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Conversations, Essays, and Other Writings

Thomas Hauser

Publication Year: 2014

Thomas Hauser is well known to readers as Muhammad Ali’s biographer and for his recording of the contemporary boxing scene. But Hauser began his writing career in the political arena as the author of Missing, a novel later made into an Academy-Award-winning film starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek. He has written books on subjects as diverse as public education, moral values, and Chernobyl, and his articles have appeared in publications ranging from the New Yorker to Penthouse. Reflections brings together all of Hauser’s articles on subjects other than sports. The book begins with a never-published essay on the Beatles. It then takes readers on a remarkable journey that moves from an exploration of racism, religion, and other hot-button political issues to personal memories and reflections on the origins of Santa Claus and the Tiffany box. Combining personal memories with issue-oriented commentary, Reflections creates a portrait of some of the most remarkable people and most compelling issues of our time.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Author’s Note

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pp. ix-xii

...The first writing I did for publication after leaving the practice of law to become an author was for New York Magazine. It was entitled “The Crank-Call Caper” and recounted the frustrations inherent in having an anonymous nuisance telephone caller. Since then, I’ve written...

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Reflections on the Beatles in America

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pp. 3-44

...Strawberry Fields is a 2.5-acre memorial to John Lennon located just inside the West 72nd Street entrance to Central Park in New York. Its focal point is a circular black-and-white mosaic with the word “Imagine” embedded in a winding asphalt walk...

Confronting Racism

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1991 Introduction to“Confronting Racism”

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pp. 47-48

...Ever since the first slave ship docked in 1619, race relations have been America’s special torment. Now we are experiencing a tale of two cities. This is the best of times and the worst of times; a season of light and a season of darkness; a time of hope and a time of despair. More black Americans hold...

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Mary Frances Berry

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pp. 49-58

...another based on their race; but I would also add to it, having the power to make decisions about that person’s future. So it’s more than just simply not liking somebody or...

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Roger Wilkins

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pp. 59-69

...way to criticize other blacks, because white people work overtime doing that. Of course, you criticize black people when they deserve it, but you do it in a way that is intended to be constructive. That’s my view. Obviously, you can’t...

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Charles Rangel

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pp. 70-76

...rather think that the black community spends so much of its time just trying to survive from one day to the next, trying to find a decent home, paying the rent, keeping...

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John Lewis

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pp. 77-82

...commitment in support of the need for us to put the question of race behind us. And not just make a statement, but encourage people throughout the year to...

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Jesse Jackson

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pp. 83-90

...which amounted to the affirmative action plan of that period. Eight black Congressmen were elected in South Carolina; a black governor was elected in Louisiana. Then came the reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation. The position was...

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Sterling Johnson

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pp. 91-97

...there are a lot of drugs in the medical profession. How many airline pilots? How many people on Wall Street? These people are not visible, but we know for a fact that the users of drugs are about 70 percent white. The drug industry...

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Arthur Ashe

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pp. 98-103

...which section of the country you’re in. It has varied according to how well society in a particular place has reacted to integration. It varies with educational attainment. And I think it varies with the assertiveness of the athletes themselves. My...

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Harry Belafonte

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pp. 104-117

...comes in many forms, because it isn’t just one bacteria at work; it’s several. But the overall thing is an invented form of social response or social behavior that works to the detriment of a group of people. And the operative word is “invented...

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Al Sharpton

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pp. 118-136

...with long processed hair; given to wearing powder-blue leisure suits and a faux gold medallion around his neck. Writers for the New York Times dismissed him as a “rotund preacher with a semi-automatic mouth” who “straddled the worlds of...

Personal Profiles

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Ramsey Lewis

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pp. 139-147

...For almost twenty-five years, Ramsey Lewis has reigned as one of America’s foremost jazz pianists, with dozens of albums and seven Grammy Awards to his credit. He plays over one hundred concerts a year at five thousand dollars a concert...

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Richard B. Morris

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pp. 148-150

...to keep them alive. The essence of an academic institution is its faculty. For two hundred years, Columbia has been fortunate. Nobel laureates, United States Supreme Court justices...

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Frank Macchiarola

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pp. 151-158

...New York City’s public-school system, the largest in the country, is in a state of crisis. Sixty-two percent of its seventh graders cannot read at a seventh-grade level. Almost one-third of its high-school students read at a grade level two years...

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Robert Hayes and the National Coalition for the Homeless

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pp. 159-172

...The speaker was a well-dressed woman looking down at a homeless man asleep on the sidewalk. The implication inherent in her remark, of course, was that this man was somehow undeserving of life. He was unproductive, morally...

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Dr. Robert Peter Gale

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pp. 173-184

...On April 26, 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in the Soviet Union sent 100 million curies of radioactive material (more than was released at Hiroshima and Nagasaki) spewing into the air. Within hours, 100,000 men...

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Tempest Storm

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pp. 185-194

...She’s seventy-nine years old now and lives in a one-bedroom apartment in East Las Vegas, the industrial part of town. Defying age, she has managed to remain both shapely and slender. She’s charming and disarming with an air of refinement and still has long fiery...

More on Politics

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John F. Kennedy: An Appreciation

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pp. 197-200

...and religious barriers were higher in national politics then than they are now. No Italian American or African American had ever been a member of the president’s cabinet. Only one Catholic, Al Smith in 1928, had been nominated by a major party for...

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Jack Newfield and George Bush

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pp. 201-207

...telephone not long after the November presidential election. “I’m weak; you talk,” Jack instructed. So I did. And the gist of what I said follows. For many Americans, myself included, the...

