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Believe it or not

Rebecca Mead: America’s National Story Project, 7 February 2002

True Tales of American Life 
by Paul Auster.
Faber, 416 pp., £16.99, November 2001, 0 571 21050 3
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... by other family members, including my father, whom I had not seen in ten years. His hair was pure white and as fine as rabbit’s fur.’) And ‘Homeless in Prescott, Arizona’ is a story to make you stop in your tracks. A 57-year-old woman describes the ‘major life change’ she underwent a few months earlier: quitting her job as a legal ...

Permission to narrate

Edward Said, 16 February 1984

Israel in Lebanon: The Report of the International Commission 
by Sean MacBride.
Ithaca, 282 pp., £4.50, March 1984, 0 903729 96 2
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Sabra et Chatila: Enquête sur un Massacre 
by Amnon Kapeliouk.
Seuil, 117 pp.
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Final Conflict: The War in the Lebanon 
by John Bulloch.
Century, 238 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 7126 0171 6
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Lebanon: The Fractured Country 
by David Gilmour.
Robertson, 209 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 85520 679 9
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The Tragedy of Lebanon: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventures and American Bunglers 
by Jonathan Randal.
Chatto, 320 pp., £9.50, October 1983, 0 7011 2755 4
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God cried 
by Tony Clifton and Catherine Leroy.
Quartet, 141 pp., £15, June 1983, 0 7043 2375 3
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Beirut: Frontline Story 
by Salim Nassib, Caroline Tisdall and Chris Steele-Perkins.
Pluto, 160 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 0 86104 397 9
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The Fateful Triangle: Israel, the United States and the Palestinians 
by Noam Chomsky.
Pluto, 481 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86104 741 9
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... an end: in the Palestinian case, a homeland for the resolution of its exile since 1948. But, as Hayden White has noted in a seminal article, ‘narrative in general, from the folk tale to the novel, from annals to the fully realised “history”, has to do with the topics of law, legality, legitimacy, or, more generally, authority.’1 Now there are ...

Cursing and Breast-Beating

Ross McKibbin: Manning Clark’s Legacy, 23 February 2012

An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark 
by Mark McKenna.
Miegunyah, 793 pp., £57.95, May 2011, 978 0 522 85617 0
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... was attended by much of Australia’s ‘progressive’ elite: the governor-general (Bill Hayden), the prime minister (Bob Hawke), the deputy prime minister and future prime minister (Paul Keating), all of them at one time leaders of the Labor Party, along with much of the federal cabinet, the chief justice of the High Court and six hundred ...

Kerfuffle

Zoë Heller: Ronald Reagan, 2 March 2000

Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 874 pp., £24.99, October 1999, 0 00 217709 9
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... came all kinds of unprecedented access. Morris was allowed to attend senior staff meetings at the White House and to travel as part of the Presidential entourage on foreign trips. He had permission to examine the President’s conscientiously kept handwritten diary and, most promisingly, he was granted a monthly private interview with his subject. Although ...

Cricket’s Superpowers

David Runciman: Beyond the Ashes, 22 September 2005

... represents the only place where it is still possible to watch two teams consisting entirely of white players competing at the highest levels of international sport. The modern Australian cricket team have never, to my knowledge, fielded a non-white player. But England used to have lots, including their previous ...

The Force of the Anomaly

Perry Anderson: Carlo Ginzburg, 26 April 2012

Threads and Traces: True False Fictive 
by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by Anne Tedeschi and John Tedeschi.
California, 328 pp., £20.95, January 2012, 978 0 520 25961 4
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... the modern scepticism that would erase the boundary between history and fiction altogether – Hayden White, already criticised by Momigliano, is the King Charles’s Head here – becomes such a bugbear. Not so much because it looms large in the discipline, but because it threatens the integrity of one conjugation of literature and history with false ...

All the girls said so

August Kleinzahler: John Berryman, 2 July 2015

The Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 427 pp., £11.99, October 2014, 978 0 374 53455 4
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77 Dream Songs 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 84 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53452 3
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Berryman’s Sonnets 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 127 pp., £10, October 2014, 978 0 374 53454 7
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The Heart Is Strange 
by John Berryman.
Farrar, Straus, 179 pp., £17.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 22108 9
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Poets in their Youth 
by Eileen Simpson.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., £11.50, October 2014, 978 0 374 23559 8
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... unchallenged since the publication of Lord Weary’s Castle and his subsequent Pulitzer in 1947. Hayden Carruth, born in 1921, who edited probably the finest – and certainly the most inclusive – anthology of modern American poetry in the last century, The Voice That Is Great within Us, wrote in his introduction: ‘We had been born too late, that was our ...

