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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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by Piers Brendon.
Secker, 478 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 436 06813 3
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by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 494 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 571 14593 0
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... effect on how the larger public views the recent past. Neither the length nor the argument of Hugh Thomas’s exhaustive history of the beginnings of the Cold War (the first of several volumes, he promises) will surprise anyone familiar with the author’s previous career. Best known for his enormous histories of the Spanish Civil War, the Cuban ...


Gabriele Annan, 25 March 1993

Alias Olympia: A Woman’s Search for Manet’s Notorious Model and Her Own Desire 
by Eunice Lipton.
Thames and Hudson, 192 pp., £14.95, March 1993, 0 500 23651 8
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... money to lease an usher’s pitch in a theatre. She had studied painting with Leroy, and also with Thomas Couture, and she continued to do illustrations and portraits to commission, as well as historical subjects, two of which were accepted by the Salon. Lipton didn’t manage to find any of her work, but established that she was a member of the Société des ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Sisters Brothers’, 9 May 2019

... having seen in DeWitt’s novel a starting point for the film. The screenplay is by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain. The performances of Reilly and Phoenix are amazing, and lead us back to the question of what kind of western this is. Eli is a variant on the Faulknerian idiot, apparently unlucky and ungraceful – the scene where a spider enters his mouth while ...

An Agreement with Hell

Eric Foner, 20 February 1997

Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution 
by Jack Rakove.
Knopf, 439 pp., $35, April 1996, 0 394 57858 9
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... further their own pecuniary interests. Scholars of the Fifties, persuaded that Nazism, Stalinism, McCarthyism and other 20th-century excesses revealed the dangers of popular political enthusiasm, discovered a less than democratic Constitution designed to hold the people in check. The civil rights revolution inspired a Constitutional jurisprudence aimed at ...
... or not with the exclusion of common factuality. The two are not necessarily related. Consider Thomas Love Peacock. There the ordinary stuff of life is swept away to make room for abstract speculation. That, and just that, is the joke. It tickles our funny-bone to meet the denizens of Nightmare Abbey – young Scythrop, the heir of the house, and ...

Clan Gatherings

Inigo Thomas: The Bushes, 24 April 2008

The Bush Tragedy: The Unmaking of a President 
by Jacob Weisberg.
Bloomsbury, 271 pp., £16.99, February 2008, 978 0 7475 9394 2
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... he wasn’t such a damn hick’. Hick or not, he was considered dangerous enough. He funded Joseph McCarthy, and Lyndon Johnson wasn’t joking when he told a colleague that he believed Hunt was responsible for inciting the riots in Newark and Detroit in 1964: he thought the tycoon was trying to derail the passage of civil rights legislation. Hunt launched an ...

In Memory of Michael Rogin

Stephen Greenblatt, 3 January 2002

... After the first death,’ Dylan Thomas wrote, ‘there is no other.’ I know what he is getting at, I suppose, but it isn’t true, at least not for me. I have had other deaths, but the death last month of my friend Michael Rogin was a shock. It’s not that we had, in recent years, spent much time together. I left Berkeley, where we taught together on the faculty of the University of California, in the mid-1990s, and almost immediately lost touch with most of my network of friends ...

Karl Miller Remembered

Neal Ascherson, John Lanchester and Andrew O’Hagan, 22 October 2014

... Leavis and had fallen out with him when he went to work in London, he liked and commissioned Mary McCarthy and V.S. Pritchett and William Empson and V.S. Naipaul and Angela Carter and Penelope Fitzgerald. (McCarthy was the subject of another life lesson. He and she once, at a party, got into a conversation about the ...

All That Gab

James Wolcott: The Upsides of Sontag’s Downsides, 24 October 2019

Sontag: Her Life 
by Benjamin Moser.
Allen Lane, 832 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 0 241 00348 0
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... the closest model for a belletrist sans merci was the critic, novelist, and wickedest of wits Mary McCarthy, who told Susan she smiled too much, the telltale mark of a provincial. McCarthy was also reputed to have said to Sontag, ‘I hear you’re the new me,’ and, to others, ‘She’s the imitation me,’ digs that made ...

Forty Thousand Kilocupids

Marina Warner: The Femfatalatron, 30 July 2014

The Erotic Doll: A Modern Fetish 
by Marquard Smith.
Yale, 376 pp., £35, January 2014, 978 0 300 15202 9
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... physical delicacy (Ugo Rondinone’s young dancers resting) to disfigured bomb victims, as in Thomas Hirschhorn’s Resistance Subjecter (2011), which displays shop window mannequins in a glass box; their blasted insides sprout spars of crystals, mineral wounds which speak bitterly against the soft porn of their erotic doll-like state. In another room ...

Seventeen Million Words

Richard Poirier, 7 November 1985

The Inman Diary: A Public and Private Confession 
edited by Daniel Aaron.
Harvard, 1661 pp., £35.95, March 1986, 0 674 45445 6
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... hope for was ‘a sensitive and judicious editor’ who might do for him what had been done for Thomas Wolfe. ‘Without the large editing of Thomas Wolfe’s work,’ he asks, ‘would he have achieved a place in American letters?’ Most of the time he had enormous ambitions for his diary. How could he not when it was ...

Only the crazy make it

Thomas Jones: Jim Crace, 8 March 2007

The Pesthouse 
by Jim Crace.
Picador, 309 pp., £16.99, March 2007, 978 0 330 44562 7
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... of Stones his arm, but who could just as well have ridden out of the pages of a novel by Cormac McCarthy, or a film by Peckinpah. The Pesthouse is, if not exactly a Western, then a distorted reflection of one. Under attack from a group of mounted bandits, Franklin saves Margaret by pulling off her headscarf and revealing her hairless scalp. The ...

Knives, Wounds, Bows

John Bayley, 2 April 1987

Randall Jarrell’s Letters 
edited by Mary Jarrell.
Faber, 540 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 571 13829 2
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The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore 
edited by Patricia Willis.
Faber, 723 pp., £30, January 1987, 0 571 14788 7
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... from an Institution, that coruscating but already time-haunted novel which allegedly put Mary McCarthy on the spot. Jarrell himself discounted this, claiming hardly to know her: but Philip Rahv at Partisan, who knew her much better, politely declined to print any of the novel, and Jarrell replied by sending him no further articles or poems. Gertrude is ...


Christian Lorentzen: Homo Trumpiens, 3 November 2016

... was the home of Robert La Follette Sr, the Senate’s greatest progressive, and of Joseph McCarthy, its most infamous reactionary. It has voted for Democratic presidential candidates in every election since 1988. But off-year elections with low voter turnout – and proportionally higher turnout by older white voters – have allowed Republicans to ...

Enter Hamilton

Eric Foner, 5 October 2016

American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 
by Alan Taylor.
Norton, 704 pp., £30, November 2016, 978 0 393 08281 4
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... politicians of the Jim Crow era, and more recent hucksters and demagogues including Joe McCarthy and George Wallace. Not to mention more respectable types such as Richard Nixon, whose ‘Southern strategy’ offered a blueprint for mobilising white resentment over the gains of the Civil Rights movement. (That ‘respectable’ and ‘Nixon’ can be ...

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