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Wrongful ‘Rights’
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Wrongful ‘Rights’

“Men ambitious of political authority have found out the secret of manufacturing generalities. “ -Sir Henry Sumner Maine Donald Lambro: Washington—City of Scandals; Little, Brown; Boston.  Richard E. Morgan: Disabling America; Basic Books; New York. The contemporary American political scene does not encourage optimism. Donald Lambro, author of Fat City, documents in minute detail the all-too-numerous Washington scandals....

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Mormons and Modernism

“So pale grows Reason at Religion’s sight, So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light.” —John Dryden  Leonard Arrington: Brigham Young: American Moses; Alfred A. Knopf; New York. Richard L. Bushman: Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism; University of Illinois Press; Urbana, IL. Jan Shipps: Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition; University of Illinois Press; Urbana, IL. Ernest...

Powder Puffs & Loose Peanuts
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Powder Puffs & Loose Peanuts

“It is a hard task to treat what is common in a way of your own.” -Horace Jill McCorkle: The Cheer Leader; Algonquin Books; Chapel Hill, NC; $15.95. Jill McCorkle: July 7th; Algonquin Books; Chapel Hill, NC; $17.95. Louis Rubin is easily the most respected and celebrated scholar of modern Southern literature, but it will never be said...

Comparable Worth?
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Comparable Worth?

“On the whole, the home remains the supreme cultural achievement of women.” -Georg Simmel Elisabeth Griffith: In Her Own Right: The Life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Oxford University Press; New York. Kathleen Brady: Ida Tarbell: Portrait of a Muckraker; Seaview/Putnam; New York. Near the turn of the century Charles Peguy, alarmed by the advance of secularism in the modern...

Rumors of War
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Rumors of War

“Shall I weep if a Poland fall? Shall I shriek if a Hungary fail?” -Tennyson Robert Kee: 1939: In the Shadow of War; Little, Brown; Boston. Gordon Brook-Shepherd: Archduke of Sarajevo; Little, Brown; Boston. Neither Robert Kee nor Gordon Brook-Shepherd has written a masterpiece. Both men cover well trodden fields of research: one, the events of l939 that Winston Churchill aptly called “the Second Thirty-Years...

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Inventing Lost Worlds

The American tourists were in Rome for the first time and asked the owner of their pensione where to visit. He urged them not to miss the Roman Forum. When they returned for lunch, they were quiet and grim­ mouthed. Finally, he asked them why, and the man burst out,  “We never dreamed that you Italians...

The Aesthetics of Hate
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The Aesthetics of Hate

“Thus wit, like faith, by each man is applied To one small sect, and all are damned beside.”  -Alexander Pope Pauline Johnson: Marxist Aesthetics: The Foundations Within Everyday Life for an Enlightened Con­sciousness; Routledge and Kegan Paul; London. T. W. Adorno: Aesthetic Theory;  Routledge and Kegan Paul; London. Of Marx’s numerous ex cathedra pronouncements, none has pre­sented a greater...

Trivial Pursuits
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Trivial Pursuits

David Pryce-Jones: Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir; Ticknor & Fields; New York. A Chime of Words: The Letters of Logan Pearsall Smith; Edited by Edwin Tribble; Ticknor & Fields; New York. Logan Pearsall Smith: All Trivia: A Collection of Reflections and Aphorisms; Ticknor & Fields; New York. Leslie Fiedler once observed that “in our day,...

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The Emerson No One Knows

“At bottom, [Emerson] had no doctrine at all. . . . He was far from being, like a Plato or an Aristotle, past master in the art and the science of life.” -George Santayana  The dedication of this latest biogra­phy of the individual known to earlier generations as “the Sage of Concord” is to Mohandas Karam­chand Gandhi, “who...

Trivial Spirits
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Trivial Spirits

Malcolm Bradbury: Rates of Exchange; Alfred A. Knopf; New York Vassily Aksyonov: The Island of Crimea; Translated by Michael Henry Heim; Random House; New York.  Signs of massive political fatuity abound. In the face of more than a decade  of relentless Soviet arms acquisition, righteous notables in the West chant for a (virtually unilateral) freeze...

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Weapons of Despair

Kosta Tsipsis: Arsenal: Understanding Weapons in the Nuclear Age; Simon & Schuster; New York. Freeman Dyson: Weapons and Hope; Harper & Row; New York The peace movement has become a permanent fixture of democratic politics. The movement is most visible when its members are marching in the streets, but it is most effective when there...

Webs of Culture
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Webs of Culture

Clifford Geertz: Local Knowledge: Further Essays in Interpretive Anthropology; Basic Books; New York Paul Elmer More once noted the presence of demons in human society: “The Malec of violence, the Beelzebub of treachery, the Belial of lying flatteries, the Mammon of gold, the Mephis­topheles of skepticism, and others of the Stygian Council escaped through the...

