Dominic Sandbrook

History of the Present

Facts Are Subversive: Political Writing from a Decade Without a Name


Atlantic Books 441pp £25 order from our bookshop

On the last day of May 2001, The Guardian columnist Timothy Garton Ash went to see George W Bush at the White House. Preparing for his first official trip to Europe, the new President had invited a smattering of eminent thinkers for an informal seminar. ‘Quite tall. Square-set, tanned. Dark suit. Quite formal greetings. Clipped style’, Garton Ash recorded in his journal. Their conversation ranged over the future of the EU, the Kyoto treaty and Bush’s plans for a missile shield; among the subjects not mentioned at all were Islam, Iraq and Osama bin Laden. There had been far too many half-baked American military interventions abroad, Bush said at one point: ‘I ain’t going to get into no Somalia.’

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