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Andrew O’Hagan: The Good Traitor, 25 September 2014

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State 
by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 0 241 14669 9
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... winding down on his freedom, Snowden still went to bed at 10.30, as he had every night during my time in Hong Kong. While I could barely catch more than two hours of restless sleep at a time, he kept consistent hours. ‘Well, I’m going to hit the hay,’ he would announce casually each night before retiring for seven ...

On the imagining of conspiracy

Christopher Hitchens, 7 November 1991

Harlot’s Ghost 
by Norman Mailer.
Joseph, 1122 pp., £15.99, October 1991, 0 7181 2934 2
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A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs 
by Theodore Draper.
Hill and Wang, 690 pp., $27.95, June 1991, 0 8090 9613 7
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... historians like Theodore Draper, Arthur Schlesinger and Garry Wills, or political journalists like Seymour Hersh, Lou Cannon and Robert Woodward, deal with this difficulty in various ways, but seldom succeed for long in firing the general consciousness. This is because they are either apologists for power (Schlesinger, Woodward) or its intimates ...

Flyweight Belligerents

Michael Byers: À la carte multilateralism, 5 May 2005

... BLU-109 ‘bunker-buster’ bombs capable of penetrating up to six feet of concrete. In January, Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that US special forces were already in Iran trying to pinpoint underground nuclear facilities and other potential targets. Earlier this year, US and Israeli forces spent a month testing the ability of Israeli air ...

Ethnic Cleansers

Stephen Smith, 8 October 1992

Four Hours in My Lai: A War Crime and its Aftermath 
by Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim.
Viking, 430 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 670 83233 2
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Tiger Balm: Travels in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia 
by Lucretia Stewart.
Chatto, 261 pp., £10.99, June 1992, 0 7011 3892 0
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... its death throes. Nevertheless, I called on the former United States Embassy fondly hoping to pick my way through poignant debris like portraits of Presidents behind crazed glass, and the bust of a bald eagle gleaming dully from a nest of old communiqués. The miserable photographs I had seen of the Embassy failed to do the place justice. The real thing was ...

Bush’s Useful Idiots

Tony Judt: Whatever happened to American liberalism?, 21 September 2006

... been largely taken over by an admirable cohort of ‘muck-raking’ investigative journalists – Seymour Hersh, Michael Massing and Mark Danner, writing in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. The collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US can be variously explained. In part it is a backwash from the lost illusions of the ...

Nuclear Blindness

Brian Jones: The Case for Nuclear Proliferation, 22 June 2006

... of uranium enrichment could be an exaggeration, designed to pre-empt the pre-emptive attack that Seymour Hersh has recently suggested the US is planning for. The ultracentrifuge cascades that are used for enrichment are complex structures, containing some very delicate mechanisms. They have the potential to self-destruct. It might take a cascade of 1000 ...

How to Defect

Isabel Hilton: North Korea, 10 June 2010

Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea 
by Barbara Demick.
Granta, 314 pp., £14.99, February 2010, 978 1 84708 014 1
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... six citizens: Kim Hyuck, a young tearaway; Kim Ji-eun, a divorced paediatrician in her thirties; Mi-ran, a kindergarten teacher who defected when she was 26; her former boyfriend, Jun-sang; Song Hee-suk, a lifelong Party loyalist; and her disaffected eldest daughter, Oak-hee. By the time we pick up their stories they are entering a time of extraordinary ...

Don’t do what Allende did

Greg Grandin: Allende, 19 July 2012

Allende’s Chile and the Inter-American Cold War 
by Tanya Harmer.
North Carolina, 375 pp., £38.95, October 2011, 978 0 8078 3495 4
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... forty years ago,’ Friedman told Pinochet, ‘Chile, like many another country, including my own, got off on the wrong track’ by trying to ‘do good with other people’s money’. It wasn’t a coincidence that Friedman and his allies zeroed in on Chile. For most of the 20th century, many Latin Americans thought democracy and socialism were the ...

The Hagiography Factory

Thomas Meaney: Arthur Schlesinger Jr, 8 February 2018

Schlesinger: The Imperial Historian 
by Richard Aldous.
Norton, 486 pp., £23.99, November 2017, 978 0 393 24470 0
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... of neoliberalism. ‘Heller, you’ve won,’ Galbraith told him in 1963. ‘The president told me to shut up about my opposition to tax cuts.’ If Kennedy’s star has risen in the historiography over the past few decades, it’s not only because he still figures as a martyred saint for American liberals, but because ...

Operation Barbarella

Rick Perlstein: Hanoi Jane, 17 November 2005

Jane Fonda’s War: A Political Biography of an Anti-war Icon 
by Mary Hershberger.
New Press, 228 pp., £13.99, September 2005, 1 56584 988 4
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... It was the soldiers who were afraid. I will never forget that experience. It completely changed me.’ She watched the Tet Offensive unfold, and like many Americans, finally understood how badly she’d been lied to about Vietnam. She read. She gave birth to Vadim’s child, then separated from him and returned to the US to make They Shoot Horses, Don’t ...

Touch of Evil

Christopher Hitchens, 22 October 1992

Kissinger: A Biography 
by Walter Isaacson.
Faber, 893 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 571 16858 2
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... on his willingness to call things by their right names. It became very plain to me, as I finished the book, that if I were to employ the argot of popular psychology I could say that I had been reading the profile of a serial murderer. Isaacson is probably right to begin with young Henry’s abused German-Jewish boyhood. ‘...

Nixon’s Greatest Moments

R.W. Johnson, 13 May 1993

Nixon: A Life 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Weidenfeld, 633 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 297 81259 9
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... racy figure. He has always had the money to take risks; and no sooner was he elected as a young MP than he immediately got into an enormous D-notice row with the Government. Precisely because Nixon has no still centre, because he has never known who he is, because he is in some respects a wild chancer, he has always had an element of danger about ...

Give or take a dead Scotsman

Liam McIlvanney: James Kelman’s witterings, 22 July 2004

You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free 
by James Kelman.
Hamish Hamilton, 437 pp., £12.99, June 2004, 0 241 14233 4
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... and endeavours rather crudely to align Jerry with a string of black friends and colleagues: ‘My people were slaves as well,’ Jerry remarks to his sceptical black girlfriend, before making an uncomfortable allusion to Ralph Ellison: ‘I enjoyed being an alien. Fuck them. The invisible man. Fine.’ Perhaps more damagingly, Kelman’s satire on the US ...

Wrath of the Centurions

Max Hastings: My Lai, 25 January 2018

My Lai: Vietnam, 1968 and the Descent into Darkness 
by Howard Jones.
Oxford, 504 pp., £22.99, June 2017, 978 0 19 539360 6
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... succinctly: ‘Alles kaputt.’ In 1980 a German veteran whom I interviewed for a book told me of a conversation about the massacre with one of those who carried it out, who said confidingly: ‘Speaking as one old SS man to another, Herr Muller, it was nothing. In Russia, we did such things every day.’ The 1953 trial in Bordeaux of 21 of those who ...

Freedom of the Press

Anthony Lewis, 26 November 1987

... speech, or of the press.’ Those are sweeping words. But the First Amendment is not what some in my profession assume it is: a declaration that the press must always prevail in any legal contest, that journalists are a preferred class. The purpose of the clause assuring the freedom of the press was not to serve the interest of editors and publishers: it was ...

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