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Race and Freedom

Thomas Sowell: The Economics and Politics of Race: An International Perspective; William Morrow; New York If valley Girls could read, Thomas Sowell’s book would gag them with the facts. The author, a Chicago-educated economist now at the Hoover Institution, presents his readers with a carefully researched book that is replete with facts about economics, politics,...

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Bulgarian Death Squad

Georgi Markov: The Truth That Killed; Ticknor & Fields; New York. Claire Sterling: The Time of the Assassins: Anatomy of an Investigation; Holt, Reinhart & Winston; New York.   In 1962 a  one-time engineer, Georgi Markov, rose meteroically to the upper reaches of the Bulgarian literary elite upon the publication of a novel entitled Men, which...

Unclassical Tragedy
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Unclassical Tragedy

Wired: The Short Times & Fast Life of John Belushi by Bob Woodward; Simon and Schuster; New York. Bob Woodward is an aggressive journalist who has helped reveal the secrets of Supreme Court Justices and a president. Like his previous efforts, Wired is a best-seller full of gossip and intrigue. Excerpts have appeared in the Washington Post, New York...

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Scandalizing Uncle Ez

Without doubt, Ezra Pound was a remarkable poet. His best verse is beautifully cadenced, delicately chiseled. Herbert Read described him as “an alchemist who transmuted the debased counters of our language into pure poetic metal. “deferentially. Eliot called him il miglior fabbro, the better craftsman. Pound was a brilliant critic, too. In scores of widely read...

The Critical Temper
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The Critical Temper

Hazlitt: The Mind of a Critic by David Bromwich; Oxford University Press, New York. T.S. Eliot: A Study in Character and Style by Ronald Bush; Oxford University Press, New York. I stumbled on Hazlitt while I was still in college and have some old books of his that cost me 50 cents each-one that I...

Making a Morass of Metaphysics
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Making a Morass of Metaphysics

Thomas Carlyle by Fred Kaplan; Cor nell University Press; Ithaca. Most people know nothing about metaphysics and wish to know less. The case is not that they do not actually govern their lives in harmony with a set of metaphysical principles, for that is simply not an option. As Aldous Huxley perceived: “It is impossible to live without a metaphysic. The...

Scandalizing Uncle Ez
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Scandalizing Uncle Ez

The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabeths by W. Fuller Torrey, McGraw-Hill; New York. Without doubt, Ezra Pound was a remarkable poet. His best verse is beautifully cadenced, delicately chiseled. Herbert Read described him as “an alchemist who transmuted the debased counters of our language into pure poetic metal.” Deferentially, T. S. Eliot called him...

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Confluences – From Boring to Bootless

One of the best things about most of America’s past Presidential elections is that they have really decided so little. A remarkably centrist cultural and social consensus has dictated that, despite all of the vehement campaign rhetoric, both major parties have usual­ly agreed on a wide range of funda­mental issues. This national consensus has often...

Liking Ike
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Liking Ike

Stephen E. Ambrose: Eisenhower, Volume One: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890-1952; Simon & Schuster; New York. Great athletes, it is said, all are so good that they make their feats look easy. The same was true of Dwight David Eisenhower, first as a career soldier, then as Supreme Allied Commander, and finally as...

Missing Pieces
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Missing Pieces

George W. Hunt: John Cheever: The Hobgoblin Comapny of Love; Wm. B. Eerdmans; Grand Rapids, MI. The Rev. George W. Hunt, S J., liter­ary editor of America, has written a valuable study of the fiction of John Cheever, one that will remain a source of lasting value for future critics and scholars to consult. However, I have reservations about Hunt’s...

Antics at the Bar
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Antics at the Bar

Robert Pack: Edward Bennet Williams for the Defense; Harper & Row; New York. The Burger Court: The Counter-Revolution That Wasn’t; Edited by Vincent Blasi; Yale University Press; New Haven, CT. In the late l 950’s conservatives came to understand the importance of the liberal’s commitment to methodology. Although the right had already launched a telling...

Social Placebos & Cures
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Social Placebos & Cures

Martin Carnoy, Derek Shearer, and Russell Rumberger: A New Social Contract: The Economy and Government After Reagan; Harper & Row; New York. Richard Cornuelle: Healing American: What Can Be Done About the Continuing Economic Crisis; G. P. Putnam’s Sons; New York. Each of these books purports to dis­cuss economics, hence the direct ref­erence to “the...

The Liberal Smoke Screen
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The Liberal Smoke Screen

William E, Leuchtenburg: In the Shadow of FDR: From Harry Truman to Ronald Reagan; Cornell University Press; Ithaca, NY. John Kenneth Galbraith: The Anatomy of Power; Houghton Mifflin Company; Boston. When Ronald Reagan assumed the Presidency, he was assailed by liberals for wanting both too much power and too little. Mr. Reagan had made it clear...

