Tag Archives: Books

Dull, duller, Dulles: John Foster and Allen Dulles

In Stephen Kinzer’s The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War, the last vestiges of the nexus between Christian messianism and imperialism emerge, triumphant. Thanks to the patronage of Dwight Eisenhower, the Dulles brothers — Secretary … Continue reading

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What I read in 2013

Novels and full-length histories, that is; I omitted poetry and short story collections. In rough chronological order. Here’s one trend: I read more new non-fiction this year than ever and fewer new novels. Reviews of many titles in the archives. … Continue reading

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A note on reading

For years I read fiction and poetry with the expectation that “connections” with the material were besides the point. I’d empathize with characters and scenarios and study the prose rhythms and mimic them in my own work but that’s it. … Continue reading

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A man of no importance: Bosie aka Lord Alfred Douglas

It’s rare luck when in life we meet a person whose existence we come to loathe after several years together. Oscar Wilde died before finding himself in this position, but thanks friend/amateur editor Robert Ross De Profundis survives as the … Continue reading

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Kind to be cruel: Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall

Paul Pennyfather can’t forget his youth. On the night of the Bolliner Club dinner at Scone College, he loses most of his clothes and escapes a pursuing mob of students by jumping into a pond, which so angers dons that … Continue reading

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Garry Wills: the Union “not a mystical hope but a constitutional reality”

Reading Gore Vidal’s Lincoln and Garry Wills’ Lincoln at Gettysburg nine autumns ago was my first serious study of the sixteenth president. The Atlantic published what to my recollection is an excerpt, but because it lacks a citation it’s hard … Continue reading

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Sherman Alexie: “If you’re getting banned, then you’re offending the right monsters”

I know little about Sherman Alexie except that I disliked the adaptation of Smoke Signals but I admire this effrontery: Q: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” deals with some real, often rough, subject matter: alcoholism, domestic violence, … Continue reading

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Hunter S. Thompson: “Does anyone have any Wild Turkey?”

I did not know that the Miami Book Fair International is the “largest and by nearly all accounts the most diverse public literary event in the United States.” This much is true: its effect on the county’s cultural life is … Continue reading

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Gore Vidal: William F. Buckley, Jr. kept a “Vidal file”

The battle over Gore Vidal’s will is also a battle over representations of privilege. Bequeathing $37 million to Harvard after partner Howard Austen’s 2003 death made him change his will, Vidal surprised nephew Burr Steers, who grew up reading dismissal … Continue reading

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But he spoke so sweetly: A. Scott Berg and Woodrow Wilson

To “read” Glenn Beck or to watch him perspire is to learn the depths of his contempt for Woodrow Wilson, in his mind the ancestor of Obamaism. It prompted Chris Hayes to tweet months ago: “there’s a weird, v powerful … Continue reading

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It’s November: Yvor Winters’ “The Fragile Season”

One of America’s more obscure good poets. Happy November. The scent of summer thins, The air grows cold. One walks alone And chafes one’s hands. The fainter aspens Thin to air. The dawn Is frost on roads. This ending of … Continue reading

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A history of opposition to the federal government: A Necessary Evil

To delineate his principles takes Garry Wills three hundred pages, using James Madison’s famous adage (“If men were angels, no government would be necessary”) as springboard: But if men were angels, they would need no sexual partners, no education, no … Continue reading

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