Archive - May 16, 2012

1
George Packer (Togo 1982-83) on Kennedy, Obama, and L.B.J.
2
Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Plays Criminal Suspect at Oxford

George Packer (Togo 1982-83) on Kennedy, Obama, and L.B.J.

[George Packer (Togo 1982-83) put up this item yesterday on The New Yorker website. It is really a smart piece on presidents, vice presidents, and how history repeats itself.] In one of those coincidences that get you thinking in historical analogies, President Obama announced support for same-sex marriage just a few days after the publication of Robert Caro’s fourth volume on the life of Lyndon B. Johnson, “The Passage of Power.” Obama arrived at his position in very much the way that John F. Kennedy decided to put the force of the White House behind civil rights: slowly, reluctantly, and with a big assist from his overlooked, often ridiculed Vice-President. I spent the summer of 1980 as an intern at a legal-aid office in southern Alabama, and in the houses of poor black people I got used to seeing a sign on the wall that said, “The three who set . . .

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Peter Hessler (China 1996-98) Plays Criminal Suspect at Oxford

Before Peter Hessler was awarded a “genius” grant by the MacArthur Foundation, and before he was a PCV in China (1996-98), he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. Of that time, he writes in the current issue of The New Yorker, (May 21, 2012). He found part-time work standing in police lineups. At the time he was reading, as they say at Oxford, English Language and Literature, and his courses included tutorials on Middle English, Spenser, Shakespeare, the seventeenth century, and the eighteenth century. At the start of the Michaelmas term, he saw a notice that the St. Aldates Police Station was looking for volunteers to stand in identity parades. They paid ten pounds per parade. So Peter went down to the station and signed up. His first parade was for stealing bikes. The station hadn’t finished constructing its viewing room, which would feature a one-way mirror. For the time being, . . .

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