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Notables – Of Socialism and Sentimentality

“Socialism,” wrote Dostoevsky in The Possessed, “spreads among us chiefly because of sentimentality.” He was, of course, writing about upper-middle­ class, 19th-century Russian society, but a reading of Tmubled Journey: From Pearl Harbor to Ronald Reagan (Hill and Wang; New York) by Frederick Siegel suggests that the rise of the American New left during the 1960’s was also...

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Liberal Culture – Blah, Blah, Blah

In an era when frozen embryos, conceived on processed sperm, are consid­ered legal inheritors to financial assets, and former convicted felons seek redemp­tion by supervising police in Chicago Mayor Washington’s administration, nothing is particularly surprising any­more. In the Chicago Tribune, someone identified as cochairman of the Illinois Gay and Lesbian Task Force bitterly complains that homosexual highschool...

The Arty Life
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The Arty Life

Frances Spalding: Vanessa Bell; Ticknor & Fields; New York. Karen Monson: Alma Mahler: Muse to Genius: From Fin-de-Siecles Vienna to Hollywood’s Heyday; Houghton Mifflin; Boston. Women are in many ways the bearers and keepers of culture. However excluded they may have been from be­ coming artists in their own right, women throughout history have shown a...

Opinions & Views – Liberal Culture – Closed Circuit
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Opinions & Views – Liberal Culture – Closed Circuit

Mr. William Kennedy, a writer lavishly honored last year with both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, recently wrote an enthusiastic review, published by the New York Times Book Review, of a book by Mr. Mario Cuomo, the liberal governor of New York. I voted for Mario Cuomo for Govemor of New...

Errant Idealism
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Errant Idealism

John Milton Cooper, Jr.: The Warrior and the Priest: Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt; Harvard University Press; Boston. Lloyd Gardner: A Convenant with Power: America and World Order from Wilson to Reagan; Oxford University Press; New York. There have been many interpreta­tions of Woodrow Wilson done from widely divergent perspectives. Fortu­nately for Wilson’s reputation, his...

Bombs Away
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Bombs Away

John J. Mearsheimer: Conventional Deterrence; Cornell University Press; Ithaca, NY. Paul Bracken: The Command and Control of Nuclear Forces; Yale University Press; New Haven, CT. Two of the major problems facing Western defense and foreign policy are truly Siamese twins: that of deterring nuclear war, and the possibility of a conventional Soviet invasion of Europe. They...

Reaping the Red’s Harvest
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Reaping the Red’s Harvest

Diane Johnson: Dashiell Hammett: A Life; Random House; New York. Spade sat down in the armchair beside the table and without any preliminary, without an introductory remark of any sort, began to tell the girl about a thing that had happened some years before in the Northwest. He talked in a steady matter-of-fact voice that...

Americans, Operatives & Apparatchiks
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Americans, Operatives & Apparatchiks

Rael Jean Isaac and Erich Isaac: The Coercive Utopians: Social Deception by America’s Power Players; Regnery Gateway; Chicago. For about the past 15 years it has gradually been dawning on an increasing number of Americans that the people who rule their country are not entirely under their control. Bureaucracies en­force regulations no legislature ever passed;...

The Remnants of Realism
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The Remnants of Realism

Philip Roth: The Anatomy Lesson; Farrar, Straus & Grioux; New York. Louis Auchincloss: Exit Lady Masham; Houghton Mifflin; Boston. In the opinion of Tom Wolfe, “the introduction of realism into literature… was like the introduction of electricity into machine technology. It was not just another device. It raised the state of the art to a new magnitude.”...

Terrorists’ Tea Party
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Terrorists’ Tea Party

David Caute: Under the Skin: The Death of White Rhodesia; North-western University Press; Evanston, IL.  David Caute’s book on the fall of a white government and the triumph of Mugabein Zimbabwe contains neither an index nor sources. The events it de­scribes are almost entirely inside Rhodesia-Zimbabwe. By restricting his descriptions, Mr. Caute effectively evades mentioning...

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Confluences – Mysterious Activities

The Politics of Interpretation (University of Chicago Press; Chicago), edited by W. J. T. Mitchell, contains essays and responses to them by some of the leading literary theorists of our time–Booth, Bruns, Graff, Hirsch, Kristeva, Said, and others. One of the more lively controversies that emerge in the text has little to do with deconstructing,...

Promise, Progress & Confusion
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Promise, Progress & Confusion

Ruth Horowitz: Honor and the American Dream: Culture and Identity in a Chicano Community; Rutgers University Press; New Brunswick, NJ. Carlos G. Velez-Ibanez: Bonds of Mutual Trust: The Cultural Systems of Rotating Credit Associations among Urban Mexicans and Chicanos; Rutgers University Press; New Brunswick, NJ. Mexican-Americans have been more maliciously stereotyped than blacks at times,...

