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The Trump Way — Blood Oath — American People Want This Deal — The Chicago Way Not To Be Confused With Appeaser Obama’s Red Line Way — Videos

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The Trump Way — Blood Oath — American People Want This Deal — The Chicago Way Not To Be Confused With Appeaser Obama’s Red Line Way — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imagePresident Donald Trump delivered a high-stakes address to the world on Wednesday, offering Iran peace if it abandons its nuclear ambitions but also threatening the use of hypersonic weapons if war follows

 

Trump responds to Iranian airstrike: Iran will never have a nuclear weapon

Special Report: Trump addresses Iran attack on U.S. bases in Iraq

Rep. Dan Crenshaw says Obama-era officials are obsessed with defending their appeasement of Iran

Tucker Carlson Tonight 1/8/20 | Fox News Today January 8, 2020

Sen. Ted Cruz on Sen. Mike Lee’s public frustration with intel briefing on Soleimani strike

Petraeus says U.S. had “lost the element of deterrence” before Soleimani strike

Iran strikes back at US with missile attack at bases in Iraq

Iran Strikes Back at U.S.With Missile Attack on Bases in Iraq | News 4 Now

Shields and Brooks on Iran general’s killing, 2020 Democrats’ fundraising

Trump says Iran will be hit ‘very fast’ if they strike American assets

See the source image

The Chicago Way – The Untouchables (2/10) Movie CLIP

(1987) HD

A Clip From The Blind Side

The Blind Side

 

Donald Trump blames Barack Obama for giving Iran the cash to buy missiles flung at U.S. bases-as he offers to ’embrace peace’ and claims Tehran is ‘standing down’ but warns of ‘hypersonic weapons’ and ‘lethal and fast’ attacks

  • President said Iran can choose peace but warned of new weaponry that’s ready to strike
  • He blamed the Obama administration for unfreezing $150 billion and delivering $1.5 billion in cash to jump-start a nuclear nonproliferation deal that has since fallen apart
  • ‘As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be be allowed have a nuclear weapon,’ he vowed, even before saying ‘Good morning’
  • ‘Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast,’ he said, sending a warning in nearly the same breath as an olive branch
  • ‘Under construction are many hypersonic missiles,’ he warned, standing amid a tableau of stern-faced military leaders
  • Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops early Wednesday local time
  • Strikes are not thought to have killed any U.S. or Iraqi personnel, though extent of damage is being assessed
  • Ayatollah Khamenei said U.S. was given a ‘slap’ but strikes alone are ‘not enough’ and wants troops kicked out 
  • There are still fears for U.S. troops after Iran-backed militias in Iraq threatened to carry out their own strikes

Donald Trump blamed Barack Obama on Wednesday for supplying Iran with the money to purchase a torrent of missiles fired at American military positions Tuesday night.

‘The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration,’ he said, citing $150 billion in frozen assets that the previous president released and $1.5 billion flown by the U.S. to Tehran.

He began his speech to the world on Wednesday with a familiar ultimatum, even before saying ‘Good morning.’

‘As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be be allowed have a nuclear weapon,’ he said.

And Trump backed up that vow with a threat:

‘Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal and fast,’ he said, sending a warning in nearly the same breath as an olive branch.

‘Under construction are many hypersonic missiles,’ he warned, standing amid a tableau of stern-faced military leaders.

Minutes later he offered an olive branch, urging European nations to make ‘a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place’ and allows Iran to explore its ‘untapped potential’ as a mainstream trading partner.

‘We want you to have a future, and a great future,’ he told Iran’s people, claiming its military ‘appears to be standing down.’

President Donald Trump delivered a high-stakes address to the world on Wednesday, offering Iran peace if it abandons its nuclear ambitions but also threatening the use of hypersonic weapons if war follows

President Donald Trump delivered a high-stakes address to the world on Wednesday, offering Iran peace if it abandons its nuclear ambitions but also threatening the use of hypersonic weapons if war follows

Talking peace and war: Donald Trump offered to 'embrace peace' with Iran if it gives up its nuclear ambitions and its terrorism - but listed U.S. military capabilities

Talking peace and war: Donald Trump offered to ’embrace peace’ with Iran if it gives up its nuclear ambitions and its terrorism – but listed U.S. military capabilities

The president spoke in the Grand Foyer of the White House, speaking with the aid of a teleprompter in measured tones

The president spoke in the Grand Foyer of the White House, speaking with the aid of a teleprompter in measured tones

Trump's made-for-TV tableau included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Vice President Mike Pence

Trump’s made-for-TV tableau included Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and Vice President Mike Pence

Tightly-scripted: Donald Trump stuck to the teleprompter version of his address to the nation about Iran

Tightly-scripted: Donald Trump stuck to the teleprompter version of his address to the nation about Iran

No questions: Donald Trump left without taking any questions from reporters who had been brought into the room before his speech

No questions: Donald Trump left without taking any questions from reporters who had been brought into the room before his speech

Television entrance: Donald Trump enters to address the nation in the aftermath of missile strikes by Iran on a U.S. base in Iraq

Television entrance: Donald Trump enters to address the nation in the aftermath of missile strikes by Iran on a U.S. base in Iraq

The president's audience-of-one was Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the iron-fisted theocrat who is the mortal enemy of Israel and the United States

The president’s audience-of-one was Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the iron-fisted theocrat who is the mortal enemy of Israel and the United States

His remarks, watched live around the world, came after Tehran’s armies rained missiles down on Iraqi military installations where American troops have been stationed for more than 16 years.

‘No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime,’ the president said. ‘We suffered no casualties.’

Iranian state-run television claimed at least 20 U.S. servicemen and women were killed.

U.S. officials believe the missiles were deliberately fired into unpopulated areas, in what a senior official called a ‘heads-up bombing.’

The president spoke with the aid of tele-prompters in the Grand Foyer, the main entrance hall in the front of the White House.

He blasted Tehran’s ‘destructive and destabilizing behavior’ and said the days of Western patience ‘are over.’

Trump has long seen himself as a maverick loner on the world stage, unpredictable and unbothered by ruffling feathers overseas.

He boasts that his low approval ratings in foreign countries are an indication that he is focused on Americans’ welfare—not the priorities of real and nominal allies.

That approach could be tested as Iran and the U.S. creep toward what some, but not all, in the national security establishment see as an inevitable war.

The White House isn’t expecting one, the senior official said Wednesday: ‘This doesn’t have to end badly, and frankly right now we might be in the best position ever for diplomacy with Tehran.’

As he has in the past, the president trashed the Iran nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama administration along with Tehran and six other powers. He called the deal, which the administration already backed away from, ‘very defective’ noting that it ‘expires anyway.’

He called on other negotiating parties, including Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia – to ‘break away from the remnants of the Iran deal.

At the same time, Trump did not completely foreclose negotiation. He called for a ‘deal with Iran that makes the world a more peaceful and safer place.’

Trump, who spoke to reporters but had yet to speak directly to the nation since ordering the killing of Soleimani, called the Iranian general ‘the world’s top terrorist,’ and said he was ‘personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.’

‘Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood,’ Trump said. ‘He should have been terminated long ago. By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people,’ he added.

Trump announced that the U.S. would impose ‘powerful’ sanctions on the already heavily-sanctioned Iranian regime. But the White House did not immediately provide specifics. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was seen exiting the meeting Trump had with top military and security advisors moments before the speech.

‘The United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior,’ Trump said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired on the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and Erbil International airport in the north in the early hours of Wednesday, but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi solider.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as ‘a slap’ and said they ‘are not sufficient (for revenge)’ while vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region.

But foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now ‘concluded,’ praising Iran’s ‘proportionate’ response and adding: ‘We do not seek escalation or war.’

Trump tweeted late Tuesday to say ‘so far so good’ as American forces assessed the damage and casualties.

Iranian television had tried to claim that 80 ‘American terrorists’ were killed, but that figure was quickly rubbished by Iraqi and US officials.

Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode on impact or else missed their targets.  The remains of one was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from Erbil air base, which was the intended target.

Tehran fired an ineffective missile strike at U.S. forces at Iraqi airb

Tehran fired an ineffective missile strike at U.S. forces at Iraqi air bases after promising brutal revenge for Trump’s drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani (pictured), the architect of terror attacks that have killed hundreds of American servicemen and women

Iran has fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani

Iran has fired 22 ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops in a revenge attack for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The rockets hit Ain Asad (pictured) which houses US and coalition troops

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq that was visited by Donald Trump in December 2018 and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.20pm EST (1.20am local time)

It is thought Iran used Fatteh-110 and Qaim-1 ballistic missiles during the attack, which failed to kill any US or Iraqi troops (pictured, one of the missiles is launched in Iran)

It is thought Iran used Fatteh-110 and Qaim-1 ballistic missiles during the attack, which failed to kill any US or Iraqi troops (pictured, one of the missiles is launched in Iran)

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Qais al-Khazali

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) said the attack it is ‘not enough’ for revenge against the US, before Iraqi militia commander Qais al-Khazali (right) vowed to exact his own revenge for the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis

Iraqi security forces clear away pieces of shrapnel from the Ain al-Asad airbase after it was struck by ballistic missiles fired by Iran as part of operation 'Martyr Soleimani'+

Iraqi security forces clear away pieces of shrapnel from the Ain al-Asad airbase after it was struck by ballistic missiles fired by Iran as part of operation ‘Martyr Soleimani’

Initial reports indicate at least 15 missiles were fired at two American bases in Iraq, though officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base (pictured) allowing troops to scramble for cover+49

Initial reports indicate at least 15 missiles were fired at two American bases in Iraq, though officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base (pictured) allowing troops to scramble for cover

A man holds shrapnel from a missile launched by Iran on U.S.-led coalition forces on the outskirts of Duhok, in northern Iraq 70 miles from Erbil, following Iranian missile strikes

A man holds shrapnel from a missile launched by Iran on U.S.-led coalition forces on the outskirts of Duhok, in northern Iraq 70 miles from Erbil, following Iranian missile strikes

Wreckage of a missile that was fired at Ain al-Asad military base in western Iraq but failed to explode on impact

Wreckage of a missile that was fired at Ain al-Asad military base in western Iraq but failed to explode on impact

US officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base, allowing troops to scramble for cover

US officials said early warning systems sounded alarms at the Ain al-Asad base, allowing troops to scramble for cover

Wreckage of an Iranian missile near Ain al-Asad

Wreckage of an Iranian missile near Ain al-Asad

Iraq said 17 missiles were fired at the Ain al-Asad base, two of which failed to explode (pictured, unexploded wreckage)

In an attempt to talk-up the impact of the strikes, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said they show ‘we don’t retreat in the face of America.’

‘If America has committed a crime… it should know that it will receive a decisive response,’ Rouhani said in a televised address. ‘If they are wise, they won’t take any other action at this juncture.’

It is thought Iran gave advanced warning of the strikes, after Iraq, Finland and Lithuania – which all had troops stationed at the bases which were targeted – all said they were informed in advance.

America said that ‘early warning systems’ detected the missile launches and sirens were sounded at the Asad base, allowing soldiers to seek shelter. It is not clear whether they were also informed by Iran.

Prominent analysts suggested Iran may have deliberately pulled its punches because they are fearful of the ‘disproportionate’ response threatened by Trump if US personnel were killed.

‘With the attacks, Tehran signalled its capacity and readiness to respond to US attacks, thus saving face, and yet they have been well targeted to avoid fatalities and thus avoid provoking Trump’s reaction,’ said Annalisa Perteghella of the Institute for International Political Studies in Milan.

President Donald Trump says 'all is well' and 'so far so good' as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops

President Donald Trump says ‘all is well’ and ‘so far so good’ as the damage and casualties continue to be assessed after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops

Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks 'self-defense' but said they did 'not seek escalation' but would defend itself against further aggression

 

Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif called the attacks ‘self-defense’ but said they did ‘not seek escalation’ but would defend itself against further aggression

Hours after the launch, a Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 caught fire crashed near Tehran killing all 177 passengers and crew – including 63 Canadian and three Britons – amid fears it could have been caught up in the attack.

The Ukrainian embassy in Tehran initially stated that the crash had been caused by an engine failure rather than terrorism or a missile attack, but later deleted that claim.

Iran has blamed technical failure and an engine fire for the crash, after early saying the pilot had lost control during an engine fire.

If it emerges that Iran did shoot down the plane – either accidentally or on purpose – then it is likely to prompt a global response that will escalate tensions in the region even further.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said of those killed, 82 were Iranian, 63 Canadian, 11 Ukrainian, three British, with the remainder hailing from SwedenAfghanistan, and Germany.

The timing of the Iranian strikes – around 1.20am local time – occurred at the same time as the US drone strike which killed Soleimani.

Following the strikes, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps warned any further strikes by America would be met with fresh attacks, and that any allied countries used as a base for such strikes would themselves become targets.

The Iraqi military said 22 missiles were fired in total – 17 at the Asad base, two of which failed to explode, and five more that struck Erbil International Airport. US officials put the total slightly lower at 15 – ten of which hit Asad, one which hit Erbil, four which failed in flight.

Iran said it had used Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles for the attack, though analysts said images of wreckage near the Aasd base also appears to show Qaim-1 ballistic missiles were used.

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq – visited by Trump in December 2018 – and Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were struck by the missiles around 5.20pm EST Tuesday in an operation dubbed ‘Martyr Soleimani’ by Iran.

The Pentagon says the missiles were ‘clearly launched from Iran’ to target U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq. A US official said there were no immediate reports of American casualties, though buildings were still being searched. Iraqi officials say there were no casualties among their forces either.

There are still fears for US forces in the region after Qais al-Khazali, a commander of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, vowed to exact revenge for the killing of deputy-leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

‘The first Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr leader Soleimani took place,’ he tweeted. ‘Now is the time for the initial Iraqi response to the assassination of the martyr leader Muhandis.

‘And because the Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be less than the size of the Iranian response, and this is a promise.’

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran had delivered a 'slap in the face' to American forces but added that missile strikes are 'not enough' and called for the US to be 'uprooted' from the region

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran had delivered a ‘slap in the face’ to American forces but added that missile strikes are ‘not enough’ and called for the US to be ‘uprooted’ from the region

The Ayatollah spoke in a televised address early Wednesday during which he praised a 'measured' strike against the US, which he said embodied the spirit of slain general Soleimani

The Ayatollah spoke in a televised address early Wednesday during which he praised a ‘measured’ strike against the US, which he said embodied the spirit of slain general Soleimani

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

 

The Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and the Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan were both struck by the missiles on Tuesday at about 5.30pm (EST)

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke

Iraqi security forces and citizens gather to inspect the site where missiles fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps landed outside the Ain al-Asad airbase

Iraqi security forces and citizens gather to inspect the site where missiles fired by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps landed outside the Ain al-Asad airbase

Pieces of shrapnel are seen near the Ain al-Asad airbase after a missile strike by Iran

Pieces of shrapnel are seen near the Ain al-Asad airbase after a missile strike by Iran

Members of Peshmerga fighters stand guard in center of Erbil in the aftermath of Iran's launch of a number of missiles at bases in Iraq

Members of Peshmerga fighters stand guard in center of Erbil in the aftermath of Iran’s launch of a number of missiles at bases in Iraq

Members of Kurdistan's regional government attend a meeting to discuss security after Iranian missiles targeted Erbil International Airport early Wednesday

Members of Kurdistan’s regional government attend a meeting to discuss security after Iranian missiles targeted Erbil International Airport early Wednesday

Britain, Australia, France, Poland, Denmark and Finland have confirmed that none of their troops stationed in Iraq were hurt in the attack, while calling for an end to hostilities and a return to talks.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed the EU will ‘spare no effort’ in trying to save the nuclear deal that Iran signed with President Obama and was ripped up by Trump, sparking the current tensions.

China and Russia, both key Iranian allies, also warned against escalating strikes with Vladimir Dzhabarov, lawmaker with Russia’s upper house of parliament, warning the conflict could easily lead to a nuclear war.

The Syrian government, another key ally of Iran, has expressed full solidarity with Iran, saying Tehran has the right to defend itself ‘in the face of American threats and attacks.’

The foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Syria holds the ‘American regime responsible for all the repercussions due to its reckless policy and arrogant mentality.’

Meanwhile Turkey, which is a NATO member but also has ties to Iran in Syria, said its foreign minister will visit Iraq on Thursday as part of diplomatic efforts to ‘alleviate the escalated tension’ in the region.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which controls the country’s missile program, confirmed that they fired the rockets in retaliation for last week’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

They reported the operation’s name was ‘Martyr Soleimani’ and it took place just hours after the slain general’s funeral.

The rockets used in the attack, according to Iranian TV, were Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles, which have a range of 186 miles or 300km.

The Iranian air force has since deployed multiple fighter jets to patrol it airspace, according to reports – as Iran warned the U.S. and its allies in the region not to retaliate.

The Pentagon said it was still working to assess the damage.

Iranian missiles that blitzed Iraqi airbases can deliver a precision-guided 500lb warhead over a range of more than 180 miles

Two types of ballistic missiles were reportedly used to hit U.S. Military bases in Ain al-Asad in western Iraq and also around Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The majority of those used are believed to be the Fateh-110, which can travel 180 miles or 300km and have a payload of around 500lb.

Reports also suggest the Qiam-1 was also used, a short range ballistic missile produced by Iran which can travel 500 miles and carry 750lb warheads.

The Fateh-110 is an Iranian-designed, short-range, surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can be launched from any location.

While the Qiam-1 was specifically built to target U.S. bases in the Middle East, which have ‘encircled Iran’, according to Iranian sources.

When it was launched the Fateh-110 was described by Iranian defence minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami as ‘100-percent domestically made – agile, stealth, tactical (and) precision-guided’.

Both missiles are reported to have been fired from Tabriz and Kermanshah provinces in Iran.

‘In recent days and in response to Iranian threats and actions, the Department of Defense has taken all appropriate measures to safeguard our personnel and partners. These bases have been on high alert due to indications that the Iranian regime planned to attack our forces,’ a statement from the Pentagon read.

‘It is clear that these missiles were launched from Iran and targeted at least two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. military and coalition personnel at al-Assad and Irbil. We are working on initial battle damage assessments.

‘As we evaluate the situation and our response, we will take all necessary measures to protect and defend U.S. personnel, partners, and allies in the region.’

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly said Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was personally in the control center coordinating the attacks.

They also warned U.S. allies in the Middle East that they would face retaliation if America strikes back against any Iranian targets from their bases.

‘We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,’ they said. It also threatened Israel.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday night that the missile strikes were an ‘act of war’ and said Trump had all the power he needed to act.

‘This is an act of war by any reasonable definition,’ Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. ‘The President has all the authority he needs under Article II to respond.’

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 177 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport

People stand near the wreckage after a Ukrainian plane carrying 177 passengers crashed near Imam Khomeini airport

Rescue workers in protective suits gather up the bodies of passengers who were killed in the Boeing 737 crash in Iran today

Rescue workers in protective suits gather up the bodies of passengers who were killed in the Boeing 737 crash in Iran today

An aerial view of the crash site where rescuers searched the debris this morning with the cause of the crash still unclear

An aerial view of the crash site where rescuers searched the debris this morning with the cause of the crash still unclear

Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh (pictured), 40, has been named as the first British victim of the Ukrainian Airlines disaster

Mohammad Reza Kadkhoda-Zadeh (pictured), 40, has been named as the first British victim of the Ukrainian Airlines disaster

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tweeted that the U.S., as well as the rest of the world, ‘cannot afford war’.

‘Closely monitoring the situation following bombings targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. We must ensure the safety of our servicemembers, including ending needless provocations from the Administration and demanding that Iran cease its violence. America & world cannot afford war,’ she tweeted.

After the strikes, Saeed Jalili – a former Iranian nuclear negotiator and foreign minister – posted a picture of the Islamic Republic’s flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others in the drone strike in Baghdad.

Ain al-Asad air base was first used by American forces after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, and later saw American troops stationed there amid the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. It houses about 1,500 U.S. and coalition forces.

About 70 Norwegian troops also were on the air base but no injuries were reported, Brynjar Stordal, a spokesperson for the Norwegian Armed Forces said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday it would ban U.S. carriers from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia after the missile attack on U.S.-led forces.

Earlier on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the United States should anticipate retaliation from Iran over the killing in Iraq of Soleimani.

‘I think we should expect that they will retaliate in some way, shape or form,’ Esper told a news briefing at the Pentagon, adding that such retaliation could be through Iran-backed proxy groups outside of Iran or ‘by their own hand.’

‘We’re prepared for any contingency. And then we will respond appropriately to whatever they do.’

Trump had also earlier told reporters about the prospect of an Iranian attack: ‘We’re totally prepared.’

‘They’re going to be suffering the consequences and very strongly,’ he said from the Oval Office during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Meanwhile, early reports of an attack at the al-Taji military base, just outside Baghdad, was later reported as a drill.

Local reports initially suggested that five rockets had struck the base after ‘shelter in place’ sirens were heard ringing out around the compound.

Sirens were also heard blaring out inside the U.S. consulate in Erbil, which was one of the bases struck in the missile attack.

Iran said the attack, dubbed Operation Martyr Soleimani, was launched hours after the funeral service for General Qassem Soleimani (pictured) - who was killed in a US drone strike - had finished

Iran said the attack, dubbed Operation Martyr Soleimani, was launched hours after the funeral service for General Qassem Soleimani (pictured) – who was killed in a US drone strike – had finished

Mourners attend funeral and burial of General Soleimani in his hometown in Kerman early Wednesday morning

Mourners attend funeral and burial of General Soleimani in his hometown in Kerman early Wednesday morning

People lower the coffin of Qassem Soleimani into his grave in the city of Kerman, central Iran

People lower the coffin of Qassem Soleimani into his grave in the city of Kerman, central Iran

Mourners rush to lay their hands on the coffin of General Soleimani before it is lowered into a grave in the cit of Kerman

Mourners rush to lay their hands on the coffin of General Soleimani before it is lowered into a grave in the cit of Kerman

Was the Ukrainian jet brought down by an Iranian missile – or were the 176 people on board killed by a mechanical failure? Here are the five key theories

Theory one: Mechanical failure or pilot error 

Iranian authorities have said that initial investigations point to either an engine failure – or a catastrophic pilot error.

The three-year-old Boeing 737 jet came down just three minutes after take-off from Imam Khomeini International Airport.

Iranian officials said the pilot had lost control of the Boeing jet after a fire struck one of the plane’s engines, but said the crew had not reported an emergency and did not say what caused the fire.

Footage of the crash appears to show the plane streaking downwards with a small blaze on the wing, near its jet engines (pictured above on the ground).

But critics have questioned the Iranian account, calling it the ‘fastest investigation in aviation history’ – and said the Boeing 737 has a largely outstanding safety record with no recent history of an engine failure of this kind.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has instructed prosecutors to open criminal proceedings – a clear signal that he is unsure about Iran’s version of events.

His Government also revealed the plane was inspected just two days ago.

Theory two: Accidentally hit by an Iranian missile

The plane came down shortly after Iran launched its missile attacks Iraq with tens of ballistic weapons fired from the rogue state.

Photographs of the downed Ukrainian airlines jet show that the fuselage appears to be peppered with shrapnel damage.

Experts have said that an engine fire or pilot error does not explain those holes (pictured).

Ilya Kusa, a Ukrainian international affairs expert, said amid the US-Iranian tensions and said: ‘It is difficult not to connect the plane crash with the US-Iran confrontation. The situation is very difficult. One must understand that this happened shortly after Iran’s missile attacks on US military facilities’.

Just hours before the crash, the US Federal Aviation Administration had banned US airlines from flying over Iran, Iraq and the waters of the Persian Gulf due to the Middle East crisis.

This was due to the possibility of missiles flying towards Iraq – and airlines are still skirting the region as they head to and from Asia.

Theory three: Jet was deliberately brought down by a missile 

+49

Video footage tweeted by the BBC‘s Iran correspondent, Ali Hashem, appeared to show the plane already burning in the sky before it crashed in a massive explosion.

It sparked speculation that the jet could have been shot down accidentally by nervous Iranian air defence soldiers, hours after Iran fired 22 ballistic missiles at US bases in retaliation for the killing of general Qassem Soleimani.

But there is a major question mark over whether Iran would shoot down a plane with so many of its own citizens on board.

Many of the world’s major airlines have stopped flying through or even near Iranian airspace as they cross the globe amid safety fears after US/Iran tensions boiled over in the past week.

Iran is a key ally of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, which grabbed Crimea from Ukraine and has been involved in an on-off conflict with its neighbour since 2014.

Russia has denied shooting down the ill-fated MH17 jet five years ago – but experts say otherwise with three Russians arrested over the disaster.

 Theory four: An accidental drone strike

Experts have speculated that the Ukrainian aircraft could have collided with a military drone before crashing.

The drone may have smashed into the engine – or been sucked in – with the pilot unsighted because it was after dark.

This could cause an explosion and the fire seen as the plane hit the ground (pictured).

Experts said Iranian were in the air at the time – in case the US decided to fight back – and not always picked up by radar.

Russian military pilot Vladimir Popov said: ‘It could have been an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, which are small in size and poorly visible on radars. A plane in a collision could get significant damage and even catch fire in the air.’

Theory five: Sabotage or a terror attack

Aviation experts have urged investigators to rule out whether the plane was brought down by terrorists or as an act of sabotage.

They say that while a flaming engine is highly unusual, the sudden loss of data communications from the plane is even more so.

This could be caused by a bomb, that blew up after the 737 took to the air, wrecking its systems.

An electronic jammer weapon that knocked out the plane’s controls could also explain it.

British expert Julian Bray said it ‘could be an altitude triggered device set to detonate during take off. Unusual that engine seen to be on fire before crash, points to catastrophic incident’ or being ‘deliberately brought down’.

He added that based on the footage pilot error looks ‘unlikely’.

Experts have said that if the black box is not recovered by Iranian security officials (pictured) from the wreckage it could point to it being a deliberate act.

After the crash the Ukrainian embassy in Tehran reported that the crash had been caused by an engine failure rather than terrorism – but this was later deleted on social media.

The strikes by Iran were a major escalation of tensions that have been rising steadily across the Mideast following months of threats and attacks after Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Soleimani’s killing and Iran’s missile strikes also marked the first time in recent years that Washington and Tehran have attacked each other directly rather than through proxies in the region.

After the strikes, Saeed Jalili - a former Iranian nuclear negotiator - posted a picture of the Islamic Republic's flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others in the drone strike in Baghdad

After the strikes, Saeed Jalili – a former Iranian nuclear negotiator – posted a picture of the Islamic Republic’s flag on Twitter, appearing to mimic Trump who posted an American flag following the killing of Soleimani and others in the drone strike in Baghdad

It raised the chances of open conflict erupting between the two nations, which have been foes since the days immediately following Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.

The revenge attack came a mere few hours after crowds in Iran mourned Soleimani and as the U.S. continued to reinforce its own positions in the region and warned of an unspecified threat to shipping from Iran in the region’s waterways, crucial routes for global energy supplies.

U.S. embassies and consulates from Asia to Africa and Europe issued security alerts for Americans. The U.S. Air Force launched a drill with 52 fighter jets in Utah on Monday, just days after Trump threatened to hit 52 sites in Iran.

Meanwhile a stampede broke out Tuesday at Soleimani’s funeral in his hometown of Kerman and at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said.

There was no information about what set off the crush in the packed streets. Online videos showed only its aftermath: people lying apparently lifeless, their faces covered by clothing, emergency crews performing CPR on the fallen and onlookers wailing and crying out to God.

A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over one million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main avenues and side streets.

Hossein Salami, Soleimani’s successor as leader of the Revolutionary Guard, addressed a crowd of supporters gathered at the coffin in a central square in Kernan.

He vowed to avenge Soleimani, saying: ‘We tell our enemies that we will retaliate but if they take another action we will set ablaze the places that they like and are passionate about’.

The al-Asad base for American and coalition troops (pictured above in December) was struck by missiles ‘clearly launched from Iran’, U.S. officials say

The Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which provides facilities and services to at least hundreds of coalition personnel and CIA operatives, was also hit in the missile attack+49

The Erbil base in Iraqi Kurdistan, which provides facilities and services to at least hundreds of coalition personnel and CIA operatives, was also hit in the missile attack

President Trump’s speech on Iran

As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

Good morning. I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.

Our great American forces are prepared for anything. Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.

No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well. I salute the incredible skill and courage of America’s men and women in uniform.

For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond. Those days are over. Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world. We will never let that happen.

Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives. At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani. As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.

He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets. He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region. He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.

Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American, and he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.

Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood. He should have been terminated long ago. By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.

As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime. These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.

In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia, and shot down two U.S. drones.

Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. Instead of saying “thank you” to the United States, they chanted “death to America.” In fact, they chanted “death to America” the day the agreement was signed.

Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal, and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration. The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.

The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout. Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism. The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China to recognize this reality.

They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal -– or JCPOA –- and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper, and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. Iran can be a great country.

Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred, and war. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer. It will not be allowed to go forward.

Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process. Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence. These historic accompliments [accomplishments] changed our strategic priorities. These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible. And options in the Middle East became available. We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.

The American military has been completely rebuilt under my administration, at a cost of $2.5 trillion. U.S. Armed Forces are stronger than ever before. Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles.

The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it. We do not want to use it. American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.

Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who was responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims, and all who stood in his way. He was a monster. Al-Baghdadi was trying again to rebuild the ISIS caliphate, and failed.

Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured during my administration. ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.

Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran: We want you to have a future and a great future — one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world. The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.

I want to thank you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

– White House transcript

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7865171/Trump-address-world-Iran-Ayatollah-calls-missile-attack-not-revenge.html

 

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Queen – Another One Bites the Dust (Official Video)

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How Qassem Soleimani was ‘torn to shreds’ by a US missile and his body had to be identified by his RING: Pentagon drone launched four rockets at car carrying Iranian general after he arrived from Syria to meet ringleaders of embassy attack

  • US airstrike killed General Qassem Soleimani, the powerful head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, in Baghdad
  • The attack unfolded early on Friday local time in a precision strike on two cars that were carrying Soleimani 
  • Soleimani had just arrived in Baghdad on a flight from Syria and was leaving the airport when he was hit
  • Attack also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, leader of Iranian militias in Iraq which led attacks on US embassy

Four precision missiles were fired from a deadly remote-controlled 4,900 pound U.S. drone, decimating a convoy that Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Quds force, was traveling in and tearing his body ‘to shreds’.

Soleimani, commonly known as the second-most powerful man in Iran and tipped as a future president, was so badly maimed in the strike that he had to be identified by a large ring he wore on his finger.

He had just landed in Baghdad airport on a plane from either Syria or Lebanon around 12.30am when he was met on the tarmac by Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq.

