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Knucklehead Truman

Douglas Johnson, 2 June 1983

The Eisenhower Diaries 
edited by Robert Ferrell.
Norton, 445 pp., £15.25, April 1983, 0 393 01432 0
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The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography 
by Thomas Reeves.
Blond and Briggs, 819 pp., £11.95, June 1983, 0 85634 131 2
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The past has another pattern 
by George Ball.
Norton, 544 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 393 01481 9
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Torn Lace Curtain 
by Frank Saunders and James Southwood.
Sidgwick, 361 pp., £7.95, March 1983, 0 283 98946 7
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The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power 
by Robert Caro.
Collins, 882 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 00 217062 0
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The Politician: The Life and Times of Lyndon Johnson 
by Ronnie Dugger.
Norton, 514 pp., £13.25, September 1982, 9780393015980
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Years of Upheaval 
by Henry Kissinger.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 1312 pp., £15.95, March 1982, 0 7181 2115 5
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Richard Nixon: The Shaping of his Character 
by Fawn Brodie.
Norton, 574 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 393 01467 3
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Haig: The General’s Progress 
by Roger Morris.
Robson, 458 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 9780860511885
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Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President 
by Jimmy Carter.
Collins, 622 pp., £15, November 1982, 0 00 216648 8
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Crisis: The Last Year of the Carter Presidency 
by Hamilton Jordan.
Joseph, 431 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 7181 2248 8
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Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser 1977-81 
by Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Weidenfeld, 587 pp., £15, April 1983, 0 297 78220 7
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... On no occasion requiring political courage did President Eisenhower show himself to be courageous. Thomas Reeves, the latest historian of McCarthyism, is very clear that McCarthy could have been stopped cold at any time, by any man with authority. It could have been J. Edgar Hoover or Nixon. It ought to have been Eisenhower. In the event, it was McCarthy ...

The Crumbling of Camelot

Peter Riddell, 10 October 1991

Kennedy v. Khrushchev: The Crisis Years 1960-63 
by Michael Beschloss.
Faber, 816 pp., £18.50, August 1991, 0 571 16548 6
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A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy 
by Thomas Reeves.
Bloomsbury, 510 pp., £19.99, August 1991, 0 7475 1029 6
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... his brothers and nephews, is just one aspect of the flawed personality explored in vivid detail in Thomas Reeves’s book. He was in many respects more devious and ruthless – and certainly more hypocritical – than either Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. Both Reeves and Beschloss show the risks Kennedy took in his ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The Matrix, 22 May 2003

... Even cooler, a poster of incomprehensible green computer code resolves holographically into Keanu Reeves glowering beautifully as you walk past. I can’t wait to see the movie; the trailer, downloadable from whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com, is awesome. The premise of the trilogy is that reality as we know it is a computer-generated illusion: our bodies are ...

Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... platitudes, a civil servant mangling a story, a mime of minimal narrative competence which makes Thomas Mann’s bumbling Zeitblom look like Nabokov. ‘Insofar as the cliché can be used without irony,’ we read a little earlier, ‘he had become a respected literary voice.’ A cliché can’t be used without irony unless you forget it’s a cliché, and ...

Opprobrious Epithets

Katrina Navickas: The Peterloo Massacre, 20 December 2018

Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre 
by Jacqueline Riding.
Head of Zeus, 386 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 1 78669 583 3
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... Manchester and Salford were still governed by a medieval structure of lords of the manor, borough-reeves and constables. Like most other centres of manufacturing in Britain, Manchester had no MPs. And in common with most of the British population, the majority of its twenty thousand residents had no vote. To a large extent, up until 1776, no one seems to have ...

Hobohemianism

Blake Morrison, 30 June 2011

The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp 
by W.H. Davies.
Amberley, 192 pp., £14.99, September 2010, 978 1 84868 980 0
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... he knew his literary career wouldn’t have taken off but for the patronage of Shaw and Edward Thomas; he also knew some thought him overrated, a ‘nature poet’ who had earned that tag by sleeping under hedges rather than the quality of his verse: I hear men say: ‘This Davies has no depth, He writes of birds, of staring cows and sheep, And throws no ...

Like Unruly Children in a Citizenship Class

John Barrell: A hero for Howard, 21 April 2005

The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for a Free Press 
by Ben Wilson.
Faber, 455 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 22470 9
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... Cobbett, who – not wishing to be imprisoned yet again – fled to America, the Yorkshireman Thomas Wooler, editor of the Black Dwarf, and Hone himself, now the editor of a new periodical, the Reformists’ Register. Hone had also just written and published three parodies of the Book of Common Prayer: The Late John Wilkes’s Catechism of a Ministerial ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths, 28 January 2010

... with static on top, but no sign of insanitary behaviour below. The star of that film, Keanu Reeves, also appears in The Matrix (1999) as Thomas Anderson, a.k.a. Neo, a company man turned hacker turned messiah. At the film’s conclusion, Neo phones in a proclamation of defiance from a booth on a busy street in the ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 29 June 2016

... his colleague said. Wright was soon 30,000 feet above the Tasman Sea watching the programmer Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) being chased by unknowable agents in The Matrix. Wright found the storyline strangely comforting; it was good to know he wasn’t alone. At Auckland Airport, Wright kept his phone on flight ...

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