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Renata Adler: politics and the English language

An encounter with one of the great Sixties "muses of asperity"

By Jonathan Derbyshire  

After the Tall Timber

Sam Tanenhaus has written a piece for the September issue of Prospect (out on Thursday) about Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), whom he describes as having been “for half a century the most vibrant, at times it seemed the only, genuine intellectual in American politics.” The piece is, among other things, an anatomy of the “curious mix of passivity and agitation” that characterises politics in the US—Moynihan, Tanenhaus says, “towers before us [as] a vanished, much-missed type,” a visionary of a distinctively American kind. Today, neither of America’s “two damaged…

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