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More Important Than Boxing: 2006

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pp. 208-219

...changing our country. We’re horrified at what our government is doing around the world in our name.” Each year, the boxing articles that I’ve written the previous year are published in book form. “Jack Newfield and George Bush” was included in the most recent volume. That seemed fitting, since...

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More Important Than Boxing: 2008

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pp. 220-228

...to implementation of the coup. One night, I asked Charles’s mother what she thought was the most important message I could convey in the book. Her answer has always stayed with me. “Charles’s death,” Elizabeth Horman told me, “taught...


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The Crank-Call Caper

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pp. 231-233

...Bureau of the New York Telephone Company. It wasn’t easy. The bureau has an unlisted telephone number. I had to leave my name and number with a business-office operator, and someone from the bureau called me back forty-eight hours...

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My Dating History (And You Have to Promise Not to Laugh)

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pp. 234-237

...Needless to say, I was nervous. Speaking with Joan about anything more momentous than a missed homework assignment was a new experience, and the last thing I wanted was to seem like a clod. So I wrote out my lines and her anticipated responses in advance. In...

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Pity the Poor Restaurateur

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pp. 238-240

...Keath Liu owns and operates the China Gourmet restaurant on West 72nd Street in Manhattan. The business is his livelihood. Just before closing, a man and woman come in and order sesame chicken with lemon sauce. When the food is 90 percent eaten, the man...

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V&T Pizza

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pp. 241-243

...Very few things in life are constant, but V&T pizza is one of them. Vincent and Tony Curcurato were born in Manhattan and grew up on 116th Street off First Avenue. Prior to World War II, they were bakers by trade. Then they enlisted in the US Army. In 1945, they returned from the war, opened a small pizzeria on...

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The Tiffany Box

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pp. 244-246

...There’s a constant flurry of activity at Tiffany’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Well-heeled customers mingle with the merely curious. Meticulously dressed sales personnel tend briskly to their work. Each purchase is packaged in a box and...

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Memo to 2000 Presidential Candidates: Read My Book

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pp. 247-248

...Ask the presidential candidates which book they’re reading, their favorite book, or the book that most influenced them, and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get an honest answer. For all I know, Al Gore is a voracious reader and the tome that turned him on...

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The “Standard” Book Contract: A Federal Antitrust Lawsuit Waiting to Happen

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pp. 249-252

...Publishing is a business. No one questions that reality. And whatever it might have been in the past, publishing is no longer the “gentlemanly” business it was once thought to be. Rather, it’s about squeezing every last dollar out of every available source, and the most...

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Thomas F. Croake: A Law Clerk’s Remembrance

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pp. 253-256

...Law schools don’t prepare their students to practice law. Rather, in three years of Socratic dialogue, impressionable minds are taught to “think like a lawyer.” Words like “remittitur” and “interpleader” are added to the vocabulary. Nuts and bolts matters...

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When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

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pp. 257-260

...The world has been enriched by many distinctly Irish songs. “Danny Boy” and “MacNamara’s Band” are among the diverse offerings that come to mind. But no song is more deeply embedded in Irish hearts than “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” The history of the song begins with Chauncey...

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The Collected Political Letters of Martin Bear

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pp. 261-266

...Catfish Hunter is one of my favorite baseball players, too. I think that, once he gets used to the Yankees, he’ll improve his pitching and be an even bigger asset to the team than he is right now...

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The Case of the Missing Historical Treasure: A Columbia College Library Mystery

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pp. 267-269

...by the towering columns and façade that bore the inscription: “Homer • Plato • Aristotle • Demosthenes • Cicero • Virgil.” The wealth of knowledge in the building inspired me. But one particular treasure caught my eye. The college library...

Personal Notes

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pp. 270-272

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pp. 273-276

...Everybody defines these things differently, but still the question has to be asked. What is our twenty-fifth anniversary reunion all about? Inevitably, certain people and events come to mind when we think about 1960–1963. John F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign swung into high gear on Labor Day Weekend...

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pp. 277-287

...fortunate to have been surrounded by a family that had loved him all his life. Monday he could respond with his eyes but nothing more. Tuesday night, with his wife Elise at his side, he died. I won’t attempt to build...

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A God to Hope For

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pp. 288-324

...The Greeks believed that the universe created the gods. Heaven and Earth were the first parents. The Titans were their children, and they in turn gave birth to Zeus and his brethren. Contemporary monotheistic religions take a contrary view. If one believes in God today...

The End of the Year

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The Origins of Santa Claus

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pp. 327-329

...According to legend, when Nicholas was an infant, his mother nursed him twice a week and he fasted on the other five days. He is said to have rescued drowning sailors by halting a storm at sea and saved the life of a prisoner by seizing the executioner’s sword...

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Christmas Carols

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pp. 330-332

...Joseph Mohr, a twenty-six-year-old assistant pastor in the Austrian village of Oberndorf, had a problem. It was the day before Christmas 1818, and a mouse had chewed its way through the organ bellows at St. Nikola’s Church. That meant Mohr’s congregation would be without musical accompaniment for Christmas...

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Auld Lang Syne

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pp. 333-336

...New Year’s Eve is impossible to ignore. People who avoid parties and resist turning on the television to watch the ball descending in Times Square still find themselves reflecting on the state of their lives. Despite the revelry, the night is often a bittersweet...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781610755351
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557286505

Page Count: 290
Publication Year: 2014