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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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... This is a tale of sickness, corruption and degradation at the highest levels of American economic, social and political life. It makes me ashamed of my country, and terrified for its future. The analogy that fits is Rome under Nero. The retribution that is surely coming will be terrible to behold. The tale is told in the form of a biography of one of the minor players ...

Ikonography

Keith Kyle, 4 July 1985

Eisenhower. Vol. I: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect 1890-1952 Vol. II: The President 1952-1969 
by Stephen Ambrose.
Allen and Unwin, 637 pp., £12.50, February 1984, 0 04 923073 5
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Ike’s Letters to a Friend: 1941-1958 
edited by Robert Griffith.
Kansas, 211 pp., $19.95, October 1984, 0 7006 0257 7
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... of Eisenhower and Berlin and even Ike’s Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment. Dr Ambrose’s theme, expressed most explicitly in the foreword to his first volume, is adulatory: that as a soldier Eisenhower was ‘everything that the US Army hoped for in its finest product’, that as President he ‘ran the show’ and that as a human being ...

A Preference for Strenuous Ghosts

Michael Kammen: Theodore Roosevelt, 6 June 2002

Theodore Rex 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 772 pp., £25, March 2002, 0 00 217708 0
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... and obscenities will have to wait for Caro to finish – if they live long enough. Well before Stephen Ambrose got blindsided a few months ago by the plagiarism police, he produced solid biographies of Eisenhower in two volumes (1983-84) and Nixon in three (1987-91). And though William McFeely won a Pulitzer Prize for his Grant (1981), that did not ...

Anti-Liberalism

Alan Brinkley, 7 January 1988

Armed Truce 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hamish Hamilton, 667 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 241 11843 3
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The Wise Men 
by Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas.
Faber, 853 pp., £15.95, January 1987, 0 571 14606 6
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Ike 
by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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May-Day 
by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... argument is therefore aimed at rehabilitating not only Eisenhower’s methods, but his goals. Stephen Ambrose, whose two-volume biography is the most comprehensive study of Eisenhower yet to appear, provides the clearest version of this case. ‘Dwight Eisenhower,’ he writes, ‘was a great and good man. He was one of the outstanding leaders of the ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... of the World’s Longest Biography rather than of the World’s Greatest Statesman. From Stephen Ambrose, the indispensable Eisenhowerist who naturally writes of the WSC-Eisenhower relationship, to Philip Ziegler, the tactful Mountbatten biographer who does for WSC and the monarchy, the contributors cover almost every imaginable WSC facet and ...

Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens, 21 July 1994

Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... organisation. De Loach took this as a direct threat from Johnson. In his preface to the Diaries, Stephen Ambrose rightly says that this Nixonite approach to LBJ in 1973 was ‘prospective blackmail’. He also notes that the italic deletion cited above is ‘the only place in the book where an example is given of a deletion by the National Security ...

The Crystal Palace Experience

E.S. Turner: The Great Exhibition of 1851, 25 November 1999

The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display 
by Jeffrey Auerbach.
Yale, 280 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 300 08007 7
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... If the snappish Ambrose Bierce had been asked to define the word ‘exhibition’, he would probably have said it was an expensive faraway folly to which parents with fractious children journeyed to see a lump of coal, a steam engine and three hundred kinds of wood. As a schoolboy in 1925 I was taken, willingly enough, to Wembley to the British Empire Exhibition, then in its second triumphal year ...

Lamb’s Tails

Christopher Driver, 19 June 1986

All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present 
by Stephen Mennell.
Blackwell, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 631 13244 9
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Curye on Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the 14th Century including ‘The Forme of Cury’ 
edited by Constance Hieatt and Sharon Butler.
Oxford, for the Early English Text Society, 224 pp., £6.50, April 1985, 0 19 722409 1
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The English Cookbook 
by Victor Gordon.
Cape, 304 pp., £12.50, November 1985, 0 224 02300 4
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... for granted elsewhere. They order these things somewhat better in the Council of Europe, where Stephen Mennell, a disciple of Norbert Elias, began work on All Manners of Food. The slow-baked book that has finally emerged reads like a series of essays on pertinent food topics in cultural history rather than a comprehensive account of what has been ...

Funny Mummy

E.S. Turner, 2 December 1982

The Penguin Stephen Leacock 
by Robertson Davies.
Penguin, 527 pp., £2.95, October 1981, 0 14 005890 7
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Jerome K. Jerome: A Critical Biography 
by Joseph Connolly.
Orbis, 208 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85613 349 3
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Three Men in a Boat 
by Jerome K. Jerome, annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green.
Joseph, 192 pp., £12.50, August 1982, 0 907516 08 4
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The Lost Stories of W.S. Gilbert 
edited by Peter Haining.
Robson, 255 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 0 86051 200 2
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... Stephen Leacock, the English-born, Canadian-reared humorist, has a single entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations: ‘Lord Ronald ... flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions’ (1911). Innumerable speakers, writers and politicians have helped themselves to this very serviceable joke; Leacock himself, writing in old age, used it without acknowledgment to illustrate a scientific disquisition ...

A Topic Best Avoided

Nicholas Guyatt: Abraham Lincoln, 1 December 2011

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery 
by Eric Foner.
Norton, 426 pp., £21, February 2011, 978 0 393 06618 0
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... of his ability to steer the bargain through Congress. The legislative triumph went instead to Stephen Douglas, a politician from Illinois who, though four years younger than Lincoln, had already gained the national prominence he craved. In 1854, as the government debated the admission of Nebraska, Douglas persuaded Congress to abandon the Missouri line in ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... Egerton at the National Gallery tells me that Breakspears was once the childhood home of Elizabeth Stephen, the bride of William Hallett, who together constitute Gainsborough’s Morning Walk, and that Reynolds’s Captain Tarleton used to hang in the house. Captain Tarleton is one of the paintings (another being Millais’s Lorenzo and Isabella) which would ...

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