 
edited by George McKay.
Verso, 310 pp., £11, July 1998, 1 85984 260 7
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... joked A.P. Herbert. ‘We are not here for fun. There is no reference to fun in any Act of Parliament.’ From its grey, drizzly cover to its century-long plod of standard-length excerpts, Brian MacArthur’s anthology leaves you in no doubt: there’s precious little fun to be had protesting. There’s no skittish comedy or wry subversion here: The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest takes a serious ...

Corncob Caesar

Murray Sayle

6 February 1997
Old Soldiers Never Die: The Life of Douglas MacArthur 
by Geoffrey Perret.
Deutsch, 663 pp., £20, October 1996, 9780233990026
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... his tacky, Napoleon-sized mausoleum in Norfolk, Virginia, built as part of a murky property deal by a crooked mayor who was later murdered. We still don’t know what to think about General Douglas MacArthur; almost all of us, it seems, would rather forget him. Except writers. There have been more than a dozen biographies of MacArthur. Part of the fascination is his contradictoriness: could the same ...


Robert Morley: Give me a Basher to travel

20 March 1986
... cautiously and prepared to set to work tearing off the adhesive strips or bringing the numbers to light with the aid of a coin edge. No such task presented itself. Instead a 4000-word letter from Mr JohnMacArthur introduced me to the world of plate-collecting. Eight million platers can’t be wrong and 450,000 joined the ranks in 1983 alone. Many of them bought heavily into Rockwell. The new offer ...

Paper or Plastic?

John​ Sutherland: Richard Powers

10 August 2000
by Richard Powers.
Heinemann, 355 pp., £15.99, March 2000, 0 434 00862 1
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... Every year since 1981 the MacArthur Foundation has made awards to between 20 and 40 Americans (depending on how the stock-market performs) across all the fields of human endeavour – less sport and business, which have their own ...

Whitlam Fictions

Zachary Leader

16 February 1989
Kisses of the Enemy 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 622 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 571 15091 8
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Postcards from Surfers 
by Helen Garner.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0272 2
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by Frank Moorhouse.
Faber, 175 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 571 15210 4
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... national soul, the still-living spirit of violence, hypocrisy and will by which slave-driving settlers such as W.C. Wentworth, ‘the lord of the lash and triangle’, Benjamin ‘Flogger’ Boyd and JohnMacArthur – all of whom we meet with in the narrative – came to control the land, ‘filling it with blood and the suppuration of needless misery’. What keeps this spirit alive, according to ...
23 September 1993
Tiny Rowland: A Rebel Tycoon 
by Tom Bower.
Heinemann, 659 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 434 07339 3
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... had a fleet of liners, that they owned oil wells and the Rockefeller Plaza and had hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of construction work on order from one of Britain’s top builders, Sunley. JohnMacArthur, a senior director of Kleinwort Benson, told millions of people watching Channel Four’s Business Programme that the Fayeds’ business empire was worth ‘seven billion dollars’. Now ...
26 November 1987
The Korean War 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 476 pp., £14.95, September 1987, 9780718120689
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The Origins of the Korean War 
by Peter Lowe.
Longman, 256 pp., £6.95, July 1986, 0 582 49278 5
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Korea: The War before Vietnam 
by Callum MacDonald.
Macmillan, 330 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 333 33011 0
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... connivance, really started the war. The many border infractions and provocations by South Korean troops, Synghman Rhee’s openly-proclaimed ambitions and the coincidental presence of the hawkish John Foster Dulles in Seoul have been cited in evidence, but none of the works under review provides any substantiation for this interpretation. The scale and weight of the North Korean attack speaks for ...

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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... Nobusuke Kishi, for example, was prime minister from 1957 to 1960). The US keeps many of its archives 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 ...

How wars begin

Jon Halliday

23 May 1985
The Korean War: History and Tactics 
edited by David Rees.
Orbis, 128 pp., £7.99, September 1984, 0 85613 649 2
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Der Koreakrieg 1950 bis 1953: Das Scheitern der Amerikanischen Aggression gegen die KDVR 
by Olaf Groehler.
Militarverlag der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, 120 pp., DM 6.50
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The Rainy Spell, and Other Korean Stories 
translated by Suh Ji-moon.
Onyx, 255 pp., £12.95, December 1984, 9780906383179
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The Complete Book of MASH 
by Suzy Kalter.
Columbus, 240 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 86287 080 1
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The Last Days of MASH 
by Alan Alda and Arlene Alda.
Columbus, 150 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 88101 008 1
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... memoirs in 1971 seemed to clinch the Russian involvement. The memoirs state flatly that the Korean Communist leader Kim Il Sung came to Russia twice and planned the invasion with Stalin. But, as John Merrill demonstrated in the Journal of Korean Studies (1981), the published version differs in important respects from what Khrushchev says on the tapes. On the tapes, Khrushchev gets the date of the ...

Death of the Hero

Michael Howard

7 January 1988
The Mask of Command 
by John​ Keegan.
Cape, 366 pp., £12.95, November 1987, 9780224019491
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... Among the distinguished group of military historians which has flourished in this country since the Second World War, John Keegan is outstanding. His talents are remarkable: a wide-ranging and speculative mind; clarity in analysis; a deep understanding of the military community; and enviable descriptive gifts to ensure ...

My son has been poisoned!

David Bromwich: Cold War movies

26 January 2012
An Army of Phantoms: American Movies and the Making of the Cold War 
by J. Hoberman.
New Press, 383 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 1 59558 005 4
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... November 16 [1943], six thousand rally at the Shrine Auditorium to celebrate the tenth anniversary of US-Soviet relations, complete with a speech by Olivia de Havilland … The next day, John Wayne learns that the Selective Service board has extended his 3-A deferment. Hot dog! The star celebrates Thanksgiving Day by carving turkeys at the canteen, even as Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin ...


Keith Kyle

4 July 1985
Eisenhower. Vol. I: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect 1890-1952 Vol. II: The President 1952-1969 
by Stephen Ambrose.
Allen and Unwin, 637 pp., £12.50, February 1984, 0 04 923073 5
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Ike’s Letters to a Friend: 1941-1958 
edited by Robert Griffith.
Kansas, 211 pp., $19.95, October 1984, 0 7006 0257 7
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... But he did pass out top of the class at the Command and General Staff School at Leavenworth, and already when working in the Army Department in Washington he was picked out as a protégé by General MacArthur, the Chief of Staff: ‘This is the best officer in the Army. When the next war comes he should go right to the top.’ If this was really what was thought of him, his career structure seems very odd ...

The Lie that Empire Tells Itself

Eric Foner: America’s bad wars

19 May 2005
The Dominion of War: Empire and conflict in North America 1500-2000 
by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.
Atlantic, 520 pp., £19.99, July 2005, 1 903809 73 8
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... War, and as president tries to reconcile ‘American power with American values’ by adopting a ‘peace policy’ towards the remaining Indians, but to no lasting effect. The career of Douglas MacArthur illuminates the expansion of American global power in the first half of the 20th century. The two hundred pages allotted to the 19th and 20th centuries are too few to do justice to the themes of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Synecdoche, New York’

11 June 2009
Synecdoche, New York 
directed by Charlie Kaufman.
April 2009
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... could. He does. Or if he doesn’t have a psychosis he has something just as good – good for the film, that is. He knows what every character in a Charlie Kaufman movie knows, whether it’s Being John Malkovich, Adaptation or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He knows that reality puts up scarcely any resistance to fear or fantasy, and that inside every head is a cast of thousands ready to ...

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