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Commentary November 2005

during their hegemonic days in the Screen Writers Guild and elsewherethe Radoshes go into considerable detail on the Communists methods of controlling who got work in Hollywood and who did notwere happy to cooperate with HUAC and to tell what they knew. A group of ten Hollywood screenwriters and directors, following Communist-party instructions to appear before the committee and make a spectacle of themselves by invoking the Fifth Amendment, ended up serving prison sentences for contempt of Congress. Still others f led abroadnot, of course, to the great socialist motherland but to more comfortable climes like Mexico, England, and France, where they were often able to find productive work. The eventual outcome of the HUAC hearings was the creation of a blacklist, consisting mainly of actors, directors, and screenwriters, whom the studios were forbidden to employalthough not immediately, and not without a fight. As the Radoshes show, the studio heads were not prepared simply to roll over for the committee. Whatever their personal politics, they were accustomed to unquestioned authority in their own domain, and in general were less interested in the politics of their writers than in scripts that would lead to success at the box off ice. Thus, even after they had supposedly buckled to political pressure, the studio heads continued to employ some of the blacklisted writers under fictitious names.

By the late 1960s, the political


and cultural tide within the United States had turned suff iciently for many of the blacklisted to resume work under their own names. Those who had gone to prison for contempt of Congress were rehabilitated as martyrs to the cause of political and cultural freedom. Subsequent generations, ignorant of the historical details, and nudged along by such mendacious films as

The Front, have all too readily bought into the myth of innocent liberals on the run; in fact, the real liberals, like Reagan, had all along been on the other side of the fence. As for those writers and f ilmmakers who had cooperated with HUAC, they would stand condemned in the court of Hollywood opinion. The classic example was the late Elia Kazan, the director of such landmark Broadway plays and/or Hollywood movies as Death of a Salesman, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, On the Waterfront, Gentlemans Agreement , Viva Zapata!, and East of Eden. As recently as 1999, a huge scandal was provoked when the board of the Motion Picture Academy voted to grant Kazan a special award for distinguished artistic achievement. Marlon Brando even tried to prevent the showing of clips from one of Kazans movies in the presentation of the award.* It speaks volumes about the current moment in American culture that the single afternoon Kazan spent testifying before a congressional committeean afternoon, moreover, without serious consequences for particular Communist writersshould be considered enough to outweigh a lifetime of extraordinary contribution to American theater and f ilm. But such, as I noted at the beginning, is the nature of Hollywoods continued enthrallment to the illiberal Left. The Radoshes Red Star Over Hollywood is an indispensable account of how this enthrallment came to be.
* The f ilm critic and historian Richard Schickel begins his engrossing and authoritative new book, Elia Kazan: A Biography (Harper Collins, 489 pp., $39.95), by revisiting this sorry episode.

Classic A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War
by Victor Davis Hanson
Random House. 416 pp. $29.95

Reviewed by Clifford Orwin


ictor Davis Hanson, who V does not mince words, once introduced himself to me as the most
hated man in the classics profession. I figured he must be exaggerating, but he wasnt. Classicists detest Hanson for Who Killed Homer? (1998), his blistering critique of their faddishness and irrelevance. Proclaiming himself an academic populist, Hanson believes that the Greek classics can and should matter to ordinary people. A War Like No Other is his latest effort to make them matter. As readers of Commentary know, Hanson is also a military historian, which helps account for his meteoric rise as a commentator since 9/11. Military historians lack status in the academy because professors, who live in a world of talk, do not like to admit how often things in the broader world are settled by force or the threat of it. But the public snaps up military history, and the prolific Hanson knows how to write for it. A War Like No Other displays the gifts of Hanson the historian. It recounts the Peloponnesian war, the greatest conf lict of Greek antiquity. Just two generations after the glorious pan-Hellenic defeat of the invading Persians, the two foremost allies in that conf lict, Athens and

Clifford Orwin, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, is the author of The Humanity of Thucydides (1994) and is currently completing a book on the role of compassion in modern politics.

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You deserve a factual look at . . .

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Racism in the Islamic World


How can peace prevail in the Middle East in the face of Islamic bigotry and hate? When will moderate Muslims speak out?
For years, the U.N., led by Islamic and Arab nations and their sympathizers, has accused Israel of racism, but the world consistently turns a blind eye to open, seething anti-Semitism in Islamic society.

What are the facts?

