Monthly Archives: May 2010

It was the last presidential campaign in which Americans truly had a choice across the ideological spectrum, from the far Right to the far Left.

The last campaign : how Harry Truman won the 1948 election      Zachary Karabell Presidents , United States , Election , 1948 New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, c 2000 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 308 p. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

It was the last presidential campaign in which Americans truly had a choice across the ideological spectrum, from the far Right to the far Left. And the winner, according to pundits and pollsters alike, would be the Republican standard-bearer, Governor Thomas E. Dewey of New York. After sixteen years of Democratic rule, Americans seemed tired of the party and, in particular, of the somewhat inept incumbent, Harry Truman. Furthermore, Truman’s chances appeared doomed by the growing strength of Henry Wallace’s left-wing Progressive Party and Strom Thurmond’s right-wing States’ Rights Party, both drawing upon traditional Democratic constituencies.

Zachary Karabell tells the fascinating story of all four campaigns. We see how Truman’s staff developed a superb reelection plan that ignored the South and concentrated on the farm vote — a scheme that would give birth to Truman’s historic “whistle-stop” tour of the nation’s heartland. We learn how Dewey nearly lost the GOP nomination to Harold Stassen and how, in the last weeks, his gentlemanly campaign fell victim to complacency, owing to the candidate’s wide lead in the polls. We meet Wallace, the naive, disaffected former vice president who — preaching racial equality, economic justice, and accommodation with the Soviet Union — took a tour through the South accompanied by black aides, and was pelted with fruit for his pains. And we witness how Thurmond led the white supremacist Dixiecrats in a walkout of the Democratic convention and contested the election throughout the South.

In 1948, the United States was on the cusp of changes that would transform the political landscape forever. Television was still an infant technology, a newfangled toy that many predicted would be a passing fad, unable to compete with radio. Karabell argues that 1948 was the last time a presidential race would be dominated by radio and print media, and the last time progressive and far-Left viewpoints were openly debated and covered in the mainstream press, before the Cold War consensus placed an entire spectrum of political views beyond the pale.

Finally, Karabell shows why the polls were totally wrong, and how in the end Truman indulged in questionable political tactics to win the presidency. And he explains why this victory came at great cost to Truman’s second term and to the country, paving the way for a Republican backlash and the virulent anti-Communist crusades of the 1950s.

This vivid narrative is political history at its most absorbing. And it is a cautionary tale that is highly relevant to the quandaries of presidential politics at the beginning of a new century.

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Three titles from William Langewiesche about the World Trade Center, Piracy and Nuclear Proliferation.

American ground, unbuilding the World Trade Center      William Langewiesche World Trade Center (New York, N.Y.) New York : North Point Press, c 2002 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 205 p. ; 22 cm.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.   VG/VG

The unsung-and revealing-story of the Herculean effort to finish the dismantling that terrorism began

Unlike any other reporter, William Langewiesche has had unrestricted access to Ground Zero and the people involved in the cleanup. He has literally followed in the footsteps of engineers, “deconstruction” workers, firemen, and city officials as they tackle the mind-numbing task of bringing order to an instance of chaos unprecedented on our soil.

American Ground is a tour of the interlocking circles of this Dantesque world.  Langewiesche anatomizes the physical details of the collapse and deconstruction, capturing in the process the contest of politics and personality that were its aftershock. At the center of the book is the team of engineers, many of them instrumental in building the towers, who now must collaborate in the sad task of disassembling them. Their responses are as dramatic and unpredictable as the shifting pile of rubble and the surrounding “slurry wall” that constantly threatens to collapse, potentially flooding a large part of underground Manhattan. They are also emotional and territorial, as firemen, police, widows, and officials attempt to claim the tragedy-and the difficult work of extracting the rubble and the thousands of dead buried there-as their own.

In all of these aspects-its vociferousness, spontaneity, ingenuity, and fundamental democracy-Langewiesche reveals the story of the deconstruction to be uniquely American, and harshly inspiring. He has constructed an account that will endure against the events of September 11, 2001 as John Hersey’s Hiroshima stands in relation to August 1945.