Muhandis pulled up to the aircraft steps in two cars before Soleimani and Mohammed Ridha Jabri, public relations chief for the PMF who had been traveling with him, climbed inside and were driven away.

Both vehicles were instantly reduced to smoldering wrecks – killing Soleimani, Muhandis, Jabri and two others who have yet to be identified.

Social media photos show burning wreckage of the US airstrike on two cars at Baghdad International Airport. Iranian officials and pro-Iran militia members were among those killed

This is the moment an American guided missile struck a convoy of cars carrying Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani along with two Islamic Revolutionary Guards generals, a colonel, and a captain, killing all five

The devastating US drone has a range of 1,150 miles and is able to to fly at altitudes of 50,000 feet. It is an ‘armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance’ remotely piloted aircraft.

It is primarily used to execute targets – such as Soleimani – and secondarily to collect intelligence, according to the U.S. Air Force.

The drone is capable of annihilating targets with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles which provide ‘highly accurate’ and ‘low-collateral damage’ capabilities.

An MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft making a rare public sighting in Nevada in November

AGM-114 Hellfire missiles – which are laser guided and subsonic – are so powerful that they are used to take out tanks. They can also be used as an air-to-air weapon against helicopters and other aircraft.

Fired upon Soleimani’s convoy, the 4,900-pound drone- which has a wingspan of 66 feet and a cruising speed of roughly 230mph – is said to have reduced two vehicles to smoldering wrecks and ‘torn to shreds’ the bodies of those inside.

The drone made a rare public sighting at Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada in November. The Aviationist reports that it was ‘nearly silent’ and ‘sent a collective shiver up air show viewers’ spines’.

Two officials from the PMF said Soleimani’s body was torn to pieces in the attack, while they did not find the body of al-Muhandis.

A senior politician said Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore. Photos from the scene show a hand with large ring that looks identical to one Soleimani is seen wearing in old photos.

Local militia commander Abu Muntathar al-Hussaini told Reuters:

‘Haj Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were riding in one vehicle when it was struck by two successive guided missiles launched from an American helicopter while they were on their way from the arrivals hall on the road that leads out of Baghdad Airport.’

He said the second vehicle was carrying bodyguards from the PMF and was hit by one rocket.

While American forces did not make it clear how they had tracked Soleimani’s location, he is thought to be kept under near-constant surveillance by US, Saudi and Israeli security forces.

The New York Times reported that Friday’s attack drew upon a combination of highly classified information from informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft and other surveillance techniques.

The Defense Department said that the airstrike was justified to protect American lives.

‘General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region,’ the Pentagon statement said.

The statement added that Soleimani ‘orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months’ including the embassy assault.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Soleimani’s assassination would strengthen resistance against the United States and Israel in the region and the world, Iranian state television reported.

‘The brutality and stupidity of American terrorist forces in assassinating Commander Soleimani … will undoubtedly make the tree of resistance in the region and the world more prosperous,’ Zarif said in a statement.

The high-profile assassinations are likely to be a massive blow to Iran, which has been locked in a long conflict with the United States that escalated sharply last week with an attack on the US embassy in Iraq by pro-Iranian militiamen.

A senior politician said Soleimani's body was identified by the ring (above) he often wore

The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (center in sunglasses), the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, which were responsible for the recent attack on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad

Soleimani’s killing marks a dramatic escalation in the regional ‘shadow war’ between Iran and the US and its allies, principally Israel and Saudi Arabia, which could quickly ratchet up tit-for-tat attacks – all the way to the brink of all-out war.

The slain commander’s Quds Force, along with its stable of paramilitary proxies from Lebanon’s Hezbollah to the PMF in Iraq – battle-hardened militias armed with missiles – has ample means to launch a multi-barrelled response against its enemies.

In September, US officials blamed Iran for a devastating missiles and drones attack on oil installations of Saudi Aramco, the Saudi state energy giant and world’s largest oil exporter. The Trump administration did not respond, beyond heated rhetoric and threats.

Iran, for its part, has absorbed scores of air strikes and missile attacks, mainly carried out by Israel against its fighters and proxies in Syria and Iraq.

But analysts say Iran is likely to respond forcefully to the targeting of Soleimani, who it has built into a legend as its influence has spread across the region in the wake of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent occupation.

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

This photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Press Office shows a burning vehicle at the Baghdad International Airport following an airstrike, in Baghdad, Iraq, early Friday, Jan. 3, 2020

The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds Force

The Pentagon said Thursday that the U.S. military has killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force

Images taken after sunup on Friday show the twisted wreckage left behind by the US missile strike on two cars

 

Images taken after sunup on Friday show the twisted wreckage left behind by the US missile strike on two cars

PMF official said the dead also included its airport protocol officer, identifying him as Mohammed Reda (above)

Soleimani, who has led the foreign arm of the Revolutionary Guards and has had a key role in fighting in Syria and Iraq, acquired celebrity status at home and abroad.

The United States and Iran’s regional foes Saudi Arabia and Israel have struggled to keep Iran’s influence in check.

Soleimani survived several assassination attempts against him by Western, Israeli and Arab agencies over the past two decades.

His Quds Force, tasked with carrying out operations beyond Iran’s borders, shored up support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad when he looked close to defeat in the civil war raging since 2011 and also helped militiamen defeat Islamic State in Iraq.

He became head of the Quds Force in 1998, a position in which he kept a low profile for years while he strengthened Iran’s ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria’s government and Shi´ite militia groups in Iraq.

Muhandis, who was killed with Soleimani, oversaw Iraq´s PMF, an umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups mostly consisting of Iran-backed Shi´ite militias that was formally integrated into Iraqi armed forces.

Soleimani (right) is seen attending a religious ceremony with Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a file photo. Soleimani was immensely popular in Iran and the Ayatollah has vowed 'harsh revenge'

Soleimani (right) is seen attending a religious ceremony with Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in a file photo. Soleimani was immensely popular in Iran and the Ayatollah has vowed ‘harsh revenge’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7847795/How-airstrike-Iranian-general-unfolded-Baghdad.html

Qasem Soleimani

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Qasem Soleimani
Qasem Soleimani with Zolfaghar Order.jpg

Soleimani in his official military dress with the Order of Zolfaghar in 2019
Native name
قاسم سلیمانی
Nickname(s) Haj Qassem” (among supporters)[1]
“The Shadow Commander” (in the West)[2][3][4][5][6]
Born 11 March 1957
Qanat-e MalekKermanImperial State of Iran
Died 3 January 2020 (aged 62)[7]
Near Baghdad International AirportBaghdadIraq
Allegiance Iran
Service/branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Years of service 1979–2020
Rank Major general
Lieutenant general (posthumously)
Commands held 41st Tharallah Division of Kerman
Quds Force
Battles/wars

See battles
Awards Order of Zolfaghar (1)[17]
Order of Fath (3)[18]

Qasem Soleimani (Persianقاسم سلیمانی‎, pronounced [ɢɒːseme solejmɒːniː]; 11 March 1957 – 3 January 2020), also spelled Qassem Suleimani or Qassim Soleimani, was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and from 1998 until his death, commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.

Soleimani began his military career in the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s, during which he eventually commanded the 41st Division. He was later involved in extraterritorial operations, providing military assistance to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War, particularly in its operations against ISIS and its offshoots. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015.

Soleimani was killed in a targeted U.S. drone strike on 3 January 2020 in Baghdad, Iraq. Also killed were Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces members and its deputy head, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[19] Soleimani was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general.[20] Soleimani was suceeded by Esmail Ghaani as commander of the Quds Force.[21]

Early life

Soleimani was born on 11 March 1957 in the village of Qanat-e MalekKerman Province,[22] to an impoverished peasant family. In his youth, he moved to the city of Kerman and worked as a construction worker to help repay a debt his father owed. In 1975, he began working as a contractor for the Kerman Water Organization.[23][24] When not at work, he spent his time lifting weights in local gyms and attending the sermons of a traveling preacher, Hojjat Kamyab, a protege of Ayatollah Khomeini.[25]

Military career

Soleimani joined the Revolutionary war Guard (IRGC) in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, which saw the Shah fall and Ayatollah Khomeini take power. Reportedly, his training was minimal, but he advanced rapidly. Early in his career as a guardsman, he was stationed in northwestern Iran, and participated in the suppression of a Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province.[25]

On 22 September 1980, when Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran, setting off the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), Soleimani joined the battlefield serving as the leader of a military company, consisting of men from Kerman whom he personally assembled and trained.[26] He quickly earned a reputation for bravery,[27] and rose through the ranks because of his role in the successful operations in retaking the lands Iraq had occupied, eventually becoming the commander of the 41st Sarallah Division while still in his 20s, participating in most major operations. He was mostly stationed at the southern front.[26][28] He was seriously injured in Operation Tariq-ol-Qods. In a 1990 interview, he mentioned Operation Fath-ol-Mobin as “the best” operation he participated in and “very memorable”, due to its difficulties yet positive outcome.[29] He was also engaged in leading and organizing irregular warfare missions deep inside Iraq carried out by the Ramadan Headquarters. It was at this point that Suleimani established relations with Kurdish Iraqi leaders and the Shia Badr Organization, both of which were opposed to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.[26]

On 17 July 1985, Soleimani opposed the IRGC leadership’s plan to deploy forces to two islands in western Arvandroud (Shatt al-Arab).[30]

After the war, during the 1990s, he was an IRGC commander in Kerman Province.[28] In this region, which is relatively close to Afghanistan, Afghan-grown opium travels to Turkey and on to Europe. Soleimani’s military experience helped him earn a reputation as a successful fighter against drug trafficking.[25]

During the 1999 student revolt in Tehran, Soleimani was one of the IRGC officers who signed a letter to President Mohammad Khatami. The letter stated that if Khatami did not crush the student rebellion the military would, and it might also launch a coup against Khatami.[25][31]

Command of Quds Force

Qasem Soleimani Reading Quran in Memorial ceremony of Akbar Hashemi

The exact date of his appointment as commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force is not clear, but Ali Alfoneh cites it as between 10 September 1997 and 21 March 1998.[24] He was considered one of the possible successors to the post of commander of the IRGC, when General Yahya Rahim Safavi left this post in 2007. In 2008, he led a group of Iranian investigators looking into the death of Imad Mughniyah. Soleimani helped arrange a ceasefire between the Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army in March 2008.[32]

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, Ryan Crocker, a senior State Department official in the United States, flew to Geneva to meet with Iranian diplomats who were under the direction of Soleimani with the purpose of collaborating to destroy the Taliban, which had targeted Shia Afghanis.[25] This collaboration was instrumental in defining the targets of bombing operations in Afghanistan and in capturing key Al-Qaeda operatives, but abruptly ended in January 2002, when President George W. Bush named Iran as part of the “Axis of evil” in his State of the Union address.[25]

In 2009, a leaked report stated that General Soleimani met Christopher R. Hill and General Raymond T. Odierno (America’s two most senior officials in Baghdad at the time) in the office of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani (who knew General Soleimani for decades). Hill and General Odierno denied the occurrence of the meeting.[33]

On 24 January 2011, Soleimani was promoted to Major General by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[28][34] Khamenei was described as having a close relationship with him, calling Soleimani a “living martyr” and helping him financially.[25]

Soleimani was described as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today” and the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran’s effort to combat Western influence and promote the expansion of Shiite and Iranian influence throughout the Middle East.[25] In Iraq, as the commander of the Quds force, he was believed to have strongly influenced the organization of the Iraqi government, notably supporting the election of previous Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.[25][35] Soleimani has even been described as being “Iran’s very own Erwin Rommel“.[36]

According to some sources, Soleimani was the principal leader and architect of the military wing of the Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah since his appointment as Quds commander in 1998.[25] In an interview aired in October 2019, he said he was in Lebanon during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war to oversee the conflict.[37]

Syrian Civil War

A map of Al-Qusayr and its environs. The Al-Qusayr offensive was allegedly masterminded by Soleimani[38]

According to several sources, including Riad Hijab, a former Syrian premier who defected in August 2012, he was also one of the staunchest supporters of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[25][35] In the later half of 2012, Soleimani assumed personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian Civil War, when Iranians became deeply concerned about the Assad government’s lack of ability to fight the opposition, and the fallout to the Islamic Republic if the Syrian government fell. He was reported to have coordinated the war from a base in Damascus at which a Lebanese Hezbollah commander and an Iraqi Shiite militia coordinator have been mobilized, in addition to Syrian and Iranian officers. Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani, the Basij’s former deputy commander, helped to run irregular militias that Soleimani hoped to continue the fight if Assad fell.[25] Under Soleimani the command “coordinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications”. According to a Middle Eastern security official Dexter Filkins talked to, thousands of Quds Force and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in Syria were “spread out across the entire country.”[25] The retaking of Qusayr in May 2013 from rebel forces and Al-Nusra Front[39] was, according to John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, “orchestrated” by Soleimani.[25]

Soleimani was much credited in Syria for the strategy that assisted President Bashar al-Assad in finally repulsing rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns.[40] He was involved in the training of government-allied militias and the coordination of decisive military offensives.[25] The sighting of Iranian UAVs in Syria strongly suggested that his command, the Quds force, was involved in the civil war.[25] In a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday 29 January 2015, Soleimani laid wreaths at the graves of the slain Hezbollah members, including Jihad Mughniyah, the son of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah which strengthens some possibilities about his role in Hezbollah military reaction on Israel.[41]

Soleimani helped form of the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Syria.[42]

In October 2015, it was reported that he had been instrumental in devising during his visit to Moscow in July 2015 the Russian–Iranian–Syrian offensive in October 2015.[43]

War on ISIS in Iraq

The east of Saladin Governorate in Iraq, where Qasem Soleimani was involved in breaking the Siege of Amirli by ISIL[44]

Qasem Soleimani was in the Iraqi city of Amirli, to work with the Iraqi forces to push back militants from ISIL.[45][46] According to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Amerli was the first town to successfully withstand an ISIS invasion, it was secured thanks to “an unusual partnership of Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and U.S. warplanes”. The US acted as a force multiplier for a number of Iranian-backed armed groups—at the same time that was present on the battlefield.[47][48]

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani prays in the Syrian desert during a local pro-government offensive in 2017.

A senior Iraqi official told the BBC that when the city of Mosul fell, the rapid reaction of Iran, rather than American bombing, was what prevented a more widespread collapse.[10] Qasem Soleimani also seems to have been instrumental in planning the operation to relieve Amirli in Saladin Governorate, where ISIL had laid siege to an important city.[44] In fact the Quds force operatives under Soleimani’s command seem to have been deeply involved with not only the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias but also the Kurdish in the battle of Amirli,[49] not only providing liaisons for intelligence sharing but also the supply of arms and munitions in addition to “providing expertise”.[50]

In the operation to liberate Jurf Al Sakhar, he was reportedly “present on the battlefield”. Some Shia militia commanders described Soleimani as “fearless”—one pointing out that the Iranian general never wears a flak jacket, even on the front lines.[51]

Soleimani was also intimately involved in the planning and execution of the operation to liberate Tikrit[52][53]

Hadi al-Amiri, the former Iraqi minister of transportation and the head of the Badr Organization [an official Iraqi political party whose military wing is one of the largest armed forces in the country] highlighted the pivotal role of General Qasem Soleimani in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIL terrorist group, maintaining that if it were not for Iran, Heidar al-Ebadi’s government would have been a government-in-exile right now[54] and he added there would be no Iraq if Gen. Soleimani hadn’t helped us.[55]

There were reports by some Western sources that Soleimani was seriously wounded in action against ISIL in Samarra. The claim was rejected by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[56]

Soleimani played an integral role in the organisation and planning of the crucial operation to retake the city of Tikrit in Iraq from ISIS. The city of Tikrit rests on the left bank of the Tigris river and is the largest and most important city between Baghdad and Mosul, gifting it a high strategic value. The city fell to ISIS during 2014 when ISIS made immense gains in northern and central Iraq. After its capture, ISIL’s massacre at Camp Speicher led to 1,600 to 1,700 deaths of Iraqi Army cadets and soldiers. After months of careful preparation and intelligence gathering an offensive to encircle and capture Tikrit was launched in early March 2015.[53] Soleimani was directing the operations on the eastern flank from a village about 35 miles from Tikrit called Albu Rayash, captured over the weekend.[citation needed] The offensive was the biggest military operation in the Salahuddin region since the previous summer, when ISIS fighters killed hundreds of Iraq army soldiers who had abandoned their military base at Camp Speicher outside Tikrit.[citation needed]

Orchestration of military escalation in 2015

In 2015 Soleimani started to gather support from various sources in order to combat the newly resurgent ISIL and rebel groups which were both successful in taking large swathes of territory away from Assad’s forces. He was reportedly the main architect of the joint intervention involving Russia as a new partner with Assad and Hezbollah.[57][58][59]

According to Reuters, at a meeting in Moscow in July, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory—with Russia’s help. Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian–Russian alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei also sent a senior envoy to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin. “Putin reportedly told the envoy ‘Okay we will intervene. Send Qassem Soleimani’. General Soleimani went to explain the map of the theatre and coordinate the strategic escalation of military forces in Syria.[58]

Operations in Aleppo

Map of the offensive.[60][61][62][63][64][65]

Soleimani had a decisive impact on the theatre of operations and led to a strong advance in southern Aleppo with the government and allied forces re-capturing two military bases and dozens of towns and villages in a matter of weeks. There was also a series of major advances towards Kuweiris air-base to the north-east.[66] By mid-November, the Syrian army and its allies had gained ground in southern areas of Aleppo Governorate, capturing numerous rebel strongholds. Soleimani was reported to have personally led the drive deep into the southern Aleppo countryside where many towns and villages fell into government hands. He reportedly commanded the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi), and Firqa Fatayyemoun (Afghan/Iranian volunteers).[67]

Soleimani was lightly wounded while fighting in Syria, outside of Al-Eis. Reports initially speculated that he was seriously or gravely injured.[68] He was quoted as saying, “Martyrdom is what I seek in mountains and valleys, but it isn’t granted yet”.[69]

In early February 2016, backed by Russian and Syrian air force airstrikes, the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba – launched an offensive in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside,[70] which eventually broke the three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa and cut off rebel’s main supply route from Turkey. According to a senior, non-Syrian security source close to Damascus, Iranian fighters played a crucial role in the conflict. “Qassem Soleimani is there in the same area”, he said.[71] In December 2016, new photos emerged of Soleimani at the Citadel of Aleppo, though the exact date of the photos is unknown.[72][73]

Operations in 2016 and 2017

In 2016, photos published by a Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) source showed Iran’s Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani and other PMF commanders discussing the Battle of Fallujah.[74]

In late March 2017, Soleimani was seen in the northern Hama Governorate countryside, reportedly aiding Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan in repelling a major rebel offensive.[16]

CIA chief Mike Pompeo said that he sent Soleimani and other Iranian leaders a letter holding them responsible for any attacks on US interests by forces under their control. According to Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide for Iran’s supreme leader, Soleimani ignored the letter when it was handed over to him during the Abu Kamal offensive against ISIL, saying “I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people.”[75][76]

In politics

General Soleimani in civilian attire during a public ceremony in 2015

In 1999, Soleimani, along with other senior IRGC commanders, signed a letter to then-President Mohammad Khatami regarding the student protests in July. They wrote “Dear Mr. Khatami, how long do we have to shed tears, sorrow over the events, practice democracy by chaos and insults, and have revolutionary patience at the expense of sabotaging the system? Dear president, if you don’t make a revolutionary decision and act according to your Islamic and national missions, tomorrow will be so late and irrecoverable that cannot be even imagined.”[77]

Iranian media reported in 2012 that he might be replaced as the commander of Quds Force in order to allow him to run in the 2013 presidential election.[78] He reportedly refused to be nominated for the election.[77] According to BBC News, in 2015 a campaign started among conservative bloggers for Soleimani to stand for 2017 presidential election.[79] In 2016, he was speculated as a possible candidate,[77][80] however in a statement published on 15 September 2016, he called speculations about his candidacy as “divisive reports by the enemies” and said he will “always remain a simple soldier serving Iran and the Islamic Revolution”.[81]

In the summer of 2018, Soleimani and Tehran exchanged public remarks related to Red Sea shipping with American President Donald Trump which heightened tensions between the two countries and their allies in the region.[82]

Personal life

Qasem Soleimani while Praying

Soleimani was a Persian from Kerman. His father was a farmer who died in 2017. His mother, Fatemeh, died in 2013.[83] He came from a family of nine and had five sisters and one brother, Sohrab, who lived and worked with Soleimani in his youth.[84] Sohrab Soleimani is a warden and former director general of the Tehran Prisons Organization. The United States imposed sanctions on Sohrab Soleimani in April 2017 “for his role in abuses in Iranian prisons”.[85]

Soleimani had Dan in karate and was a fitness trainer in his youth. He had four children: two sons and two daughters.[86]

Sanctions

In March 2007, Soleimani was included on a list of Iranian individuals targeted with sanctions in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747.[87] On 18 May 2011, he was sanctioned again by the United States along with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and other senior Syrian officials due to his alleged involvement in providing material support to the Syrian government.[88]

On 24 June 2011, the Official Journal of the European Union said the three Iranian Revolutionary Guard members now subject to sanctions had been “providing equipment and support to help the Syrian government suppress protests in Syria”.[89] The Iranians added to the EU sanctions list were two Revolutionary Guard commanders, Soleimani, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and the Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence, Hossein Taeb.[90] Soleimani was also sanctioned by the Swiss government in September 2011 due to the same grounds cited by the European Union.[91]

He was listed by the United States as a known terrorist, which forbade U.S. citizens from doing business with him.[32][92] The list, published in the EU’s Official Journal on 24 June 2011, also included a Syrian property firm, an investment fund and two other enterprises accused of funding the Syrian government. The list also included Mohammad Ali Jafari and Hossein Taeb.[93]

On 13 November 2018, the United States sanctioned an Iraqi military leader named Shibl Muhsin ‘Ubayd Al-Zaydi and others who allegedly were acting on Qasem Soleimani’s behalf in financing military actions in Syria or otherwise providing support for terrorism in the region.[94]

Death

Qasem Soleimani (left) with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (right) at a 2017 ceremony commemorating the father of Soleimani, in Mosalla, Tehran.

Soleimani was killed on 3 January 2020 around 1 am local time (22:00 UTC on 2 January)[95], after missiles shot from American drones targeted his convoy near Baghdad International Airport.[96] He had just left his plane, which arrived in Iraq from Lebanon or Syria.[97] His body was identified using a ring he wore on his finger, with DNA confirmation still pending.[98] Also killed were four members of the Popular Mobilization Forces, including Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi-Iranian military commander who headed the PMF.[99]

The airstrike followed attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad by supporters of an Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militia and the 2019 K-1 Air Base attack.[100]

The United States Department of Defense issued a statement that said the U.S. strike was carried out “at the direction of the President” and asserted that Soleimani had been planning further attacks on American diplomats and military personnel and had approved the attacks on the American embassy in Baghdad in response to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on 29 December 2019 and was meant to deter future attacks.[101][102]

Soleimani was posthumously promoted to lieutenant general.[103][20] He was suceeded by Esmail Ghaani as commander of the Quds Force.[21]

Cultural depictions

He was described as having “a calm presence”,[104] and as carrying himself “inconspicuously and rarely rais[ing] his voice”, exhibiting “understated charisma“.[27] In Western sources, Suleimani’s personality was compared to the fictional characters KarlaKeyser Söze,[27] and The Scarlet Pimpernel.[105]

Unlike other IRGC commanders, he usually did not appear in his official military clothing, even in the battlefield.[106][107]

In January 2015, Hadi Al-Ameri the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq said of him: “If Qasem Soleimani were not present in Iraq, Haider al-Abadi would not be able to form his cabinet within Iraq”.[108]

The British magazine The Week featured Soleimani in bed with Uncle Sam in 2015, which indicated to both sides fighting ISIS, although Soleimani was leading militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans during the Iraq War.[109]

The 2016 movie Bodyguard, directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia, was inspired by Soleimani’s activities.[110]

The 2016 Persian book Noble Comrades 17: Hajj Qassem, written by Ali Akbari Mozdabadi, contains memoirs of Qassem Soleimani.[111]

See also

References …

External links

How Trump decided to kill Iran’s Soleimani

The U.S. strike against Tehran’s feared paramilitary commander followed months of Iranian attacks.

Qassem Soleimani

Hours before the U.S. military sent a Reaper drone to kill one of the most wanted men on the planet, President Donald Trump was relaxing at his palatial Florida properties. In the morning, he played 18 holes at Trump International, his West Palm Beach golf club.

At around 3 p.m., he returned to Mar-a-Lago, the historic oceanfront estate he’s branded “the Winter White House,” and waited, donning a navy blue suit with a powder-blue tie and an American flag pinned to his lapel.

He’d already made a risky—and potentially world-altering—decision to allow the U.S. military to kill Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite paramilitary forces. Earlier this week, he’d been surrounded at Mar-a-Lago by top officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland. Throughout the entire week, Trump sought input from other advisers by phone.

“He was calm, cool and collected,” said conservative radio host Howie Carr, who spoke with Trump on Thursday at Mar-a-Lago soon after the news first broke, as the president dined with GOP House leader Kevin McCarthy. “I had no idea there was anything out of the ordinary going on until I got home.”

As rocket attacks against U.S. bases in Iraq intensified over the last two months, the president had granted the Pentagon extraordinary latitude: The U.S. military had his permission to kill Soleimani the next time it had an opportunity to do so, according to a senior defense official who was not authorized to speak on the record.

“We had authority before the strike to take that action,” said the official, who wouldn’t say how recently Trump gave the Pentagon that authorization—whether it was hours, weeks or even months earlier. As recently as New Year’s Eve, the president was telling reporters that he didn’t want war with Iran.

For a man U.S. officials have portrayed as a terrorist mastermind, an evil genius responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, Soleimani often flaunted his influence as he jetted between Tehran, Baghdad and Beirut for meetings with local potentates.

“I don’t think it was so hard [to find him] because he was not below the radar in the last two or three years,” said a former senior Israeli government official, who noted that Soleimani had previously moved around under strict operational secrecy. “But the last two or three years, he worked in the open.”

Former national security adviser John Bolton, a vocal advocate of regime change in Iran, described the killing of Soleimani as “long in the making.”

“We’ve known every minute of every day where Soleimani is for years—there’s no moment of any given day where five or six intelligence agencies can’t tell you where he is,” a Republican foreign policy hand said. “It’s been one of his talking points: The Americans can find me any time, they just don’t dare hit me.”

That calculation proved misguided in the wee hours of January 3 in Iraq, where Soleimani landed amid spiraling tensions between U.S.- and Iranian-allied factions. “He arrived at the airport and we had a target of opportunity, and based on the president’s direction, we took it,” the senior defense official said.

U.S. officials had received “an intelligence-based assessment that drove our decision-making process,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday, describing how the recent killing of an American contractor had changed the Trump team’s calculations about the “intelligence flow” they were receiving about Soleimani’s activities in Iraq.

U.S. officials, briefing conservative think-tank experts on Friday, said the U.S. had “exquisite intelligence” on a plot to strike Americans in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, according to someone familiar with the call. By killing Soleimani, the officials said, they disrupted such plans.

A night of confusion and rumors

The first dispatches from Baghdad on Thursday evening were cryptic. “Several Katyusha rockets have been fired at Baghdad airport, causing multiple casualties amid tensions with US,” the AP alert read.

Then, suggestions that something major had just gone down began trickling in. Word that someone—presumably the United States—had just killed Iran’s pre-eminent strategist first posted online shortly before 7 p.m. in Washington.

As journalists scrambled to confirm and make sense of the rumors flying around, Iraqi state television announced that Soleimani, along with several of Iran’s top Iraqi allies, had been killed. A BBC reporter shared a grisly image purporting to show Soleimani’s mangled hand, complete with his signature ruby ring; other photographs claiming to be of the remains of the convoy he was traveling in circulated online.

Photographs taken around this time showed President Trump huddling with McCarthy and White House aides Jared Kushner, Hogan Gidley and Dan Scavino at Mar-a-Lago.

“A memorable and historic evening at The Winter White House. Proud of our President!” McCarthy posted later on his Instagram feed.

It wasn’t until 9:46 p.m. on Thursday that the U.S. government officially confirmed Soleimani’s death, in the form of a terse, 163-word Pentagon press release emailed to reporters.

“At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization,” the statement read.

But his television surrogates were quick to supply their inside accounts.

Dialing into Fox News from his vacation, conservative commentator Sean Hannity—a close Trump confidant—shared what he’d heard from “one person familiar that was in the room.”

“The president said, ‘Our people will be protected. This will not be Benghazi,’” Hannity relayed.

“At one point,” the Fox host continued, “the president asked the question among some of his military and Cabinet and intelligence and State Department people, ‘Well, how long is it going to take to mobilize?’ And the words [came back from the president], ‘That’s not fast enough,’ and everybody said, ‘Yes, sir.’ And they got it done in really record time.”

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, another of the president’s close allies on Capitol Hill who was with him at Mar-a-Lago, described the president’s mood on Thursday evening as “very focused.”

“I think he was really dialed into the ways in which Soleimani was planning to kill Americans, to harm our diplomats and to throw the entire region into civil war,” Gaetz said on Fox News. “I think we understand that this is a big moment in time. He appreciates the gravity of that.”

The White House seems to have informed only its closest congressional allies ahead of the move, with top Hill Democrats complaining that they hadn’t been informed in advance.

“I was briefed about the potential operation when I was down in Florida,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who was with the president at Mar-a-Lago earlier this week, told Fox News on Friday morning. “I appreciate being brought into the orbit.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper appeared to warn Iran of the coming strikes hours beforehand on Thursday, amid a discussion of the recent attacks on U.S. bases by Iraqi militias tied to Iran.

In what might have been a sign of preparation for the strike, Pompeo cancelled a trip to Ukraine and several other countries this week to monitor the tensions in Iraq.

State Department officials summoned the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. for a meeting Thursday afternoon, according to a person familiar with the situation. It was not clear what exactly was discussed.

“I think it’s been in the works for a while because I don’t think it was a last-minute thing,” a Middle Eastern official said. “I don’t think they were like, ‘Oh we just found him, let’s take him out.’ I think it was to mitigate an action that was actually in the works.”

“Tracking Solemani was likely something that was being done from at least May, when the major stream of threats emerged,” a former defense official said.

Actually targeting Soleimani posed a more formidable challenge, though, according to retired Lt. Gen. Michael Nagata, a former senior special operations commander in the Middle East who retired as strategy head at the National Counterterrorism Center last summer. “That depends on being able to know not only where he is, but where he’s going to be at a specific time in the future,” Nagata said.

That, in part, was why “we never decided to go after him personally” before, Nagata said – especially in earlier years when Soleimani maintained a lower profile and traveled less often, the military was reluctant to devote surveillance assets to a target few believed any president would ever allow to be struck.

