The Bay of Pigs fiasco upended J.F.K.’s presidential honeymoon

In his first serious foreign policy test in 1961, the new American president flunked badly. He was in way over his head

The Bay of Pigs fiasco upended J.F.K.’s presidential honeymoonThings were going swimmingly for U.S. President John F. Kennedy immediately following his January 1961 inauguration. Despite being elected by a mere whisker, his approval ratings were stratospheric and much of the media was in love with him. It was as if he was a political superman. Then came the fiasco at the Bay of…

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant output

A glimpse at Larry McMurtry’s prodigious, resonant outputLarry McMurtry, who died recently aged 84, was an American writer and a prodigious worker. Beginning in 1961, he produced dozens of books, plus various screenplays for movies and television. Sometimes the screenplays were adaptations of his own literary output and sometimes they weren’t. McMurtry was born in rural Texas in 1936. And while it…

Taking the temperature of U.S. Republicans

2024 Republican nomination will be a prize worth winning. Not an automatic ticket to the White House but more than a consolation prize

Taking the temperature of U.S. RepublicansAn interesting new American poll, conducted by the firm Fabrizio, Lee & Associates, surveyed Republican voters to ascertain what they want from their party going forward. Bottom line: They still like Donald Trump – a lot. The poll’s analysis sees the Republicans as consisting of five separate tribes, four of which are well disposed towards…

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s Day

Sarsfield was the de facto commander of James’s forces in Ireland. The mission failed but his reputation for gallantry was assured

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s DayThis being the season of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish-themed column seems appropriate. And a recent news story provides a suitable prompt. Born between 1655 and 1658, Patrick Sarsfield was a dashing Irish hero. He was brave, patriotic and charismatic. And the fact that he was mortally wounded leading a cavalry charge at the 1693…

The cultural ripples of the fight of the century

First Ali-Frazier fight was surrounded by name calling and racial strife, with political overtones

The cultural ripples of the fight of the centuryIt was 50 years ago this month – March 8, 1971 – that Madison Square Garden, in New York, hosted what was billed as the fight of the century. Or as it’s otherwise known, Ali-Frazier I. Previous generations might’ve begged to differ. Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney in the 1920s or Joe Louis-Max Schmeling in the 1930s…

Digging deep into John Wayne’s western films to find gems

Digging deep into John Wayne’s western films to find gemsJohn Wayne (1907-1979) is best remembered for his western movies. And he made scads of them, ranging from mediocre to excellent. Indeed, three Wayne vehicles appear on the American Film Institute’s list of the top 10 westerns of all time. No other star has more than a single entry. So if any actor can be…

Understated George Shultz left a lasting legacy

As Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, he played a key role in bringing about the end of the Cold War

Understated George Shultz left a lasting legacyGeorge Shultz, who died on Feb. 6 at the age of 100, was an important 20th-century figure. He was one of the good guys. An economist by profession, Shultz was born in New York in 1920. He graduated from Princeton in 1942, served in the Marine Corps during the Second World War and subsequently earned…

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the bill

While not scrupulously accurate, it is still quite engrossing

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the billAn electrician in to do some wiring work a couple of months ago ran his eye over the media shelf, noticed the Vikings DVD set and announced that The Last Kingdom was better. So in the midst of a pandemic winter, we tracked down the extant four seasons and gave it a whirl. The series…

Boris Johnson: the man who got Brexit done

Boris Johnson: the man who got Brexit doneIn December 2019, I wrote a column arguing that United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson was shaping up as a genuinely consequential politician. And the recent announcement of a new trade deal between the U.K. and the European Union bears that out. First, though, a clarification of terms. Declaring someone as consequential isn’t necessarily an…

Eisenhower was cagey but Kennedy rushed in

In 1961, as a young president prepared to take over from an aging one, their perspectives on military responsibility were starkly different

Eisenhower was cagey but Kennedy rushed inIn the third week of January 1961, two American political figures made important speeches. One was the outgoing president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And the other was the new guy, John F. Kennedy. Eisenhower was first up with his Jan. 17 farewell address. Aged 70, he was at that time the oldest president in United States…
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