The outlaw sea : a world of freedom, chaos, and crime      William Langewiesche Shipping, Merchant marine, Seafaring life New York : North Point Press, 2004 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 239 p. : maps ; 22 cm. Maps on lining papers. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

Riveting stories of our last frontier and the acts of God and man upon it

Even if we live within sight of the sea, it is easy to forget that our world is an ocean world. The open ocean–that vast expanse of international waters–begins just a few miles out and spreads across three-fourths of the globe. It is a place of storms and danger, both natural and manmade. And at a time when every last patch of land is claimed by one government or another, it is a place that remains radically free.

With typically understated lyricism, William Langewiesche explores this ocean world and the enterprises–licit and illicit–that flourish in the privacy afforded by its horizons. Forty-three thousand gargantuan ships ply the open ocean, carrying nearly all the raw materials and products on which our lives are built. Many are owned or managed by one-ship companies so ghostly that they exist only on paper. They are the embodiment of modern global capital and the most independent objects on earth–many of them without allegiances of any kind, changing identity and nationality at will. Here is free enterprise at it freest, opportunity taken to extremes. But its efficiencies are accompanied by global problems–shipwrecks and pollution, the hard lives and deaths of the crews, and the growth of two perfectly adapted pathogens: a modern and sophisticated strain of piracy and its close cousin, the maritime form of the new stateless terrorism.

This is the outlaw sea–perennially defiant and untamable–that Langewiesche brings startlingly into view. The ocean is our world, he reminds us, and it is wild.

The atomic bazaar : the rise of the nuclear poor      William Langewiesche Nuclear weapons New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 179 p. : map ; 22 cm.  Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlig  hting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

In his shocking and revelatory new work, the celebrated journalist William Langewiesche investigates the burgeoning global threat of nuclear weapons production. This is the story of the inexorable drift of nuclear weapons technology from the hands of the rich into the hands of the poor. As more unstable and undeveloped nations find ways of acquiring the ultimate arms, the stakes of state-sponsored nuclear activity have soared to frightening heights. Even more disturbing is the likelihood of such weapons being manufactured and deployed by guerrilla non-state terrorists.

Langewiesche also recounts the recent history of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the scientist at the forefront of nuclear development and trade in the Middle East who masterminded the theft and sale of centrifuge designs that helped to build Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, and who single-handedly peddled nuclear plans to North Korea, Iran, and other potentially hostile countries. He then examines in dramatic and tangible detail the chances for nuclear terrorism.

From Hiroshima to the present day, Langewiesche describes a reality of urgent consequence to us all. This searing, provocative, and timely report is a triumph of investigative journalism, and a masterful laying out of the most critical political problem the world now faces.

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Two titles from Walter Laqueur dealing with antisemitism and its consequences.

The changing face of antisemitism : from ancient times to the present day      Walter Laqueur Antisemitism , History New York, N.Y. : Oxford University Press, 2006 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. x, 228 p. ; 22 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [209]-214) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

For thirty years the director of the Wiener Library in London, the leading institute for the study of anti-Semitism, Walter Laqueur here offers both a comprehensive history of anti-Semitism as well as an illuminating look at the newest wave of this phenomenon.

Laqueur begins with an invaluable historical account of this pernicious problem, tracing the evolution from a predominantly religious anti-Semitism–stretching back to the middle ages–to a racial anti-Semitism that developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The author then uses this historical account as backdrop to a brilliant analysis of the newest species of anti-Semitism, explaining its origins and rationale, how it manifests itself, in what ways and why it is different from anti-Semitism in past ages, and what forms it may take in the future.

The book reveals that what was historically a preoccupation of Christian and right-wing movements has become in our time even more frequent among Muslims and left-wing groups. Moreover, Laqueur argues that we can’t simply equate this new anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and write it off as merely anti-Israel sentiments.

National and religious minority groups have been systematically persecuted from Indonesia, to Bangladesh, Rwanda, and beyond, but their fate has not generated much indignation in Europe and America. If Israel alone is singled out for heated condemnation, is the root of this reaction simply anti-Zionism or is it anti-Semitism?

Here is both a summing up of the entire trajectory of anti-Semitism–the first comprehensive history of its kind–and an exploration of the new wave of anti-Semitism that will be of interest to all concerned about the future of Jews, Judaism, and Israel.