“Soleimani was the spider at the center of the web, so there were recurring conversations over the years about what it would take to do something about him,” Nagata explained. “But what you had to grapple with was, ‘This is going to divert time, energy and resources from other tasks, and for a mission that I have no confidence we’re going to go through with.’”

Consultation with Israel

Pompeo held several phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent weeks, suggesting that Israel was not surprised by the strike against Soleimani.

Before departing on Thursday morning for Greece, Netanyahu told reporters in Israel, “We are in continuous contact with our great friend the U.S., including my conversation yesterday afternoon. I want to make one thing clear: We fully support all of the steps that the U.S. has taken as well as its full right to defend itself and its citizens.”

By Friday morning, Pompeo was dialing up his counterparts in foreign capitals, including Moscow and Beijing, to stress that the strike was a “defensive action” and that the U.S. hopes for a de-escalation in the crisis.

Iranian officials were warning of a severe reaction, and the Parliament in Baghdad was voting to bar U.S. troops from Iraq even as U.S. officials were planning to send more forces to the region. European diplomats traded anxious phone calls, warning about the potential for further regional chaos.

And Trump himself was finally weighing in, explaining and justifying the decision with a barrage of tweets and retweets. “He should have been taken out many years ago!” the president wrote.

Asked about the U.S. plan for managing the potential blowback from Iran, a U.S. defense official said, “Your guess is as good as mine. The ball’s in Iran’s court at this time. We’re waiting to see what their response is.”

Nancy Cook, Quint Forgey and Caitlin Oprysko contributed reporting.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/01/03/donald-trump-iran-soleimani-093371

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G.K. Noyer — Voltaire’s Revolution — Videos

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Voltaire’s Revolution

Voltaire, the pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), was one of the most influential leaders of the French Enlightenment. His defense of individual freedom of conscience and his criticisms of religious fanaticism and oppressive orthodoxy had a telling effect on Western history, inspiring several leading founders of America’s new laws.

This is the first English translation of many of his key texts from his famous pamphlet war for tolerance, written from 1750 to 1768, originally published under pseudonyms to avoid imprisonment and to educate the average citizen. Included are “The Sermon of Rabbi Akib” (a searing attack on anti-Semitism),  “Prayer to God” (from the famous Treatise on Tolerance), the hugely popular “Catechism of the Honest Man,” “The Dinner at Count Boulainvillier’s,” and other witty, sometimes acerbic pieces that point out the errors in the Bible, the corruption of the clergy, and the religiously-inspired persecutions, both of his day and across the ages. Many of these pamphlets were burned in a losing battle by the authorities.

With a lengthy introduction and copious notes by the editor and translator, plus an appendix including first-hand accounts of the battle by noted mathematician and French revolutionary Condorcet, Frederick the Great, Irish writer Oliver Goldsmith, and others, this excellent compilation will be a welcome addition to the libraries of anyone with an interest in human rights and freedom of thought.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/voltaires-revolution/fgqpf3h0d0nr?activetab=pivot%3aoverviewtab

 

G.K. Noyer

GOODREADS AUTHOR

 

Born  suburb of Detroit, The United States

 

Influences Voltaire, Norman Torrey, René Pomeau, Theodore Besterman, Haydn Mason, …more

 

Member Since December 2010

A writer from Michigan, where she wrote for a PBS affiliate and radio, GK Noyer lives in France (not because of Voltaire, but it helped the research). Predominantly a TV scriptwriter and translator for years, this is her first book, and the 20+ years of research it reflects was first undertaken in view of writing a screenplay on Voltaire. A few years back, the discovery of the near disappearance of the Enlightenment from our schoolbooks along with the increasing polarization over religion then suggested that this book might be a better place to start. Here are a couple of reviews that offer more details: http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/boo…
and http://www.factsandarts.com/essays/g-…More links and info are available on the GK Noyer Fac…more

Voltaire Biography

voltaireVoltaire (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778) was a French writer, essayist, and philosopher – he was known for his wit, satire, and defence of civil liberties. He sought to defend freedom of religious and political thought and played a major role in the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century.

“Love truth, but pardon error.”

– Voltaire

Voltaire was a prolific writer, producing more than 20,000 letters and over 2,000 books and pamphlets. Despite strict censorship laws, he frequently risked large penalties by breaking them and questioning the establishment.

Short Biography of Voltaire

voltaire

Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet, in Paris. He was educated by Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand (1704–1711), becoming fluent in Greek, Latin and the major European languages.

His father tried to encourage Voltaire to become a lawyer, but Voltaire was more interested in becoming a writer. Instead of studying to be a lawyer, he began writing poetry and mild criticisms of the church and state. His humorous, satirical writing made him popular with sections of Paris society, though they also started attracting the attention of the censors.

In 1726, he was exiled to England after being involved in a scuffle with a French nobleman. The nobleman used his wealth to have him arrested, and this would cause Voltaire to try and reform the French judicial system. After this first imprisonment in the Bastilles, he changed his name to Voltaire – signifying his departure from his past. He also used numerous other pen names throughout the course of his life, in a bid to escape censorship.

Voltaire spent three years in England, where he was influenced by British writers, such as William Shakespeare and also the different political system, which saw a constitutional monarchy rather than an absolute monarchy as in France. He also learnt from great scientists, such as Sir Isaac Newton. Voltaire was particularly impressed by the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, such as Adam Smith and David Hume, saying once:

“We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation”

Although he had much in common with fellow French Enlightenment philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, the pair often disagreed and had a prickly relationship. However, after Rousseau wrote Emile / Vicaire Savoyard, Voltaire offered Rousseau a safe haven because he appreciated Rousseau’s attack on religious hypocrisy. Rousseau regretted not replying to Voltaire’s offer.

On returning to France, he wrote letters praising the British system of government and their greater respect for freedom of speech. This enraged the French establishment, and again he was forced to flee Paris.

Seeking a safe place, Voltaire began a collaboration with Marquise du Chatelet. During this time, Voltaire wrote on Newton’s scientific theories and helped to make Newton’s ideas accessible to a much wider section of European society. He also began attacking the church’s relationship with the state. Voltaire argued for the separation of religion and state and also allowing freedom of belief and religious tolerance. Voltaire had a mixed opinion of the Bible and was willing to criticise it. Though not professing a religion, he believed in God, as a matter of reason.

“What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.” On Catholicism

In a letter to Frederick II, King of Prussia, (5 January 1767) he once wrote:

“Ours [religion] is without a doubt the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and the most blood-thirsty ever to infect the world.”

In 1744, Voltaire returned to Paris, where he began a relationship with his niece, Marie Louise Mignot. They remained together until his death.

For a brief time, he was invited by Frederick the Great, to Potsdam. Here, Voltaire wrote more articles of a scientific nature, but later incurred the displeasure of the king as he started satirising the abuses of power within the state.

In 1759, he wrote his best-known work – Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism) This was a satire on the philosophy of Leibniz. After a brief stay in Geneva, he settled for 20 years in Ferny on the French border.

In his later life, Voltaire continued to write and also to support persecuted religious minorities. He was visited by some of the leading European intellectuals of the day – such as James Boswell and Adam Smith.

In 1778, he died after shortly returning to Paris. Some of his enemies claimed he made a deathbed conversion to Catholicism, but this is disputed.

In February of that year, fearing he would die, he wrote:

“I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.”

Voltaire was secretly buried before a pronouncement could be made public.

Three years after his death, on 11 July 1791, he was brought back to Paris to be enshrined in the Pantheon. It is said up to a million people came to see Voltaire – now considered a French hero and fore-runner of the French revolution.

Influence of Voltaire

  • Voltaire revolutionised the art of history. He sought to avoid bias and included discussion of social and economic issues, moving away from dry military accounts.
  • Voltaire argued for an extension of education, hoping greater literacy would free society from ignorance.
  • Voltaire wrote poems and plays, including two epics. Voltaire politicised writing by showing that even poetry and romance could be laced with satire and political polemic. Often it was indirect criticism that was most effective.
  • Voltaire was a passionate and persistent critic of those in power who misused their position. By attacking the abuses of the absolute monarchy and church, he paved the way for a less deferential attitude which was a significant underlying cause of the French revolution.
  • At a time of religious persecution, Voltaire illustrated how religious dogmas were created by human ignorance and led to needless bloodshed and suffering.
  • Voltaire was a key figure of the enlightenment which sought to use a range of scientific and literary books to explain the underlying nature of life. Voltaire believed no one book or dogma could explain everything. But, true understanding required the use of reason and an open mind.

Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Biography of Voltaire”, Oxford, www.biographyonline.net – 3 February 2013. Last updated 7 February 2018.

Voltaire Quotes

“It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?”

– Voltaire A Treatise on Toleration (1763)

https://www.biographyonline.net/writers/voltaire.html

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PRAISE

“An essential book for Anglophones studying Voltaire, philosophy, and the separation of religion from government.”

Portland Book Review

“I count myself as a Voltaire enthusiast but had never bothered to unearth some of these gems… No other book offers such a lively collection of Voltairian prose in so few pages.”

Facts & Arts

“It would be nice to think Voltaire’s Revolution will add to the ranks of the admirers. If this much wit and brilliance (all very adroitly translated) can’t manage that, probably nothing can.”

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Voltaire

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Voltaire
Portrait by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1724

Portrait by Nicolas de Largillière, c. 1724
Born François-Marie Arouet
21 November 1694
ParisKingdom of France
Died 30 May 1778 (aged 83)
Paris, Kingdom of France
Resting place Panthéon, Paris, France
Occupation Writer, philosopher
Language French
Nationality French
Alma mater Collège Louis-le-Grand
Partner Émilie du Châtelet (1733–1749)

Philosophy career

Era Age of Enlightenment
Region Western philosophy
French philosophy
School Lumières
Philosophes
Deism
Classical liberalism
Main interests
Political philosophyliteraturehistoriographybiblical criticism
Notable ideas
Philosophy of history,[1] freedom of religionfreedom of speechseparation of church and state

François-Marie Arouet (French: [fʁɑ̃swa maʁi aʁwɛ]; 21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire (/vɒlˈtɛər/;[2]French: [vɔltɛːʁ]), was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity, especially the Roman Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religionfreedom of speech, and separation of church and state.

Voltaire was a versatile and prolific writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.[3] He was an outspoken advocate of civil liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day.

Biography

François-Marie Arouet was born in Paris, the youngest of the five children of François Arouet (19 August 1649 – 1 January 1722), a lawyer who was a minor treasury official, and his wife, Marie Marguerite Daumard (c. 1660 – 13 July 1701), whose family was on the lowest rank of the French nobility.[4] Some speculation surrounds Voltaire’s date of birth, because he claimed he was born on 20 February 1694 as the illegitimate son of a nobleman, Guérin de Rochebrune or Roquebrune.[5] Two of his older brothers—Armand-François and Robert—died in infancy, and his surviving brother Armand and sister Marguerite-Catherine were nine and seven years older, respectively.[6] Nicknamed “Zozo” by his family, Voltaire was baptized on 22 November 1694, with François de Castagnère, abbé de Châteauneuf [fr], and Marie Daumard, the wife of his mother’s cousin, standing as godparents.[7] He was educated by the Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand(1704–1711), where he was taught Latin, theology, and rhetoric;[8] later in life he became fluent in Italian, Spanish, and English.[9]

By the time he left school, Voltaire had decided he wanted to be a writer, against the wishes of his father, who wanted him to become a lawyer.[10] Voltaire, pretending to work in Paris as an assistant to a notary, spent much of his time writing poetry. When his father found out, he sent Voltaire to study law, this time in CaenNormandy. But the young man continued to write, producing essays and historical studies. Voltaire’s wit made him popular among some of the aristocratic families with whom he mixed. In 1713, his father obtained a job for him as a secretary to the new French ambassador in the Netherlands, the marquis de Châteauneuf [fr], the brother of Voltaire’s godfather.[11] At The Hague, Voltaire fell in love with a French Protestant refugee named Catherine Olympe Dunoyer (known as ‘Pimpette’).[11] Their affair, considered scandalous, was discovered by de Châteauneuf and Voltaire was forced to return to France by the end of the year.[12]

Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille from 16 May 1717 to 15 April 1718 in a windowless cell with ten-foot-thick walls.[13]

Most of Voltaire’s early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for critiques of the government. As a result, he was twice sentenced to prison and once to temporary exile to England. One satirical verse, in which Voltaire accused the Régent of incest with his daughter, resulted in an eleven-month imprisonment in the Bastille.[14] The Comédie-Française had agreed in January 1717 to stage his debut play, Œdipe, and it opened in mid-November 1718, seven months after his release.[15] Its immediate critical and financial success established his reputation.[16] Both the Régent and King George I of Great Britain presented Voltaire with medals as a mark of their appreciation.[17]

He mainly argued for religious tolerance and freedom of thought. He campaigned to eradicate priestly and aristo-monarchical authority, and supported a constitutional monarchy that protects people’s rights.[18][19]

Name

The author adopted the name Voltaire in 1718, following his incarceration at the Bastille. Its origin is unclear. It is an anagram of AROVET LI, the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of le jeune (“the young”).[20] According to a family tradition among the descendants of his sister, he was known as le petit volontaire (“determined little thing”) as a child, and he resurrected a variant of the name in his adult life.[21] The name also reverses the syllables of Airvault, his family’s home town in the Poitou region.[22]

Richard Holmes[23] supports the anagrammatic derivation of the name, but adds that a writer such as Voltaire would have intended it to also convey connotations of speed and daring. These come from associations with words such as voltige (acrobatics on a trapeze or horse), volte-face (a spinning about to face one’s enemies), and volatile (originally, any winged creature). “Arouet” was not a noble name fit for his growing reputation, especially given that name’s resonance with à rouer (“to be beaten up”) and roué (a débauché).

In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Rousseau in March 1719, Voltaire concludes by asking that, if Rousseau wishes to send him a return letter, he do so by addressing it to Monsieur de Voltaire. A postscript explains: “J’ai été si malheureux sous le nom d’Arouet que j’en ai pris un autre surtout pour n’être plus confondu avec le poète Roi“, (“I was so unhappy under the name of Arouet that I have taken another, primarily so as to cease to be confused with the poet Roi.”)[24] This probably refers to Adenes le Roi, and the ‘oi’ diphthong was then pronounced like modern ‘ouai’, so the similarity to ‘Arouet’ is clear, and thus, it could well have been part of his rationale. Voltaire is known also to have used at least 178 separate pen names during his lifetime.[25]

Early fiction

Voltaire’s next play, Artémire, set in ancient Macedonia, opened on 15 February 1720. It was a flop and only fragments of the text survive.[26] He instead turned to an epic poem about Henry IV of France that he had begun in early 1717.[27] Denied a licence to publish, in August 1722 Voltaire headed north to find a publisher outside France. On the journey, he was accompanied by his mistress, Marie-Marguerite de Rupelmonde, a young widow.[28]

At Brussels, Voltaire and Rousseau met up for a few days, before Voltaire and his mistress continued northwards. A publisher was eventually secured in The Hague.[29] In the Netherlands, Voltaire was struck and impressed by the openness and tolerance of Dutch society.[30] On his return to France, he secured a second publisher in Rouen, who agreed to publish La Henriadeclandestinely.[31] After Voltaire’s recovery from a month-long smallpox infection in November 1723, the first copies were smuggled into Paris and distributed.[32] While the poem was an instant success, Voltaire’s new play, Mariamne, was a failure when it first opened in March 1724.[33] Heavily reworked, it opened at the Comédie-Française in April 1725 to a much-improved reception.[33] It was among the entertainments provided at the wedding of Louis XV and Marie Leszczyńska in September 1725.[33]

Great Britain

In early 1726, a young French nobleman, the chevalier de Rohan-Chabot, taunted Voltaire about his change of name, and Voltaire retorted that his name would be honored while de Rohan would dishonor his.[34] Infuriated, de Rohan arranged for Voltaire to be beaten up by thugs a few days later.[35] Seeking compensation, redress, or revenge, Voltaire challenged de Rohan to a duel, but the aristocratic de Rohan family arranged for Voltaire to be arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille on 17 April 1726 without a trial or an opportunity to defend himself.[36][37] Fearing an indefinite prison sentence, Voltaire suggested that he be exiled to England as an alternative punishment, which the French authorities accepted.[38] On 2 May, he was escorted from the Bastille to Calais, where he was to embark for Britain.[39]

Elémens de la philosophie de Neuton, 1738

In England, Voltaire lived largely in Wandsworth, with acquaintances including Everard Fawkener.[40] From December 1727 to June 1728 he lodged at Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, now commemorated by a plaque, to be nearer to his British publisher.[41] Voltaire circulated throughout English high society, meeting Alexander PopeJohn GayJonathan SwiftLady Mary Wortley MontaguSarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and many other members of the nobility and royalty.[42] Voltaire’s exile in Great Britain greatly influenced his thinking. He was intrigued by Britain’s constitutional monarchy in contrast to French absolutism, and by the country’s greater support of the freedoms of speech and religion.[43] He was influenced by the writers of the age, and developed an interest in earlier English literature, especially the works of Shakespeare, still relatively unknown in continental Europe.[44] Despite pointing out his deviations from neoclassical standards, Voltaire saw Shakespeare as an example that French writers might emulate, since French drama, despite being more polished, lacked on-stage action. Later, however, as Shakespeare’s influence began growing in France, Voltaire tried to set a contrary example with his own plays, decrying what he considered Shakespeare’s barbarities. Voltaire may have been present at the funeral of Isaac Newton,[a]and met Newton’s niece, Catherine Conduitt.[41] In 1727, he published two essays in English, Upon the Civil Wars of France, Extracted from Curious Manuscripts and Upon Epic Poetry of the European Nations, from Homer Down to Milton.[41]

After two and a half years in exile, Voltaire returned to France, and after a few months living in Dieppe, the authorities permitted him to return to Paris.[45]At a dinner, French mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine proposed buying up the lottery that was organized by the French government to pay off its debts, and Voltaire joined the consortium, earning perhaps a million livres.[46] He invested the money cleverly and on this basis managed to convince the Court of Finances that he was of good conduct and so was able to take control of a capital inheritance from his father that had hitherto been tied up in trust. He was now indisputably rich.[47][48]

Further success followed, in 1732, with his play Zaïre, which when published in 1733 carried a dedication to Fawkener that praised English liberty and commerce.[49] At this time he published his views on British attitudes toward government, literature, religion and science in a collection of essays in letter form entitled Letters Concerning the English Nation (London, 1733).[50] In 1734, they were published in French as Lettres philosophiques in Rouen.[51][b] Because the publisher released the book without the approval of the royal censor and Voltaire regarded the British constitutional monarchy as more developed and more respectful of human rights (particularly religious tolerance) than its French counterpart, the French publication of Letters caused a huge scandal; the book was publicly burnt and banned, and Voltaire was forced again to flee Paris.[18]

Château de Cirey

In the frontispiece to Voltaire’s book on Newton’s philosophy, Émilie du Châteletappears as Voltaire’s muse, reflecting Newton’s heavenly insights down to Voltaire.[52]

In 1733, Voltaire met Émilie du Châtelet, a mathematician and married mother of three who was 12 years his junior and with whom he was to have an affair for 16 years.[53] To avoid arrest after the publication of Letters, Voltaire took refuge at her husband’s château at Cirey-sur-Blaise, on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine.[54] Voltaire paid for the building’s renovation,[55] and Émilie’s husband, the Marquis du Châtelet, sometimes stayed at the château with his wife and her lover.[56] The relationship had a significant intellectual element. Voltaire and the Marquise du Châtelet collected around 21,000 books, an enormous number for the time.[57] Together, they studied these books and performed experiments in the natural sciences at Cirey, which included an attempt to determine the nature of fire.[58]

Having learned from his previous brushes with the authorities, Voltaire began his habit of keeping out of personal harm’s way and denying any awkward responsibility.[59] He continued to write plays, such as Mérope (or La Mérope française) and began his long research into science and history. Again, a main source of inspiration for Voltaire were the years of his British exile, during which he had been strongly influenced by the works of Sir Isaac Newton. Voltaire strongly believed in Newton’s theories; he performed experiments in optics at Cirey,[60] and was one of the sources for the famous story of Newton and the apple falling from the tree, which he had learned from Newton’s niece in London and first mentioned in his Letters.[41]

Pastel by Maurice Quentin de La Tour, 1735

In the fall of 1735, Voltaire was visited by Francesco Algarotti, who was preparing a book about Newton in Italian.[61] Partly inspired by the visit, the Marquise translated Newton’s Latin Principia into French in full, and it remained the definitive French translation into the 21st century.[18] Both she and Voltaire were also curious about the philosophies of Gottfried Leibniz, a contemporary and rival of Newton. While Voltaire remained a firm Newtonian, the Marquise adopted certain aspects of Leibniz’s arguments against Newton.[18][62] Voltaire’s own book Elements of Newton’s Philosophy made Newton accessible and understandable to a far greater public, and the Marquise wrote a celebratory review in the Journal des savants.[18][63] Voltaire’s work was instrumental in bringing about general acceptance of Newton’s optical and gravitational theories in France.[18][64]

Voltaire and the Marquise also studied history, particularly those persons who had contributed to civilization. Voltaire’s second essay in English had been “Essay upon the Civil Wars in France”. It was followed by La Henriade, an epic poem on the French King Henri IV, glorifying his attempt to end the Catholic-Protestant massacres with the Edict of Nantes, and by a historical novel on King Charles XII of Sweden. These, along with his Letters on the English mark the beginning of Voltaire’s open criticism of intolerance and established religions.[citation needed] Voltaire and the Marquise also explored philosophy, particularly metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that deals with being and with what lies beyond the material realm, such as whether or not there is a God and whether people have souls. Voltaire and the Marquise analyzed the Bible and concluded that much of its content was dubious.[65] Voltaire’s critical views on religion are reflected in his belief in separation of church and state and religious freedom, ideas that he had formed after his stay in England.

In August 1736, Frederick the Great, then Crown Prince of Prussia and a great admirer of Voltaire, initiated a correspondence with him.[66] That December, Voltaire moved to Holland for two months and became acquainted with the scientists Herman Boerhaave and ‘s Gravesande.[67] From mid-1739 to mid-1740 Voltaire lived largely in Brussels, at first with the Marquise, who was unsuccessfully attempting to pursue a 60-year-old family legal case regarding the ownership of two estates in Limburg.[68] In July 1740, he traveled to the Hague on behalf of Frederick in an attempt to dissuade a dubious publisher, van Duren, from printing without permission Frederick’s Anti-Machiavel.[69] In September Voltaire and Frederick (now King) met for the first time in Moyland Castlenear Cleves and in November Voltaire was Frederick’s guest in Berlin for two weeks;[70] in September 1742 they met in Aix-la-Chapelle.[71] Voltaire was sent to Frederick’s court in 1743 by the French government as an envoy and spy to gauge Frederick’s military intentions in the War of the Austrian Succession.[72]

Though deeply committed to the Marquise, Voltaire by 1744 found life at the château confining. On a visit to Paris that year, he found a new love—his niece. At first, his attraction to Marie Louise Mignot was clearly sexual, as evidenced by his letters to her (only discovered in 1957).[73][74] Much later, they lived together, perhaps platonically, and remained together until Voltaire’s death. Meanwhile, the Marquise also took a lover, the Marquis de Saint-Lambert.[75]

Prussia

Die Tafelrunde by Adolph von Menzel: guests of Frederick the Great at Sanssouci, including members of the Prussian Academy of Sciences and Voltaire (third from left)

After the death of the Marquise in childbirth in September 1749, Voltaire briefly returned to Paris and in mid-1750 moved to Prussia at the invitation of Frederick the Great.[76] The Prussian king (with the permission of Louis XV) made him a chamberlain in his household, appointed him to the Order of Merit, and gave him a salary of 20,000 French livres a year.[77] He had rooms at Sanssouci and Charlottenburg Palace.[78] Life went well for Voltaire at first,[79] and in 1751 he completed Micromégas, a piece of science fiction involving ambassadors from another planet witnessing the follies of humankind.[80] However, his relationship with Frederick the Great began to deteriorate after he was accused of theft and forgery by a Jewish financier, Abraham Hirschel, who had invested in Saxon government bonds on behalf of Voltaire at a time when Frederick was involved in sensitive diplomatic negotiations with Saxony.[81]

He encountered other difficulties: an argument with Maupertuis, the president of the Berlin Academy of Science and a former rival for Émilie’s affections, provoked Voltaire’s Diatribe du docteur Akakia (“Diatribe of Doctor Akakia”), which satirized some of Maupertuis’s theories and his abuse of power in his persecutions of a mutual acquaintance, Johann Samuel König. This greatly angered Frederick, who ordered all copies of the document burned.[82] On 1 January 1752, Voltaire offered to resign as chamberlain and return his insignia of the Order of Merit; at first, Frederick refused until eventually permitting Voltaire to leave in March.[83] On a slow journey back to France, Voltaire stayed at Leipzig and Gotha for a month each, and Kassel for two weeks, arriving at Frankfurt on 31 May. The following morning, he was detained at the inn where he was staying by Frederick’s agents, who held him in the city for over three weeks while they, Voltaire and Frederick argued by letter over the return of a satirical book of poetry Frederick had lent to Voltaire. Marie Louise joined him on 9 June. She and her uncle only left Frankfurt in July after she had defended herself from the unwanted advances of one of Frederick’s agents and Voltaire’s luggage had been ransacked and valuable items taken.[84]

Voltaire’s attempts to vilify Frederick for his agents’ actions at Frankfurt were largely unsuccessful. Voltaire responded by composing Mémoires pour Servir à la Vie de M. de Voltaire, a work published after his death that paints a largely negative picture of his time spent with Frederick. However, the correspondence between them continued, and though they never met in person again, after the Seven Years’ War they largely reconciled.[85]

Geneva and Ferney

Voltaire’s château at Ferney, France

Voltaire’s slow progress toward Paris continued through MainzMannheimStrasbourg, and Colmar,[86] but in January 1754 Louis XV banned him from Paris,[87] so instead he turned for Geneva, near which he bought a large estate (Les Délices) in early 1755.[88] Though he was received openly at first, the law in Geneva, which banned theatrical performances, and the publication of The Maid of Orleans against his will soured his relationship with Calvinist Genevans.[89] In late 1758, he bought an even larger estate at Ferney, on the French side of the Franco-Swiss border.[90]

Early in 1759, Voltaire completed and published Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism). This satire on Leibniz‘s philosophy of optimistic determinism remains the work for which Voltaire is perhaps best known. He would stay in Ferney for most of the remaining 20 years of his life, frequently entertaining distinguished guests, such as James BoswellAdam SmithGiacomo Casanova, and Edward Gibbon.[c] In 1764, he published one of his best-known philosophical works, the Dictionnaire philosophique, a series of articles mainly on Christian history and dogmas, a few of which were originally written in Berlin.[37]

From 1762, he began to champion unjustly persecuted people, the case of Huguenot merchant Jean Calas being the most celebrated.[37] Calas had been tortured to death in 1763, supposedly because he had murdered his eldest son for wanting to convert to Catholicism. His possessions were confiscated and his two daughters were taken from his widow and were forced into Catholic convents. Voltaire, seeing this as a clear case of religious persecution, managed to overturn the conviction in 1765.[91]

Voltaire was initiated into Freemasonry a little over a month before his death. On 4 April 1778, Voltaire attended la Loge des Neuf Sœurs in Paris, and became an Entered ApprenticeFreemason. According to some sources, “Benjamin Franklin … urged Voltaire to become a freemason; and Voltaire agreed, perhaps only to please Franklin.”[92][93][94] However, Benjamin Franklin was merely a visitor at the time Voltaire was initiated, the two only met a month before Voltaire’s death, and their interactions with each other were brief.[95]

House in Paris where Voltaire died

Death and burial

Jean-Antoine Houdon, Voltaire, 1778, National Gallery of Art

In February 1778, Voltaire returned for the first time in over 25 years to Paris, among other reasons to see the opening of his latest tragedy, Irene.[96] The five-day journey was too much for the 83-year-old, and he believed he was about to die on 28 February, writing “I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.” However, he recovered, and in March he saw a performance of Irene, where he was treated by the audience as a returning hero.[37]

He soon became ill again and died on 30 May 1778. The accounts of his deathbed have been numerous and varying, and it has not been possible to establish the details of what precisely occurred. His enemies related that he repented and accepted the last rites given by a Catholic priest, or that he died under great torment, while his adherents told how he was defiant to his last breath.[97] According to one story of his last words, his response to a priest at his deathbed urging him to renounce Satan was “Now is not the time for making new enemies.”[98] However, this appears to have originated from a joke first published in a Massachusetts newspaper in 1856, and was only attributed to Voltaire in the 1970s.[99]

Because of his well-known criticism of the Church, which he had refused to retract before his death, Voltaire was denied a Christian burial in Paris,[100]but friends and relations managed to bury his body secretly at the Abbey of Scellières in Champagne, where Marie Louise’s brother was abbé.[101] His heart and brain were embalmed separately.[102]

Voltaire’s tomb in the Paris Panthéon

Regarding Voltaire as a forerunner of the French Revolution, the National Assembly of France had his remains brought back to Paris, and enshrined in the Panthéon on 11 July 1791.[103][d] It is estimated that a million people attended the procession, which stretched throughout Paris. There was an elaborate ceremony, complete with an orchestra, and the music included a piece that André Grétry had composed especially for the event, which included a part for the “tuba curva” (an instrument that originated in Roman times as the cornu but had recently been revived under a new name).[106]

Writings

History

Voltaire had an enormous influence on the development of historiography through his demonstration of fresh new ways to look at the past. Guillaume de Syon argues:

Voltaire recast historiography in both factual and analytical terms. Not only did he reject traditional biographies and accounts that claim the work of supernatural forces, but he went so far as to suggest that earlier historiography was rife with falsified evidence and required new investigations at the source. Such an outlook was not unique in that the scientific spirit that 18th-century intellectuals perceived themselves as invested with. A rationalistic approach was key to rewriting history.[107]

Voltaire’s best-known histories are History of Charles XII (1731), The Age of Louis XIV (1751), and his Essay on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations (1756). He broke from the tradition of narrating diplomatic and military events, and emphasized customs, social history and achievements in the arts and sciences. The Essay on Customs traced the progress of world civilization in a universal context, thereby rejecting both nationalism and the traditional Christian frame of reference. Influenced by Bossuet‘s Discourse on the Universal History (1682), he was the first scholar to make a serious attempt to write the history of the world, eliminating theological frameworks, and emphasizing economics, culture and political history. He treated Europe as a whole, rather than a collection of nations. He was the first to emphasize the debt of medieval culture to Middle Eastern civilization, but otherwise was weak on the Middle Ages. Although he repeatedly warned against political bias on the part of the historian, he did not miss many opportunities to expose the intolerance and frauds of the church over the ages. Voltaire advised scholars that anything contradicting the normal course of nature was not to be believed. Although he found evil in the historical record, he fervently believed reason and educating the illiterate masses would lead to progress.