Working the Dark Side

David Bromwich: On the Uses of Torture, 8 January 2015

... countries from 17 September 2001 to 22 January 2009. It is the first official tally since Michael Hayden, a CIA director under Bush and Cheney, ordered that no matter how the facts changed the reported numbers should never climb above 98. Of all who were held and interrogated, 22 per cent were found to be innocent. There was no process for freeing them. Some ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: You had better look out, 10 December 1998

... Scottish as Alastair) describes watching the 1966 World Cup Final on a flickering black and white TV in a pub in a West Highland village. He was one of perhaps a dozen out of forty or fifty blokes who didn’t cheer to the rafters each time Germany scored a goal. 8 June. Spot the typo, spare the blush. John Vincent writes from the University of ...

Talk about doing

Frank Kermode, 26 October 1989

Against Deconstruction 
by John Ellis.
Princeton, 168 pp., £13.70, February 1989, 0 691 06754 6
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The New Historicism 
by H. Aram Veeser.
Routledge, 318 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 415 90070 0
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Rethinking Historicism: Critical Essays in Romantic History 
by Marjorie Levinson, Marilyn Butler, Jerome McGann and Paul Hamilton.
Blackwell, 149 pp., £22.50, August 1989, 0 631 16591 6
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Towards a Literature of Knowledge 
by Jerome McGann.
Oxford, 138 pp., £16.50, May 1989, 9780198117407
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The Stoic in Love: Selected Essays on Literature and Ideas 
by A.D. Nuttall.
Harvester, 209 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 7450 0614 0
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... and fastidious piece by Stephen Greenblatt, a pioneer of the style, but the shrewdest essay is Hayden White’s survey of the whole collection. White considers this new style of doing history from the point of view of a professional philosopher of history, or metahistorian. He points out that in its simplest form ...

America is back

Alan Brinkley, 1 November 1984

... of Nancy Reagan’s description of the Republican delegates in 1980 as ‘all these beautiful white people’. The Democrats could have little hope in 1984 of getting the better of (or even matching) the President in appeals to the ‘new spirit’. Their hope lay in getting the better of him on the issues, and it was precisely Mondale’s inability to ...

His Own Private Armenia

Anne Hollander: Arshile Gorky, 1 April 2004

Arshile Gorky: His Life and Work 
by Hayden Herrera.
Bloomsbury, 767 pp., £35, October 2003, 9780747566472
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Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective of Drawings 
edited by Janie Lee and Melvin Lader.
Abrams, 272 pp., £30, December 2003, 0 87427 135 5
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... Europe, but discovered European art in American galleries and museums, and above all in black and white reproductions, which he found in the thousands of art books and periodicals he studied in libraries and later bought. He looked at past and present European painting with an eye for the direct effect of formal strategy. He was unaffected by historical ...

No Crying in This House

Jackson Lears: The Kennedy Myth, 7 November 2013

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy 
by David Nasaw.
Allen Lane, 896 pp., £12.35, September 2013, 978 0 14 312407 8
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Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch 
by Barbara Perry.
Norton, 404 pp., £20, September 2013, 978 0 393 06895 5
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... to manage the Fore River Shipyard. After the war he took a job as a trader with the brokerage firm Hayden, Stone, though he soon learned the big money was not in brokerage but in assisting business start-ups and mergers, then managing the new companies from the inside. The sources of his investment capital didn’t come from bootlegging – Nasaw lays that ...

Only in the Balkans

Misha Glenny: The Balkans Imagined, 29 April 1999

Inventing Ruritania: The Imperialism of the Imagination 
by Vesna Goldsworthy.
Yale, 254 pp., £19.95, May 1998, 0 300 07312 7
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Imagining the Balkans 
by Maria Todorova.
Oxford, 270 pp., £35, June 1997, 9780195087505
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... own of what used to be called the Near East. Both authors draw on a third academic, Milica Bakic-Hayden, to describe the process of imagining the Balkans as one of ‘nesting orientalisms’. On the one hand, the region is seen as ‘irreparably oriental’ because it spent nearly five centuries as part of the Ottoman Empire. On the other, it is indisputably ...

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