Breaking the Silence      Walter Laqueur and Richard Breitman Spies , Germany , Biography, Schulte, Eduard, 1891-1966 New York : Simon and Schuster, c 1986 Hardcover. First edition and printing. 320 p. : ill., ports. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographies and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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Thomas Jefferson travels : collected travel writing, 1784-1826

Thomas Jefferson travels : collected travel writing, 1784-1826      Thomas Jefferson : edited by Anthony Brandt Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826 , Travel , Europe Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, c 2006 Hardcover. xvii, 388 p. : map ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [276]-[277]) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Thomas Jefferson has inspired countless books that explore his brilliant career, his political philosophy, and his extraordinary accomplishments as an inspired and inspiring leader. Endlessly inquisitive, he was both a tireless writer and one of the most cosmopolitan men of his age. Yet there has never before been a collection of his reflections on his wide-ranging travels-until now.

Drawing on our third president’s journals, personal correspondence, and other writing, this remarkable book uses Jefferson’s own words to open a unique window on the man himself and the world in which he played so important a part. From his views on his native Virginia to his extensive tours of New England, he shows us America as it was in our earliest years as a nation. He records his extensive, sophisticated impressions of Europe, formed during a five-year sojourn in France, which included visits to northern Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and England. His correspondence with Lewis and Clark reveals not just a seasoned traveler’s wisdom and a bottomless curiosity about the American wilderness, but his passionate explorer’s wish that he could actually join their Corps of Discovery.

Arranged in chronological order, Jefferson’s words are linked, clarified, and amplified by editor Anthony Brandt’s commentary, which provides historic and cultural context to fill in the background of this panoramic vision by a passionate explorer of penetrating intelligence, whose far-sighted, restless imagination launched us on a national journey westward to the Pacific and destiny.

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See how corruption, bigotry, lust, vanity, incompetence and the occasional bout of insanity have colored military conduct throughout time.

Military misdemeanours : corruption, incompetence, lust and downright stupidity      Terry Crowdy Armed Forces , Corrupt practices Oxford ; New York : Osprey Pub., 2007 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. 320 p. : ill. ; 19 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 313-320). Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Bungled cover-ups, acts of blinding incompetence, miscarriages of justice, sexual escapades and downright stupidity – the scandals which have helped to make the world’s armed forces the much loved (and sometimes ridiculed) institutions they are today. Take an irreverent look at the public outcries that both governments and soldiers would rather we forget, from Julius Caesar’s sex life and the frolics of Charles d’Eon, the fearless dragoon and noted transvestite to the sinking of the Kursk as Terry Crowdy delves into the darkest reaches of military sin and slip-up.

Packed with more than 60 military mishaps from ancient times to the present day, Military Misdemeanors shows that no military organization is safe from exposure. Learn the truth about Nelson and Lady Hamilton, the drafting of Heavyweight Champ Muhammad Ali, the sinking of Rainbow Warrior and satanism in the Royal Navy as we step back through the pages of history and see how corruption, bigotry, lust, vanity, incompetence and the occasional bout of insanity have colored conduct throughout time.

Contents include:
THE PROLOGUE “INIQUITY IN ANTIQUITY”
He came. He saw. He was conquered! The sexual escapades of Julius Caesar

ACT I “OUR INGLORIOUS PAST”
The Infamous Lieutenant Bird A murderer in King George army – The Transvestite Knight The dragoon war hero, who preferred ladies’ clothes to his uniform – The One about the Cat –  The man who ate a live cat to get out of the army

ACT II “MANIFEST INFAMY”
The Fairfax Raid The abduction of a drunk general by Mosby and his Rangers – The New York Draft Riots Caused by an unfair Civil War draft law – Surviving Custer – The scandalous behaviour of Major Reno

ACT III ”NOT SUCH A GREAT WAR”
The Mexican Connection Germany’s attempt to keep the US out of WWI by getting Mexico to invade – With ‘Snow’ on their Boots Cocaine abuse introduced to Britain by Canadian soldiers during WWI – The Midway Leak The US newspaper’s revelation that the US Navy was intercepting Japanese signals

ACT IV ”COLD WAR FALLOUT”
Un-American Activities McCarthyism in the US Air Force – The U2 Scandal Gary Powers shot down by the Soviets – Drafting Ali Muhammad Ali and the Vietnam draft

ACT V “EVEN IN OUR ENLIGHTENED TIMES?”
The Flying Cow –  The untrue story of the cow that sank a Japanese boat – The Sultan of Spin – The infamous Iraqi (mis)Information Minister

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