Voltaire explains his view of historiography in his article on “History” in Diderot’s Encyclopédie: “One demands of modern historians more details, better ascertained facts, precise dates, more attention to customs, laws, mores, commerce, finance, agriculture, population.” Voltaire’s histories imposed the values of the Enlightenment on the past, but at the same time he helped free historiography from antiquarianism, Eurocentrism, religious intolerance and a concentration on great men, diplomacy, and warfare.[108][109] Yale professor Peter Gay says Voltaire wrote “very good history”, citing his “scrupulous concern for truths”, “careful sifting of evidence”, “intelligent selection of what is important”, “keen sense of drama”, and “grasp of the fact that a whole civilization is a unit of study”.[110]

Poetry

From an early age, Voltaire displayed a talent for writing verse and his first published work was poetry. He wrote two book-long epic poems, including the first ever written in French, the Henriade, and later, The Maid of Orleans, besides many other smaller pieces.[citation needed]

The Henriade was written in imitation of Virgil, using the alexandrine couplet reformed and rendered monotonous for modern readers but it was a huge success in the 18th and early 19th century, with sixty-five editions and translations into several languages. The epic poem transformed French King Henry IV into a national hero for his attempts at instituting tolerance with his Edict of Nantes. La Pucelle, on the other hand, is a burlesque on the legend of Joan of Arc.

Prose

Frontispiece and first page of an early English translation by T. Smollett et al. of Voltaire’s Candide, 1762

Many of Voltaire’s prose works and romances, usually composed as pamphlets, were written as polemicsCandide attacks the passivity inspired by Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism through the character Pangloss’s frequent refrain that circumstances are the “best of all possible worlds“. L’Homme aux quarante ecus (The Man of Forty Pieces of Silver), addresses social and political ways of the time; Zadig and others, the received forms of moral and metaphysical orthodoxy; and some were written to deride the Bible. In these works, Voltaire’s ironic style, free of exaggeration, is apparent, particularly the restraint and simplicity of the verbal treatment.[111] Candide in particular is the best example of his style. Voltaire also has—in common with Jonathan Swift—the distinction of paving the way for science fiction’s philosophical irony, particularly in his Micromégas and the vignette Plato’s Dream (1756).

In general, his criticism and miscellaneous writing show a similar style to Voltaire’s other works. Almost all of his more substantive works, whether in verse or prose, are preceded by prefaces of one sort or another, which are models of his caustic yet conversational tone. In a vast variety of nondescript pamphlets and writings, he displays his skills at journalism. In pure literary criticism his principal work is the Commentaire sur Corneille, although he wrote many more similar works—sometimes (as in his Life and Notices of Molière) independently and sometimes as part of his Siècles.[112]

Voltaire’s works, especially his private letters, frequently contain the word “l’infâme” and the expression “écrasez l’infâme“, or “crush the infamous”.[113]The phrase refers to abuses of the people by royalty and the clergy that Voltaire saw around him, and the superstition and intolerance that the clergy bred within the people.[114] He had felt these effects in his own exiles, the burnings of his books and those of many others, and in the hideous sufferings of Jean Calas and François-Jean de la Barre.[115] He stated in one of his most famous quotes that “Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.”[116]

The most oft-cited Voltaire quotation is apocryphal. He is incorrectly credited with writing, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” These were not his words, but rather those of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, written under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre in her 1906 biographical book The Friends of Voltaire. Hall intended to summarize in her own words Voltaire’s attitude towards Claude Adrien Helvétius and his controversial book De l’esprit, but her first-person expression was mistaken for an actual quotation from Voltaire. Her interpretation does capture the spirit of Voltaire’s attitude towards Helvetius; it had been said Hall’s summary was inspired by a quotation found in a 1770 Voltaire letter to an Abbot le Riche, in which he was reported to have said, “I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.”[117] Nevertheless, scholars believe there must have again been misinterpretation, as the letter does not seem to contain any such quote.[e]

Voltaire’s first major philosophical work in his battle against “l’infâme” was the Traité sur la tolérance (Treatise on Tolerance), exposing the Calas affair, along with the tolerance exercised by other faiths and in other eras (for example, by the Jews, the Romans, the Greeks and the Chinese). Then, in his Dictionnaire philosophique, containing such articles as “Abraham”, “Genesis”, “Church Council”, he wrote about what he perceived as the human origins of dogmas and beliefs, as well as inhuman behavior of religious and political institutions in shedding blood over the quarrels of competing sects. Amongst other targets, Voltaire criticized France’s colonial policy in North America, dismissing the vast territory of New Franceas “a few acres of snow” (“quelques arpents de neige“).

Letters

Voltaire also engaged in an enormous amount of private correspondence during his life, totalling over 20,000 letters. Theodore Besterman‘s collected edition of these letters, completed only in 1964, fills 102 volumes.[118] One historian called the letters “a feast not only of wit and eloquence but of warm friendship, humane feeling, and incisive thought.”[119]

In Voltaire’s correspondence with Catherine the Great he derided democracy. He wrote, “Almost nothing great has ever been done in the world except by the genius and firmness of a single man combating the prejudices of the multitude.”[120]

Religious views

Voltaire at 70; engraving from 1843 edition of his Philosophical Dictionary

Like other key Enlightenment thinkers, Voltaire was a deist.[121] He challenged orthodoxy by asking: “What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.”[122][123] Voltaire held mixed views of the Abrahamic religions but had a favourable view of Hinduism.

In a 1763 essay, Voltaire supported the toleration of other religions and ethnicities: “It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?”[124]

In one of his many denunciations of priests of every religious sect, Voltaire describes them as those who “rise from an incestuous bed, manufacture a hundred versions of God, then eat and drink God, then piss and shit God.”[125]

Christianity

Historians have described Voltaire’s description of the history of Christianity as “propagandistic”.[126] Voltaire is partially responsible for the misattribution of the expression Credo quia absurdum to the Church Fathers.[127] In a letter to Frederick II, King of Prussia, dated 5 January 1767, he wrote about Christianity:

La nôtre [religion] est sans contredit la plus ridicule, la plus absurde, et la plus sanguinaire qui ait jamais infecté le monde.[128]
“Ours [i.e., the Christian religion] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think. … My one regret in dying is that I cannot aid you in this noble enterprise, the finest and most respectable which the human mind can point out.”[129][130]

In La bible enfin expliquée, he expressed the following attitude to lay reading of the Bible:

It is characteristic of fanatics who read the holy scriptures to tell themselves: God killed, so I must kill; Abraham lied, Jacob deceived, Rachel stole: so I must steal, deceive, lie. But, wretch, you are neither Rachel, nor Jacob, nor Abraham, nor God; you are just a mad fool, and the popes who forbade the reading of the Bible were extremely wise.[131]

Voltaire’s opinion of the Bible was mixed. Although influenced by Socinian works such as the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, Voltaire’s skeptical attitude to the Bible separated him from Unitarian theologians like Fausto Sozzini or even Biblical-political writers like John Locke.[132] His statements on religion also brought down on him the fury of the Jesuits and in particular Claude-Adrien Nonnotte.[133][134][135][136] This did not hinder his religious practice, though it did win for him a bad reputation in certain religious circles. The deeply Christian Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote to his father the year of Voltaire’s death, saying, “The arch-scoundrel Voltaire has finally kicked the bucket …”[137] Voltaire was later deemed to influence Edward Gibbon in claiming that Christianity was a contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire in his book The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

As Christianity advances, disasters befall the [Roman] empire—arts, science, literature, decay—barbarism and all its revolting concomitants are made to seem the consequences of its decisive triumph—and the unwary reader is conducted, with matchless dexterity, to the desired conclusion—the abominable Manicheism of Candide, and, in fact, of all the productions of Voltaire’s historic school—viz., “that instead of being a merciful, ameliorating, and benignant visitation, the religion of Christians would rather seem to be a scourge sent on man by the author of all evil.”[138]

However, Voltaire also acknowledged the self-sacrifice of Christians. He wrote: “Perhaps there is nothing greater on earth than the sacrifice of youth and beauty, often of high birth, made by the gentle sex in order to work in hospitals for the relief of human misery, the sight of which is so revolting to our delicacy. Peoples separated from the Roman religion have imitated but imperfectly so generous a charity.”[139] Yet, according to Daniel-Rops, Voltaire’s “hatred of religion increased with the passage of years. The attack, launched at first against clericalism and theocracy, ended in a furious assault upon Holy Scripture, the dogmas of the Church, and even upon the person of Jesus Christ Himself, who [he] depicted now as a degenerate”.[140] Voltaire’s reasoning may be summed up in his well-known saying, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities“.

Judaism

According to Orthodox rabbi Joseph Telushkin, the most significant Enlightenment hostility against Judaism was found in Voltaire;[141] thirty of the 118 articles in his Dictionnaire philosophiquedealt with Jews and described them in consistently negative ways.[142][143] For example, in Voltaire’s A Philosophical Dictionary, he wrote of Jews: “In short, we find in them only an ignorant and barbarous people, who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched.”[144]

On the other hand, Peter Gay, a contemporary authority on the Enlightenment,[141] also points to Voltaire’s remarks (for instance, that the Jews were more tolerant than the Christians) in the Traité sur la tolérance and surmises that “Voltaire struck at the Jews to strike at Christianity”. Whatever anti-semitism Voltaire may have felt, Gay suggests, derived from negative personal experience.[145] Bertram Schwarzbach’s far more detailed studies of Voltaire’s dealings with Jewish people throughout his life concluded that he was anti-biblical, not anti-semitic. His remarks on the Jews and their “superstitions” were essentially no different from his remarks on Christians.[146]

Telushkin states that Voltaire did not limit his attack to aspects of Judaism that Christianity used as a foundation, repeatedly making it clear that he despised Jews.[141] Arthur Hertzberg claims that Gay’s second suggestion is also untenable, as Voltaire himself denied its validity when he remarked that he had “forgotten about much larger bankruptcies through Christians”.[clarification needed][147]

Some authors link Voltaire’s anti-Judaism to his polygenism. According to Joxe Azurmendi this anti-Judaism has a relative importance in Voltaire’s philosophy of history. However, Voltaire’s anti-Judaism influences later authors like Ernest Renan.[148]

According to the historian Will Durant, Voltaire had initially condemned the persecution of Jews on several occasions including in his work Henriade.[149] As stated by Durant, Voltaire had praised the simplicity, sobriety, regularity, and industry of Jews. However, subsequently, Voltaire had become strongly anti-Semitic after some regrettable personal financial transactions and quarrels with Jewish financiers. In his Essai sur les moeurs Voltaire had denounced the ancient Hebrews using strong language; a Catholic priest had protested against this censure. The anti-Semitic passages in Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique were criticized by Issac Pinto in 1762. Subsequently, Voltaire agreed with the criticism of his anti-Semitic views and stated that he had been “wrong to attribute to a whole nation the vices of some individuals”;[150] he also promised to revise the objectionable passages for forthcoming editions of the Dictionnaire philosophique, but failed to do so.[150]

Islam

Voltaire’s views about Islam remained negative as he considered the Quran to be ignorant of the laws of physics.[151] In a 1740 letter to Frederick II of Prussia, Voltaire ascribes to Muhammad a brutality that “is assuredly nothing any man can excuse” and suggests that his following stemmed from superstition. Referring to the prophet, Voltaire continued in his letter, “But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him.”[152]

In 1748, after having read Henri de Boulainvilliers and George Sale,[153] he wrote again about Mohammed and Islam in an article, “De l’Alcoran et de Mahomet” (On the Quran and on Mohammed). In the article, Voltaire maintained that Mohammed was a “sublime charlatan”[f] Drawing also on complementary information in the “Oriental Library” of Herbelot, Voltaire, according to René Pomeau, had a judgement of the Qur’an where he found the book in spite of “the contradictions, the absurdities, the anachronisms”, “rhapsody, without connection, without order, and without art”.[154][155][156][157] Thus he “henceforward conceded”[157] that “if his book was bad for our times and for us, it was very good for his contemporaries, and his religion even more so. It must be admitted that he removed almost all of Asia from idolatry” and that “it was difficult for such a simple and wise religion, taught by a man who was constantly victorious, could hardly fail to subjugate a portion of the earth.” He considered that “its civil laws are good; its dogma is admirable which it has in common with ours” but that “his means are shocking; deception and murder”.[158]

In his Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations (published 1756), Voltaire deals with the history of Europe before Charlemagne to the dawn of the age of Louis XIV, and that of the colonies and the East. As a historian he devoted several chapters to Islam,[159][160][161] Voltaire highlighted the Arabian, Turkish courts, and conducts.[157][162][163][162] Here he called Mohammed a “poet”, and stated that he was not an illiterate.[164] As a “legislator”, he “changed the face of part of Europe [and] one half of Asia.”[165][166][167] In chapter VI, Voltaire finds similarities between Arabs and ancient Hebrews, that they both kept running to battle in the name of God, and sharing a passion for the spoils of war.[168] Voltaire continues that, “It is to be believed that Mohammed, like all enthusiasts, violently struck by his ideas, first presented them in good faith, strengthened them with fantasy, fooled himself in fooling others, and supported through necessary deceptions a doctrine which he considered good.”[169][170] He thus compares “the genius of the Arab people” with “the genius of the ancient Romans”.[171]

Drama Mahomet

The tragedy Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet (FrenchLe fanatisme, ou Mahomet le Prophete) was written in 1736 by Voltaire. The play is a study of religious fanaticism and self-serving manipulation. The character Muhammad orders the murder of his critics.[172] Voltaire described the play as “written in opposition to the founder of a false and barbarous sect.”[173]

Voltaire described Muhammad as an “impostor”, a “false prophet”, a “fanatic” and a “hypocrite”.[174][175] Defending the play, Voltaire said that he “tried to show in it into what horrible excesses fanaticism, led by an impostor, can plunge weak minds”.[176] When Voltaire wrote in 1742 to César de Missy, he described Mohammed as deceitful.[177][178]

In his play, Mohammed was “whatever trickery can invent that is most atrocious and whatever fanaticism can accomplish that is most horrifying. Mahomet here is nothing other than Tartuffe with armies at his command.”[179][180] After later having judged that he had made Mohammed in his play “somewhat nastier than he really was”,[181] Voltaire claims that Muhammad stole the idea of an angel weighing both men and women from Zoroastrians, who are often referred to as “Magi“. Voltaire continues about Islam, saying:

Nothing is more terrible than a people who, having nothing to lose, fight in the united spirit of rapine and of religion.[182]

In a 1745 letter recommending the play to Pope Benedict XIV, Voltaire described Muhammad as “the founder of a false and barbarous sect” and “a false prophet”. Voltaire wrote: “Your holiness will pardon the liberty taken by one of the lowest of the faithful, though a zealous admirer of virtue, of submitting to the head of the true religion this performance, written in opposition to the founder of a false and barbarous sect. To whom could I with more propriety inscribe a satire on the cruelty and errors of a false prophet, than to the vicar and representative of a God of truth and mercy?”[183][184] His view was modified slightly for Essai sur les Moeurs et l’Esprit des Nations, although they remained negative.[185][186][125][187] In 1751, Voltaire performed his play Mohametonce again, with great success.[188]

Hinduism

Commenting on the sacred texts of the Hindus, the Vedas, Voltaire observed:

The Veda was the most precious gift for which the West had ever been indebted to the East.[189]

He regarded Hindus as “a peaceful and innocent people, equally incapable of hurting others or of defending themselves.”[190] Voltaire was himself a supporter of animal rights and was a vegetarian.[191] He used the antiquity of Hinduism to land what he saw as a devastating blow to the Bible’s claims and acknowledged that the Hindus’ treatment of animals showed a shaming alternative to the immorality of European imperialists.[192]

Views on race and slavery

Voltaire rejected the biblical Adam and Eve story and was a polygenist who speculated that each race had entirely separate origins.[193][194] According to William Cohen, like most other polygenists, Voltaire believed that because of their different origins blacks did not entirely share the natural humanity of whites.[195] According to David Allen Harvey, Voltaire often invoked racial differences as a means to attack religious orthodoxy, and the Biblical account of creation.[196]

His most famous remark on slavery is found in Candide, where the hero is horrified to learn “at what price we eat sugar in Europe” after coming across a slave in French Guiana who has been mutilated for escaping, who opines that, if all human beings have common origins as the Bible taught, it makes them cousins, concluding that “no one could treat their relatives more horribly”. Elsewhere, he wrote caustically about “whites and Christians [who] proceed to purchase negroes cheaply, in order to sell them dear in America”. Voltaire has been accused of supporting the slave trade as per a letter attributed to him,[197][198][199] although it has been suggested that this letter is a forgery “since no satisfying source attests to the letter’s existence.”[200]

In his Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire endorses Montesquieu‘s criticism of the slave trade: “Montesquieu was almost always in error with the learned, because he was not learned, but he was almost always right against the fanatics and the promoters of slavery.”[201]

Zeev Sternhell argues that despite his shortcomings, Voltaire was a forerunner of liberal pluralism in his approach to history and non-European cultures.[202] Voltaire wrote, “We have slandered the Chinese because their metaphysics is not the same as ours … This great misunderstanding about Chinese rituals has come about because we have judged their usages by ours, for we carry the prejudices of our contentious spirit to the end of the world.”[202] In speaking of Persia, he condemned Europe’s “ignorant audacity” and “ignorant credulity”. When writing about India, he declares, “It is time for us to give up the shameful habit of slandering all sects and insulting all nations!”[202] In Essai sur les mœurs et l’esprit des nations, he defended the integrity of the Native Americans and wrote favorably of the Inca Empire.[203]

Appreciation and influence

According to Victor Hugo: “To name Voltaire is to characterize the entire eighteenth century.”[204] Goethe regarded Voltaire to be the greatest literary figure in modern times, and possibly of all times.[205] According to Diderot, Voltaire’s influence on posterity would extend far into the future.[206][g] Napoleon commented that till he was sixteen he “would have fought for Rousseau against the friends of Voltaire, today it is the opposite…The more I read Voltaire the more I love him. He is a man always reasonable, never a charlatan, never a fanatic.”[207] Frederick the Greatcommented on his good fortune for having lived in the age of Voltaire, and corresponded with him throughout his reign until Voltaire’s death.[208] In England, Voltaire’s views influenced GodwinPaineMary WollstonecraftBenthamByron and Shelley.[205] Macaulay made note of the fear that Voltaire’s very name incited in tyrants and fanatics.[209][h]

In Russia, Catherine the Great had been reading Voltaire for sixteen years prior to becoming Empress in 1762.[208][210] In October 1763, she began a correspondence with the philosopher that continued till his death. The content of these letters has been described as being akin to a student writing to a teacher.[211] Upon Voltaire’s death, the Empress purchased his library, which was then transported and placed in The Hermitage.[212] Alexander Herzen remarked that “The writings of the egoist Voltaire did more for liberation than those of the loving Rousseau did for brotherhood.”[213] In his famous letter to N. V. GogolVissarion Belinsky wrote that Voltaire “stamped out the fires of fanaticism and ignorance in Europe by ridicule.”[214]

In his native Paris, Voltaire was viewed as the defender of Jean Calas and Pierre Sirven.[205] Although he failed in securing the annulment of la Barre‘s execution for “blasphemies” against Christianity, despite a protracted campaign, the criminal code that sanctioned the execution was revised during Voltaire’s lifetime.[215] In 1764, Voltaire successfully intervened and secured the release of Claude Chamont for the crime of attending Protestant services. When Comte de Lally was executed for treason in 1766, Voltaire wrote a 300-page document absolving de Lally. Subsequently, in 1778, the judgment against de Lally was expunged just before Voltaire’s death. The Genevan Protestant minister Pomaret once said to Voltaire, “You seem to attack Christianity, and yet you do the work of a Christian.”[216] Frederick the Great noted the significance of a philosopher capable of influencing judges to change their unjust decisions, commenting that this alone is sufficient to ensure the prominence of Voltaire as a humanitarian.[216]

Under the French Third Republic, anarchists and socialists often invoked Voltaire’s writings in their struggles against militarism, nationalism, and the Catholic Church.[217] The section condemning the futility and imbecility of war in the Dictionnaire philosophique was a frequent favorite, as were his arguments that nations can only grow at the expense of others.[218] Following the liberation of France from the Vichy regime in 1944, Voltaire’s 250th birthday was celebrated in both France and the Soviet Union, honoring him as “one of the most feared opponents” of the Nazi collaborators and someone “whose name symbolizes freedom of thought, and hatred of prejudice, superstition, and injustice.”[219]

Jorge Luis Borges stated that “not to admire Voltaire is one of the many forms of stupidity” and included his short fiction such as Micromégas in “The Library of Babel” and “A Personal Library.”[220] Gustave Flaubert believed that France had erred gravely by not following the path forged by Voltaire instead of Rousseau.[221] Most architects of modern America were adherents of Voltaire’s views.[205] According to Will Durant:

Italy had a Renaissance, and Germany had a Reformation, but France had Voltaire; he was for his country both Renaissance and Reformation, and half the Revolution.[204] He was first and best in his time in his conception and writing of history, in the grace of his poetry, in the charm and wit of his prose, in the range of his thought and his influence. His spirit moved like a flame over the continent and the century, and stirs a million souls in every generation.[222]

Voltaire and Rousseau

Voltaire’s junior contemporary Jean-Jacques Rousseau commented on how Voltaire’s book Letters on the English played a great role in his intellectual development.[223] Having written some literary works and also some music, in December 1745 Rousseau wrote a letter introducing himself to Voltaire, who was by then the most prominent literary figure in France, to which Voltaire replied with a polite response. Subsequently, when Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his book Discourse on Inequality, Voltaire replied, noting his disagreement with the views expressed in the book:

No one has ever employed so much intellect to persuade men to be beasts. In reading your work one is seized with a desire to walk on four paws [marcher à quatre pattes]. However, as it is more than sixty years since I lost that habit, I feel, unfortunately, that it is impossible for me to resume it.[224]

Subsequently, commenting on Rousseau’s romantic novel Julie, or the New Heloise, Voltaire stated:

No more about Jean-Jacques’ romance if you please. I have read it, to my sorrow, and it would be to his if I had time to say what I think of this silly book.[225]

Voltaire speculated that the first half of Julie had been written in a brothel and the second half in a lunatic asylum.[226] In his Lettres sur La Nouvelle Heloise, written under a pseudonym, Voltaire offered criticism highlighting grammatical mistakes in the book:

Paris recognized Voltaire’s hand and judged the patriarch to be bitten by jealousy.[225]

In reviewing Rousseau’s book Emile after its publication, Voltaire dismissed it as “a hodgepodge of a silly wet nurse in four volumes, with forty pages against Christianity, among the boldest ever known.” He expressed admiration for the section in this book titled Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar, calling it “fifty good pages…it is regrettable that they should have been written by…such a knave.”[227] He went on to predict that Emile would be forgotten after a month.[226]

In 1764, Rousseau published Lettres de la montagne, containing nine letters on religion and politics. In the fifth letter he wondered why Voltaire had not been able to imbue the Genevan councilors, who frequently met him, “with that spirit of tolerance which he preaches without cease, and of which he sometimes has need”. The letter continued with an imaginary speech delivered by Voltaire, imitating his literary style, in which he accepts authorship for the book Sermon of the Fifty—a book whose authorship Voltaire had repeatedly denied because it contained many heresies.[228]

In 1772, when a priest sent Rousseau a pamphlet denouncing Voltaire, Rousseau responded with a defense of Voltaire:

He has said and done so many good things that we should draw the curtain over his irregularities.[228]

In 1778, when Voltaire was given unprecedented honors at the Théâtre-Français,[229] an acquaintance of Rousseau ridiculed the event. This was met by a sharp retort from Rousseau:

How dare you mock the honors rendered to Voltaire in the temple of which he is the god, and by the priests who for fifty years have been living off his masterpieces?[230]

On 2 July 1778, Rousseau died one month after Voltaire’s death.[231] In October 1794, Rousseau’s remains were moved to the Panthéon, where they were placed near the remains of Voltaire.[232][i]

Louis XVI, while incarcerated in the Temple, had remarked that Rousseau and Voltaire had “destroyed France”, by which he meant his dynasty.[233][j]

Legacy

Voltaire perceived the French bourgeoisie to be too small and ineffective, the aristocracy to be parasitic and corrupt, the commoners as ignorant and superstitious, and the Church as a static and oppressive force useful only on occasion as a counterbalance to the rapacity of kings, although all too often, even more rapacious itself. Voltaire distrusted democracy, which he saw as propagating the idiocy of the masses.[235] Voltaire long thought only an enlightened monarch could bring about change, given the social structures of the time and the extremely high rates of illiteracy, and that it was in the king’s rational interest to improve the education and welfare of his subjects. But his disappointments and disillusions with Frederick the Great changed his philosophy somewhat, and soon gave birth to one of his most enduring works, his novella Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism, 1759), which ends with a new conclusion: “It is up to us to cultivate our garden.” His most polemical and ferocious attacks on intolerance and religious persecutions indeed began to appear a few years later. Candide was also burned and Voltaire jokingly claimed the actual author was a certain ‘Demad’ in a letter, where he reaffirmed the main polemical stances of the text.[236]

He is remembered and honored in France as a courageous polemicist who indefatigably fought for civil rights (as the right to a fair trial and freedom of religion) and who denounced the hypocrisies and injustices of the Ancien Régime. The Ancien Régime involved an unfair balance of power and taxes between the three Estates: clergy and nobles on one side, the commoners and middle class, who were burdened with most of the taxes, on the other. He particularly had admiration for the ethics and government as exemplified by the Chinese philosopher Confucius.[237]

Voltaire is also known for many memorable aphorisms, such as “Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer” (“If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”), contained in a verse epistle from 1768, addressed to the anonymous author of a controversial work on The Three Impostors. But far from being the cynical remark it is often taken for, it was meant as a retort to atheistic opponents such as d’HolbachGrimm, and others.[238] He has had his detractors among his later colleagues. The Scottish Victorian writer Thomas Carlyle argued that “Voltaire read history, not with the eye of devout seer or even critic, but through a pair of mere anti-catholic spectacles.”[239]

The town of Ferney, where Voltaire lived out the last 20 years of his life, was officially named Ferney-Voltaire in honor of its most famous resident in 1878.[240] His château is a museum. Voltaire’s library is preserved intact in the National Library of Russia at Saint Petersburg, Russia. In the Zurich of 1916, the theatre and performance group who would become the early avant-garde movement Dada named their theater The Cabaret Voltaire. A late-20th-century industrial music group then named themselves after the theater. Astronomers have bestowed his name to the Voltaire crater on Deimos and the asteroid 5676 Voltaire.[241]

Voltaire was also known to have been an advocate for coffee, as he was reported to have drunk it 50–72 times per day. It has been suggested that high amounts of caffeine acted as a mental stimulant to his creativity.[242] His great-grand-niece was the mother of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Catholic philosopher and Jesuit priest.[243][244] His book Candide was listed as one of The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, by Martin Seymour-Smith.

In the 1950s, the bibliographer and translator Theodore Besterman started to collect, transcribe and publish all of Voltaire’s writings.[245] He founded the Voltaire Institute and Museum in Genevawhere he began publishing collected volumes of Voltaire’s correspondence.[245] On his death in 1976, he left his collection to the University of Oxford, where the Voltaire Foundation became established as a department.[246][247] The Foundation has continued to publish the Complete Works of Voltaire, a complete chronological series which is expected to reach completion in 2018, reaching around 200 volumes, fifty years after the series began.[247][248] It also publishes the series Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, begun by Bestermann as Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, which has reached more than 500 volumes.[247]

Chronology

Works

Non-fiction

History

Novellas

  • The One-eyed Street Porter, Cosi-sancta (1715)
  • Plato’s Dream (1737)
  • Micromégas (1738)
  • The World as it Goes (1750)
  • Memnon (1750)
  • Bababec and the Fakirs (1750)
  • Timon (1755)
  • The Travels of Scarmentado (1756)
  • The Two Consoled Ones (1756)
  • Zadig, or, Destiny (1757)
  • Candide, or Optimism (1758)
  • Story of a Good Brahman (1759)
  • The King of Boutan (1761)
  • The City of Cashmere (1760)
  • An Indian Adventure (1764)
  • The White and the Black (1764)
  • Jeannot and Colin (1764)
  • The Blind Judges of Colors (1766)
  • The Princess of Babylon (1768)
  • The Man with Forty Crowns (1768)
  • The Letters of Amabed (1769)
  • The Huron, or Pupil of Nature (1771)
  • The White Bull (1772)
  • An Incident of Memory (1773)
  • The History of Jenni (1774)
  • The Travels of Reason (1774)
  • The Ears of Lord Chesterfield and Chaplain Goudman (1775)

Plays

Voltaire wrote between fifty and sixty plays, including a few unfinished ones.[249] Among them are:

Collected works

  • Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, A. Beuchot (ed.). 72 vols. (1829–40)
  • Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, Louis E.D. Moland and G. Bengesco (eds.}. 52 vols. (1877–85)
  • Oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, Theodore Besterman, et al. (eds.). 144 vols. (1968–2018)

See also

References …

Bibliography

Further reading

In French

  • Korolev, S. Voltaire et la reliure des livres // Revue Voltaire. Paris, 2013. #13. pp. 233–40.
  • René PomeauLa Religion de Voltaire, Librairie Nizet, Paris, 1974.
  • Valérie Crugten-André, La vie de Voltaire [1]

Primary sources

  • Morley, J., The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (21 vol 1901), online edition

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaire

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Richard Condon — The Whisper of The Axe– The Manchurian Candidate — Prizzi’s Honor — Videos

Posted on December 29, 2018. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Book, Books, Chinese, College, Communications, Congress, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Drug Cartels, Education, Entertainment, Ethic Cleansing, European History, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Fiction, Films, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Homicide, Language, liberty, Life, Literacy, Mastery, media, Movies, Movies, Narcissism, National Security Agency (NSA), Newspapers, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Press, Psychology, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Reviews, Television, Wisdom, Work, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Manchurian Candidate – opening scene

The Manchurian Candidate Interviews(1962 film)

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) – Assassination Scene (12/12) | Movieclips

The Remaker: The Manchurian Candidate 1962 vs. 2004

The Manchurian Candidate (1962): Classical Film Review

The Manchurian Candidate – Film, Literature and the New World Order

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Prizzis Honor 1985

Prizzi’s Honor

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Prizzis Honor 1985

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Anjelica Huston – Prizzi’s Honor – last scene

About the Archive

This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Please send reports of such problems to archive_feedback@nytimes.com.