is the code word often used by Islamic anti-Semites for Jews.) U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos called the Princes In one of the most astonishing propaganda coups ever, assertion an outrage . . . blatant hypocrisy, but Islamic a United Nations conference on racism, which took place in leaders were silent. In fact, millions of Muslims still insist Durban South Africa in 2001, declared that Zionism is that Zionists were behind the September 11 attacks on the racism. No wonder the U.S. and Israel walked out of the World Trade Center. meeting, which was dominated by representatives of Anti-Semitism is expressed so freely and ubiquitously in Islamic and Arab states and other anti-Israel forces, and most Islamic societies that no citizen can escape it. During whose conclusions were predictable from the outset. Ramadan in 2002, Egypts The supreme irony of this TV aired conference was that it Until Muslims reject racism in all forms, state-controlled Horseman Without a Horse, accused no other nation of a program based on the racismonly Israel. In truth, they cant expect Islam to enjoy full forgery, The Israel is perhaps the most respect as a political and spiritual force. notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, racially and ethnically diverse in which Jews allegedly use the and tolerant country in the blood of non-Jews to make Passover matzot. In Iran, a TV world. More than half of Israels Jewish population consists series, Zahras Blue Eyes, portrays Zionists kidnapping of people of colorblacks from Ethiopia and Yemen, as Palestinian children and harvesting their organs. well as brown-skinned people from Morocco, Iran, Syria, Perhaps nowhere is the hatred of Jews more virulent than Egypt and Israel itself. In addition, Israels population among the Palestinians. Most perniciously, Palestinian includes more than one million Arabs, who enjoy the same children are taught in school that Jews are descended from civil rights as Jewish Israelis. In Israel hate speech is apes and pigs and that the most noble thing they can do is banned, and it is against the law to discriminate based on to kill Jews. Muslim clerics like Imam Ibrahim Madiras, an race or religion. employee of the Palestinian Authority, declared in a 2005 In contrast, anti-Semitisma poisonous form of racism television sermon, Jews are a cancer and later that, directed specifically against the Jewish peopleis rampant Muslims will kill the Jews . . . [and] rejoice in Allahs in most all Islamic societies. Not only is anti-Semitism victory. No surprise, then, that the 1982 doctoral commonplace in Muslim nations, but it is propagated dissertation of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas shamelessly by their leaders, in state-sponsored media, and makes the astounding claim that Zionists collaborated by Muslim clergy. with the Nazis to annihilate the Jewish people in order to For example, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir drive the survivors to Palestine. Mohamed declared in a 2003 speech to the Organization of Anti-Semitism and the prospects for peace: Islamic antiIslamic Conference that, today Jews rule the world by Semitism permeates the Arab Middle East and creates an proxy. They get others to fight and die for them. Imagine atmosphere in which Jews are reviled and represented as if an American president had made a similarly sweeping subhuman. How can the Palestinian people embrace peace and bigoted statement about blacks, Latinos or any other with a people represented by their religious and political racewhat a justifiable uproar, perhaps even an leaders as dehumanized, evil beings? Even more impeachment, would ensue. Yet there was no importantly, how can Israel be expected to trust a so-called condemnation by the Muslim world of Mohameds peace partner who expresses abject hatred and murderous comments. Rather, virtually all of the conferences Muslim intent toward Jews on a daily basis? Yet the U.S. and many leaders actually voiced their approval. European nations continue to demand that Israel make In response to a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia in May one-sided sacrifices for peace with a people steeped in 2004, Crown Prince Abdullah declared that Zionism is racism and committed to its destruction. behind [these] terrorist actions in the kingdom. (Zionism Until Islamic leaders muster the integrity to relentlessly condemn anti-Semitism (and its evil twin, anti-Zionism), we cant expect Israel to accept a forced peace with the Palestinians. Likewise, until moderate Muslims reject racism in all forms, they cant expect Islam to enjoy full respect as a political and spiritual force among the worlds people.
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Books in Review

Sparta, squared off against each other. Each boasted powerful allies of its own: the Spartan or Peloponnesian alliance dominated on land, while Athens with its maritime tributaries ruled the sea. As Hanson stresses, following his great source Thucydides, the war was to prove far less glorious than disastrous. It dragged on for 27 years in all (431- 404 b.c.e.), and the losses, both human and economic, were enormous. While Sparta f inally won, the victory proved empty. Neither city would fully recover, nor would Greece as a whole: the rise of Macedonia marked the end of the heyday of the polis or Greek city-state. The Peloponnesian war offers a great story; the problem, for Hanson as for all other modern historians, is that it has already been told. Thucydides contemporaneous accounthe was born ca. 460 b.c.e., died ca. 395, and fought in the war as a general for his native Athens continues to dwarf all competitors. Not only is it our sole intact and reliable literary source for the war, all others being fragmentary, but Thucydides is one of the greatest writers of any genre ever to put quill to parchment. His profundity and intensity, his narrative and rhetorical brilliance, and his unique blend of analytical rigor and imaginative sympathy make his book one of the most thrilling ever written. True, the war lasted until 404 b.c.e., and Thucydides account breaks off in 411 (to be taken up by another great historian, Xenophon). True, too, there are numerous minor sources for the war, documentary and archeological, and 2,500 years worth of scholars secondguessing Thucydides interpretation. Still, Hanson appreciates Thucydides greatness too much to set out to rival or supersede him. What he has chosen to do instead is to amplify one of Thucydides themes. His subtitle indicates his emphasis: this is a how they did it book, where what they did was

bloody. Its subject is the thousands of ordinary Greeks who were slaughtered for nearly three decades for the designs of fickle men, shifting alliances, and contradictory causes. Such deep sympathy with the obscure victims of the violence of war is genuinely Thucydidean, albeit only one strand among many in Thucydides account. Hanson moves it front and center. He also adopts a different method. While Thucydides narrates the war season by season, Hansons chapters bear titles like Terror, Plague, Armor, Walls, and Ships (this last, with its thorough account of naval warfare among the Greeks, being especially vivid and evocative). Each chapter focuses on a particular epoch of the war, but also on the particular aspect that dominated it. Frequently interrupting his narrative for a schematic treatment of a chapters featured motif, Hanson finds himself ranging both forward and back-

ward in time for evidence, but throughout his account he skillfully maintains both focus and cohesion.

