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Was he? Had he?

Corey Robin: In the Name of Security, 19 October 2006

The Lavender Scare: The Cold War Persecution of Gays and Lesbians in the Federal Government 
by David Johnson.
Chicago, 277 pp., £13, May 2006, 0 226 40190 1
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Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Civil Liberties in the Name of National Security 
by David Cole and James Dempsey.
New Press, 320 pp., £10.99, March 2006, 1 56584 939 6
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General Ashcroft: Attorney at War 
by Nancy Baker.
Kansas, 320 pp., £26.50, April 2006, 0 7006 1455 9
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State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration 
by James Risen.
Free Press, 240 pp., £18.99, January 2006, 0 7432 7578 0
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Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush 
by Eric Boehlert.
Free Press, 352 pp., $25, May 2006, 0 7432 8931 5
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... including racism and the blinkered interests of the intelligence bureaucracy. But a key factor, as Nancy Baker shows in General Ashcroft, her comprehensive assessment of John Ashcroft’s tenure as Bush’s first attorney general, is that conservatives view national security through the lens of their ongoing Kulturkampf against the 1960s. As attorney ...

Ronbo

Michael Rogin, 13 October 1988

Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North 
by Ben Bradlee.
Grafton, 572 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 246 13364 3
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For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington 
by Donald Regan.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 09 173622 6
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... by fighting Communist influence there, acquiring personal and institutional backing, and marrying Nancy Davis. This reassemblage of the actor/politician made him whole – the cause he supported and the people who supported him constituting the rest of Ronald Reagan. Dismembered as personal body on film, Ronald Reagan was reassembled as social body, as ...

Dad & Jr

Christian Lorentzen: Bushes Jr & Sr, 4 December 2014

... low expectations’. ‘Bush’s conversational storytelling makes for engaging reading,’ Peter Baker writes in the New York Times. ‘It’s folksy, sharply observed and surprisingly affecting,’ Michiko Kakutani says in the same paper. ‘A helluva good read,’ Douglas Brinkley writes in the Financial Times. ‘Bush Jr’s new memoir doesn’t feel ...

Various Woman

Penelope Fitzgerald, 2 April 1987

A Voyager Out: The Life of Mary Kingsley 
by Katherine Frank.
Hamish Hamilton, 333 pp., £14.95, February 1987, 0 241 12074 8
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Marilyn 
by Gloria Steinem and George Barris.
Gollancz, 182 pp., £12.95, February 1987, 0 575 03945 0
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Joe and Marilyn: A Memory of Love 
by Roger Kahn.
Sidgwick, 268 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 283 99427 4
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I leap over the wall 
by Monica Baldwin and Karen Armstrong.
Hamish Hamilton, 308 pp., £4.95, March 1987, 9780241119747
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Diary of a Zen Nun: A Moving Chronicle of Living Zen 
by Nan Shin (Nancy Amphoux).
Rider, 228 pp., £5.95, January 1987, 9780712614320
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... all have our areas, but who ever admits it?’ She, too, was self-created, out of Norma Jeane Baker, proud that she had never been kept, never been discovered and had earned every cent she possessed. But she was imprisoned by her ‘magic friend’, her beauty, and saw no way of surviving without it. Whose fault was this? Gloria Steinem’s Marilyn ...

The Spree

Frank Kermode, 22 February 1996

The Feminisation of American Culture 
by Ann Douglas.
Papermac, 403 pp., £10, February 1996, 0 333 65421 8
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Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the Twenties 
by Ann Douglas.
Picador, 606 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 330 34683 0
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... the careers of such performers as Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington and Josephine Baker, and of many literary figures, some of whom, like Zora Neale Hurston, have more recently become famous again. Not that the pathology of apartheid had ceased to exist; after abolition there was a racist backlash, which intensified after the Great War and of ...

Bonfire in Merrie England

Richard Wilson: Shakespeare’s Burning, 4 May 2017

... the Memorial, became ‘the most important figure in Chesterton’s life’, according to David Baker in Ideology of Obsession: A.K. Chesterton and British Fascism. The two met when Chesterton went to interview Flower, ‘whose reign over Stratford-upon-Avon came as near absolutism as made no odds’. Flower was impressed by Chesterton’s refusal to use ...