Richard Condon, the fiendishly inventive novelist and political satirist who wrote “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Winter Kills” and “Prizzi’s Honor,” among other books, died yesterday at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He was 81.

Novelist is too limited a word to encompass the world of Mr. Condon. He was also a visionary, a darkly comic conjurer, a student of American mythology and a master of conspiracy theories, as vividly demonstrated in “The Manchurian Candidate.” That novel, published in 1959, subsequently became a cult film classic, directed by John Frankenheimer. In this spellbinding story, Raymond Shaw, an American prisoner of war (played in the film by Laurence Harvey), is brainwashed and becomes a Communist agent and assassin.

When the 1962 film was re-released in 1988, Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times that it was “arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film, yet by now it has developed a kind of innocence.”

Mr. Condon was a popular novelist who earned serious critical attention, although he did not always win favorable reviews. His response: “I’m a man of the marketplace as well as an artist.” And he added, “I’m a pawnbroker of myth.” Though others made claims that his novels were prophetic, he admitted only that they were “sometimes about five and a half minutes ahead of their time.”

In “Winter Kills,” a President, evidently modeled on John F. Kennedy, is assassinated in a conspiracy involving the Central Intelligence Agency and the underworld. Obsessed by politics, Mr. Condon once said: “Every book I’ve ever written has been about the abuse of power. I feel very strongly about that. I’d like people to know how deeply their politicians are wronging them.” That abuse could be in contemporary life or as long ago as the 15th century, as in his novel “A Trembling Upon Rome.”

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Politicians like Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and President Richard M. Nixon appeared in various guises in his work, Nixon as Walter Slurrie in “Death of a Politician.” Speaking about politics and political thrillers, Mr. Condon once said, “It’s the villains that make good literature, because they’re the only ones in the story who know what they want.”

He did not write his first novel until he was 42, but, once started, he never stopped. The first, “The Oldest Confession” (1958), was filmed as “The Happy Thieves,” starring Rex Harrison and Rita Hayworth. The novel was a success, but the film was a failure, whereas the second, “The Manchurian Candidate,” was popular in both forms. Eventually he wrote 26 novels and two works of nonfiction, “And Then We Moved to Rossenarra,” a memoir of the years he lived in Ireland, and “The Mexican Stove,” a cookbook he wrote with his daughter Wendy Jackson.

When asked how he knew so much about crime families, he said he first learned about the subject as a boy on the streets of Washington Heights. He was born in Manhattan and graduated from De Witt Clinton High School. Because his grades were so poor, he never went to college. He worked as an elevator operator, a hotel clerk and a waiter, then sold an article to Esquire magazine. While working as a copywriter for an advertising agency, he met a model named Evelyn Hunt, whom he married in 1938. Copywriting led him into movie publicity, with his first stop the Disney organization.

For 22 years, he was a movie publicist, working for almost every major Hollywood studio. With characteristic panache, he later described himself as “a drummer boy for the gnomes and elves of the silver screen.” During this period, he saturated himself with movies, watching eight a week. They were, he said, mostly bad films, but they taught him the art of storytelling and the need for the novelist to be entertaining.

In the late 1950’s, he left Hollywood and returned to New York to become a novelist. The idea for “The Oldest Confession” came while he was on location with “The Pride and the Passion” at El Escorial, outside Madrid. Fascinated by Old Master paintings, he wrote his book about art thievery. The consecutive success of “The Oldest Confession” and “The Manchurian Candidate” enabled him to devote himself to fiction.

In 1959, he began a series of migrations, first to Mexico, then to Switzerland, finally to Ireland. His travels added to his backlog of knowledge, but he continued to set most of his novels in the United States. Through the 1960’s and into the 70’s, his books received mixed reviews, with some of the more admiring notices going to “An Infinity of Mirrors” in 1964. “Winter Kills,” in 1974, drew favorable attention, with Christopher Lehmann-Haupt saying in his review in The Times that it was “a grand entertainment” and “the best book Mr. Condon has written since ‘The Manchurian Candidate.’ “

After writing a series of novels in Ireland, Mr. Condon moved back to the United States, settling in Dallas in 1980. In Texas, he had his next comeback, with “Prizzi’s Honor,” about the Prizzi family of mobsters in Brooklyn. John Huston turned the novel into a hit film, starring Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner and Anjelica Huston. The screenplay, by Mr. Condon and Janet Roach, was nominated for an Academy Award. Several years later, Mr. Condon completed the fictional cycle with “Prizzi’s Family,” “Prizzi’s Glory” and “Prizzi’s Money,” published in 1994.

Among his other novels are “Some Angry Angel,” “A Talent for Loving,” “Arigato” and “Emperor of America.”

Throughout his life, Mr. Condon displayed a wry, even diabolical streak. He often named his characters after real people. For example, the characters in Raymond Shaw’s infantry squad in “The Manchurian Candidate” were named for people associated with the Phil Silvers television show, “You’ll Never Get Rich.” His longest-running character, Dr. Weiler, was named after A. H. Weiler, a former film critic for The Times. In various Condon novels, Dr. Weiler turns up as an obstetrician, a cardiologist, a psychiatrist and the royal physician.

Mr. Condon is survived by his wife; two daughters, Ms. Jackson, of Dallas, and Deborah Condon, who lives near Salisbury in England, and three grandchildren.

Brainwashed

Where the “Manchurian Candidate” came from.

Most people know John Frankenheimer’s movie “The Manchurian Candidate,” which stars Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury in the story of an American soldier who is captured in Korea and programmed by Chinese Communists to kill on command. And most people probably think of the movie as a classic of Cold War culture, like “On the Beach” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”—a popular work articulating the anxieties of an era. In fact, “The Manchurian Candidate” was a flop. It was released in the fall of 1962, failed to recover its costs, and was pulled from distribution two years later, after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It turned up a few times on television, but it was not shown in a movie theatre again until 1987, which—nearly the end of the Cold War—is the year its popularity dates from. The true artifact of Cold War culture is the novel, by Richard Condon, that the movie was based on.

Condon’s book came out in 1959 and was a best-seller. It was praised in the Times (“a wild, vigorous, curiously readable melange”) and The New Yorker (“a wild and exhilarating satire”); Time named it one of the Ten Best Bad Novels—which, from a publisher’s point of view, is far from the worst thing that might be said about a book. The novel’s success made Condon rich; he spent most of the rest of his life abroad, producing many more works in the genre that Timehad identified, including “Winter Kills,” in 1974, and, in 1982, “Prizzi’s Honor.” His adaptation of that novel for the John Huston movie received an Academy Award nomination in 1986. He died in 1996.

Condon was a cynic of the upbeat type, not unlike Tom Wolfe: his belief that everything is basically shit did not get in the way of his pleasure in making fun of it. He learned that attitude in the finest school for it on earth, Hollywood. Before he was a novelist, Condon was a movie publicist. He began, in 1936, at Walt Disney Productions, where he promoted “Fantasia” and “Dumbo,” among other animated masterpieces, and moved on to a succession of studios, finishing up at United Artists, which he left in 1957. He didn’t know what he wanted to do next; he just wanted out. “The only thing I knew how to do was spell,” he later explained, so he did the logical thing and became a writer. Condon claimed that his work in Hollywood had given him three ulcers. He also claimed that he had seen, during his years there, ten thousand movies, an experience that he believed gave him (his words) “an unconscious grounding in storytelling.”

Frankenheimer called “The Manchurian Candidate” “one of the best books I ever read,” but admirers of Frankenheimer’s movie have not been so gracious. Greil Marcus, in a characteristically overheated appreciation of the movie in the British Film Institute’s Film Classics series, calls the novel a “cheaply paranoid fantasy,” and he goes on, “That the story would lodge in the nation’s psyche and stay there was the work of other hands.” The film historian David Thomson describes it as “a book written so that an idiot could film it.” No doubt Condon wrote “The Manchurian Candidate” with a movie deal in mind. It was his second novel; his first, called “The Oldest Confession,” was also made into a movie—“The Happy Thieves,” starring Rex Harrison (a flop that stayed a flop). But the claim that Condon’s “Manchurian Candidate” is not much more than a draft for the screenplay (which was written by George Axelrod, the author of “The Seven Year Itch”) is peculiar. Michael Crichton writes books that any idiot can film; he practically supplies camera angles. But Condon’s is not an easy book to film, in part because its tone is not readily imitated cinematically, and in part because much of it is, or was in 1962, virtually unfilmable. Strange as the movie is—a thriller teetering on the edge of camp—the book is stranger.

Time, a magazine whose editors, after all, have daily experience with overcooked prose, was not wrong in seeing something splendid in the badness of Condon’s book. “The Manchurian Candidate” may be pulp, but it is very tony pulp. It is a man in a tartan tuxedo, chicken à la king with shaved truffles, a signed LeRoy Neiman. It’s Mickey Spillane with an M.F.A., and a kind of summa of the styles of paperback fiction circa 1959. The writing is sometimes hardboiled:

The slightest touchy thing he said to her could knock the old cat over sideways with an off-key moan. But what could he do? He had elected himself Head Chump when he stepped down from Valhalla and telephoned this sweaty little advantage-taker.

Sometimes it adopts a police-blotter, “degree-zero” mode:

“Thank you, Major. Dismiss,” the general said. Marco left the office at four twenty-one in the afternoon. General Jorgenson shot himself to death at four fifty-five.

Occasionally, and usually in an inconvenient place, it drops a mot recherché:

Raymond’s mother came out of her chair, spitting langrel. [“Langrel”: irregular pieces of iron loaded into shell casings for the purpose of ripping the enemy’s sails in naval battles; obsolete.]

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He clutched the telephone like an osculatorium and did not allow himself to think about what lay beyond that instant. [“Osculatorium”: medieval Latin, for a tablet that is kissed during the Mass. There appears to be no connotation involving clutching.]

It signals feeling by waxing poetic:

Such an instant ago he had paddled their wide canoe across that lake of purple wine toward a pin of light high in the sky which would widen and widen and widen while she slept until it had blanched the blackness.

It signals wisdom by waxing incomprehensible:

There is an immutable phrase at large in the languages of the world that places fabulous ransom on every word in it: The love of a good woman. It means what it says and no matter what the perspective or stains of the person who speaks it, the phrase defies devaluing. The bitter and the kind can chase each other around it, this mulberry bush of truth and consequence, and the kind may convert the bitter and the bitter may emasculate the kind but neither can change its meaning because the love of a good woman does not give way to arbitrage.

And, when appropriate, it salivates:

Her lithe, solid figure seemed even more superb because of her flawless carriage. She wore a Chinese dressing gown of a shade so light that it complemented the contrasting color of her eyes. Her long and extremely beautiful legs were stretched out before her on the chaise longue, and any man but her son or her husband, seeing what she had and yet knowing that this magnificent forty-nine-year-old body was only a wasted uniform covering blunted neural energy, might have wept over such a waste.

Some people like their bananas ripe to the point of blackness. “The Manchurian Candidate” is a very ripe banana, and, for those who have the taste for it, delectable.

The magnificent forty-nine-yearold body in the last passage belongs to the mother of Raymond, the assassin, who in Frankenheimer’s movie is played by Angela Lansbury as a proper and steely middle-aged matron. For Condon, though, Raymond’s mother is no matron. She is a sexually predatory heroin addict who commits double incest. She is the serpent in the suburban garden of Cold War domesticity, and, in imagining her and her history, Condon almost certainly had in the back of his mind the book that, three years earlier, had become the first blockbuster in American publishing, Grace Metalious’s “Peyton Place”—a story that also had to be sanitized for the movies. The plot of “Peyton Place” turns on incest (as, for that matter, does the plot of “Lolita,” a sensation when the American edition came out, in 1958). But the luridness of Condon’s novel did not make it to the screen. There is no equivalent in the movie, for example, of the proto-Pynchonesque sequence in which Raymond’s stepfather, Johnny Iselin, attempts to have sex with an Eskimo. Frankenheimer’s idea of satire was a lot more conventional than Condon’s. He was also a Hollywood filmmaker, of course, and obliged to observe a different decorum.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, the secret to making a successful thriller, as Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy have demonstrated, is to slow down the action occasionally with disquisitions on Stuff It Is Interesting to Know—how airplanes are made, how nuclear submarines work, how to build an atomic bomb. Ideally, this information is also topical, food for the national appetite of the day. In “The Manchurian Candidate,” the topic is brainwashing.

Fear of Communist brainwashing seems an example of Cold War hysteria, but in the nineteen-fifties the fear was not without basis. United Nations ground forces began military action in Korea on July 5, 1950. On July 9th, an American soldier who had been captured just two days earlier delivered a radio speech consisting of North Korean propaganda. Similar broadcasts by captured soldiers continued throughout the war. At the end of the war, the Army estimated that one out of every seven American prisoners of war had collaborated with the enemy. (The final, generally accepted estimate is one out of ten.) Twenty-one Americans refused to return to the United States; forty announced that they had become Communists; and fourteen were court-martialled, and eleven of those were convicted.

The term “brainwashing” was coined by a journalist named Edward Hunter, who had served in the Morale Operations section of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War, which he spent mostly in Asia, and who became an outspoken anti-Communist. Hunter’s book “Brainwashing in Red China: The Calculated Destruction of Men’s Minds” appeared in 1951. In it, he explained that “brainwashing” was his translation of the Chinese term hsi-nao, which means “cleansing of the mind,” and which he said he had heard frequently when speaking with Europeans who had been caught inside China in 1949, the year of Mao’s revolution.

In 1955, two years after the armistice ending the Korean War, the Army issued a huge report on the treatment of American prisoners called “POW: The Fight Continues After the Battle.” The Army had interviewed all surviving prisoners of war on the ships that brought them back across the Pacific—more than four thousand soldiers—and had learned that many of them underwent intensive indoctrination by Chinese Communists. The Chinese had carefully segregated the prisoners they had identified as incorrigibles, sometimes housing them in separate camps, and had subjected the prisoners they judged to be potential converts to five hours of indoctrination a day, in classes that combined propaganda by the instructors with “confessions” by the prisoners. In some cases, physical torture accompanied the indoctrination, but in general the Chinese used the traditional methods of psychological coercion: repetition and humiliation. The Army discovered that a shocking number of prisoners had, to one degree or another, succumbed. Some were persuaded to accuse the United States, in signed statements, of engaging in germ warfare—a charge that was untrue but was widely believed in many countries.

The Army report instigated a popular obsession with brainwashing that lasted well into 1957. Stories about the experiences of American prisoners appeared in The Saturday Evening PostLife, the Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. The term itself became a synonym for any sort of effective persuasion, and writers struggled with the question of whether aspects of contemporary American life, such as advertising and psychiatric therapy, might really be forms of brainwashing. Condon must have read much of this material; he did know Andrew Salter’s “Conditioned Reflex Therapy” (1949), a book he has the Chinese psychiatrist in his novel, Yen Lo, cite in the speech in which he announces his successful brainwashing of the American prisoners. Yen Lo names a number of other studies of hypnosis and conditioning, including “The Seduction of the Innocent,” by Frederic Wertham, an alarmist account of the way comic books corrupt the minds of American youth. (Yen Lo evidently has, in addition to his other exceptional powers, a crystal ball, since “Seduction of the Innocent” was not published until 1954, after the Korean War was over.) These books and articles apparently persuaded Condon that brainwashing, or psychological conditioning using a combination of hypnosis and Pavlovian methods, was a real possibility—as the recent experience of the Korean P.O.W.s had persuaded many other Americans that it was.

Condon’s book played on the fear that brainwashing could be permanent, that minds could be altered forever. By the time Frankenheimer’s movie came out, though, it had become clear that most conditioning is temporary. In 1961, in “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of ‘Brainwashing’ in China,” the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton, who had conducted some of the shipboard interviews with returning P.O.W.s, concluded that the indoctrination of prisoners was a long-term failure. All of the “converts” eventually returned to the United States, and the former prisoners who had come home praising the good life to be had in North Korea soon reverted to American views.

Still, conditioning is the theme (if “theme” is not too grand a term) of Condon’s novel. Even before Raymond falls into the hands of Yen Lo, he is psychologically conditioned, by his mother’s behavior, to despise everyone. His mother is conditioned, by her early incest, to betray everyone. And the American people are conditioned, by political propaganda, to believe her McCarthy-like husband’s baseless charges about Communists in the government. It is not, in Condon’s vision, the Communist world on one side and the free world on the other. It is just the manipulators and the manipulated, the conditioners and the conditioned, the publicists and the public. In such a world, it’s probably better to be the publicist, if you can deal with the ulcers.

Frank Sinatra, who plays Marco, the only friend Raymond has, is supposed to have asked his friend Jack Kennedy for his approval before Frankenheimer’s movie was released. United Artists was apparently afraid that the assassination scene might give some nut an idea. Kennedy, as it happened, loved the movie; he was, after all, the world’s most famous Ian Fleming fan. He was killed a year after “The Manchurian Candidate” came out. Did Lee Harvey Oswald see it? The problem has been examined in depth by John Loken, in a book called “Oswald’s Trigger Films” (2000). Loken concludes that although the evidence is not definitive, Oswald almost certainly did see it. “The Manchurian Candidate” opened in Dallas in November, 1962, and played there for several months; Oswald, who was living in Dallas at the time, had a habit of going to the movies by himself (he was in a movie theatre when he was arrested on November 22, 1963); and Loken has determined that the bus Oswald probably took to work passed within ten yards of a theatre where the movie was playing. (Loken is much struck by the fact that references to “The Manchurian Candidate” are almost nonexistent in the literature, official and otherwise, on the Kennedy assassination. He concludes, in the spirit of all scholars of that assassination, that “the probable Oswald connection, so utterly obvious if one but thinks about it, has been suppressed for decades by a powerful conglomerate that might aptly be called the ‘media-entertainment complex.’ ”)

Immediately after Kennedy was shot, Condon got a call from a newspaper reporter asking if he felt responsible. Condon couldn’t see the relevance, and he was not being defensive. He had not introduced political assassination to popular American culture. Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men” was published in 1946 and was made into a movie in 1949; a version for television, directed by Sidney Lumet, was broadcast in 1958. Assassination is the subject of John Huston’s “We Were Strangers” (1949) and Lewis Allen’s “Suddenly” (1954), also starring Frank Sinatra. Oswald might easily have seen those movies as well. More to the point: “The Manchurian Candidate” is the story of a man programmed to kill at the command of other people. What self-respecting assassin would take such a character for his role model? Either Oswald acted according to his own wishes, in which case he wasn’t imitating Condon’s killer, or he really was programmed by the Communists, in which case the question isn’t whether Oswald saw Frankenheimer’s movie but whether his Communist masters did.

United Artists withdrew “The Manchurian Candidate” from theatres in 1964, although the movie could occasionally be seen on television and in art houses. In 1972, Sinatra bought the rights and, in 1975, removed it from circulation entirely. Whether or not he was motivated by guilt over Kennedy’s death is unclear. He did, however, give his daughter Tina permission to produce a remake, and it is being shot, this fall, by Jonathan Demme. (Demme’s previous movie, “The Truth About Charlie,” was also a remake, of Stanley Donen’s “Charade,” of 1963. His method, judging from that effort, is to update the story and then salt it with allusions to the period of the original. “Charade” was filmed in Paris at the time of the French New Wave, and so in Demme’s version there are appearances by Charles Aznavour, Agnès Varda, and the grave of François Truffaut—none of which have anything to do with the story. Demme has reportedly set “The Manchurian Candidate” in the time of the Gulf War; Liev Schreiber plays Raymond, Meryl Streep is his dragon mother, and Marco is played by Denzel Washington. We can be fairly confident that at some point Denzel Washington will be seen listening to a Frank Sinatra song.)

The Kennedy assassination does not fulfill Condon and Frankenheimer’s prophecy. On the contrary, it buries it. If any assassin might plausibly have been a Communist puppet, it was Oswald, a man who had lived in the Soviet Union for three years, who had a Russian wife, and who once handed out leaflets for an outfit called the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. These facts were widely known within hours of Oswald’s arrest, and yet the theory that he was an agent who was directed, wittingly or not, by Communist handlers has never been an important part of the folklore of the Kennedy assassination. Until the late nineteen-seventies, the official line (endorsed, incidentally, by Condon at the time) was that Oswald acted alone. Dissenters from that view have been drawn mainly to theories involving the Mafia and the Central Intelligence Agency, even though hooking Oswald up with those entities requires a far greater imaginative stretch than associating him with the Soviets. Almost no one thinks of Kennedy (except in some convoluted way) as a casualty of the Cold War, and his death does not represent the culmination of the national anxiety about Communist infiltration. It represents the end of that obsession, and of the panic that Condon’s novel and Frankenheimer’s movie both so happily exploit. ♦

  • Louis Menand, a staff writer since 2001, was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2016.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/09/15/brainwashed

RICHARD CONDON BOOKS IN ORDER

Publication Order of Prizzi Books

Prizzi’s Honor (1982) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Family (1986) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Glory (1988) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Prizzi’s Money (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Oldest Confession (1958) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Manchurian Cadidate (1959) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Some Angry Angel (1960) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Talent for Loving aka The Great Cowboy Race (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
An Infinity of Mirrors (1964) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Any God Will Do (1966) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Ecstasy Business (1967) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mile High (1969) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Vertical Smile (1971) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Arigato (1972) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Winter Kills (1974) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Star-spangled Crunch (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Money is Love (1975) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Whisper of the Axe (1976) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Abandoned Woman (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Bandicoot (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death of A Politician (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Entwining (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Trembling Upon Rome (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Emperor of America (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Final Addiction (1991) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Venerable Bead (1992) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

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Before he began writing fiction stories, Richard Thomas Condon worked for Walt Disney productions as a press agent in the movie business for 20 years where he spent most of his time in the major studios. Prior his moderate success in Hollywood, Condon also worked in the US Merchant Marine. He actually started writing in 1957 in his forties. He often complained of wasting a lot of time in Hollywood when he was employed as an ad writer by United Artists. His boss, Max Youngstein later fired him after deducting amounts from Condon’s salary without his knowledge. Youngstein also offered him a house overlooking a Mexican ocean and told him to write his book, The Manchurian Candidate (1959) which was his second novel. The book was used to make a movie in 1962, making Richard Condon famous. His other book, Prizzi’s Honor (1982) was also made into a successful movie.

Richard Condon was a thriller and satirical novelist, born and raised in New York City and best known for his conspiratorial books like The Oldest Confession (1958), Some Angry Angel (1960), A Talent of Loving (1961), An Infinity of Mirrors (1964) and many more novels. Condon’s writing was famous for its fascination with trivia, complex plotting, and hatred for those in power. For instance, his most popular novel The Manchurian Candidate was highly criticized because it seemed to disturbingly overshadow the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Furthermore, several books feature a thinly disguised version of Richard Nixon. His characters were driven by family loyalty, and with obsession, usually political and sexual. His plots had elements of a typical tragedy involving protagonists who are led by their pride to places where they destroy what they love. One of his most notable books, Mile High (1969) was best defined as secret history. In the novel, And Then We Moved to Rossenara, Richard Condon gives a humorous autobiography that recounts the various places he has lived in the world and his family’s move to Rossenarra, Ireland in the 1970s.

Apart from writing novels, Richard Condon also wrote some popular book series and bestsellers including; Prizzi’s Honor (1986), Prizzi’s Family (1986), Prizzi’s Glory (1988) and Prizzi’s Money (1994). He died in 1996.

Prizzi’s Honor was Richard Condon’s first book in the Prizzi’s series. This is not an ordinary story of a boy-meets-girl. Prizzis is the most influential Mafia family in New York. Their faithful lieutenant, Charley Partanna has affections for Irene Walker who works as a tax consultant in Los Angeles. She also does freelancing which pays her more. She is also a Mob’s hit woman. She cons the Prizzis an unforgivably huge amount of money. Indeed, this is a very dangerous moonlighting which eventually conflicts Charley’s oldest loyalties with his latest one. This book mixes character and caricature easily, making it one of his best books since The Manchurian Candidate.

The second book in the Prizzi’s series is the Prizzi’s Family. Here, Charley Partanna works for the Prizzi family as a hitman by day and studies for his high school exam by night. When he is not studying, he is juggling two beautiful women, probably more than he can handle. One, Maerose, is the granddaughter of Charley’s boss and is hungry for honor, power and Charley of course. The other, Mardell, is a sensational, one-third fantasy, two-thirds legs. This is a problem to Charley, but hormones seem to keep obstructing him. This book is funny and cheerful, and foams with perversity, obsessional religious mania, rascality, greed and lust, and assault and battery, making it a good read.

The next book in the series is Prizzi’s Glory. In this successful last volume in Prizzi trilogy series, the Prizzi family cleans up the environment, immersing huge benefits. They finally appear as a cruel, vivid and comic portrait of the America’s best-run Mafia institution. For the change, a tired, bored and depressed Charley Fontana weds Maerose, but this does not help because Don Corrado has thought of a bigger change, Prizzi’s respectability. Money flows to the Prizzi’s family through dubious activities like gambling, extortion, prostitution, loan-sharking, and narcotics. Don Corrado uses the money to control a new scam, a national political power which Charley heads. This book offers an accomplished and entertaining satire for a feat of joyful reading.

The last book in the Prizzi’s series is Prizzi’s Money. Richard Condon showcases the Prizzi family’s saga of organized crime. Here, Julia Asbury outwits the Prizzis, walking away with a huge amount of their money (a billion & a quarter) to start a new life. She does this after discovering that the Prizzis and her husband had double-crossed her.

Another noticeable writing style by Richard Condon was the use of real-life names in his books. Condon used names of real people as characters in his writings, but generally minor/peripheral ones. One of the most common names used in all of his novels includes F.M. Heller, Franz Heller, F. Marx Heller, and Frank Heller which are variations of Franklin M. Heller. In real life, Heller was, in fact, a television director based in New York City from the 1950s to 1970s and first lived on Long Island before moving to a house along Rockrimmon Road, Stamford, Connecticut. Starting with Mile High, Rockrimmon House and Rockrimmon Road have been frequently mentioned in the novels. All the fictional Hellers also shared a devotion for needlework and grew a thick-white beard similar to the real-life Heller who made a needlework depiction in Condon’s manor house in Ireland. Condon also had a great actor friend, Allan Melvin, who he wrote a nightclub act. Melvin also played Cpl. Henshaw in The Phil Servers Show which Condon was publicizing. Several Condon books particularly Prizzi’s Honor showcases Melvini as a prominent hit man.

Richard Condon’s legend is not only showcased in his wonderful writings but also some popular films that were adapted from his novels. The films include; The Manchurian Candidate (1962 and 2004), The Talent of Loving (1969), Winter Kills (1979), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), and The Happy Thieves from the novel The Oldest Confession (1962). The Manchurian Candidate is recognized as one of the best films of all time. The book combined several elements including; satire, nefarious conspiracies, black humor, outrage at financial and political corruption in America, as well as breath-taking elements from spy fiction and thrillers, and grotesque and horrific violence.

https://www.bookseriesinorder.com/richard-condon/

Condon, Richard 1915-1996 (Richard Thomas Condon)

Condon, Richard 1915-1996 (Richard Thomas Condon)
PERSONAL:
Born March 18, 1915, in New York, NY; died April 9, 1996, in Dallas, TX; son of Richard Aloysius and Martha Irene Condon; married Evelyn Rose Hunt, January 14, 1938; children: Deborah Weldon, Wendy Jackson. Education: Graduated from high school in New York, NY.

CAREER:
Writer. Publicist in New York, NY, and Hollywood, CA, for Walt Disney Productions, 1936-41, Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1941-45, Richard Condon, Inc., 1945-48, and Paramount Pictures Corp., 1948-53, and in Europe and Great Britain for United Artists Corp., 1953-57; novelist. Producer, with Jose Ferrer, of Broadway shows Twentieth Century and Stalag 17, 1951-52.

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MEMBER:
International Confederation of Book Actors (honorary life president), Dramatists Guild, Authors Guild, Authors League of America.

AWARDS, HONORS:
Writers Guild of America award, Bafta Award from British Academy of Film and Television Sciences, and Academy Award nomination, all 1986 for screen adaptation of Prizzi’s Honor,.

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WRITINGS:
And Then We Moved to Rossenarra; or, The Art of Emigrating, Dial (New York, NY), 1973.

(With daughter, Wendy Jackson) The Mexican Stove: What to Put on It and in It, Doubleday (Garden City, NY), 1973, reprinted, Taylor Publishing, 1988.

NOVELS
The Oldest Confession (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate selection), Appleton-Century-Crofts (New York, NY), 1958.

The Manchurian Candidate, McGraw (New York, NY), 1959, reprinted, Four Walls Eight Windows (New York, NY), 2003.

Some Angry Angel: A Mid-Century Faerie Tale, McGraw (New York, NY), 1960.

A Talent for Loving; or, The Great Cowboy Race, McGraw (New York, NY), 1961.

An Infinity of Mirrors, Random House (New York, NY), 1964.

Any God Will Do, Random House (New York, NY), 1965.

The Ecstasy Business, Dial (New York, NY), 1967.

Mile High (Literary Guild alternate selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1968.

The Vertical Smile (Literary Guild selection), Dial (New York, NY), 1971.

Arigato, Dial (New York, NY), 1972.

Winter Kills, Dial (New York, NY), 1974.

The Star Spangled Crunch, Bantam (New York, NY), 1974.

Money Is Love, Dial (New York, NY), 1975.

The Whisper of the Axe, Dial (New York, NY), 1976.

The Abandoned Woman: A Tragedy of Manners, Dial (New York, NY), 1977.

Bandicoot, Dial (New York, NY), 1978.

Death of a Politician, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1978.

The Entwining, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1980.

Prizzi’s Honor (second novel in trilogy; Book-of-the-Month Club joint main selection; also see below), Coward, McCann & Geoghegan (New York, NY), 1982.

A Trembling upon Rome, Putnam (New York, NY), 1983.

Prizzi’s Family (first novel in trilogy; Literary Guild joint main selection), Putnam, 1986.

Prizzi’s Glory (third novel in trilogy), Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.

The Final Addiction, Saint Martin’s Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Prizzi’s Money, Crown Publishing (New York, NY), 1994.

SCREENPLAYS
(With Janet Roach) Prizzi’s Honor (adaptation; see above), Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 1985.

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Also author screenplay for A Talent for Loving, 1969, and The Summer Music; author of the play Men of Distinction, produced on Broadway, 1953. Contributor to periodicals, including Holiday, Nation, Vogue, Harper’s, Gourmet, Esquire, Travel and Leisure, and Sunday Times magazine. Novels have been published in twenty-two languages and in braille.

ADAPTATIONS:
Books have been adapted for film, including The Oldest Confession released as the film The Happy Thieves, 1962; Winter Kill, 1979; and The Manchurian Candidate, 1962, and adapted remake, Paramount Pictures, 2004.

