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Blowing It

Ian Hamilton

6 March 1980
Breaking Ranks 
by Norman Podhoretz.
Weidenfeld, 385 pp., £7.95, February 1980, 0 297 77733 5
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... I planned to see, etc. Me: ‘Well, I’ve seen X’ (‘Oh yes, how is X?’) ‘and tomorrow i’ll be seeing Y’ (‘Oh good, give my regards to Y’). ‘And on Friday, I’m having lunch with NormanPodhoretz.’ At this, the table froze. ‘You’re doing what? I repeated it, gently but with resolution, and the freeze froze even deeper. ‘But, but’ – and this with genuinely aghast reproach ...

Enemies For Ever

James Wolcott: ‘Making It’

17 May 2017
Making It 
by Norman Podhoretz.
NYRB, 368 pp., £13.98, May 2017, 978 1 68137 080 4
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... of Black Power made them all squirm.) Kazin had been unable to attend the symposium itself but, never one to miss a party, popped into the reception being thrown by Commentary’s editor-in-chief NormanPodhoretz and his wife, the writer and editor Midge Decter, one of the power couples of the Upper West Side intelligentsia – the junior version of Lionel and Diana Trilling. Kazin, a Commentary ...


David Gilmour

1 June 1989
Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 357 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 7011 3459 3
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... even follows Orwell’s injunction that a writer should be particularly severe with the work of his friends (in this case, Said). After that he has the simple task of knocking out the absurd claim of NormanPodhoretz that Orwell was ‘a forerunner of neo-conservatism’. Apart from anything else, the claim rests largely on a quotation from a 1947 essay which Podhoretz reduced and garbled in an attempt ...

Big Pod

Richard Poirier: How Podhoretz​ Dumped His Friends

2 September 1999
by Norman Podhoretz.
Free Press, 256 pp., $25, February 1999, 0 684 85594 1
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... This book is ostensibly about six literary figures with whom NormanPodhoretz, for 35 years the editor-in-chief of Commentary, was closely involved from the early Fifties until the early Seventies: Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Hannah Arendt, Lillian Hellman and ...
18 February 1988
Corruptions of Empire: Life Studies and the Reagan Era 
by Alexander Cockburn.
Verso, 479 pp., £14.95, November 1987, 0 86091 176 4
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... the courage to accumulate enemies the way Cockburn has. Starting with Ronald Reagan, whom he twits remorselessly, he has been on the wrong side of the entire US Government, of the New Republic, of NormanPodhoretz, of nearly every journalist of note, left, right and centre, of the New York Times, of the McNeil-Lehrer Report (see in particular his devastating replication of that TV programme’s ...

Look over your shoulder

Christopher Hitchens

25 May 1995
... some of these reports myself. One pamphlet, put out by the ‘Aryan Nations’, had run a ‘wanted’ list of mugshots, exposing the real powers behind Zog. My own name appeared next to that of NormanPodhoretz. Momentarily chilling as it was to feel ‘wanted’ by these people (let alone to be gazetted with Podhoretz), the overwhelming impression was of crankiness cut with impotent, pitiable ...


Christopher Hitchens: Reagan and Rambo

3 October 1985
... Jewish American, the rise of rents in midtown Manhattan, the erosion of Village life, yawn, yawn. The drift to the right, the rediscovery of patriotism, the gruesome maturity of the once iconoclastic NormanPodhoretz, okay, okay! I have one question which Atlas in his much-ballyhooed article did not even discuss. The old gang may have had regrettable flirtations. Their political compromises, endlessly ...

