By Paul Wells - Tuesday, December 18, 2012 - 0 Comments
So last night several dozen members of the Media Party joined a smaller cohort from the Conservative Party for a Christmas party at 24 Sussex Drive. Laureen Harper made little chocolate mice for the dessert tray. The event was strictly off the record, a new formal stipulation in place since Jane Taber surprised us all by writing up chapter and verse of the prime minister’s cocktail-party chat for the Globe a year ago, so I will tell you not a word that Stephen Harper shared with us. I can, however, report that Andrew MacDougall said not a word.
And it wasn’t for lack of effort on my part. “Answer the Mark Carney question of your choice,” I said to him, attempting to be sly.
“No comment,” he said, smiling and staring resolutely into the middle distance.
“Was there anger?” I asked.
By Peter Shawn Taylor - Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:00 AM - 0 Comments
While Hitler’s Germany laid waste to much of Europe during his short but murderous reign, the Continent’s two most celebrated and historic cities—Paris and Rome—were spared destruction. Could it be that even the Nazis understood the irreplaceable nature of these world treasures?
Historian Neiberg takes a new look at the liberation of Paris and how it narrowly escaped devastation. It’s a story that’s been told many times before, perhaps most memorably by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre in their 1965 book Is Paris Burning? and then given star-laden treatment (Kirk Douglas, Orson Welles, Charles Boyer, Leslie Caron, Alain Delon, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Glenn Ford, Gert Froebe, Anthony Perkins) in a sprawling movie of the same name a year later. That title, of course, refers to an order given by Adolf Hitler but ignored by his retreating army to lay waste to the City of Light.
An equally impressive cast of real-life characters populates this retelling of Paris’s deliverance, ranging from future world leaders Dwight Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle to writers Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre to the brave rank and file of the French Resistance. And yet the most fascinating and controversial figure remains German Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz, the man who left Paris unburnt. Collins and Lapierre based much of their work on Choltitz’s own memoirs, which suggest he saved Paris for moral reasons.
Neiberg reconsiders the evidence and comes to a different conclusion: Choltitz spared Paris because he lacked the means to do otherwise. The general’s nickname on arrival in Paris was “smasher of cities,” a moniker earned for his treatment of Rotterdam and Sevastopol earlier in the war. So there’s no reason to believe he felt any unease over destroying great landmarks. Rather, says Neiberg, Choltitz underestimated popular support for the Resistance and was left powerless once Parisians took to the streets ahead of Allied forces. In the end, the German general surrendered to save his men from the wrath of a wild mob. As for the famous question of whether the city was burning or not, Neiberg says “There is no evidence those words ever left Hitler’s mouth.”
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By John Parisella - Monday, May 30, 2011 at 5:56 PM - 2 Comments
Or will the party lead the leader?
The latest poll puts non-candidate and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani at the top of the heap of Republican presidential contenders. A month ago it was Donald Trump. And earlier this year it was Mike Huckabee. In a month’s time, perhaps Sarah Palin’s bus tour of the Northeast will have catapulted her to the top. (Probably not.)
Meanwhile, more serious candidates like former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty (who announced last week) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (who will announce this week) will be among the frontrunners and will most likely battle each other through the primary season. Yet neither of them polls particularly strongly against the marginal/celebrity personalities the GOP is attracting. Newt Gingrich, an otherwise strong candidate, has had a disastrous start since declaring. His stumbles only add to the party’s woes. Why is the Republican field scoring so badly among the GOP’s supporters? Barack Obama is a formidable opponent, but the economy will likely emerge as the deciding issue come November 2012, and here the president is vulnerable. Continue…
By Brian Bethune - Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 1:20 PM - 6 Comments
By compromising his own security, Kennedy made himself impossible to protect
For more than four decades, the forces of orthodoxy, from the 1964 Warren commission to Vincent Bugliosi’s 1,648-page Reclaiming History (2007), have insisted that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, assassinated U.S. president John F. Kennedy. But Amazon now lists more than 1,200 titles on the events of Nov. 22, 1963, and the books keep on coming at such a rate that their number will one day (soon) exceed Bugliosi’s page count. The vast majority oppose the official version. In that regard, their authors are solidly in tune with U.S. popular opinion. Forty years of polling have consistently shown that more than two-thirds of Americans simply don’t believe the Warren report.
That alone is enough to make The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine, one of the 34 Secret Service agents on White House service during JFK’s administration, a stand-out assassination book: the surviving agents—speaking openly for the first time (and only because it was one of their own who asked)—are unanimous that it was Oswald, and Oswald alone. But there is also a wealth of detail about the most traumatic day of their lives, and Blaine’s convincing argument that a protective system that worked for Kennedy’s predecessor was stretched past the breaking point by Kennedy himself. Among the many legacies of JFK—the man who single-handedly retired hats from formal male attire—was a revolution in presidential security.
By Brian Bethune - Tuesday, February 2, 2010 at 1:40 PM - 10 Comments
Americans were told their president died of a sudden stroke. Not true, says a new book.
Dwight Eisenhower’s heart attack, LBJ’s gallbladder, Kennedy’s many ailments, even George Bush Sr.’s bout of nausea in Japan: ever since the occupant of the White House became the Most Powerful Man in the World, the health of U.S. presidents has been of consuming interest. Much of that concern is pure finger-on-the-nuclear-button angst, but a significant portion derives from the fate of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt. When the first leader of superpower America died in office in 1945, it was a shock to most of his countrymen, who were largely unaware of just how sick FDR was. In fact, according to neurologist Steven Lomazow and journalist Eric Fettmann, authors of FDR’s Deadly Secret, they are the first to crack wide open the secrecy that has shrouded Roosevelt’s health until now. FDR, they write, died of cancer, a disease that had deleterious effects on his mental as well as physical health. In concealing the cancer from the American people, the authors argue, Roosevelt was “rolling the dice with history”: he won (mostly), but it was a very close run.