Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Off to the States for a fortnight's book tour, trying to plug my A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900. Prepare yourself for a veritable carpetbombing of name-dropping, on the basis that if you can't boast shamelessly in the Speccie Diary, where on earth can you? The Chaos Club in New York radiates reactionary chic.

Flanked by Tom Wolfe -- complete in the high collar and three-piece white suit -- and Norman Podhoretz, I set out my argument.

Next stop a speech and dinner given by the wonderfully counter-counter-cultural magazine The New Criterion at the Cosmopolitan Club. Then a dinner thrown for my wife Susan Gilchrist and me at Le Grenouille restaurant by Jayne Wrightsman, one of America's foremost philanthropists and the trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum. On my other side was Barbara Walters, whom I asked what question she was most often asked, hoping it was about kings, presidents or Moshe Dayan. The answer: 'What's Monica like?' Susan sat between the editor of the New York Review of Books, Robert Silvers, and the Chairman of the NY Public Library, Paul Le Clerc.

The next night Harry Evans and Tina Brown gave a dinner for 50 at their apartment on the Upper East Side. After the main course I was interviewed for half an hour or so by Harry, then came polite but tough questioning from Jon Meacham (editor of Newsweek), 9/11 Commission member John Lehman, the columnists Fareed Zakaria, Adam Gopnik, and others. When Joe Klein (author of Primary Colours) said: 'There are so many things I want to take issue with in your thesis that I don't know where to begin, ' I suggested he go for either alphabetical or chronological.

The following night Henry and Nancy Kissinger gave a dinner party at their apartment only five blocks from Tina and Harold geographically, but hundreds of miles away politically. Mayor Bloomberg said the Kissingers had tracked down the last 20 Republicans in New York (who included George F. Will, Peggy Noonan and the New York Sun proprietor Roger Hertog). Rupert Murdoch turned out to have precisely the opposite of the personality caricatured in the left-liberal media; he was charming, witty, good-natured and even slightly retiring. If that wins me Private Eye's OBN, it's still true. I asked Bloomberg whether any of the rumours that he might be standing for president were true. 'You're the historian, Andrew, ' he replied. 'Remind me the last time that a 5ft 7in Jewish billionaire from New York got to the White House?'

Flew to Washington and stayed at the elegant Willard Hotel, which resonates with history in every brick. Saw ex-UN ambassador John Bolton in the lobby, who said he was enjoying the book. …

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