Eric Alterman

Eric Alterman is a distinguished professor of English and Journalism at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. He is a columnist for The Nation, Moment, and The Daily Beast. His most recent book is Kabuki Democracy: The System vs. Barack Obama.

Recent Articles

Listening to Lyndon

Reaching for Glory: Lyndon Johnson's Secret White House Tapes, 1964-1965 Edited by Michael Beschloss. Simon and Schuster, 475 pages, $30.00 When dealing with the amazing personality of Lyndon Baines Johnson, there is just no substitute for an encounter with the real thing. This is an inescapable conclusion of reading the second volume of Michael Beschloss's judiciously edited transcripts of LBJ's secretly recorded conversations. I say this despite the fact that Robert Caro--whom I would nominate for the world's most diligent biographer--is about to release pages 3,000 to 4,000 or so of what is shaping up as the most ambitious biography of all time. The first two volumes of Caro on LBJ have been exhaustively researched and magnificently written, if shockingly unsympathetic at times. Yet even Caro's masterpiece-in-the-making cannot quite do what the relatively unsophisticated tape-recording device underneath Johnson's desk has done: bring the man alive in all his tawdry, jaw-dropping...

Chronicling the Last War

War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals By David Halberstam. Scribners, 543 pages, $28.00 Inside David Halberstam's mammoth opus is a good little book struggling to escape its author's fatal ambition. The justly celebrated reporter apparently believes it possible to tell the story of U.S. foreign and military policy over a period of more than a decade, in all its political, personal, psychological, and strategic context, in the space of one book--albeit one of doorstop heft. It is not. And in undertaking this act of authorial hubris, Halberstam has unwittingly revealed a number of significant problems in the way we think about foreign policy, the way journalists report it, and the democratic failures that result from both. When Halberstam published The Best and The Brightest in 1972, he achieved something about which most writers can only dream: a work combining both significant national import and lasting value in the vast literature on war and politics. The Best and...