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Sleepless Afternoons

Avi Shlaim, 25 February 1993

The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement with Israel 
by George Ball and Douglas Ball.
Norton, 382 pp., £17.95, January 1993, 0 393 02933 6
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... the Palestinian problem. The globalists, on the other hand, like Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and Alexander Haig, looked at the Middle East as just one arena in their global fight against the Soviet Union. For them Israel was not part of the problem, but part of the solution. The State Department, where George Ball had served as ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Bob Dylan’s Tall Tales, 21 October 2004

... still in its infancy, barely a year old and only six months independent of the New York Review, Ronald Reagan didn’t simply take the US presidency from Jimmy Carter: he also, as Danny Goldberg argues in Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit (Miramax, $23.95), wrested political access to pop culture from the Democrats. ...

Degrade and Destroy

David Bromwich, 25 September 2014

... in arrogance and ideology go a long way back. Among the culprits are Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, and the triumvirate of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Tony Blair (an honorary American in this context). Wilson promoted the idea of the United States as the country whose mission was to make the world safe for democracy. Truman launched the ...

Mailer’s Muddy Friend

Stephen Ambrose, 1 September 1988

Citizen Cohn 
by Nicholas von Hoffman.
Harrap, 483 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 0 245 54605 7
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... gossip, threats and innuendo. His main characteristic was cynicism. And yet his friends included Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Norman Mailer, Barbara Walters (they almost married), Cardinal Spellman, nearly all the top Mafia people, Richard Nixon, Si Newhouse, Rupert Murdoch, Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, William F. Buckley, an endless list of ...

Reaganism

Anthony Holden, 6 November 1980

The United States in the 1980s 
edited by Peter Duignan and Alvin Rabushka.
Croom Helm, 868 pp., £14.95, August 1980, 0 8179 7281 1
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... The news from Britain, and elsewhere, is that the distributors of Ronald Reagan’s yellowing old movies are enjoying a windfall of such proportions that supply – as his economic advisers would note with distaste – cannot possibly accommodate demand. All over the free world, it seems, people are cracking up at the sight of its putative leader being upstaged by Errol Flynn (Santa Fe Trail, 1940), stood up by Bette Davis (Dark Victory, 1939), outdrawn by assorted celluloid cowboys (1936-57, passim) and out-acted by a chimpanzee (Bedtime for Bonzo, 1951 ...

Smoking for England

Paul Foot, 5 July 1984

Smoke Ring: The Politics of Tobacco 
by Peter Taylor.
Bodley Head, 384 pp., £9.95, March 1984, 0 370 30513 2
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... in a dark age of bureaucratic tyranny. This theory later became the central slogan of the Thatcher-Reagan reaction of the Eighties. Peter Taylor’s marvellous book does awful damage to it. He deals with the power of the tobacco companies, especially the six giant ones which control the production, distribution and marketing of the crop all over the ...

World Policeman

Colin Legum, 20 November 1986

With the Contras: A Reporter in the Wilds of Nicaragua 
by Christopher Dickey.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1986, 9780571146048
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Jonas Savimbi: A Key to Africa 
by Fred Bridgland.
Mainstream, 513 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 906391 99 7
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... long way against interventionism, and even conservative Republicans like California’s Governor, Ronald Reagan, fulminated against the idea of America being expected to act as policeman for the world. Sickened by exposures of Nixon’s misuse of the CIA, Congress asserted itself in the mid-Seventies, appointing its own committee to share with the ...

Alexander the Brilliant

Edward Said, 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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... after week. Few people have 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 Norman Podhoretz, of nearly every journalist of note, left, right and centre, of the New York Times, of the McNeil-Lehrer Report ...

The Tarnished Age

Richard Mayne, 3 September 1981

David O. Selznick’s Hollywood 
by Ronald Haver.
Secker, 425 pp., £35, December 1980, 0 436 19128 8
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My Early life 
by Ronald Reagan and Richard Hubler.
Sidgwick, 316 pp., £7.95, April 1981, 0 283 98771 5
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Naming Names 
by Victor Navasky.
Viking, 482 pp., $15.95, October 1980, 0 670 50393 2
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... MGM to independent production and post-war decline – makes his career emblematic. Recounting it, Ronald Haver chronicles Hollywood’s tarnished golden age, teeming with cut-throat movie moguls, touchy stars, voluptuous ‘discoveries’, toxic columnists, frenzied press-agents, writers in gilded cages, directors on assembly-lines. It’s the world of Garson ...

Doctor Feelgood

R.W. Johnson, 3 March 1988

Reagan’s America: Innocents at Home 
by Garry Wills.
Heinemann, 488 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 434 86623 7
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... Would you believe,’ asked Ronald Reagan, opening his campaign for Governor in 1966, ‘that 15.1 per cent of the population of California is on welfare?’ A pretty shocking figure, you might think, for the Golden State in the midst of the Vietnam War boom: no wonder Reagan’s well-heeled backers were so righteously indignant about all their tax money going to all those layabouts ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... he describes very well those figures from the past whom he admires, from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. Those he dislikes, on the other hand, are little more than caricatures: Thomas Paine, for example, was ‘a man with a grudge against society, a spectacular grumbler’. No one seeking a fair-minded account of the American past will find it ...

First Movie in the White House

J. Hoberman: ‘Birth of a Nation’, 12 February 2009

D.W. Griffith’s ‘The Birth of a Nation’: A History of ‘The Most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time’ 
by Melvyn Stokes.
Oxford, 414 pp., £13.99, January 2008, 978 0 19 533679 5
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... in the film as Austin Stoneman, died in 1868 and never visited South Carolina. But facts, as Ronald Reagan once told his fellow citizens, are ‘stupid things’. The Birth of a Nation was powerful mythmaking. It sentimentalised slavery and celebrated the gallantry of the Confederate ‘lost cause’. Moreover, as Stokes notes, Griffith’s ...

Opportunities

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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... impossible to discuss him as if he were a sane person. Hitchens has the same difficulty with Reagan. He proudly claims never to have lampooned the old man as a Wild West ham and shows, among other things, that the former President is an accomplished liar. But he still can’t take him seriously. ‘To listen even very briefly to ...

Sucking up to P

Greg Grandin: Henry Kissinger’s Vanity, 29 November 2007

Nixon and Kissinger: Partners in Power 
by Robert Dallek.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, August 2007, 978 0 7139 9796 5
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Henry Kissinger and the American Century 
by Jeremi Suri.
Harvard, 368 pp., £18.95, July 2007, 978 0 674 02579 0
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... At the same time, he regularly lobbied California conservatives, led by the state’s governor, Ronald Reagan. Against their charges of appeasement and betrayal, Kissinger exaggerated the success of his bombing campaign in Laos and Cambodia. ‘We achieved what we were after,’ he said. He defended himself against staff members who resigned in protest ...

Achieving Disunity

Corey Robin, 25 October 2012

Age of Fracture 
by Daniel Rodgers.
Harvard, 360 pp., £14.95, September 2012, 978 0 674 06436 2
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... effect of reading the same story again and again across so many fields is arresting. When Ronald Reagan begins to sound like Judith Butler and right-wing evangelicals make the linguistic turn, it’s clear there is something in the air. ‘Ideas,’ Rodgers writes, ‘moved first in the arena of economic debate.’ Throughout the first half of ...

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