T wo elements emerge from Hansons valuable treatment that are largely missing from Thucydides. While the Greek historian assumed a readers acquaintance with the modes of warfare of the day, Hanson obviously cannot. So episodes that Thucydides merely sketches Hanson painstakingly and very usefully re-creates. The desperation of siege and plague, the strange interplay of strict order and blind bloody chaos that pervaded hoplite (heavyarmed) warfare, the unsurpassed intricacy of the seamanship required of the crew of a trireme, the massive cruelty that came to dominate the treatment of the vanquishedall take on concreteness through Hansons patient accumulation of detail. In this connection, the fact that Hanson has always been an agrari-

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Commentary November 2005

an historian in addition to a military one serves him well, not least because these two aspects of life were closely intertwined in ancient times. Thus, one of his f inest achievements in A War Like No Other is to explain the puzzling fact that the combatants invaded each others territory repeatedly but hardly ever with decisive effect. A practicing farmer, Hanson conducted the relevant experiments himself. Burning wheat f ields and uprooting vines and olive trees proved slow, exhausting, and only sporadically successful. It is no surprise, then, that the invaders usually retreated with their work of destruction unfinished or even hardly begun. The second way in which Hansons work augments that of Thucydides is in the richness of its statistics. Ancient writers often neglected these, and never provided them consistently or cumulatively. Some of Hansons numbers are well grounded, others highly conjectural; all, however, reflect his determination to leave no ancient stone unturned in the search. Hansons statistics, moreover, are anything but dry. We learn, for instance, that Athens estimated total losses in the war were proportionate to American losses in World War II not of 400,000, the actual American figure, but of 44 million. This alone allows us to grasp what a catastrophe the war wasand how amazing was the citys recovery in the decades thereafter. Similarly, the grievous losses in the final and most chaotic stage of the conflict, involving years of major naval battles, fell heaviest on the Athenian lower classes, which supplied the rowers, and thus altered the political balance within the city for a long time to come. Hansons statistics also help to crack some thorny riddles. Why (even apart from the hardiness of

vine, olive, and grain) did the early Spartan invasions of Attica prove so ineffectual? By reckoning the likely acreage of the land under cultivation there, Hanson shows that the manpower available to the Spartans simply did not permit them to ravage more than a small percentage of it. Similarly, he calculates the vicissitudes of public f inance on both sides of the conflict, and the effect of these on the course and eventual outcome of the war.

These last examples are typically Hansonian. Where Thucydides is sublime, Hanson is businesslike and prosaic. Not for him the almost biblical resonance of Thucydides concern with ultimate human questions of justice and piety. He leaves both deep thinking and stirring eloquence to the master, writing for readers whose curiosity about just how things were done in the past matches his own. His distinctive achievement is to show how great a contribution this approach can make to understanding why events unfolded as they didas well as to grasping the plight of those condemned to endure them. There are, of course, other valid approaches to the history of the war, generating the vast secondary literature to which I alluded earlier. Hanson offers many footnotes but largely spares the reader his disagreements with other scholars. Of these the most estimable, certainly in the English-speaking world, is Donald Kagan of Yale, who beginning in the late 1970s published four massive volumes on the war and has more recently issued a condensed and revised one-volume version. Kagans emphasis, unlike Hansons, is on diplomacy and strategy. He provides a detailed reconstruction of every major episode, relying on Thucydides where he can, cor-

recting him where he feels he must. To put it very roughly, Kagan offers a top-down rather than a bottom-up perspective: his is the statesmans viewpoint, from which he assesses the performance of those within each city who bore the terrible burden of decision. Hansons viewpoint, as we have seen, is that of those who bore the consequences of those decisions. Obviously, we need not choose between these contrasting and ultimately complementary emphases. If Kagans book lacks the in-thetrenches and on-the-benches detail of Hansons, Hansons lacks the careful development of the big picture of Kagans. No understanding of the greatness and misery of war is complete without both perspectives. A War Like No Other is very much a post-9/11 book. Certain of Hansons emphaseson the role of terror in the war, on the nature of asymmetrical conf lictref lect this fact. His purpose, however, is not to draw facile lessons for today from these events of so long ago. He is much too careful a scholar not to maintain a wall between his historical efforts and his journalistic ones. His appeal is to the serious reader who shares his interest both in this most fateful of Greek wars and in the anatomy of war as such. He evokes for us, today, the harsh fates of so many ordinary men of a vanished epoch, concluding with a litany of the obscurely fallen and the injunction to remember them, for if the study of war and its lessons is for all of us, the fighting of the Peloponnesian war was theirs alone. Last and perhaps best, Hansons achievement encourages us to return to the masterpiece upon which it depends. You can never be too rich or too thin, or have too many reasons to reread Thucydides.

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