SIDELIGHTS:
Novelist Richard Condon began writing at age forty-two following a successful career as a movie publicist. Condon’s reputation as a writer of political thrillers was secured with his first two novels, The Oldest Confession and The Manchurian Candidate. Condon’s body of work included over twenty novels, two nonfiction books, a handful of plays and screenplays, and numerous articles on his twin passions, food and travel. This output netted him an income of about two and a half million dollars.

Condon took full advantage of his freedom as a writer. Although he resided in the United States later in life, for nineteen years Condon and his family lived in countries such as France, Spain, Switzerland, and Ireland. Condon’s focus in his novels, however, usually reflected his concerns about American society, particularly the United States government. Condon’s preoccupation with examining abuses of power made him into a cult figure of sorts to readers who shared his convictions. Condon’s novels are entertaining, despite their underlying seriousness. This assessment is compatible with Condon’s personal goals as a writer, which he discussed in a People magazine interview with Anne Maier. “I have never written for any other reason than to earn a living. This is certainly true of other writers, but some poor souls get mightily confused with art. I am a public entertainer who sees his first duty as the need to entertain himself.”

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Most of the material for Condon’s blend of reality and bizarre invention came from “the dirty linen closets of politics and money,” according to a New York Review of Books contributor Thomas R. Edwards. “His view—it might be called Condon’s Law—is that when you don’t know the whole truth, the worst you can imagine is bound to be close.” Edwards added: “[He] isn’t an analyst but an exploiter of our need to believe the worst. He does it skillfully, but his books would be less fun than they are if one didn’t suspect that he believes the worst too, that his pictures of a world of fools eternally at the mercy of knaves are also pictures of what, with anger and disgust, he takes to be the case.”

Condon’s second novel, The Manchurian Candidate, was published in 1959 and remains Condon’s most highly acclaimed novel, one that critics frequently cite as a standard of comparison for his later works. The title of the book refers to the main character, Raymond Shaw, a soldier who becomes a prisoner of war in Korea and is unknowingly brainwashed into committing crimes for his former captors after he returns to the United States. Commenting on this novel, reviewers distinguished carefully between Condon’s writing and literature. Most reviewers noted the novel’s many appeals. Michael Rogers, writing a Library Journal review of a 2003 reprint of the novel, commented that “any fan of political thrillers will enjoy this one.”

Condon followed The Manchurian Candidate with several relatively successful novels. Nevertheless, several of Condon’s subsequent novels generally fell out of favor with critics. In 1974, however, his novel Winter Kills was enthusiastically received. Winter Kills closely parallels the lives of members of the Kennedy family. The main character, Nick Thirkield, is the half-brother of John F. Kennedy analogue Tim Kegan, a young, liberal Irish president who is assassinated by a lone maniac. The assassin is caught and charged with the murder, but when Thirkield learns that another man may also have been involved, he has the case reopened.

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Several reviewers found themselves pleasantly surprised by Winter Kills. New York Times Book Review contributor Leo Braudy, for example, commented that Winter Kills is “a triumph of satire and knowledge, with a delicacy of style and a command of tone that puts Condon once again into the first rank of American novelists.” Braudy explained: “Winter Kills succeeds so brilliantly because the Kennedy assassination furnished Condon with a familiar mythic landscape through which his Gulliver-like hero can wander, simultaneously prey to Lilliputian politics, Brobdingnagian physicality, Laputan science, and Houyhnhnm moralism.” Christopher Lehmann-Haupt expressed a like opinion in the New York Times: “By the time I reached the end of the novel’s incredibly complex plot and had followed Nick Thirkield through the many blind alleys and trapdoors that eventually bring him face to face with the person behind his brother’s assassination, I was a Richard Condon fan once more.”

Extrapolation contributor Joe Sanders observed: “In Condon’s novels, politics determines the shape of society, but politics is not a voluntary, cooperative activity, entered into for some common end; it is a device by which a few clever people manipulate many others to gain their selfish ends.” Lehmann-Haupt expressed disappointment with the ending because he “caught on too early what the ultimate outcome would be,” but he found the novel’s conclusion satisfying. He wrote: “It may not be true that America is run by a small, conspiring oligarchy. It may not be true that things happen in the White House at the whim of movie stars and labor leaders, of courtesans and generals. But the possibilities are no longer inconceivable.”

Winter Kills was made into a critically acclaimed but briefly run film of the same title. Although Condon was not directly involved in the making of Winter Kills, the film’s quality drew his attention and support. After two years of filming for which most of the cast and crew were never paid, Winter Kills opened in New York in 1979 to favorable reviews. The film’s three-week run in showcase theaters was followed by disappearance from theatres, raising Condon’s conspiracy suspicions. Condon’s paranoia was further incited by the murder of one of the producers shortly after the film’s opening; two years later the second producer was sentenced to forty years in prison on a drug charge. The movie was briefly re-released in 1982 and 1983.

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Condon’s novel Prizzi’s Honor dealt with a similarly sensitive milieu: organized crime. Although this setting has been exploited by several other authors, notably Mario Puzo, reviewers believed that Condon’s novel offered a fresh outlook. Charles Champlin observed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review: “Condon, once again accepting the perceived reality as police leaks, newspaper exposes and Puzo have given it to us—complete with Sicilian litany of consiglieri, caporegimes, sottocapos, soldati, and a godfather with a lethal wheeze and a mind Machiavelli might envy—steps over it to present an outrageous and original love story.” New York Times Book Review contributor Robert Asahina noted: “Richard Condon is not Mario Puzo; suspense, not the family saga, is his forte. And he winds the mainspring of the plot so tight that the surprise ending will knock your reading glasses off. Yet Prizzi’s Honor is also a sendup of the prevailing sentimental picture of the underworld. To Mr. Condon, there is honor among these thieves—but it is precisely in the name of omerta that the fratellanza has been willing to ‘cheat, corrupt, scam, and murder anybody who stands between them and a buck.’”

The novel’s love interest involves Charley Partanna, a gourmet cook, compulsive house cleaner, and hit man for the Prizzi family; and Irene Walker, a tax consultant and freelance killer for hire. “It is something of a challenge to a novelist to create a love interest in a story that pairs two ruthless murderers,” observed Times Literary Supplement contributor Alan Bold. “Irene is presented as a colder fish than Charley—she has risen to the top of her profession on account of her ability to murder without remorse. She is as sound a psychopath as Charley. Condon suggests, however, that such creatures are capable of a great passion and Charley, for one, is sure that his love is the real thing.” New York Times contributor Susan Bolotin likewise commented on the originality of this pairing: “If boy-meets-girl/boy-gets-girl love stories seem poisonously tiresome to you, Richard Condon’s boisterous new novel may prove the perfect antidote. It’s true that Prizzi’s Honor starts off with a familiar melody, … but the book soon turns into a fugue with variations so intricate that the genre may never recover.”

Despite opposition from Charley’s father, Charley and Irene are wed. Condon takes the couple through a convoluted plot that includes “a kidnapping, international financial intrigue, a gangland war, police on the take, the power struggle within the family, contract killings, [and] lots of jolly sex,” wrote Bolotin. According to several reviewers, Condon’s exploration of the seamier side of organized crime is distressing. Best Sellers contributor Tony Bednarczyk wrote: “There is solid storytelling, but the subject raises disturbing questions about morals, and/or the lack thereof. It is a fast-paced, very readable story, but one feels a bit guilty for being interested in what comes next.” While Time critic Michael Demarest also believed that Prizzi’s Honor, “like most of [Condon’s] books, comes sometimes too close to the truth for comfort,” he nevertheless concluded: “Condon’s stylish prose and rich comedic gift once again spice a moral sensibility that has animated sixteen novels since The Manchurian Candidate appeared in 1962. If wit and irony could somehow neutralize villainy, the novelist would make a fine FBI director.” Other reviewers expressed similarly laudatory views. Champlin wrote: “Condon is once again the storytelling satirist with a sharp eye and a high velocity typewriter. Prizzi’s Honor may not be his best work but it ranks well up in the canon.” Concluded Asahina: “Twenty years after The Manchurian Candidate, it’s nice to know that Mr. Condon is still up to his sly tricks. In his case, at least, it’s a pleasure that—as he tells us an old Sicilian proverb has it—‘The less things change, the more they remain the same.’”

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Prizzi’s Honor was also made into a successful film of the same title, with Jack Nicholson and Kathleen Turner playing the roles of Charley Partanna and Irene Walker. The film was nominated for several Academy Awards, and the screenplay, adapted by Condon and coauthor Janet Roach, received awards from the Writers Guild of America and the British Academy of Film and Television Sciences. The project was initiated and eventually directed by John Huston.

Huston and movie critics alike believed that Prizzi’s Honor was faithful to the novel, a feat they attribute to Condon and Roach’s skillfully adapted screenplay. Chi-cago Tribune contributor Gene Siskel described Prizzi’s Honor as “a classic piece of moviemaking,” and Los Angeles Times film critic Sheila Benson noted: “To say the film is the treasure of the year would be to badmouth it in this disastrous season. Prizzi’s Honor would be the vastly original centerpiece of a great year.” Benson also wrote: “In its dangerous mix of love and murder, Huston is traversing terrain that he (and certainly The Manchurian Candidate author Condon) blazed decades ago. This ’80s-version denouement may distress the squeamish, but it’s right in keeping with Prizzi honor.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
BOOKS
Bestsellers 90, Issue 3, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1990.

Condon, Richard, Death of a Politician, Richard Marek (New York, NY), 1978.

Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series, Volume I, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume IV, 1975, Volume VI, 1976, Volume VIII, 1978, Volume X, 1979, Volume XLIV, 1987.

Newquist, Roy, Conversations, Volume I, Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), 1967.

PERIODICALS
Best Sellers, June, 1982, Tony Bednarczyk, review of Prizzi’s Honor; December, 1986.

Chicago Tribune, June 14, 1985, Gene Siskel, review of Prizzi’s Honor (film adaptation).

Daily Variety, March 8, 2002, Dana Harris and Sharon Swart, “‘Candidate’ for Redo: Paramount Plans Remake of 1962 Classic,” p. 1.

Extrapolation, summer, 1984, Joe Sanders, article about author.

Library Journal, November 1, 2003, Michael Rogers, review of The Manchurian Candidate, p. 129.

Los Angeles Times, June 14, 1985, Sheila Benson, review of Prizzi’s Honor (film adaptation).

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 25, 1982, Charles Champlin, review of Prizzi’s Honor.

Modern Language Quarterly, September, 2006, Micahel Szalay, review of The Manchurian Candidate, p. 363.

New Statesman, September 5, 1975, review of Money is Love, p. 285; August 13, 1976, review of The Whisper of the Axe, p. 216.

Newsweek, September 14, 1964, review of Manchurian Candidate; June 9, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 81.

New Yorker August 25, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 87; December 11, 1978, review of Death of a Politician, p. 206; October 28, 1991, review of The Final Addiction, p. 119.

New York Review of Books, February 8, 1979, Thomas R. Edwards, review of Death of a Politician, p. 35.

New York Times, May 24, 1974, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, review of Winter Kills; May 21, 1976; April 20, 1982, Susan Bolotin, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 25.

New York Times Book Review, May 26, 1974, Leo Braudy, review of Winter Kills; May 25, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 12; May 23, 1976, review of The Whisper of the Axe, p. 4; April 18, 1982, Robert Asahina, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 12; September 4, 1983, John Jay Osborn, Jr., review of A Trembling upon Rome, p. 4; September 28, 1986, Jimmy Breslin, review of Prizzi’s Family, p. 13; October 9, 1988, Vincent Patrick, review of Prizzi’s Glory, p. 24; February 11, 1990, Roy Blount, Jr., review of Emperor of America, p. 14; November 17, 1991, Bill Kent, review of The Final Addiction, p. 20; December 13, 1992, Donald E. Westlake, review of The Venerable Bead, p. 9; February 6, 1994, Joe Queenan, review of Prizzi’s Money, p. 9.

People, December 8, 1986, Anne Maier, interview with author.

Spectator, September 21, 1974, review of Winter Kills, p. 372.

Texas Monthly, August, 1994, William Cobb, “The Don of Dallas,” interview with author, p. 42.

Time, June 2, 1975, review of Money Is Love, p. 72; May 17, 1982, Michael Demarest, review of Prizzi’s Honor, p. 82; September 22, 1986, John Skow, review of Prizzi’s Family, p. 95; September 19, 1988, review of Prizzi’s Glory, p. 95.

Times Literary Supplement, June 11, 1982, Alan Bold, review of Prizzi’s Honor.

ONLINE
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (December 4, 2006), information on author’s film work.

OBITUARIES
PERIODICALS
New York Times, April 10, 1996, Mel Gussow.

Time, April 22, 1996, p. 33.

U.S. News & World Report, April 22, 1996, p. 26.

https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/condon-richard-1915-1996-richard-thomas-condon

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    Richard Condon

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Richard Condon

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Richard Condon
Born Richard Thomas Condon
March 18, 1915
New York CityNew York, U.S.
Died April 9, 1996 (aged 81)
DallasTexas, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Genre Fiction

Richard Thomas Condon (March 18, 1915 in New York City – April 9, 1996 in Dallas, Texas) was a prolific and popular American political novelist. Though his works were satire, they were generally transformed into thrillers or semi-thrillers in other mediums, such as cinema. All 26 books were written in distinctive Condon style, which combined fast-pace, outrage, and frequent humor while focusing almost obsessively at monetary greed and political corruption. Condon himself once said: “Every book I’ve ever written has been about abuse of power. I feel very strongly about that. I’d like people to know how deeply their politicians wrong them.”[1] Condon’s books were occasionally bestsellers, and many of his books were made into films; he is primarily remembered for his 1959 The Manchurian Candidate and, many years later, a series of four novels about a family of New York gangsters named Prizzi.

Condon’s writing was known for its complex plotting, fascination with trivia, and loathing for those in power; at least two of his books featured thinly disguised versions of Richard Nixon.[citation needed] His characters tend to be driven by obsession, usually sexual or political, and family loyalty. His plots often have elements of classical tragedy, with protagonists whose pride leads them to destroy what they love. Some of his books, most notably Mile High (1969), are perhaps best described as secret history.[citation needed] And Then We Moved to Rossenarra is a humorous autobiographical recounting of various places in the world where he had lived and his family’s 1970s move to Rossenarra, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland.

Contents

Early life[edit]

Born in New York City, Condon attended DeWitt Clinton High School.[2]

After service in the United States Merchant Marine, Condon achieved moderate success as a Hollywood publicist, ad writer and Hollywood agent. Condon turned to writing in 1957. Employed by United Artists as an ad writer, he complained that he was wasting time in Hollywood and wanted to write a novel. Without Condon’s knowledge, his boss, Max E. Youngstein, deducted money from his salary, then fired him after a year, returning the amount of money he had deducted in the form of a Mexican bank account and the key to a house overlooking the ocean in Mexico. Youngstein told him to write his book.[3] His second novel, The Manchurian Candidate (1959), featured a dedication to Youngstein and was made into a successful film.

Basic theme throughout Condon’s books[edit]

In Mile High, his eighth novel, one primarily about how a single spectacularly ruthless gangster named Eddie West imposes Prohibition upon an unwary populace, Condon sums up the theme of all his books in a single angry cri de coeur:

“Prohibition fused the amateurism and catch-as-catch-can national tendencies of the early days of the republic with a more modern, highly organized lust for violence and the quick buck. It fused the need to massacre twelve hundred thousand American Indians and ten million American buffalo, the lynching bees, the draft riots, bread riots, gold riots and race riots, the constant wars, the largest rats in the biggest slums, boxing and football, the loudest music, the most strident and exploitative press with the entire wonderful promise of tomorrow and tomorrow, always dragging the great nation downward into greater violence and more unnecessary deaths, into newer and more positive celebration of nonlife, all so that the savage, simple-minded people might be educated into greater frenzies of understanding that power and money are the only desirable objects for this life.”[4]

“Manchurian Candidate”[edit]

Although not perhaps actually originated by Condon himself, his use of “the Manchurian Candidate” made that phrase a part of the English language. Frank Rich, for example, in his column in the “Sunday Opinion” of The New York Times of August 17, 2008, writes about Barack Obama with a reference to both a well-known actress and a well-known plot element in the first movie version of Condon’s 1959 book:

“[Obama’s] been done in by that ad with Britney [Spears] and Paris [Hilton] and a new international crisis that allows [John] McCain to again flex his Manchurian Candidate military cred. Let the neocons identify a new battleground for igniting World War III… and McCain gets with the program as if Angela Lansbury has just dealt him the Queen of Hearts“.[5]

“The fiction of information”[edit]

Condon’s works are difficult to categorize precisely: A 1971 Time magazine review declared that, “Condon was never a satirist: he was a riot in a satire factory. He raged at Western civilization and every last one of its works. He decorticated the Third Reich, cheese fanciers, gossip columnists and the Hollywood star system with equal and total frenzy.” [6] The headline of his obituary in The New York Times called him a “political novelist”,[7] but went on to say that, “Novelist is too limited a word to encompass the world of Mr. Condon. He was also a visionary, a darkly comic conjurer, a student of American mythology and a master of conspiracy theories, as vividly demonstrated in ‘The Manchurian Candidate.'”[7] Although his books combined many different elements, including occasional outright fantasy and science fiction, they were, above all, written to entertain the general public. He had, however, a genuine disdain, outrage, and even hatred for many of the mainstream political corruptions that he found so prevalent in American life. In a 1977 quotation, he said that:[8]

“…people are being manipulated, exploited, murdered by their servants, who have convinced these savage, simple-minded populations that they are their masters, and that it hurts the head, if one thinks. People accept servants as masters. My novels are merely entertaining persuasions to get the people to think in other categories.”

With his long lists of absurd trivia and “mania for absolute details”, Condon was, along with Ian Fleming, one of the early exemplars of those called by Pete Hamill in a New York Times review, “the practitioners of what might be called the New Novelism… Condon applies a dense web of facts to fiction…. There might really be two kinds of fiction: the fiction of sensibility and the fiction of information… As a practitioner of the fiction of information, no one else comes close to him.”[9]

Quirks and characteristics[edit]

Condon attacked his targets wholeheartedly but with a uniquely original style and wit that made almost any paragraph from one of his books instantly recognizable. Reviewing one of his works in the International Herald Tribune, playwright George Axelrod (The Seven Year ItchWill Success Spoil Rock Hunter), who had collaborated with Condon on the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Manchurian Candidate, wrote:

“The arrival of a new novel by Richard Condon is like an invitation to a party…. the sheer gusto of the prose, the madness of his similes, the lunacy of his metaphors, his infectious, almost child-like joy in composing complex sentences that go bang at the end in the manner of exploding cigars is both exhilarating and as exhausting as any good party ought to be.”

Metaphors and similes[edit]

From his 1975 novel, Money Is Love, comes a fine example of the “lunacy of his metaphors”: “Mason took in enough cannabis smoke to allow a Lipan Apache manipulating a blanket over it to transmit the complete works of Tennyson.” [10]

The Manchurian Candidate offers:

“The effects of the narcotics, techniques, and suggestions… achieved a result that approximated the impact an entire twenty-five-cent jar of F. W. Woolworth vanishing cream might have on vanishing an aircraft carrier of the Forrestal class when rubbed into the armor plate.”[11]

Lists and trivia[edit]

Condon was also enamored of long lists of detailed trivia that, while at least marginally pertinent to the subject at hand, are almost always an exercise in gleeful exaggeration and joyful spirits. In An Infinity of Mirrors, for instance, those in attendance of the funeral of a famous French actor and notable lover are delineated as:

Seven ballerinas of an amazing spectrum of ages were at graveside. Actresses of films, opera, music halls, the theatre, radio, carnivals, circuses, pantomimes, and lewd exhibitions mourned in the front line. There were also society leaders, lady scientists, women politicians, mannequins, couturières, Salvation Army lassies, all but one of his wives, a lady wrestler, a lady matador, twenty-three lady painters, four lady sculptors, a car-wash attendant, shopgirls, shoplifters, shoppers, and the shopped; a zoo assistant, two choir girls, a Métro attendant from the terminal at the Bois de Vincennes, four beauty-contest winners, a chambermaid; the mothers of children, the mothers of men, the grandmothers of children and the grandmothers of men; and the general less specialized, female public-at-large which had come from eleven European countries, women perhaps whom he had only pinched or kissed absent-mindedly while passing through his busy life. They attended twenty-eight hundred and seventy strong, plus eleven male friends of the deceased.[12]

Writing about The Whisper of the Axe in the daily book review column of Friday, May 21, 1976, in the New York Times, Richard R. Lingeman praised the book in particular and Condon in general for his “extravagance of invention unique with him.” [13]

Not everyone was as exhilarated by Condon’s antics, however. In a long Times Sunday review just two days after Lingeman’s, Roger Sale excoriated Condon as a writer of “how-to books” in general, this book in particular, and Condon’s habit of using lists: “A lot of it is done with numbers arbitrarily chosen to falsely simulate precision.” [14]

Real-life names in his books[edit]

All of Condon’s books have, to an unknown degree, the names of real people in them as characters, generally very minor or peripheral. The most common, which appears in all of his books, is some variation of Franklin M. Heller. Among them are F.M. Heller, Frank Heller, Franz Heller, and F. Marx Heller. The real-life Heller was apparently a television director in New York City in the 1950s, ’60s, and 70s, who initially lived on Long Island and then moved to a house on Rockrimmon Road in Stamford, Connecticut.[15] Beginning with Mile High in 1969, mentions of a Rockrimmon Road or Rockrimmon House also began to appear regularly in the novels. Late in life Heller grew a thick white beard and became a devotee of needlework—both traits that the fictional Hellers shared, sometimes to ludicrous effect, as when a battle-hardened Admiral Heller is depicted issuing orders while absorbed in needlework. The real-life Heller made one needlework depiction of the manor house in Ireland in which Condon was living at the time.

Condon was a great friend of actor Allan Melvin, having written a nightclub act for him. Condon later became a publicist for The Phil Silvers Show (“Sgt. Bilko”), on which Melvin played Cpl. Henshaw. Melvin’s name shows up in several Condon books, most prominently as hitman Al (the Plumber) Melvini in “Prizzi’s Honor” (a play on Melvin’s “Al the Plumber” character in Liquid-Plumr commercials.) In The Manchurian Candidate, with the exception of Marco, Shaw and Mavole, all of Marco’s platoon members are named for the cast/crew of “Bilko”: (Nat) Hiken, (Maurice) Gosfield, (Jimmy) Little, (Phil) Silvers, (Allan) Melvin, (Mickey) Freeman and (Harvey) Lembeck.

Career in films[edit]

For many years a Hollywood publicity man for Walt Disney and other studios, Condon took up writing relatively late in life and his first novel, The Oldest Confession, was not published until he was 43. The demands of his career with United Artists—promoting dreadful movies such as The Pride and the Passion and A King and Four Queens—led to a series of bleeding ulcers and a determination to do something else.

His next book, The Manchurian Candidate, combined all the elements that defined his works for the next 30 years: nefarious conspiracies, satire, black humor, outrage at political and financial corruption in the American scene, breath-taking elements from thrillers and spy fiction, horrific and grotesque violence, and an obsession with the minutiae of food, drink, and fast living. It quickly made him, for a few years at least, the center of a cult devoted to his works. As he rapidly produced more and more books with the same central themes, however, this following fell away and his critical reputation diminished. Still, over the next three decades Condon produced works that returned him to favor, both with the critics and the book-buying public, such as Mile HighWinter Kills, and the first of the Prizzi books, Prizzi’s Honor.

Of his numerous books that were turned into Hollywood movies, The Manchurian Candidate was filmed twice. The first version, in 1962, which starred Frank SinatraLaurence HarveyJanet Leigh, and Angela Lansbury, followed the book with great fidelity, and is now highly regarded as a glimpse into the mindset of its era. Janet Maslin, writing already over two decades ago, said in The New York Times In 1996 that it was “arguably the most chilling piece of cold war paranoia ever committed to film, yet by now it has developed a kind of innocence.”[7]

The Keener’s Manual[edit]

Beginning with his first book, The Oldest Confession, Condon frequently prefaced his novels with excerpts of verse from a so-called Keener’s Manual; these epigraphs foreshadowed the theme of the book or, in several instances, gave the book its title. The Keener’s Manual, however, was a fictional invention by Condon and does not actually exist. A “keen” is a “lamentation for the dead uttered in a loud wailing voice or sometimes in a wordless cry” [16] and a “keener” is a professional mourner, usually a woman in Ireland, who “utters the keen… at a wake or funeral.” [17]

Five of Condon’s first six books derived their titles from the fictional manual, the only exception being his most famous book, The Manchurian Candidate. The epigraph in The Manchurian Candidate, however, “I am you and you are me /and what have we done to each other?” is a recurring theme in earlier Condon’s books: in various forms it also appears as dialog in both The Oldest Confession and Some Angry Angel. Among other epigraphs, the last line of “The riches I bring you /Crowding and shoving, /Are the envy of princes: /A talent for loving.” is the title of Condon’s fourth novel. His fifth and sixth novels, An Infinity of Mirrors and Any God Will Do, also derive their titles from excerpts of the manual.

Plagiarism charge[edit]

In 1998 a California software engineer noticed several paragraphs in The Manchurian Candidate that appeared nearly identical to portions of the celebrated 1934 novel I, Claudius by the English writer Robert Graves. She wrote about the apparent plagiarism on her website but her discovery went unnoticed by most of the world until Adair Lara, a longtime San Francisco Chronicle staff writer, wrote a lengthy article about the accusation in 2003.[18] Reprinting the paragraphs in question, she also solicited the opinion of a British forensic linguist, who concluded that Condon had unquestionably plagiarized at least two paragraphs of Graves’s work. By this time, however, more than seven years had passed since Condon’s death and Lara’s article also failed to generate any literary interest outside the Chronicle.

In Some Angry Angel, the book that followed The Manchurian Candidate, Condon makes a direct reference to Graves. In a long, convoluted passage on page 25 Condon reflects on “mistresses” and their relationship—a peripheral one, to the reader—to Graves’s writings about “Major Male” Deities and “Major Female” Deities. As Angel was published only a year after Candidate, there is no question, therefore, about Condon’s familiarity with the works of Robert Graves.[19]

Condon’s familiarity with Graves is also in evidence on p. 127 of his first novel, The Oldest Confession. One of the characters in the book purchases a copy of Graves’ Antigua, Penny, Puce!

Works[edit]

All novels except as noted:

Films adapted from Condon novels[edit]

Articles[edit]

  • “‘Manchurian Candidate’ in Dallas”. The Nation, December 28, 1963.

References[edit]

This article incorporates material from the Citizendium article “Richard Condon“, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License but not under the GFDL.

  1. ^ Locus, The Magazine of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Field, from their May, 1996, issue #424, obituary of Condon, exact page unknown
  2. ^ Buckley, Tom. “THE LITERARY CONSPIRACIES OF RICHARD CONDON”The New York Times, September 2, 1979. Accessed September 14, 2009.
  3. ^ Max E. Youngstein – Biography
  4. ^ Mile High, The Dial Press, New York, 1969, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 77-80497, page 156
  5. ^ The New York Times, Sunday, August 17, 2008, Sunday Opinion, “The Candidate We Still Don’t Know” at [1]
  6. ^ Time magazine, “Cheese”, March 4, 1971, at
  7. Jump up to:a b c The New York Times, Wednesday, April 10, 1996, Obituaries, “Richard Condon, Political Novelist, Dies at 81; Wrote ‘Manchurian Candidate’ and ‘Prizzi'” at [2]
  8. ^ Who’s Who in Spy Fiction, Donald McCormick, Sphere Books Ltd., London, 1977, page 64
  9. ^ “For Eddie West, power was all that mattered,” by Pete Hamill, The New York Times, August 31, 1969, at
  10. ^ Time Magazine, “Liederkranz”, a book review by John Skow, June 2, 1975
  11. ^ The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Signet, New York, November, 1962, fifth printing, page 261
  12. ^ An Infinity of Mirrors, by Richard Condon, paperback edition, Fawcett Crest, New York, September, 1965, page 36
  13. ^ “A Thriller of the Condon Class”, by Richard R. Lingeman, The New York Times, May 21, 1976, at [3]
  14. ^ Roger Sale, May 23, 1976, in The New York Times, at
  15. ^ Remembrance of Frank Heller,” by Ira Skutch, at
  16. ^ Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, Merriam-Webster, Inc., Springfield, Massachusetts, 2004, ISBN 0-87779-807-9
  17. ^ Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, G. & C. Merriam Co., Publishers, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1943
  18. ^ “Has a local software engineer unmasked ‘The Manchurian Candidate’? Menlo Park woman says author Richard Condon plagiarized”, by Adair Lara, in the San Francisco Chronicle,October 4, 2003; the entire article can be read at [4]
  19. ^ Some Angry Angel: A Mid-Century Faerie Tale, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1960, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8826, page 25

 

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The author of the explosive new Trump book says he can’t be sure if parts of it are true

michael wolffMichael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

  • “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” has set the political world ablaze.
  • It contains vivid, detailed, and embarrassing accounts of President Donald Trump and those around him.
  • But the book’s author, Michael Wolff, says he can’t be sure that all of it is true.

The author of the explosive new book about Donald Trump’s presidency acknowledged in an author’s note that he wasn’t certain all of its content was true.

Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” included a note at the start that casts significant doubt on the reliability of the specifics contained in the rest of its pages.

Several of his sources, he says, were definitely lying to him, while some offered accounts that flatly contradicted those of others.

But some were nonetheless included in the vivid account of the West Wing’s workings, in a process Wolff describes as “allowing the reader to judge” whether the sources’ claims are true.

Donald Trump January 4 2018

Donald Trump, seen at a meeting in the White House the day after elements of Wolff’s book began to be reported. AP

In other cases, the media columnist said, he did use his journalistic judgment and research to arrive at what he describes “a version of events I believe to be true.”

Here is the relevant part of the note, from the 10th page of the book’s prologue:

“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.

“Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”

The book itself, reviewed by Business Insider from a copy acquired prior to its Friday publication, is not always clear about what level of confidence the author has in any particular assertion.

Lengthy, private conversations are reported verbatim, as are difficult-to-ascertain details like what somebody was thinking or how the person felt.

Wolff attributes his book to “more than two hundred interviews” with people including Trump and “most members of his senior staff.” According to the news website Axios, Wolff has dozens of hours of tapes to back up what he said.

Claims contained in the book have been widely reported by the media in the US and further afield.

They include assertions that Trump never wanted to be president, that all of his senior staff considered him an idiot, that he tried to lock the Secret Service out of his room, and that he ate at McDonald’s to avoid being poisoned.

Business Insider rounded up some more of the most eye-catching claims in this article.

Trump, who sought to block publication of the book but was too late, tweeted Thursday that it was “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”

I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, described the book as “complete fantasy.”