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Notables – Tenderhearted–and Headed

She is frail. The Avedon on the dust jacket shows a blond Shelley Duvall with a touch of anorexia. Is that important? Possibly. Just as a person wouldn’t be likely to say to an anorexigenic personal­ity, “How’s it going–chubby?” it would be hard to say to Renata Adler, after looking into those eyes of a pained doe,...

Pragmatic Problems
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Pragmatic Problems

Jacques Barzun: A Stroll With William James; Harper & Row; New York. William James is the nearest thing to a thoroughly American philosopher this nation has produced. George Santayana complained that James felt compelled to play the part of a home-spun American­ a role enjoyed by our intellectuals from Ben Franklin to Ezra Pound. Santayana...

Liberal Culture – Ethics & the Mystery of Meals
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Liberal Culture – Ethics & the Mystery of Meals

In Playboy, our time’s Vulgate of the congregation of the unwashed, we read a month’s sermon by one Exene, a female rock particle: I don’t believe in anything that’s morally right. My friend the poet Lydia Lunch said she believes in beauty, truth and filth. That about says it all. Our friend, Suzy Snack, a painter, told...

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Art

by Gary S. Vasilash Look long and hard at the “official” list of 20th-century American painters: Jackson Pollock … Arshile Gorky … Robert Rauschenberg … Willem de Kooning … Jasper Johns … Robert Motherwell … Mark Rothko … Almost nowhere, outside of Iowa, will the name Grant Wood be found. A recent show at The...

A Prudent Progressive
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A Prudent Progressive

A Prudent Progressive Upwardly mobile young professionals became, suddenly, the intriguing and fashionable term of this political season. Senator Hart, the latest in the long history of electoral meteorites, a rather vapid man who talks a lot without saying much, popularized this designation and so made it apart of the daily news’ vocabulary, for which...

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Music

Tumbling Down Memory Lane Herb Hendler: Year by Year in the Rock Era: Events and Conditions Shaping the Rock Generations That Reshaped America; Greenwood Press; Westport, CT. Late in February NBC broadcast a night to forget. First up was something designated TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes, which was based on a strategy similar to that of...

The Reaper with Steel-Rimmed Glasses
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The Reaper with Steel-Rimmed Glasses

Arnold Beichman and Mikhail S. Bernstarn: Andropov: New Challenge to the West; Stein and Day; New York.   Vladimir Solovyov and Elena Klepikova: Yuri Andropov: A Secret Passage into the Kremlin; Macmillan; New York. by T. Mark Kulish On November 15, 1982, an overcast and cold day in Moscow, Leonid Brezhnev was buried. The new...

Ideological Time Twisting
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Ideological Time Twisting

John Arden: Vox Pop: Last Days of the Roman Republic; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego.   by E. Christian Kopff The fact that John Arden has written a novel is important news for people who care about the health of the English language and its literature. As with his plays, the basic idea for the...

Pop Biography
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Pop Biography

Gilbert A. Harrison: The Enthusiast: A life of Thornton Wilder; Ticknor & Fields; New Haven CT. by Ronald Berman Thornton Wilder was a hugely successful writer and evidently a very good man. As to the first, in 1927 The Bridge of San Luis Rey earned $20,000 in royalties, a figure which can be compared with...

Of Women and Wanderlust
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Of Women and Wanderlust

Elizabeth Arthur: Beyond the Mountain; Harper & Row; New York. Blanche d’Alpuget: Turtle Beach; Simon &Schuster; New York. Janet Turner Hospital: The Ivory Swing; E. P. Dutton; New York. by Bryce Christensen Home, as Robert Frost observed, is that place “where, when you have to go there, / They have to take you in.” But...

Down Home—& Out to Lunch
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Down Home—& Out to Lunch

James Wilcox: Modern Baptists; Dial Press; New York. Joan Williams: Pariah and Other Stories; Atlantic/Little, Brown; Boston. by Fred West First novels can be wonderful events, given the shrinking market for fiction these days. In general, creative writers have hit the bottom of the totem pole, as indicated by the endless string of credits flashed...

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Tending the Abused Garden

Max Hayward: Writers in Russia: 1917-1978; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; San Diego, CA. by Charles A. Moser At the time of his premature death in 1979, Max Hayward was among the finest Western interpreters of contemporary Russian literature in the Soviet Union. As one of Britain’s most accomplished Slavists, he had obtained a research position at...

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Selling the Rope…and More

Joseph Finder: Red Carpet; New Republic/Holt, Rinehart & Winston; New York by Henry L. Mason III One of the most persistent sources of confusion among educated Americans is the failure to realize that the Soviet Union’s relations with the outside world are conducted on levels which do not correspond to those of democratic societies. On...