Magazine | November 1, 2010, Issue



My grandfather, nineteen years of age,

Falls from the pages of the unabridged

Dictionary where I keep him pressed,

A sepia print of him in his second suit,

A double-breasted serge. The satin tie

Flows from a knot held by a silver pin.

His second suit. The first, he bought

With six years of savings, pennies earned

As cabin boy, deckhand, and seaman.

The night he put it on and went ashore

Some shipmate cracked wise about the cut

Of the cloth or the man who wore it, that

Somehow one was unsuited to the other,

The one being too fine, the other crude.

Whereupon my grandfather swung at him,

And one blow led to another until the men

Whirled into a blur of fisticuffs and blood,

Fought until their clothing was in tatters.

So now he appears in his second suit,

Bought off the rack in Hong Kong or London

Just after the Great War. He’s tough

And handsome, bright-eyed, proud,

Daring the whole world to call his bluff,

Cocksure the clothes don’t make the man.

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

Rust Belt Revival

Call them Reagan-Hillary Democrats. That label may sound awkward, but it provides a useful description of the working-class whites who helped the Gipper secure a pair of landslides in the ...
Politics & Policy

Oslo Scores

On the second Friday in October, the customary day, the Norwegian Nobel Committee made its big announcement. This is the committee that determines the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. ...


Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Hope from the Past

Every generation gets the George Washington it deserves. In the polyester, Watergate-era Seventies, Gore Vidal reduced America’s most revered president to a pompous figure of fun in his novel Burr, ...
Politics & Policy

Young Lisbeth

I got Dan Brown, I really did. The history was bunk, the prose was Lego, and yet there was something there — that maddening, tantalizing what’s-going-to-happen-next — that kept me ...
Country Life

The Eternal Seasons

As torrents in summer, Half dried in their channels, Suddenly rise, though the Sky is still cloudless, For rain has been falling Far off at their fountains, So hearts that are fainting Grow full to o’erflowing, And they ...


Politics & Policy


Practically Idealist In John Derbyshire’s most informative review of The High Tide of American Conservatism (“Bliss Was It . . . ,” October 4), he uses a familiar quote from Calvin Coolidge ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ If Congress wants to prosecute those who accept foreign money, Tim Geithner had better keep a suitcase packed. ‐ At his White House farewell, Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s departing chief ...
Politics & Policy


THE SUIT My grandfather, nineteen years of age, Falls from the pages of the unabridged Dictionary where I keep him pressed, A sepia print of him in his second suit, A double-breasted serge. The satin ...

Action-Game Activism

We’re told the election will be about the economy. As in, “We would like to have one again.” No luxuries like social issues: When businesses can hire without worrying that ...

Most Popular


Putin and the Cult of Leadership

On Sunday, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin won an unsurprising reelection-campaign victory against Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, by a margin of 76.7 percent to 11.8 percent. The results were unsurprising because Putin is a tyrant who murders or imprisons political rivals, and who isn’t afraid to use ... Read More

Trump and Brexit Derangement Syndrome

I am not one of those Brexiteers who believe that Brexit and Trumpism are essentially the same phenomenon in two different countries. To be sure, they both draw on some of the same political trends, notably a distrust of elites and an upsurge of popular anger over evident failures of public policy such as illegal ... Read More

Stand Up to Putin

President Putin’s landslide victory in Russia’s presidential election was achieved against the lackluster competition of a group of mediocre candidates from which the sole serious opponent had been excluded; amid plausible allegations that his security services had tried to poison two Russians in England by ... Read More
Politics & Policy

‘We Will Reduce Abortion’

Conor Lamb’s success has revived interest in “I’m personally opposed, but.” It’s a rhetorical convention — a cliché, really — that many Catholic Democrats have resorted to ever since Mario Cuomo popularized it with his speech at Notre Dame in 1984, as Alexandra DeSanctis explained a few days ... Read More