Asked to rebut specific points, she said: “I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page and talking about a book that is complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip.”

Other people mentioned in the book have also disputed claims made about them.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who the book said warned Trump that he may be under surveillance from British spies, issued a statement describing the claim as “categorically absurd” and “simply untrue.”

Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor, also dismissed the claim that she lobbied Trump to be his ambassador to the UK as “laughably preposterous.”

Other journalists have also urged caution. Some cited Wolff’s track record — questions were raised about his 2008 book on Rupert Murdoch — and others compared his claims with their own knowledge of the Trump White House.

On Friday morning, Wolff responded to claims about the accuracy of his book in an interivew with NBC’s “Today” show.

Host Savannah Guthrie asked him: “You stand by everything in the book? Nothing made up?”

He responded: “Absolutely everything in the book.”

Shortly after, he expanded, saying: “I am certainly and absolutely, in every way, comfortable with everything I’ve reported in this book.”

This isn’t necessarily at odds with what he said in the author’s note, as it allows for the possibility that he was told something untrue and repeated it without realising, or reached a wrong conclusion when presenting a version of contested events.

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-wolff-note-says-he-doesnt-know-if-trump-book-is-all-true-2018-1

Trump legal team blasts explosive Michael Wolff book in cease-and-desist letter

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, has demanded on behalf of his client that author Michael Wolff and his publisher immediately “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of a forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

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The book is scheduled to be released next week but excerpts have caused a stir.

“We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump,” the lawyer wrote to Wolff.

The letter goes on to say they are looking into possible defamation of Trump and his family and invasion of privacy.

The lengthy letter to Wolff and Henry Holt and Co. Inc. goes on to accuse the author of actual malice.

PHOTO: Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in this file photo, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILE
Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in this file photo, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington.more +

It states, “Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements. Moreover, the Book appears to cite to no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump. Also, many of your so-called ‘sources’ have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them. Other alleged ‘sources’ of statements about Mr. Trump are believed to have no personal knowledge of the facts upon which they are making statements or are known to be unreliable and/or strongly biased against Mr. Trump.”

Harder sent a similar letter to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon Wednesday night demanding he cease and desist from making allegedly false statements against the president and his family.

Bannon has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Henry Holt and Company the publisher of “Fire and Fury” told ABC News on Thursday, “We can confirm we received the Cease and Desist letter.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base, Aug. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on America’s military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base, Aug. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.more +

President Trump’s comments, which came in the form of a written statement from the White House, were in response to Bannon’s strident criticism of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushnerand Paul Manafort for sitting down with a group of Russians who promised damaging information against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election in excerpts from Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

Scoop: Wolff taped interviews with Bannon, top officials

  • Mike Allen

Michael Wolff interviews Kellyanne Conway at the Newseum in April. (AP’s Carolyn Kaster)

Michael Wolff has tapes to back up quotes in his incendiary book — dozens of hours of them.

Among the sources he taped, I’m told, are Steve Bannon and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh.

  • So that’s going to make it harder for officials to deny embarrassing or revealing quotes attributed to them in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” out Tuesday.
  • In some cases, the officials thought they were talking off the record. But what are they going to do now?
  • Although the White House yesterday portrayed Wolff as a poseur, he spent hours at a time in private areas of the West Wing, including the office of Reince Priebus when he was chief of staff.
  • The White House says Wolff was cleared for access to the West Wing fewer than 20 times.
  • Wolff, a New Yorker, stayed at the Hay Adams Hotel when he came down to D.C., and White House sources frequently crossed Lafayette Park to meet him there.

Part of Wolff’s lengthy index entry for Bannon:

Some reporters and officials are calling the book sloppy, and challenging specific passages.

  • How could Wolff possibly know for sure what Steve Bannon and the late Roger Ailes said at a private dinner?
  • It turns out Wolff hosted the dinner for six at his Manhattan townhouse.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM.

https://www.axios.com/how-michael-wolff-did-it-2522360813.html

“You Can’t Make This S— Up”: My Year Inside Trump’s Insane White House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author and columnist Michael Wolff was given extraordinary access to the Trump administration and now details the feuds, the fights and the alarming chaos he witnessed while reporting what turned into a new book.

Editor’s Note: Author and Hollywood Reporter columnist Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (Henry Holt & Co.), is a detailed account of the 45th president’s election and first year in office based on extensive access to the White House and more than 200 interviews with Trump and senior staff over a period of 18 months. In advance of the Jan. 9 publication of the book, which Trump is already attacking, Wolff has written this extracted column about his time in the White House based on the reporting included in Fire and Fury.

interviewed Donald Trump for The Hollywood Reporter in June 2016, and he seemed to have liked — or not disliked — the piece I wrote. “Great cover!” his press assistant, Hope Hicks, emailed me after it came out (it was a picture of a belligerent Trump in mirrored sunglasses). After the election, I proposed to him that I come to the White House and report an inside story for later publication — journalistically, as a fly on the wall — which he seemed to misconstrue as a request for a job. No, I said. I’d like to just watch and write a book. “A book?” he responded, losing interest. “I hear a lot of people want to write books,” he added, clearly not understanding why anybody would. “Do you know Ed Klein?”— author of several virulently anti-Hillary books. “Great guy. I think he should write a book about me.” But sure, Trump seemed to say, knock yourself out.

Since the new White House was often uncertain about what the president meant or did not mean in any given utterance, his non-disapproval became a kind of passport for me to hang around — checking in each week at the Hay-Adams hotel, making appointments with various senior staffers who put my name in the “system,” and then wandering across the street to the White House and plunking myself down, day after day, on a West Wing couch.

The West Wing is configured in such a way that the anteroom is quite a thoroughfare — everybody passes by. Assistants — young women in the Trump uniform of short skirts, high boots, long and loose hair — as well as, in situation-comedy proximity, all the new stars of the show: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner, Mike Pence, Gary Cohn, Michael Flynn (and after Flynn’s abrupt departure less than a month into the job for his involvement in the Russia affair, his replacement, H.R. McMaster), all neatly accessible.

The nature of the comedy, it was soon clear, was that here was a group of ambitious men and women who had reached the pinnacle of power, a high-ranking White House appointment — with the punchline that Donald Trump was president. Their estimable accomplishment of getting to the West Wing risked at any moment becoming farce.

A new president typically surrounds himself with a small group of committed insiders and loyalists. But few on the Trump team knew him very well — most of his advisors had been with him only since the fall. Even his family, now closely gathered around him, seemed nonplussed. “You know, we never saw that much of him until he got the nomination,” Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, told one senior staffer. If much of the country was incredulous, his staff, trying to cement their poker faces, were at least as confused.

Their initial response was to hawkishly defend him — he demanded it — and by defending him they seemed to be defending themselves. Politics is a game, of course, of determined role-playing, but the difficulties of staying in character in the Trump White House became evident almost from the first day.

“You can’t make this shit up,” Sean Spicer, soon to be portrayed as the most hapless man in America, muttered to himself after his tortured press briefing on the first day of the new administration, when he was called to justify the president’s inaugural crowd numbers — and soon enough, he adopted this as a personal mantra. Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, had, shortly after the announcement of his appointment in November, started to think he would not last until the inauguration. Then, making it to the White House, he hoped he could last a respectable year, but he quickly scaled back his goal to six months. Kellyanne Conway, who would put a finger-gun to her head in private about Trump’s public comments, continued to mount an implacable defense on cable television, until she was pulled off the air by others in the White House who, however much the president enjoyed her, found her militancy idiotic. (Even Ivanka and Jared regarded Conway’s fulsome defenses as cringeworthy.)

Steve Bannon tried to gamely suggest that Trump was mere front man and that he, with plan and purpose and intellect, was, more reasonably, running the show — commanding a whiteboard of policies and initiatives that he claimed to have assembled from Trump’s off-the-cuff ramblings and utterances. His adoption of the Saturday Night Live sobriquet “President Bannon” was less than entirely humorous. Within the first few weeks, even rote conversations with senior staff trying to explain the new White House’s policies and positions would turn into a body-language ballet of eye-rolling and shrugs and pantomime of jaws dropping. Leaking became the political manifestation of the don’t-blame-me eye roll.

The surreal sense of the Trump presidency was being lived as intensely inside the White House as out. Trump was, for the people closest to him, the ultimate enigma. He had been elected president, that through-the-eye-of-the-needle feat, but obviously, he was yet … Trump. Indeed, he seemed as confused as anyone to find himself in the White House, even attempting to barricade himself into his bedroom with his own lock over the protests of the Secret Service.

There was some effort to ascribe to Trump magical powers. In an early conversation — half comic, half desperate — Bannon tried to explain him as having a particular kind of Jungian brilliance. Trump, obviously without having read Jung, somehow had access to the collective unconscious of the other half of the country, and, too, a gift for inventing archetypes: Little Marco … Low-Energy Jeb … the Failing New York Times. Everybody in the West Wing tried, with some panic, to explain him, and, sheepishly, their own reason for being here. He’s intuitive, he gets it, he has a mind-meld with his base. But there was palpable relief, of an Emperor’s New Clothes sort, when longtime Trump staffer Sam Nunberg — fired by Trump during the campaign but credited with knowing him better than anyone else — came back into the fold and said, widely, “He’s just a fucking fool.”

Part of that foolishness was his inability to deal with his own family. In a way, this gave him a human dimension. Even Donald Trump couldn’t say no to his kids. “It’s a littleee, littleee complicated …” he explained to Priebus about why he needed to give his daughter and son-in-law official jobs. But the effect of their leadership roles was to compound his own boundless inexperience in Washington, creating from the outset frustration and then disbelief and then rage on the part of the professionals in his employ.

The men and women of the West Wing, for all that the media was ridiculing them, actually felt they had a responsibility to the country. “Trump,” said one senior Republican, “turned selfish careerists into patriots.” Their job was to maintain the pretense of relative sanity, even as each individually came to the conclusion that, in generous terms, it was insane to think you could run a White House without experience, organizational structure or a real purpose.

White House: Trump Doesn’t Want Michael Wolff’s Book Published

On March 30, after the collapse of the health care bill, 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff, the effective administration chief of the West Wing, a stalwart political pro and stellar example of governing craft, walked out. Little more than two months in, she quit. Couldn’t take it anymore. Nutso. To lose your deputy chief of staff at the get-go would be a sign of crisis in any other administration, but inside an obviously exploding one it was hardly noticed.

While there might be a scary national movement of Trumpers, the reality in the White House was stranger still: There was Jared and Ivanka, Democrats; there was Priebus, a mainstream Republican; and there was Bannon, whose reasonable claim to be the one person actually representing Trumpism so infuriated Trump that Bannon was hopelessly sidelined by April. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me? Zero! Zero!” Trump muttered and stormed. To say that no one was in charge, that there were no guiding principles, not even a working org chart, would again be an understatement. “What do these people do?” asked everyone pretty much of everyone else.

The competition to take charge, which, because each side represented an inimical position to the other, became not so much a struggle for leadership, but a near-violent factional war. Jared and Ivanka were against Priebus and Bannon, trying to push both men out. Bannon was against Jared and Ivanka and Priebus, practicing what everybody thought were dark arts against them. Priebus, everybody’s punching bag, just tried to survive another day. By late spring, the larger political landscape seemed to become almost irrelevant, with everyone focused on the more lethal battles within the White House itself. This included screaming fights in the halls and in front of a bemused Trump in the Oval Office (when he was not the one screaming himself), together with leaks about what Russians your opponents might have been talking to.

Reigning over all of this was Trump, enigma, cipher and disruptor. How to get along with Trump — who veered between a kind of blissed-out pleasure of being in the Oval Office and a deep, childish frustration that he couldn’t have what he wanted? Here was a man singularly focused on his own needs for instant gratification, be that a hamburger, a segment on Fox & Friends or an Oval Office photo opp. “I want a win. I want a win. Where’s my win?” he would regularly declaim. He was, in words used by almost every member of the senior staff on repeated occasions, “like a child.” A chronic naysayer, Trump himself stoked constant discord with his daily after-dinner phone calls to his billionaire friends about the disloyalty and incompetence around him. His billionaire friends then shared this with their billionaire friends, creating the endless leaks which the president so furiously railed against.

Read Donald Trump’s Full Legal Demand Over Michael Wolff’s Book

One of these frequent callers was Rupert Murdoch, who before the election had only ever expressed contempt for Trump. Now Murdoch constantly sought him out, but to his own colleagues, friends and family, continued to derisively ridicule Trump: “What a fucking moron,” said Murdoch after one call.

With the Comey firing, the Mueller appointment and murderous White House infighting, by early summer Bannon was engaged in an uninterrupted monologue directed to almost anyone who would listen. It was so caustic, so scabrous and so hilarious that it might form one of the great underground political treatises.

By July, Jared and Ivanka, who had, in less than six months, traversed from socialite couple to royal family to the most powerful people in the world, were now engaged in a desperate dance to save themselves, which mostly involved blaming Trump himself. It was all his idea to fire Comey! “The daughter,” Bannon declared, “will bring down the father.”

Priebus and Spicer were merely counting down to the day — and every day seemed to promise it would be the next day — when they would be out.

And, indeed, suddenly there were the 11 days of Anthony Scaramucci.

Scaramucci, a minor figure in the New York financial world, and quite a ridiculous one, had overnight become Jared and Ivanka’s solution to all of the White House’s management and messaging problems. After all, explained the couple, he was good on television and he was from New York — he knew their world. In effect, the couple had hired Scaramucci — as preposterous a hire in West Wing annals as any — to replace Priebus and Bannon and take over running the White House.

There was, after the abrupt Scaramucci meltdown, hardly any effort inside the West Wing to disguise the sense of ludicrousness and anger felt by every member of the senior staff toward Trump’s family and Trump himself. It became almost a kind of competition to demystify Trump. For Rex Tillerson, he was a moron. For Gary Cohn, he was dumb as shit. For H.R. McMaster, he was a hopeless idiot. For Steve Bannon, he had lost his mind.

Most succinctly, no one expected him to survive Mueller. Whatever the substance of the Russia “collusion,” Trump, in the estimation of his senior staff, did not have the discipline to navigate a tough investigation, nor the credibility to attract the caliber of lawyers he would need to help him. (At least nine major law firms had turned down an invitation to represent the president.)

There was more: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions — he just couldn’t stop saying something.

By summer’s end, in something of a historic sweep — more usual for the end of a president’s first term than the end of his first six months — almost the entire senior staff, save Trump’s family, had been washed out: Michael Flynn, Katie Walsh, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon. Even Trump’s loyal, longtime body guard Keith Schiller — for reasons darkly whispered about in the West Wing — was out. Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Rick Dearborn, all on their way out. The president, on the spur of the moment, appointed John Kelly, a former Marine Corps general and head of homeland security, chief of staff — without Kelly having been informed of his own appointment beforehand. Grim and stoic, accepting that he could not control the president, Kelly seemed compelled by a sense of duty to be, in case of disaster, the adult in the room who might, if needed, stand up to the president … if that is comfort.

As telling, with his daughter and son-in-law sidelined by their legal problems, Hope Hicks, Trump’s 29-year-old personal aide and confidant, became, practically speaking, his most powerful White House advisor. (With Melania a nonpresence, the staff referred to Ivanka as the “real wife” and Hicks as the “real daughter.”) Hicks’ primary function was to tend to the Trump ego, to reassure him, to protect him, to buffer him, to soothe him. It was Hicks who, attentive to his lapses and repetitions, urged him to forgo an interview that was set to open the 60 Minutes fall season. Instead, the interview went to Fox News’ Sean Hannity who, White House insiders happily explained, was willing to supply the questions beforehand. Indeed, the plan was to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions.

As the first year wound down, Trump finally got a bill to sign. The tax bill, his singular accomplishment, was, arguably, quite a reversal of his populist promises, and confirmation of what Mitch McConnell had seen early on as the silver Trump lining: “He’ll sign anything we put in front of him.” With new bravado, he was encouraging partisans like Fox News to pursue an anti-Mueller campaign on his behalf. Insiders believed that the only thing saving Mueller from being fired, and the government of the United States from unfathomable implosion, is Trump’s inability to grasp how much Mueller had on him and his family.

Steve Bannon was openly handicapping a 33.3 percent chance of impeachment, a 33.3 percent chance of resignation in the shadow of the 25th amendment and a 33.3 percent chance that he might limp to the finish line on the strength of liberal arrogance and weakness.

Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.

At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.

Happy first anniversary of the Trump administration.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-wolff-my-insane-year-inside-trumps-white-house-1071504

Remember Who Michael Wolff Is

A March Madness-style bracket to find the most loathed man in media might include Rupert Murdoch biographer, movie theater scofflaw, and resident killjoy Michael Wolff as its No. 1 overall seed. The ornery press critic is, as Fox News’ Howard Kurtz once said with understatement, “rarely impressed by anyone other than himself.” And immediate reactions to the rollout of a new, likely overwritten book about the first year in Donald Trump’s White House are likely already feeding Wolff’s Vanity Fair-sized ego.

The PR tour for Wolff’s book, out Jan. 9, began in earnest on Wednesday. The Guardian, which got a copy “ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England,” wrote up Steve Bannon’s reaction to a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in 2016 contained in the book: “treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit.” Hours later, New York magazine reportedly pushed up its pre-planned publication of an excerpt that would be widely shared by political media types for its intimate retellings of Donald Trump’s cluelessness during the transition—Who’s John Boehner?—his apparent inability to make it to the Fourth Amendment during a lesson about the Constitution, and his reprimanding the White House’s housekeeping staff for picking his shirts up off the floor apparently against his wishes.

“Few people who knew Trump had illusions about him,” Wolff breathlessly writes. “That was his appeal: He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul.”

It’s hard to imagine what exactly that means. But it sounds fun and breezy while appearing to take no prisoners—classic Wolff fare. The published selections portray Trump as stupid and vindictive, his aides as basically good-faith underlings struggling to manage a walking, talking national security threat. And New York included a lengthy editor’s note on how The Hollywood Reporter contributing editor landed such fly-on-the-wall accounts, which included extensive direct quotations:

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing”—an idea encouraged by the president himself. Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became “more a constant interloper than an invited guest.” There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.

Since then, he conducted more than 200 interviews. In true Trumpian fashion, the administration’s lack of experience and disdain for political norms made for a hodgepodge of journalistic challenges. Information would be provided off-the-record or on deep background, then casually put on the record. Sources would fail to set any parameters on the use of a conversation, or would provide accounts in confidence, only to subsequently share their views widely. And the president’s own views, private as well as public, were constantly shared by others.

These are the type of lax ground rules that allow writers plenty of wiggle room—the type of which Wolff has long been known to take full advantage, at times with questionably accurate results. The difference is that the people in Trump’s orbit are likely even less reliable sources than many of his past subjects.

Wolff’s 1998 book about pursuing digital riches, Burn Rate, was met by largely positive reviews in the midst of the dot-com bubble. But longtime press critic Jack Shafer—perhaps as close to a defender as Wolff has—also wondered in his take for Slate whether Wolff’s nitty-gritty details could be trusted:

Wolff exploits the human tendency to confuse frankness and cruelty with truth-telling. And by repeatedly reminding the reader of what a dishonest, scheming little shit he is, he seeks to inflate his credibility. A real liar wouldn’t tell you that he’s a liar as Wolff does, would he? The wealth of verbatim quotations—constituting a good third of this book—also enhances Burn Rate’s verisimilitude. But should it? Wolff writes that he jotted down bits of dialogue on his legal pads during meetings while others composed to-do lists. Not to accuse anyone of Stephen Glassism, but I’d love to see Wolff post those copious notes on his promotional Web site, www.burnrate.com.

Michelle Cottle made similar observations in a 2004 profile for the New Republic, published when Wolff was a media writer at Vanity Fair, tut-tutting him as “neither as insightful nor as entertaining when dissecting politics.” She continued:

Much to the annoyance of Wolff’s critics, the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events. Even Wolff acknowledges that conventional reporting isn’t his bag. Rather, he absorbs the atmosphere and gossip swirling around him at cocktail parties, on the street, and especially during those long lunches at Michael’s….“His great gift is the appearance of intimate access,” says an editor who has worked with Wolff. “He is adroit at making the reader think that he has spent hours and days with his subject, when in fact he may have spent no time at all.”

Even the late David Carr, would-be reverend of the media class from his New York Times pulpit, wrote that “Wolff has never distinguished himself as a reporter” when reviewing his 2008 Murdoch biography, The Man Who Owns The News. “Over the years, Carr wrote, “he has succeeded in cutting through the clutter by being far less circumspect—and sometimes more vicious—than other journalists, whom he views as archaic losers about to go the way of the Walkman.” Factual errors be damned, Carr added with a begrudging thumbs-up, for “Wolff prefers the purity of his constructs.”

That approach would seem to be even more dangerous with a book sold as an “inside story” of a White House that has proven atrocious at narrating its own story with any grasp of the truth. Since the selections of Wolff’s book have dropped, administration officials trotted out the usual cries of false anecdotes and fake sources—usually a good sign for those in search of the facts. But journalists have already started poking holes in some of the juicier aspects of Wolff’s account. Just one example: a simple Google search proves Trump has previously spoken about Boehner at length, making the notion that he would respond “Who?” to a mention of the former House Speaker feel dubious at best. But such details are what gets shared or aggregated, often uncritically.

None of that is to say that Fire and Fury won’t be an entertaining read. Wolff has been a frequent critic of the media’s Trump coverage, lambasting the press earlier this year for portraying Trump as “an inept and craven sociopath.” He’s also spoken in favor of journalists acting only as stenographers. Those may have been sly plays to get greater access to the Trump Administration before biting its hand en route to a bestseller.

But if these early excerpts are any indication, Wolff’s turn at stenography led to the same basic observations as everybody else—that the administration is chock full of back-stabbing, out-of-their-depth staffers washed up from a campaign that no one, even the man who’s now president, expected to win. The fact that the internet has latched onto so many of these colorful—if only “notionally accurate,” anecdotes—may say less about Wolff, that much-hated media man, than it does about the rest of us.

https://splinternews.com/remember-who-michael-wolff-is-1821749209

Trump Tower meeting with Russians ‘treasonous’, Bannon says in explosive book

 Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City.
 Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City. Other Trump campaign officials met with Russians there in June 2016. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.

Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News, is a central figure in the nasty, cutthroat drama, quoted extensively, often in salty language.

He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr replied in an email: “I love it.”

The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed last May, following Trump’s dismissal of FBI director James Comey, to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This has led to the indictments of four members of Trump’s inner circle, including Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges; Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In recent weeks Bannon’s Breitbart News and other conservative outlets have accused Mueller’s team of bias against the president.

Trump predicted in an interview with the New York Times last week that the special counsel was “going to be fair”, though he also said the investigation “makes the country look very bad”. The president and his allies deny any collusion with Russia and the Kremlin has denied interfering.

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmannfirst and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Last month it was reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution that has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner property empire. Bannon continues: “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

He insists that he knows no Russians, will not be a witness, will not hire a lawyer and will not appear on national television answering questions.

Fire and Fury will be published next week. Wolff is a prominent media critic and columnist who has written for the Guardian and is a biographer of Rupert Murdoch. He previously conducted interviews for the Hollywood Reporter with Trump in June 2016 and Bannon a few months later.

He told the Guardian in November that to research the book, he showed up at the White House with no agenda but wanting to “find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling”. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments of the fledgling presidency.

The rancour between Bannon and “Javanka” – Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump – is a recurring theme of the book. Kushner and Ivanka are Jewish. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, is quoted as saying: “It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.”

Trump is not spared. Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.” Barrack denied that to the New York Times.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/donald-trump-russia-steve-bannon-michael-wolff

Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President

One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days.

n the afternoon of November 8, 2016, Kellyanne Conway settled into her glass office at Trump Tower. Right up until the last weeks of the race, the campaign headquarters had remained a listless place. All that seemed to distinguish it from a corporate back office were a few posters with right-wing slogans.

Conway, the campaign’s manager, was in a remarkably buoyant mood, considering she was about to experience a resounding, if not cataclysmic, defeat. Donald Trump would lose the election — of this she was sure — but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under six points. That was a substantial victory. As for the looming defeat itself, she shrugged it off: It was Reince Priebus’s fault, not hers.

She had spent a good part of the day calling friends and allies in the political world and blaming Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors whom she had been carefully courting since joining the Trump campaign — and with whom she had been actively interviewing in the last few weeks, hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.

Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — the effective head of the campaign — ­wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.

As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. “I can be the most famous man in the world,” he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.

“This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,” he told Ailes a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”

From the start, the leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was, and how everybody involved in it was a loser. In August, when he was trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 12 points, he couldn’t conjure even a far-fetched scenario for achieving an electoral victory. He was baffled when the right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, a Ted Cruz backer whom Trump barely knew, offered him an infusion of $5 million. When Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Conway, Trump didn’t resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. “This thing,” he told the Mercers, “is so fucked up.”

Bannon, who became chief executive of Trump’s team in mid-August, called it “the broke-dick campaign.” Almost immediately, he saw that it was hampered by an even deeper structural flaw: The candidate who billed himself as a billionaire — ten times over — refused to invest his own money in it. Bannon told Kushner that, after the first debate in September, they would need another $50 million to cover them until Election Day.

“No way we’ll get 50 million unless we can guarantee him victory,” said a clear-eyed Kushner.

“Twenty-five million?” prodded Bannon.

“If we can say victory is more than likely.”

In the end, the best Trump would do is to loan the campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money. Steve Mnuchin, the campaign’s finance chairman, came to collect the loan with the wire instructions ready to go so Trump couldn’t conveniently forget to send the money.

Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” ­Flynn assured them.

Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.

There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.

From the moment of victory, the Trump administration became a looking-glass presidency: Every inverse assumption about how to assemble and run a White House was enacted and compounded, many times over. The decisions that Trump and his top advisers made in those first few months — from the slapdash transition to the disarray in the West Wing — set the stage for the chaos and dysfunction that have persisted throughout his first year in office. This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump’s inner circle — that they would lose the election — wound up exposing them for who they really were.

On the Saturday after the election, Trump received a small group of well-­wishers in his triplex apartment in Trump Tower. Even his close friends were still shocked and bewildered, and there was a dazed quality to the gathering. But Trump himself was mostly looking at the clock. Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. “He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,” Trump said. “You have to stay to see him.” Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.

The day after the election, the bare-bones transition team that had been set up during the campaign hurriedly shifted from Washington to Trump Tower. The building — now the headquarters of a populist revolution —­ suddenly seemed like an alien spaceship on Fifth Avenue. But its otherworldly air helped obscure the fact that few in Trump’s inner circle, with their overnight responsibility for assembling a government, had any relevant experience.

Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 administrations, tried to impress on Trump the need to create a White House structure that could serve and protect him. “You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff,” he told Trump. “And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington. You’ll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don’t know Washington.” Ailes had a suggestion: John Boehner, who had stepped down as Speaker of the House only a year earlier.

“Who’s that?” asked Trump.

As much as the president himself, the chief of staff determines how the Executive branch — which employs 4 million people — will run. The job has been construed as deputy president, or even prime minister. But Trump had no interest in appointing a strong chief of staff with a deep knowledge of Washington. Among his early choices for the job was Kushner — a man with no political experience beyond his role as a calm and flattering body man to Trump during the campaign.

It was Ann Coulter who finally took the president-elect aside. “Nobody is apparently telling you this,” she told him. “But you can’t. You just can’t hire your children.”

Bowing to pressure, Trump floated the idea of giving the job to Steve Bannon, only to have the notion soundly ridiculed. Murdoch told Trump that Bannon would be a dangerous choice. Joe Scarborough, the former congressman and co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, told the president-elect that “Washington will go up in flames” if Bannon became chief of staff.

So Trump turned to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, who had became the subject of intense lobbying by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If congressional leaders were going to have to deal with an alien like Donald Trump, then best they do it with the help of one of their own kind.

Jim Baker, chief of staff for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and almost everybody’s model for managing the West Wing, advised Priebus not to take the job. Priebus had his own reservations: He had come out of his first long meeting with Trump thinking it had been a disconcertingly weird experience. Trump talked nonstop and constantly repeated himself.

“Here’s the deal,” a close Trump associate told Priebus. “In an hour meeting with him, you’re going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they’re going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.”

But the Priebus appointment, announced in mid-November, put Bannon on a co-equal level to the new chief of staff. Even with the top job, Priebus would be a weak figure, in the traditional mold of most Trump lieutenants over the years. There would be one chief of staff in name — the unimportant one — and ­others like Bannon and Kushner, more important in practice, ensuring both chaos and Trump’s independence.

Priebus demonstrated no ability to keep Trump from talking to anyone who wanted his ear. The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” said Trump. “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

“Donald,” said Murdoch, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

“Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”

“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world’s most powerful men, was running late. It was the evening of January 3, 2017 — a little more than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration — and Bannon had promised to come to a small dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village townhouse to see Roger Ailes.

Snow was threatening, and for a while the dinner appeared doubtful. But the 76-year-old Ailes, who was as dumbfounded by his old friend Donald Trump’s victory as everyone else, understood that he was passing the right-wing torch to Bannon. Ailes’s Fox News, with its $1.5 billion in annual profits, had dominated Republican politics for two decades. Now Bannon’s Breit­bart News, with its mere $1.5 million in annual profits, was claiming that role. For 30 years, Ailes — until recently the single most powerful person in conservative ­politics — had humored and tolerated Trump, but in the end Bannon and Breitbart had elected him.

At 9:30, having extricated himself from Trump Tower, Bannon finally arrived at the dinner, three hours late. Wearing a disheveled blazer, his signature pairing of two shirts, and military fatigues, the unshaven, overweight 63-year-old immediately dived into an urgent download of information about the world he was about to take over.

“We’re going to flood the zone so we have every Cabinet member for the next seven days through their confirmation hearings,” he said of the business-and-military, 1950s-type Cabinet choices. “Tillerson is two days, Sessions is two days, Mattis is two days …”

Bannon veered from James “Mad Dog” ­Mattis — the retired four-star general whom Trump had nominated as secretary of Defense — to the looming appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser. “He’s fine. He’s not Jim Mattis and he’s not John Kelly … but he’s fine. He just needs the right staff around him.” Still, Bannon averred: “When you take out all the Never Trump guys who signed all those letters and all the neocons who got us in all these wars … it’s not a deep bench.” Bannon said he’d tried to push John Bolton, the famously hawkish diplomat, for the job as national-security adviser. Bolton was an Ailes favorite, too.

“He’s a bomb thrower,” said Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.”

“Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”

“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.”

“If I told Trump that,” Bannon said slyly, “he might have the job.”

Bannon was curiously able to embrace Trump while at the same time suggesting he did not take him entirely seriously. Great numbers of people, he believed, were suddenly receptive to a new message — the world needs borders — and Trump had become the platform for that message.

