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Brief Shining Moments

Christopher Hitchens: Donkey Business in the White House, 19 February 1998

Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-65 
by Taylor Branch.
Simon and Schuster, 746 pp., $30, February 1998, 0 684 80819 6
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‘One Hell of a Gamble’: Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-64 
by Aleksandr Fursenko and Timothy Naftali.
Murray, 416 pp., September 1997, 0 7195 5518 3
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The Dark Side of Camelot 
by Seymour Hersh.
HarperCollins, 497 pp., £8.99, February 1998, 9780006530770
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Mutual Contempt: Lyndon Johnson , Bobby Kennedy and the Feud that Defined a Decade 
by Jeff Shesol.
Norton, 591 pp., £23.50, January 1998, 9780393040784
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The Year the Dream Died 
by Jules Witcover.
Warner, 512 pp., £25, June 1997, 0 446 51849 2
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Without Honor: The Impeachment of President Nixon and the Crimes of Camelot 
by Jerry Zeifman.
Thunder's Mouth, 262 pp., $24.95, November 1996, 9781560251286
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The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis 
edited by Ernest May and Philip Zelikow.
Howard, 740 pp., £23.50, September 1997, 0 674 17926 9
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Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vietnam Papers: A Documentary Collection 
edited by David Barrett.
Texas A & M, 906 pp., $94, June 1997, 0 89096 741 5
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Taking Charge: The Johnson Whitehouse Tapes 1963-64 
edited by Michael Beschloss.
Simon and Schuster, 624 pp., £20, April 1998, 0 684 80407 7
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Abuse of Power: The New Nixon Tapes 
edited by Stanley Kutler.
Free Press, 675 pp., $30, November 1997, 0 684 84127 4
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The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy and the Jupiters, 1957-63 
by Philip Nash.
North Carolina, 231 pp., £34.70, October 1997, 0 8078 4647 3
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... In Arthur Schlesinger’s court history, A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House, which might without unfairness be called the founding breviary of the cult of JFK, there appears the following vignette. Schlesinger had been asked to carpenter a ‘White Paper’ justifying Washington’s destabilisation of Cuba, in which the high-flown rhetoric of the New Frontier might form a sort of scab over the fouler business of empire ...

Unreal Food Uneaten

Julian Bell: Sitting for Vanessa, 13 April 2000

The Art of Bloomsbury 
edited by Richard Shone.
Tate Gallery, 388 pp., £35, November 1999, 1 85437 296 3
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First Friends 
by Ronald Blythe.
Viking, 157 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 670 88613 0
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Bloomsbury in France 
by Mary Ann Caws and Sarah Bird Wright.
Oxford, 430 pp., £25, December 1999, 0 19 511752 2
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... underestimate the tenacity of cultural stereotypes and the stale-mindedness of press writers like Philip Hensher (who twice rehashed Leavis’s line that the ‘set’ were not artists but self-publicists) and Waldemar Januszczak (‘Bloomsbury. Just tapping out these ten tedious letters has brought on a severe attack of RSI’). Yet in truth – to throw off ...

Whoosh

Jenny Turner: Eat the Document, 7 June 2007

Eat the Document 
by Dana Spiotta.
Picador, 290 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 330 44828 4
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... The book’s most brilliant move comes not in Mary’s story, but in those of the men she loves: Nash, a lonely middle-aged left-libertarian; and Jason, her geeky teenage son, devoted to all things 1960s and psychedelic, especially rare artefacts and lost causes, most of all the Beach Boys and his ‘three-disc Smile bootleg – you know, the kind of bootleg ...

I had to refrain

Andrew Saint: Pre-Raphaelite Houses, 1 December 2005

Philip Webb: Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture 
by Sheila Kirk.
Wiley-Academy, 336 pp., £29.99, February 2005, 0 470 86808 2
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... good, honest building. The ending of The Seven Lamps of Architecture vibrates through the work of Philip Webb, as of those Arts and Crafts architects who were his disciples. Austerity and self-abnegation are its hallmarks. You cannot relish Webb’s buildings without a feeling for puritanism. His was a life shot through with refusals: he would not ...

The Imagined Market

Donald MacKenzie: Money Games, 31 October 2002

Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science 
by Philip Mirowski.
Cambridge, 670 pp., £24.95, February 2002, 0 521 77526 4
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... discipline thus matters not just to economists but to the rest of us, whose world is being shaped. Philip Mirowski is the most stimulating, provocative present-day historian of economics. His book’s abrasive account of the processes forging economic orthodoxy over the past sixty years will annoy his orthodox colleagues, delight dissidents (except the ...

