Harvard

The House That Jack Built
March 15, 1987

The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon and Schuster, 932 pp., $22.95) At a family gathering recorded by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Joseph Patrick Kennedy boasted: "This is the most exclusive club in the world." It was his revenge for the exclusions he had suffered in Boston and at Harvard; and revenge, as usual, shaped its bearer to the likeness of its object. Kennedy had become richer, more snobbish, and more exclusive than any of his original tormentors.

The King To Come
March 09, 1987

There were two Americans who attempted to forge one nation from the two societies created by the Founders' failure to resolve the problem of slavery. One was Abraham Lincoln, whom we honored only implicitly on Presidents' Day (the billing being shared with George Washington). The other was Martin Luther King Jr., for whom there is a national holiday. The reason we honor King and not Lincoln lies in the strategies and tactics that each man employed in attempting to make this a single nation.

The Washington Intellectual
August 11, 1986

NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

The Washington Intellectual
August 11, 1986

NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

Warren Court Children
May 19, 1986

MANY OF MY friends, if they are still in legal practice, now hate it. “The world’s most overrated job,” one of them says. Lined up at motion calls: a lost generation, the Warren Court baby boom, the flood of us who went to law school in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We took Tocqueville seriously, and thought lawyers were America’s governing class. And the Warren Court was a Court of gods—Black, Douglas, Warren—hurling thunderbolts to start our cultural revolutions. Back then, the law seemed like a romance.

The Triumph of Asian-Americans
July 15, 1985

David A. Bell: How one group of immigrants found its place in America.

Nuclear Idealism, Nuclear Realism
March 11, 1985

This week in Prague, Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new version of the START treaty, renewing their commitment to nuclear arms reduction. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also unveiled newly built nuclear centrifuges. And, in a well-timed TNR cover story, Peter Scoblic posed the incisive, probing question: What good is the time-tested doctrine of deterrence in an era where rogue states and terrorists have ready access to nuclear material?

The Athletic Hero
September 19, 1983

Sport and the Spirit of Play in American Fiction: Hawthorne to Faulkner Christian K. Messenger From the dawn of time, the "hero" seems always to have been an athlete. Gilgamesh outwrestling Enkidu to prove who was strongest in Uruk is by no means a unique example. Perhaps the only trait d'union between the heroes of the two great Homeric epics is their common respect for sport.

The Vanity of "Vanity Fair"
March 21, 1983

Once upon a time—between September 1913 and February 1936—there was Vanity Fair. A quarter of a century after it folded, Cleveland Amory called it “America’s most memorable magazine,” and only a curmudgeon would quarrel with that accolade. It inspired an unusual fondness in both its contributors and its readers when it was alive, and amazingly its reputation still inspires much the same fondness in those who have never turned its pages. It is understandable that Condé Nast Publications Inc., the firm descended from the original publisher, should have been tempted to revive it.

The Limits of Sport
September 16, 1981

Tradition has it that when Alexander the Great had battled his way to India, he sat down and cried because there were no new worlds to conquer. Even if merely a dramatic fabrication, it is nonetheless a perfect metaphorical expression of the ancient Greek mentality. These w(?re a people motivated by what the cultural historian Jakob Burckhardt called "the agonal drive," an endemic compulsion to excel, outdo all others, be number one.

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