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Grey Eminence

Edward Said, 5 March 1981

Walter Lippmann and the American Century 
by Ronald Steel.
Bodley Head, 669 pp., £8.95, February 1981, 0 370 30376 8
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... most powerful and famous American journalist of this century, a fact confirmed many times over in Ronald Steel’s extraordinarily fine biography. The only son of very well-off German-Jewish parents, Lippmann had a sheltered and privileged childhood in New York, ‘learning Latin and Greek by gaslight and riding a goat cart in Central Park’ before ...

Feeling good

Michael Rogin, 11 January 1990

The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream 
by Studs Terkel.
Hamish Hamilton, 439 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12667 3
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More than Bread: Ethnography of a Soup Kitchen 
by Irene Glasser.
University of Alabama Press, 180 pp., $22.95, November 1988, 0 8173 0397 9
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... Ronald Reagan left office more popular than any departing President since the end of World War Two. The same month Americans interviewed in a telephone poll achieved on a happiness scale the highest score in decades. Reagan’s popularity and American self-satisfaction have not risen together because of any general improvement in the standard of living: the rich are richer than they were a decade ago, the poor are poorer, and the average American stands about the same ...

Welfare in America

William Plowden, 11 July 1991

American Social Welfare Policy: A Structural Approach 
by Howard Karger and David Stoesz.
Longman, 371 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 8013 0193 9
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America’s Misunderstood Welfare State 
by Theodore Marmor, Jerry Mashaw and Philip Harvey.
Basic Books, 268 pp., $22.95, October 1990, 9780465001224
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The American Prospect 
edited by Paul Starr and Robert Kuttner.
New Prospect, 168 pp., $31
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... commented recently that if under Mrs Thatcher 10 Downing Street was attached ‘by threads of steel’ to right-wing think tanks such as the Centre for Policy Studies, the latter were attached ‘by underwater cable’ to their counterparts in New York and Washington. If the steel threads endure under Mr Major, what ...

Skiving

P.N. Furbank, 1 April 1982

You, You and You: The People Out of Step with World War Two 
by Pete Grafton.
Pluto, 169 pp., £2.95, February 1982, 9780861043606
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... with the informants or get drawn into their whole outlook or life as we do, say, in the books by Ronald Blythe. The main exception here is the long and disturbing narrative of a Glaswegian fusilier, and significantly, it is a pathological case-history. The fusilier’s life at that time (‘27 cases of absence, countless charges of ...

Short Cuts

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: Environmental Law, 8 February 2018

... past, when the EPA failed in its duties, private litigation was brought to secure compliance. When Ronald Reagan appointed Anne Gorsuch (mother of the newest Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch) to head the EPA, he asked if she was willing to ‘bring it to its knees’. She slashed its budget and, as the New York Times put it, ‘sabotaged the agency’s ...

Teeter-Totters

Jeremy Harding: Teeter-Tottering on the Border, 20 April 2017

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the US-Mexico Boundary 
by Ronald Rael.
California, 184 pp., £24.95, May 2017, 978 0 520 28394 7
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... the Netherlands to the border with Switzerland. In his ‘manifesto for the US-Mexico boundary’ Ronald Rael, a professor at Berkeley, takes the border as a site of potential renegotiation and reimagining. Rael and his four contributors would rather the border didn’t exist, but they’re not about to pretend it doesn’t. They approach it in oblique ...

Plummeting Deep into Cold Pop

Zachary Leader: Colson Whitehead, 13 December 2001

John Henry Days 
by Colson Whitehead.
Fourth Estate, 389 pp., £12, June 2001, 1 84115 569 1
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... white colleagues) is free food and drink: all-you-can-eat salad; chocolate margarita shakes (at a Ronald McDonald product placement); spinach dumplings (the sort that leave ‘a green rot on the incisors that everyone is too polite and malevolent to remark upon’); ‘authentic’ army rations (at TNT’s launch of its new Civil War movie, where ‘everyone ...

Not Recommended Reading

Eliot Weinberger, 7 September 2017

... Antarctica, by firing off a hundred thousand cannons in Nebraska. Other Eyes than Mine (1926) by Ronald Arbuthnott    Two Latin scholars, an Englishman and a German, bitter rivals, simultaneously publish biographies of the poet Persius that completely contradict each other. An Italian scholar publishes an article definitively proving that the Englishman ...