Impervious to Draughts

Rosemary Hill: Das englische Haus, 22 May 2008

The English House 
by Hermann Muthesius, edited by Dennis Sharp, translated by Janet Seligman and Stewart Spencer.
Frances Lincoln, 699 pp., £125, June 2007, 978 0 7112 2688 3
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... English house. Morris’s own first home, the Red House, at Bexleyheath, designed for him by Philip Webb in 1859, was, Muthesius decided, ‘the first private house of the new artistic culture’. This was an exaggeration which imparted a mythic status to the Red House as a pivotal point in architecture that sometimes hangs about it still. Muthesius was ...

At the Royal Academy

Eleanor Birne: Tacita Dean, 7 June 2018

... on unlikely coincidences, with a 16th-century Italian head of John the Baptist sitting next to Philip Guston’s 1976 Hat, its black backdrop superimposed with white lines – like chalk on blackboard. There were works by Chardin, Zurbarán, Sickert. She seems to like things in pairs: a pair of owls, a pair of plastic trays, a pair of hares, her own film ...

Down with Cosmopolitanism

Gillian Darley, 18 May 2000

Stylistic Cold Wars: Betjeman v. Pevsner 
by Timothy Mowl.
Murray, 182 pp., £14.99, March 2000, 9780719559099
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... pages, showing Shell posters or School Prints, work by Graham Sutherland, Eric Ravilious and Paul Nash. As early as May 1930, another editor, Betjeman’s mentor Philip Morton Shand, part of whose enviable brief was to travel Europe in search of articles to translate and buildings to publish, but who also pursued his own ...

I fret and fret

Adam Phillips: Edward Thomas, 5 November 2015

Edward Thomas: From Adelstrop to Arras 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Bloomsbury, 480 pp., £25, May 2015, 978 1 4081 8713 5
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... warnings in his prose of a hidden part of him that was more real to him than much of what he did. Philip, his fictional alter ego in The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans, Thomas’s only novel, believes as an adolescent that ‘there was something at the back of my mind, not quite hidden from myself and my schoolfellows – a weight, a darkness – which was against ...

Poor Hitler

Andrew O’Hagan: Toff Humour, 15 November 2007

The Mitfords: Letters between Six Sisters 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Fourth Estate, 834 pp., £25, September 2007, 978 1 84115 790 0
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... for Lord Moyne (may he burn in hell). The sisters’ nicknames are very good, like a poem by Nash. Unity was Bird or Birdie, Bobo or Boudy or Boud, Pamela was Woman, sometimes Woo or Wooms. Diana was Cord or Honks and often Nard or Nardy. Deborah is always Debo, except when she is Hen or Henderson, which is sometimes also used for Jessica, who is mainly ...

Steaming Torsos

J. Hoberman, 6 February 1997

Westerns: Making the Man in Fiction and Film 
by Lee Clark Mitchell.
Chicago, 352 pp., £23.95, November 1996, 0 226 53234 8
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... male) behaviour. But where baseball is all form, the Western is heavy on content. Essentially, as Philip French once observed, it is ‘America rewriting and reinterpreting her own past, however honestly or dishonestly’. As is the literary history of Westerns: Henry Nash Smith’s classic Virgin Land is redolent of New ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I Did in 2015, 7 January 2016

... and we can’t wait to get to know you.’And take you for every penny we can.7 July. Run into Philip and Kersti French in M&S with Philip bent tight over his trolley and using it as a walker. I ask him how he is. ‘Dreadful’. ‘Anything specific?’ ‘Knees. Legs. Lungs. Kidneys … Shall I go on?’ The recital so ...

Unreasoning Vigour

Stefan Collini: Ian Watt, 9 May 2019

Ian Watt: The Novel and the Wartime Critic 
by Marina MacKay.
Oxford, 228 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 0 19 882499 2
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... Mannheim, Merton, Parsons, Radcliffe-Brown and more. In his preface he thanks Adorno, Henry Nash Smith, I.A. Richards, Talcott Parsons and Peter Laslett, among others. The standard caricature of the Cambridge-influenced criticism of the postwar years represents it as blunderingly empirical and cosily parochial: these stereotypes wilt and shrivel when ...

Courage, mon amie

Terry Castle: Disquiet on the Western Front, 4 April 2002

... at Home in German Dugouts!’) I’ve got a whole shelf on war artists: C.R.W. Nevinson, Paul Nash, William Roberts, Wyndham Lewis, and the skullishly named Muirhead Bone. I’ve got books about Fabian Ware and the founding of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. I’ve a 1920 Blue Guide to Belgium and the Western Front and a Michelin Somme guide from ...

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