His Generation

Keith Gessen: A Sad Old Literary Man

19 June 2008
Alfred Kazin: A Biography 
by Richard Cook.
Yale, 452 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 0 300 11505 5
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... by Philip Roth’s “Defender of the Faith”, a story with such extraordinary guts to it that I walked around for days exhilarated by the change in the literary weather.’ He was encouraging of Norman Mailer without puffing him up, and he was also worried for him: ‘Mailer’s performance here’ – in Advertisements for Myself – ‘reminds me of the brilliant talker who impresses the hell out ...
6 January 2000
The Holocaust in American Life 
by Peter Novick.
Houghton Mifflin, 320 pp., £16.99, June 1999, 0 395 84009 0
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... Soon after my own critical findings were published in New Left Review, Henry Holt agreed to publish both essays as a book. The forward warned that Holt was ‘preparing to bring out a book by Norman Finkelstein, a notorious ideological opponent of the State of Israel’. Alleging that ‘Finkelstein’s glaring bias and audacious statements ... are irreversibly tainted by his anti-Zionist stance ...

Against it

Ross McKibbin

24 February 1994
For the Sake of Argument 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Verso, 353 pp., £19.95, May 1993, 0 86091 435 6
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... Orwell’s politics can be – the tedious idées fixes, the lack of proportion and of judgment. Hitchens does not altogether escape this. The oft-recurring, ‘salon-voiding’ Podhoretzes (Norman, Midge and even son John) tend to burden these essays as Catholic intellectuals do Orwell’s. Not that what Hitchens writes about them is unentertaining – ‘NormanPodhoretz, another moral and ...

Bravo, old sport

Christopher Hitchens

4 April 1991
Critical Crossings: The New York Intellectuals in Post-War America 
by Neil Jumonville.
California, 291 pp., £24.95, January 1991, 0 520 06858 0
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... as opposed to the proto-Communist Left – symbolised by Dwight Macdonald, Philip Rahv and others. The Cold War hardliners, such as Melvyn Lasky, Irving Kristol, James Burnham, Sidney Hook and later NormanPodhoretz. The ‘End of Ideology’ liberal professoriat: Daniel Bell, Nathan Glazer, Lewis Coser. And perhaps most enduring in their contribution, if only because they partook of all wings and of ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd

10 August 2000
Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... explored as those of the polymorphous Bloomsbury set, and now we have a nearly zipless account, partly obscured by the fog of booze, of their interpersonal ‘doings and undoings’ (expression of Mr NormanPodhoretz). Queenie Leavis of course became an official widow, and it is les veuves on whom David Laskin relies most heavily in this relatively orderly account of sexual and matrimonial chaos. Diana ...


Christopher Hitchens: On Peregrine Worsthorne

4 November 1993
... him, ‘Don’t You Know There’s A War On?’ unless the war in question is a class war.) Despite his mother’s rectitude and parsimony, she did contrive to make a ‘good’ marriage with Montagu Norman, the man who treated the Bank of England’s reserves as if they were his own, and his own as if they were the Bank of England’s. We are afforded the odd glimpse of this old fiscal reactionary, and ...
16 October 1980
Three Honest Men: Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis, Lionel Trilling 
edited by Philip French.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 85635 299 3
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F.R. Leavis 
by William Walsh.
Chatto, 189 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7011 2503 9
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... but so does a frank recognition of the defences and swerves forced on metropolitan intellectuals by events. Trilling’s story is told by other New Yorkers, including Alfred Kazin, Irving Howe and NormanPodhoretz, who between them seem to muster a greater range of ages, backgrounds and perhaps professional experience than the Leavis contributors. The atmosphere is more wide-awake than the English ...

Further Left

R.W. Johnson

16 August 1990
Prepared for the worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Hogarth, 357 pp., £9.99, July 1990, 0 7012 0903 8
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Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies 
by Christopher Hitchens.
Chatto, 398 pp., £18, July 1990, 0 7011 3361 9
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... sniggering about lesbians), and the business of voyaging long distances the better to fret about some spoiled darling left behind in the Home Counties’. But his most furious barbs are reserved for NormanPodhoretz, the reactionary editor of Commentary. Hitchens seems almost obsessed by him, returning to the attack over and over again. It is a curious fact that Podhoretz, an immodest man who has much ...

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