“Does he get it?” asked Ailes suddenly, looking intently at Bannon. Did Trump get where history had put him?

Bannon took a sip of water. “He gets it,” he said, after hesitating for perhaps a beat too long. “Or he gets what he gets.”

Pivoting from Trump himself, Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon” — Adelson, the casino billionaire and far-right Israel defender — “is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this … Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.”

“Where’s Donald on this?” asked Ailes, the clear implication being that Bannon was far out ahead of his benefactor.

“He’s totally onboard.”

“I wouldn’t give Donald too much to think about,” said an amused Ailes.

Bannon snorted. “Too much, too little — doesn’t necessarily change things.”

“What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?” pressed Ailes.

“Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”

Again, as though setting the issue of Trump aside — merely a large and peculiar presence to both be thankful for and to have to abide — Bannon, in the role he had conceived for himself, the auteur of the Trump presidency, charged forward. The real enemy, he said, was China. China was the first front in a new Cold War.

“China’s everything. Nothing else matters. We don’t get China right, we don’t get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they’re not. And they’re gonna flip like Germany in the ’30s. You’re going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

“Donald might not be Nixon in China,” said Ailes, deadpan.

Bannon smiled. “Bannon in China,” he said, with both remarkable grandiosity and wry self-deprecation.

“How’s the kid?” asked Ailes, referring to Kushner.

“He’s my partner,” said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message.

“He’s had a lot of lunches with Rupert,” said a dubious Ailes.

“In fact,” said Bannon, “I could use your help here.” He then spent several minutes trying to recruit Ailes to help kneecap Murdoch. Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch. Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.

“I’ll call him,” said Ailes. “But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down. I just worry about who’s jerking whose chain.”

Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.

The first senior staffer to enter the White House that day was Bannon. On the inauguration march, he had grabbed 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the newly appointed deputy chief of staff, and together they had peeled off to inspect the now-vacant West Wing. The carpet had been shampooed, but little else had changed. It was a warren of tiny offices in need of paint, the décor something like an admissions office at a public university. Bannon claimed the non­descript office across from the much grander chief of staff’s suite and immediately requisitioned the whiteboards on which he intended to chart the first 100 days of the Trump administration. He also began moving furniture out. The point was to leave no room for anyone to sit. Limit discussion. Limit debate. This was war.

Those who had worked on the campaign noticed the sudden change. Within the first week, Bannon seemed to have put away the camaraderie of Trump Tower and become far more remote, if not unreachable. “What’s up with Steve?” Kushner began to ask. “I don’t understand. We were so close.” Now that Trump had been elected, Bannon was already focused on his next goal: capturing the soul of the Trump White House.

He began by going after his enemies. Few fueled his rancor toward the standard-issue Republican world as much as Rupert ­Murdoch — not least because Murdoch had Trump’s ear. It was one of the key elements of Bannon’s understanding of Trump: The last person the president spoke to ended up with enormous influence. Trump would brag that Murdoch was always calling him; Murdoch, for his part, would complain that he couldn’t get Trump off the phone.

“He doesn’t know anything about American politics, and has no feel for the American people,” Bannon told Trump, always eager to point out that Murdoch wasn’t an American. Yet in one regard, Murdoch’s message was useful to Bannon. Having known every president since Harry ­Truman — as Murdoch took frequent opportunities to point out — the media mogul warned Trump that a president has only six months, max, to set his agenda and make an impact. After that, it was just putting out fires and battling the opposition.

This was the message whose urgency Bannon had been trying to impress on an often distracted Trump, who was already trying to limit his hours in the office and keep to his normal golf habits. Bannon’s strategic view of government was shock and awe. In his head, he carried a set of decisive actions that would not just mark the new administration’s opening days but make it clear that nothing ever again would be the same. He had quietly assembled a list of more than 200 executive orders to issue in the first 100 days. The very first EO, in his view, had to be a crackdown on immigration. After all, it was one of Trump’s core campaign promises. Plus, Bannon knew, it was an issue that made liberals batshit mad.

Bannon could push through his agenda for a simple reason: because nobody in the administration really had a job. Priebus, as chief of staff, had to organize meetings, hire staff, and oversee the individual offices in the Executive-branch departments. But Bannon, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump had no specific responsibilities — they did what they wanted. And for Bannon, the will to get big things done was how big things got done. “Chaos was Steve’s strategy,” said Walsh.

On Friday, January 27 — only his eighth day in office — Trump signed an executive order issuing a sweeping exclusion of many Muslims from the United States. In his mania to seize the day, with almost no one in the federal government having seen it or even been aware of it, Bannon had succeeded in pushing through an executive order that overhauled U.S. immigration policy while bypassing the very agencies and personnel responsible for enforcing it.

The result was an emotional outpouring of horror and indignation from liberal media, terror in immigrant communities, tumultuous protests at major airports, confusion throughout the government, and, in the White House, an inundation of opprobrium from friends and family. What have you done? You have to undo this! You’re finished before you even start! But Bannon was satisfied. He could not have hoped to draw a more vivid line between Trump’s America and that of liberals. Almost the entire White House staff demanded to know: Why did we do this on a Friday, when it would hit the airports hardest and bring out the most protesters?

“Errr … that’s why,” said Bannon. “So the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.” That was the way to crush the liberals: Make them crazy and drag them to the left.

On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, arrived for lunch at the White House. Trump proudly showed them into the Oval Office. “So how do you think the first week has gone?” he asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery. When Scarborough ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better, Trump turned defensive and derisive, plunging into a long monologue about how well things had gone. “I could have invited Hannity!” he told Scarborough.

After Jared and Ivanka joined them for lunch, Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week. Scarborough praised the president for having invited leaders of the steel unions to the White House. At which point Jared interjected that reaching out to unions, a Democratic constituency, was Bannon’s doing, that this was “the Bannon way.”

“Bannon?” said the president, jumping on his son-in-law. “That wasn’t Bannon’s idea. That was my idea. It’s the Trump way, not the Bannon way.”

Kushner, going concave, retreated from the discussion.

Trump, changing the topic, said to Scarborough and Brzezinski, “So what about you guys? What’s going on?” He was referencing their not-so-secret secret relationship. The couple said it was still complicated, but good.

“You guys should just get married,” prodded Trump.

“I can marry you! I’m an internet Unitarian minister,” Kushner, otherwise an Orthodox Jew, said suddenly.

“What?” said the president. “What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!”

The First Children couple were having to navigate Trump’s volatile nature just like everyone else in the White House. And they were willing to do it for the same reason as everyone else — in the hope that Trump’s unexpected victory would catapult them into a heretofore unimagined big time. Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.

Bannon, who had coined the term “Jarvanka” that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him. “They didn’t say that?” he said. “Stop. Oh, come on. They didn’t actually say that? Please don’t tell me that. Oh my God.”

The truth was, Ivanka and Jared were as much the chief of staff as Priebus or Bannon, all of them reporting directly to the president. The couple had opted for formal jobs in the West Wing, in part because they knew that influencing Trump required you to be all-in. From phone call to phone call — and his day, beyond organized meetings, was almost entirely phone calls — you could lose him. He could not really converse, not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation. He neither particularly listened to what was said to him nor particularly considered what he said in response. He demanded you pay him attention, then decided you were weak for groveling. In a sense, he was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance — without making him angry or petulant.

Ivanka maintained a relationship with her father that was in no way conventional. She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments. If it wasn’t pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. For Ivanka, it was all business — building the Trump brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House. She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.

Kushner, for his part, had little to no success at trying to restrain his father-in-law. Ever since the transition, Jared had been negotiating to arrange a meeting at the White House with Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican president whom Trump had threatened and insulted throughout the campaign. On the Wednesday after the inauguration, a high-level Mexican delegation — the first visit by any foreign leaders to the Trump White House — met with Kushner and Reince Priebus. That afternoon, Kushner triumphantly told his father-in-law that Peña Nieto had signed on to a White House meeting and planning for the visit could go forward.

The next day, on Twitter, Trump blasted Mexico for stealing American jobs. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall,” the president declared, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” At which point Peña Nieto did just that, leaving Kushner’s negotiation and statecraft as so much scrap on the floor.

Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump’s own behavior. The big deal of being president was just not apparent to him. Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House from ordinary political life, could not help but be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with palacelike servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and downstairs a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But this wasn’t that different from Trump’s former life in Trump Tower, which was actually more commodious and to his taste than the White House.

Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom — the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He ­reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.

If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.

As details of Trump’s personal life leaked out, he became obsessed with identifying the leaker. The source of all the gossip, however, may well have been Trump himself. In his calls throughout the day and at night from his bed, he often spoke to people who had no reason to keep his confidences. He was a river of grievances, which recipients of his calls promptly spread to the ever-attentive media.

On February 6, in one of his seething, self-pitying, and unsolicited phone calls to a casual acquaintance, Trump detailed his bent-out-of-shape feelings about the relentless contempt of the media and the disloyalty of his staff. The initial subject of his ire was the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, whom he called “a nut job.” Gail Collins, who had written a Times column unfavorably comparing Trump to Vice-President Mike Pence, was “a moron.” Then, continuing under the rubric of media he hated, he veered to CNN and the deep disloyalty of its chief, Jeff Zucker.

Zucker, who as the head of entertainment at NBC had commissioned The Apprentice, had been “made by Trump,” Trump said of himself in the third person. He had “personally” gotten Zucker his job at CNN. “Yes, yes, I did,” said the president, launching into a favorite story about how he had once talked Zucker up at a dinner with a high-ranking executive from CNN’s parent company. “I probably shouldn’t have, because Zucker is not that smart,” Trump lamented, “but I like to show I can do that sort of thing.” Then Zucker had returned the favor by airing the “unbelievably disgusting” story about the Russian “dossier” and the “golden shower” — the practice CNN had accused him of being party to in a Moscow hotel suite with assorted prostitutes.

Having dispensed with Zucker, the president of the United States went on to speculate on what was involved with a golden shower. And how this was all just part of a media campaign that would never succeed in driving him from the White House. Because they were sore losers and hated him for winning, they spread total lies, 100 percent made-up things, totally untrue, for instance, the cover that week of Time magazine — which, Trump reminded his listener, he had been on more than anyone in ­history — that showed Steve Bannon, a good guy, saying he was the real president. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me?” Trump demanded. He repeated the question, then repeated the answer: “Zero! Zero!” And that went for his son-in-law, too, who had a lot to learn.

The media was not only hurting him, he said — he was not looking for any agreement or even any response — but hurting his negotiating capabilities, which hurt the nation. And that went for Saturday Night Live, which might think it was very funny but was actually hurting everybody in the country. And while he understood that SNL was there to be mean to him, they were being very, very mean. It was “fake comedy.” He had reviewed the treatment of all other presidents in the media, and there was nothing like this ever, even of Nixon, who was treated very unfairly. “Kellyanne, who is very fair, has this all documented. You can look at it.”

The point is, he said, that that very day, he had saved $700 million a year in jobs that were going to Mexico, but the media was talking about him wandering around the White House in his bathrobe, which “I don’t have because I’ve never worn a bathrobe. And would never wear one, because I’m not that kind of guy.” And what the media was doing was undermining this very dignified house, and “dignity is so important.” But Murdoch, “who had never called me, never once,” was now calling all the time. So that should tell people something.

The call went on for 26 minutes.

Without a strong chief of staff at the White House, there was no real up-and-down structure in the administration—merely a figure at the top and everyone else scrambling for his attention. It wasn’t task-based so much as response-oriented — whatever captured the boss’s attention focused everybody’s attention. Priebus and Bannon and Kushner were all fighting to be the power behind the Trump throne. And in these crosshairs was Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff.

Walsh, who came to the White House from the RNC, represented a certain Republican ideal: clean, brisk, orderly, efficient. A righteous bureaucrat with a permanently grim expression, she was a fine example of the many political professionals in whom competence and organizational skills transcend ideology. To Walsh, it became clear almost immediately that “the three gentlemen running things,” as she came to characterize them, had each found his own way to appeal to the president. Bannon offered a rousing fuck-you show of force; Priebus offered flattery from the congressional leadership; Kushner offered the approval of blue-chip businessmen. Each appeal was exactly what Trump wanted from the presidency, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t have them all. He wanted to break things, he wanted Congress to give him bills to sign, and he wanted the love and respect of New York machers and socialites.

As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise ­— no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”

By the end of the second week following the immigration EO, the three advisers were in open conflict with one another. For Walsh, it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: Almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, it would be countermanded by one or another of them.

“I take a conversation at face value and move forward with it,” she said. “I put what was decided on the schedule and bring in comms and build a press plan around it … And then Jared says, ‘Why did you do that?’ And I say, ‘Because we had a meeting three days ago with you and Reince and Steve where you agreed to do this.’ And he says, ‘But that didn’t mean I wanted it on the schedule …’ It almost doesn’t matter what anyone says: Jared will agree, and then it will get sabotaged, and then Jared goes to the president and says, see, that was Reince’s idea or Steve’s idea.”

If Bannon, Priebus, and Kushner were now fighting a daily war with one another, it was exacerbated by the running disinformation campaign about them that was being prosecuted by the president himself. When he got on the phone after dinner, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like shit). Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short — a midget). Kushner was a suck-up. Sean Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too). Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.

During that first month, Walsh’s disbelief and even fear about what was happening in the White House moved her to think about quitting. Every day after that became a countdown toward the moment she knew she wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. To Walsh, the proud political pro, the chaos, the rivalries, and the president’s own lack of focus were simply incomprehensible. In early March, not long before she left, she confronted Kushner with a simple request. “Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,” she demanded. “What are the three priorities of this White House?”

It was the most basic question imaginable — one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer.

“Yes,” he said to Walsh. “We should probably have that conversation.”

*Excerpted from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Co., January 9, 2018). This article appears in the January 8, 2018, issue of New York Magazine.

*This article has been updated to include more information from Wolff’s book about the nature of Trump’s conversation with the Mercers.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html

 

White House Bashes New Book On Trump: It’s ‘Trashy Tabloid Fiction’

President Donald Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speak to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The White House was quick to dismiss a new book about President Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency on Wednesday after New York Magazine published an excerpt.

“This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”

The excerpt from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” painted a picture of a chaotic campaign and White House run by staffers who were unprepared for their roles and who were constantly battling each other for Trump’s attention. The book also alleges that Melania Trump did not want Trump to win the White House and was upset when he won the race.

The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, denied that account in a statement.

“The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. Mrs. Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did,” Grisham said.

Trump’s response to the book was less measured and specifically took aim at Steve Bannon, who told Wolff that the infamous Trump Tower meeting Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner attended with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016 was “treasonous,” per The Guardian. In a Wednesday statement, Trump said that Bannon had “lost his mind” and claimed that he did little to help Trump win the presidency.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/white-house-pushes-back-michael-wolff-book

 

Michael Wolff (journalist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff.jpg

Wolff in Rome, Italy (June 2008)
Born August 27, 1953 (age 64)
Occupation Columnist, Internet entrepreneur, television commentator
Nationality American
Alma mater Vassar CollegeColumbia University
Spouse Alison Anthoine
Website
www.newser.com

Michael Wolff (born August 27, 1953) is an American authoressayist, and journalist who is a regular columnist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ.[1]

Early life

Michael Wolff was born in New Jersey, the son of Lewis A. Wolff, an advertising man, and Marguerite “Van” (Vanderwerf) Wolff (1925–2012), a newspaper reporter. He went to Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City. While a student at Columbia, he worked for The New York Times as a copy boy.

He published his first magazine article in the New York Times Magazine in 1974: a profile of Angela Atwood, a neighbor of his family. As a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, she helped kidnap Patricia Hearst. Shortly afterwards he left the Times and became a contributing writer to the New Times, a bi-weekly news magazine started by John Larsen and George Hirsch. Wolff’s first book was White Kids (1979), a collection of essays.

Career

After publishing his first book, Wolff received an advance to write a novel, which he never finished. A college friend, Steven J. Hueglin, who had become a successful Wall Street banker, asked for Wolff’s help in evaluating investments in media companies. He pulled him into a career as a media business entrepreneur.[citation needed]

In 1988, Wolff took over the management of the magazine Campaigns & Elections. He became involved in advising start-up magazines, including Wired. He also raised financing for media companies and new businesses.[citation needed]

In 1991, he launched Michael Wolff & Company, Inc., specializing in book-packaging. Its first project, Where We Stand, was a book with a companion PBS series. The company’s next major project was creating one of the first guides to the Internet, albeit in book form. Net Guide was published by Random House.[2] On the eve of launching the title as a monthly magazine, the incipient magazine was bought by CMP Media, the publisher of computer magazines.[citation needed]

Wolff’s company continued to publish a succession of book-form Internet guides. In 1995, the company took a round of venture capital investment, with shareholders including Patricof & Co., the New York venture capitalfirm. It began to convert its print directories into a website and digital directory called Your Personal Network. At one point, the company was valued by bankers seeking to take the company public at more than $100 million. The venture collapsed in 1997, and Wolff was expelled from the company.[citation needed]

Return to writing

Wolff returned to writing, from which he had been absent for more than ten years, and recounted the details of the financing, positioning, personalities, and ultimate breakdown of a start-up Internet company. The book, Burn Rate, became a bestseller. Wolff briefly worked as a weekly columnist for The Industry Standard, an Internet trade magazine published by IDG.[3]

In August 1998, he was recruited by New York magazine to write a weekly column. Over the next six years, he wrote more than 300 columns, solidifying his reputation as provocative and knowledgeable writer about the media industry.[4] The entrepreneur Steven Brill, the media banker Steven Rattner, and the book publisher Judith Regan, were criticized by him.[5][6][7][8]

Wolff has been nominated for the National Magazine Award three times, winning twice.[9] His second National Magazine Award was for a series of columns he wrote from the media center in the Persian Gulf as the Iraq War started in 2003. His book, Autumn of the Moguls (2004), which predicted the mainstream media crisis that hit later in the decade, was based on many of his New York magazine columns.[10]

In 2004, when New York magazine’s owners, Primedia, Inc., put the title up for sale, Wolff helped assemble a group of investors, including New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, to back him in acquiring the magazine.[11][12] Although the group believed it had made a successful bid, Primedia decided to sell the magazine to the investment banker Bruce Wasserstein.[13]

In 2005, Wolff joined Vanity Fair as its media columnist.[14] In 2007, with Patrick Spain, the founder of Hoover’s, and Caroline Miller, the former editor-in-chief of New York magazine, he launched Newser, a news curator.[15]

That year, he also wrote a biography of Rupert MurdochThe Man Who Owns the News, based on more than 50 hours of conversation with Murdoch, and extensive access to his business associates and his family. The book was published in 2008.[16][17][not in citation given] That year he also began writing a daily column for Newser.[18]

In 2010, Wolff became editor of Adweek. He lasted in the job barely a year before stepping down.[19]

Wolff wrote Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which will be released on January 9, 2018. After an excerpt was released online on January 3, the book reached number one on Amazon.com.[20]

Criticism

In its review of Wolff’s book Burn RateBrill’s Content criticized Wolff for “apparent factual errors” and said that 13 people, including subjects he mentioned, complained that Wolff had “invented or changed quotes”.[21]

In a 2004 cover story for The New Republic, Michelle Cottle wrote that Wolff was “uninterested in the working press,” preferring to focus on “the power players—the moguls” and was “fixated on culture, style, buzz, and money, money, money.” She also noted that “the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events.” Calling his writing “a whirlwind of flourishes and tangents and asides that often stray so far from the central point that you begin to wonder whether there is a central point.”[22]

The Columbia Journalism Review criticized Wolff in 2010 when he suggested that The New York Times was aggressively covering the breaking News International phone hacking scandal as a way of attacking News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.[23]

Personal life

Wolff was married to Alison Anthoine, an attorney.[24] Wolff began divorce proceedings from Anthoine in 2009.[24] Since 2009, Wolff has been dating freelance writer Victoria Floethe.[25][26]

Books

  • The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch
  • Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet
  • Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures With the Titans, Poseurs, and Money Guys Who Mastered and Messed Up Big Media
  • Where We Stand
  • White Kids
  • Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media In the Digital Age
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (forthcoming)

Reviews

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wolff_(journalist)

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Story 1: Iran’s Government Blocks Internet as Third Day of Economic Protests Against High Unemployment and Prices and Corrupt Dictatorship Continues Across Islamic Republic of Iran — Eighth Anniversary of Green Revolution — Videos

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Story 1: Iran’s Government Blocks Internet as Third Day of Economic Protests Against High Unemployment and Prices Continues Across Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos

See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageImage result for economic protests in iranSee the source image

The People of Iran Are Protesting Again. Trump is Supportive.

Iranian Anti Government Protesters Chant Death to Rouhani Breaking News December 30 2017

Should the United States show support for protests in Iran?

Protests over economic situation in Iran | Inside Story

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Iran Protests: Zanjan, Dec 30, 2017 – Third day of Public protest against high prices

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Iran – 29 Dec 2017 – Public protest against high prices continue in Rasht (North iran)

Iran Protests: people and students in Tehran clash with security forces

Iran: Repressive Security Forces Attack Protesters in Kermanshah (western Iran)

BREAKING NEWS TODAY, Iran Just Made ‘Apocalyptic’ Move, PRESIDENT TRUMP LATEST NEWS TODAY 11/25/17

BREAKING NEWS TODAY, Iran Just Made ‘Apocalyptic’ Move, PRESIDENT TRUMP LATEST NEWS TODAY 11/25/17

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Iran’s Top Diplomat Discusses Economic Impact Of Nuclear Deal | The New York Times

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New economic protests in Tehran challenge Iran’s government

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment.

The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Thousands already have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning at first on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.

The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence, acknowledging it hadn’t reported on them on orders from security officials.

“Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said.

The protests appear sparked by social media posts and a surge in prices of basic food supplies, like eggs and poultry. Officials and state media made a point Saturday of saying Iranians have the right to protest and have their voices heard on social issues.

Amateur video emerged on Saturday showing large protests in the central Iranian city of Hojedk. The footage showed protesters throwing stones at security officials and chanting “down with dictator”. (Dec. 30)

However, protesters in Tehran on Saturday chanted against high-ranking government officials and made other political statements, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University, with riot police massing at the school’s gates as they shut down surrounding roads.

Fars also said protests on Friday also struck Qom, a city that is the world’s foremost center for Shiite Islamic scholarship and home to a major Shiite shrine.

Social media videos purport to show clashes between protesters and police in several areas. At least 50 protesters have been arrested since Thursday, authorities said. State TV also said some protesters chanted the name of Iran’s one-time shah, who fled into exile just before its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi send a message by Twitter to the CEO of messaging service Telegram, Pavel Durov, saying: “A telegram channel is encouraging hateful conduct, use Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest.” Telegram responded saying it had suspended the account.

“A Telegram channel (amadnews) started to instruct their subscribers to use Molotov cocktails against police and got suspended due to our ‘no calls for violence’ rule. Be careful – there are lines one shouldn’t cross.” Durov tweeted.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the deputy commander of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard base, Brig. Gen. Ismail Kowsari, as saying: “Peace has returned to city of Tehran and its surroundings.” He added that if inflation was the reason the protesters took to the streets they should not have destroyed property, according to the report.

The Semi-official ILNA news agency reported on Saturday that the security deputy of Tehran’s governor, Mohsen Hamedani, said that Tehran’s provincial security council held a meeting to address the protests, but that its decisions were “classified.”

Earlier Saturday, hard-liners rallied across the country to support Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others. The rallies, scheduled weeks earlier, commemorated a mass 2009 pro-government rally challenging those who rejected the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid fraud allegations.

State TV aired live the pro-government “9 Dey Epic” rallies, named for the date on the Iranian calendar the 2009 protests took place. The footage showed people waving flags and carrying banners bearing Khamenei’s image.

In Tehran, some 4,000 people gathered at the Musalla prayer ground in central Tehran for the rally. They called for criminal trials for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, leaders in the 2009 protests who have been under house arrest since 2011. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, campaigned on freeing the men, though they remain held.

Mohsen Araki, a Shiite cleric who serves in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, praised Rouhani’s efforts at improving the economy. However, he said Rouhani needed to do more to challenge “enemy pressures.”

“We must go back to the pre-nuclear deal situation,” Araki said. “The enemy has not kept with its commitments.”

Ali Ahmadi, a pro-government demonstrator, blamed the U.S for all of Iran’s economic problems.

“They always say that we are supporting Iranian people, but who should pay the costs?” Ahmadi asked.

Iran’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft.

That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

While police have arrested some protesters, the Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election. The economic protests initially just put pressure on Rouhani’s administration.

Trump tweeted out support for the protests Saturday.

“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….” he tweeted. “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”

It’s unclear what effect Trump’s support would have. Iranians already are largely skeptical of him over his refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal and Iran being included in his travel bans. Trump’s insistence in an October speech on using the term “Arabian Gulf” in place of the Persian Gulf also has also riled the Iranian public.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments in June to Congress saying American is working toward “support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government” has been used by Iran’s government of a sign of foreign interference in its internal politics.

The State Department issued a statement Friday supporting the protests, referencing Tillerson’s earlier comments.

“Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” the statement said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments.

“The noble Iranian nation never pays heed to the opportunist and hypocritical mottos chanted by the U.S. officials and their interfering allegations on domestic developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

https://apnews.com/ce07ad7aea0a4d1a86f9c90f6104a1ba/Iran-hard-liners-rally-as-new-protests-challenge-government

‘Death to the dictator’: Thousands of protesters in Iran attack president and mullahs in second day of clashes as demonstrations spread to eight cities

  • Videos show protesters chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘Death to Rouhani’
  • Police said 52 people have been arrested as riot police fired tear gas into crowds
  • In one clip, mullah is chanted at aggressively as he walks through angry group
  • Last major demonstrations in Iran were over the disputed 2009 general election 

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Iran to demonstrate against the country’s president, mullahs and price rises for the second day.

Videos show crowds chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘Death to Rouhani’ across the Islamic republic – including Iran’s holy second city, Mashhad – as the protests spread to at least eight other cities.

State media said 52 people have been arrested, with footage recorded by protesters yesterday showing tear gas being thrown into crowds by riot police.

In one clip, a mullah – an Islamic cleric and representative of the feared religious class which runs theocratic Iran – is chanted at aggressively as he walks through a group of protesters.

State media said 52 people have been arrested, with footage recorded by protesters yesterday showing tear gas being thrown into crowds by riot police

The protests have spread across the country, including to Yazd, Birjand, Kashmar and Shahroud

Shocking footage shows police in Iran violently kick protestors

Videos show crowds chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘Death to Rouhani’ in cities across the Islamic republic – including Iran’s holy second city, Mashhad – as the protests spread to at least eight cities

Police forces use water cannons on protesters in Iran
Protesters have been sprayed with water cannon by police as the demonstrations spread across the country

In one clip, a mullah – an Islamic cleric and representative of the feared religious class which runs theocratic Iran – is chanted at aggressively as he walks through a group of protesters

Political protests are rare in Iran – but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated bankrupt financial institutions

They shout: ‘Mullahs, be ashamed – and leave Iran’.

Another video appears to show police kicking protesters.

Some also chanted: ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran’ – a reference to anger at the government’s repeated interventions abroad.

One activist reported on social media that crowds also shouted: ‘Leave Palestine and think about us’.

Political protests are rare in Iran – but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated bankrupt financial institutions.

Political protests of national significance took place most recently in 2009 when Mahmoud Amadinejad’s re-election as president ignited an eight-month firestorm of street demonstrations. His pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged. Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda was quoted as saying: ‘If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad,’ .

Alamolhoda, the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of yesterday’s protests against rising prices to raise slogans against Iran’s involvement in regional conflicts.

‘Some people had came to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50, shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as “Let go of Palestine”, “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life for Iran”,’ Alamolhoda said.

Videos on social media also showed demonstrators chanting ‘Leave Syria, think about us’, criticising Iran’s military and financial support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting opponents of the government in Syria’s six-year-old civil war.

Videos on social media also showed demonstrators chanting ‘Leave Syria, think about us’, criticising Iran’s military and financial support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting opponents of the government in Syria’s six-year-old civil war

The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 per cent in recent days, with farmers blaming the hikes on higher prices for imported feed. Pictured: Protesters in Iran yesterday

Political protests of national significance took place most recently in 2009 when Mahmoud Amadinejad’s re-election as president ignited an eight-month firestorm of street demonstrations. His pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged

Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close ally of President Rouhani, suggested that hardline opponents of the president may have started the protests.

‘When a social and political movement is launched on the streets, those who started it will not necessarily be able to control it in the end,’ IRNA quoted Jahangiri as saying.

‘Those who are behind such events will burn their own fingers. They think they will hurt the government by doing so.’

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted the governor of the northeastern city of Mashhad, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, as saying there was an illegal ‘No to high prices’ gathering in the city.

‘Police gave them the necessary notifications and treated them with great tolerance,’ he said.

Norouzian said police arrested a number of people who intended to destroy public property, without elaborating.

The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 per cent in recent days, with farmers blaming the hikes on higher prices for imported feed.

Poultry is an important part of the diet of many of Iran’s 80 million people, and previous price increases have caused political problems for its leaders in the years since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Inflation has returned to 10 per cent, Iran’s central bank says. Youth unemployment also remains high.

As well as Mashhad, there were smaller protests in Yazd in southern Iran, Shahroud in the north and Kashmar in the northeast.

Tempers rose after Rouhani submitted his 2018 budget to parliament, which raises departure taxes for those flying out of the country.

Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close ally of President Rouhani (pictured), suggested that hardline opponents of the president may have started the protests

Tehran-based analyst Saeed Leilaz said that Rouhani’s political rivals may have played a role in organising the protests, saying ‘the hands of political groups could be seen in today’s gathering in Mashhad.’

But he said the administration still faces a major challenge.

‘There are more than 3 million jobless in Iran, and more than 35 percent of Iranians are under the poverty line. These are Rouhani’s problems, and could kill any government. I won’t be shocked if inflation hits 12 per cent.’

All this comes as the US Congress weighs President Donald Trump’s refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal.

Many Iranians now say they agree with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s repeated warnings the US can’t be trusted.

Khamenei has also kept up his criticism of how Rouhani’s administration has handled the economy, which includes the supreme leader’s opposition to allowing foreign firms to fully enter Iran.

The Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary organization, has vast economic interests in the country.

But the Guard did not mobilise its Basij volunteer forces to counter any of the protests yesterday.

However, some protests included attacks on Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war, in which the Guard has played a major role.

Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – which considers itself a government in exile – said he believes the protests show a ‘desire for regime change’.

He added: ‘One has to keep in mind that the people have been on the streets in large numbers across Iran for two days despite huge risks and the regime’s total mobilisation of its oppressive forces.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5220273/Thousands-protesters-Iran-attack-president.html#ixzz52mvNj8Zf

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