Low-Hanging Fruit

Francis FitzGibbon: An American Show Trial, 22 January 2015

... jury. The defendants were convicted in a retrial the next year. The leaders of the HLF, Shukri Abu Baker and Ghassan Elashi, are serving 65-year sentences and will die in jail. Three others were given prison sentences of 15 or 20 years. They lost their appeals, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, despite patent failings and abuses in the legal ...

The Most Wonderful Sport

James Salter: Those Magnificent Men, 6 November 2014

The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War 
by Samuel Hynes.
Farrar, Straus, 322 pp., £17.99, November 2014, 978 0 374 27800 7
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... you could look. The war was closing with a crescendo; then it was over. That December Hobey Baker, the most famous college athlete of his time when he was at Princeton, finished the war with three victories. He’d been commanding a squadron at Toul; he received orders to go home and was leaving the next day for Paris. He was flashing the orders ...

Who Will Lose?

David Edgar, 25 September 2008

Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future 
by Newton Minow and Craig LaMay.
Chicago, 219 pp., £11.50, April 2008, 978 0 226 53041 3
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... phrase ‘there you go again’ helped a lot, as did a note that one of Reagan’s advisers, Jim Baker, handed him just before he walked to his podium, on which he’d written the single word ‘chuckle’. Fired up by their success in 1980, the same team prepped Reagan for the first of two debates against Walter Mondale four years later. Here, it all went ...

An UnAmerican in New York

Lewis Nkosi: The Harlem Renaissance, 24 August 2000

Winds Can Wake Up the Dead: An Eric Walrond Reader 
edited by Louis Parascandola.
Wayne State, 350 pp., $24.95, December 1998, 0 8143 2709 5
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... consciousness of the 1920s coincided, of course, with the arrival of the Jazz Age. Josephine Baker was the toast of Paris. After seeing her in Chocolate Dandies, the Greenwich Village poet, e.e. cummings reported ecstatically that ‘she resembled some tall, vital, incomparably fluid nightmare which crossed its eyes, warped its limbs in a purely ...

Swoonatra

Ian Penman, 2 July 2015

Sinatra: London 
Universal, 3 CDs and 1 DVD, £40, November 2014Show More
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... By the time of the Paramount ‘Swoonatra’ incident he was four years married to his first wife, Nancy, with one young child (Nancy Jr) and a second (Frank Jr) just about to arrive. He dressed like other adults of the time. (His sole concession to dandyism was a lasciviously Borromean, outsize bow-tie.) His day-to-day ...

Take a bullet for the team

David Runciman: The Profumo Affair, 21 February 2013

An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Harper, 400 pp., £20, January 2013, 978 0 00 743584 5
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... he would be unable to face the children. ‘This is real – not stuff,’ he wrote in a letter to Nancy Astor, who was trying to act as go-between. Also real not stuff was the knowledge that divorce might spell the end of his political ambitions. By the time Macmillan became prime minister divorce was no longer a barrier to high office. His cabinets contained ...

Big Man Walking

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev’s Dispensation, 14 December 2017

Gorbachev: His Life and Times 
by William Taubman.
Simon and Schuster, 880 pp., £25, September 2017, 978 1 4711 4796 8
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... character of the pair, insistent on giving her opinion on everything with pedantic accuracy (Nancy Reagan, thirty years later, couldn’t stand being constantly corrected by her). Taubman makes clear that the combination of her outspokenness and her unshakeable loyalty held her husband together through terrible times, when without her he might have ...

Sod off, readers

John Sutherland, 26 September 1991

Rude Words: A Discursive History of the London Library 
by John Wells.
Macmillan, 240 pp., £17.50, September 1991, 0 333 47519 4
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Swearing: A Social History of Foul Language, Oaths and Profanity in English 
by Geoffrey Hughes.
Blackwell, 283 pp., £16.95, August 1991, 0 631 16593 2
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... old furniture of the Round Reading Room as they can. They are not making much headway. Felicity Baker has written: ‘A symbolic deadlock between the Regular Readers’ Group and the directors [of the British Library] is centred on the old Circular Catalogue, the hundreds of volumes which list acquisitions up to 1975. In one of our attempts to persuade them ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements, 5 April 2007

Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... but only Berenson appears more frequently as a correspondent in the selection edited by R.W.B. and Nancy Lewis in 1988. ‘I beg instant cremation for this,’ she was writing to Fullerton almost from the start; but the fact that the erotically adventurous Fullerton had already been the victim of one blackmail attempt does not seem to have made him wary about ...

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