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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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... Bush invites world leaders to barbeques at his Texas ranch, and gives nicknames to the members of 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 ...

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 ...

Those Genes!

Charles Wheeler

17 July 1997
Personal History 
by Katharine Graham.
Weidenfeld, 642 pp., £25, May 1997, 9780297819646
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... They became, 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 ...

Back to Byzantium

John​ Thompson

22 January 1981
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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... Jan Morris is screaming in on a special assignment from Rolling Stone. Her collection of essays touches 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 ...
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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... since now we have a particular set of assumptions and assertions – in fact, an orthodoxy – 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 ...

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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... blue shirts, the better to be observed on TV – they never reveal much of themselves.What is known 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 ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dick Cheney’s Homepage

18 November 2004
... of looking up rude words in the dictionary, but in these dark times one must grab one’s consolation 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 ...

The Israel Lobby

John​ Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby

23 March 2006
... would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other 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 ...

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 ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones

4 October 1984
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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... of this wanted man, looking now so different from his pictures on the walls and hoardings, pictures 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 ...

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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... self-government indebted to Greco-Roman models, the founders of American independence deferred to the 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 ...

Short Cuts

John​ Sturrock: On Bullshit

17 April 2003
... on Iraqi television (and reshown here, be it noted) of captured Americans, but by the sanctimonious ‘outrage’ 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 ...

Short Cuts

John​ Sturrock: Blair’s wars

6 November 2003
... carriers altogether, except that we have in office a Prime Minister hooked to an unholy degree on military action. ‘It is some feat to go to war five times in six years,’ are the opening words of John Kampfner’s Blair’s Wars (Free Press, £17.99). ‘That statistic impelled me to write this book.’ It’s good that Kampfner was impelled to write it because he has done an excellent job in ...

Short Cuts

John​ Sturrock: Reading Butler

5 August 2004
... what it is exactly to ‘act in good faith’. For that is what the prime minister promised the House of Commons he had been acting in when marching lockstep into Iraq with his role model in Washington. Tony Blair’s assurance was given as a response to the publication of the Butler Report (Stationery Office, £22.50), which he assumes has demonstrated that he is not in fact the Bliar of all those ...

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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... bred Forrest and his muscular fan club. I went to a matinée of Julius Caesar, far more of a favourite 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 ...

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