The Braver Thing

Christopher Ricks, 1 November 1984

T.S. Eliot 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 400 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 241 11349 0
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Recollections Mainly of Artists and Writers 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Chatto, 195 pp., £12.50, September 1984, 0 7011 2791 0
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... illustrate the same attitude of that composed mind.’ Ackroyd shows, as in a different way did Ronald Bush in his recent book,* that there is integrity even in Eliot’s disintegrative impulses, yearning for the stable repetition of ‘the same ... the same’. More simply heartening, Ackroyd’s book is a witness, oddly for a biography, to Eliot’s ...

Franklin D, listen to me

J. Hoberman: Popular (Front) Songs, 17 September 1998

Songs for Political Action: Folk Music, Topical Songs and the American Left, 1926-53 
edited by Ronald Cohen and Dave Samuelson.
Bear Family Records, DM 390, June 1996
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... Rise of a Counter-Establishment, the pundit-turned-Clinton-consultant Sidney Blumenthal describes Ronald Reagan as the ultimate expression of Popular Front corniness.) Yet however bogus or middlebrow the results may have been, the Popular Front generated a popular culture – which was an alternative to Hollywood’s universalising dream factory. The problem ...

Jingoes

R.W. Johnson: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War, 6 May 2004

The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War 
by Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, May 2003, 0 521 82453 2
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... This book begins with real passion as Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw lash into those historians who they believe have made unwarranted assumptions about the links between Britain and South Africa: to wit, that Britain fought the Boer War to get its hands on the gold and that economic considerations remained the motivating force in its difficult relationship with South Africa thereafter ...

We Do Ron Ron Ron, We Do Ron Ron

James Meek: Welcome to McDonald’s, 24 May 2001

Fast-Food Nation 
by Eric Schlosser.
Allen Lane, 356 pp., £9.99, April 2001, 0 7139 9602 1
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... cattle a day. He walks ankle-deep through blood and sees people sawing cows in half, a stainless-steel rack of tongues, skulls being scraped of flesh. But an abattoir is never going to be pretty and more shocking than all this is the remorseless speed of the line, with low-paid workers, many of them immigrants, performing the same task over and over ...

May ’88

Douglas Johnson, 21 April 1988

Les Sept Mitterrand 
by Catherine Nay.
Grasset, 286 pp., frs 96, September 1988, 2 246 36291 1
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France Today 
by John Ardagh.
Secker, 647 pp., £22.50, October 1987, 0 436 01746 6
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Jacques Chirac 
by Franz-Oliver Giesbert.
Seuil, 455 pp., frs 125, April 1987, 2 02 009771 0
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Monsieur Barre 
by Henri Amouroux.
Laffont, 584 pp., frs 125, June 1986, 2 221 04954 3
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The Workers’ Movement 
by Alain Touraine, Michel Wieviorka and François Dubet, translated by Ian Patterson.
Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 322 pp., £35, October 1987, 0 521 30852 6
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The State and the Market Economy: Industrial Patriotism and Economic Intervention in France 
by Jack Hayward.
Wheatsheaf, 267 pp., £32.50, December 1985, 0 7450 0012 6
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France under Recession 1981-86 
by John Tuppen.
Macmillan, 280 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 333 39889 0
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... but now he spoke of profit and success. He spoke of the need to replace old industries like steel and coal, to cease to support failing enterprises, to face up to the realities of competition, to make France an assertive and efficient economic power rather than one which was liable to decline in a world where the economically feeble were condemned. The ...

The Earnestness of Being Important

P.N. Furbank, 19 August 1982

John Buchan: A Memoir 
by William Buchan.
Buchan and Enright, 272 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 907675 03 4
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The Best Short Stories of John Buchan. Vol. II 
edited by David Daniell.
Joseph, 240 pp., £8.50, June 1982, 9780718121211
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... standard being set up to enhance one’s actual achievements. The principle is immortalised in Ronald Storrs’s celebration of Harry Cust in Orientations: Cust, ‘the most brilliant of us all’, reading the Georgics while driving in his dog-cart to the Meet. We can detect the same structure of thought, perhaps, under certain transformations. There seems ...

Videonazis

Philip Purser, 13 June 1991

Hitler’s State Archltecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity 
by Alex Scoble.
Pennsylvania State, 152 pp., £28.50, October 1990, 0 271 00691 9
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Totalitarian Art 
by Igor Golomstock, translated by Robert Chandler.
Collins Harvill, 416 pp., £30, September 1990, 0 00 272806 0
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... a long time. He impressed Hitler with the need to build in traditional stone, no ferro-concrete or steel girders, because only stone would endure as the imperial Roman monuments had endured. He called this his Ruinengesetz, or ‘law of ruin value’, and even made little sketches of the Reich’s new buildings as they might look, picturesque and ...

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