Category Archives: memoir

my father’s books are going to James Madison’s desk at Montpelier

(Syracuse, NY) My father, Joseph M. Levine, collected more than 20,000 books as a working library of a professional historian. Many were published before 1800. I am a sort of trustee for this collection, happily responsible for its long-term future. … Continue reading

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having one conversation for 26 years

(Salem, MA) I am here for a retreat of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, where I work. In the summer of 1987, I came here for a retreat of the Charles M. Kettering Foundation, where … Continue reading

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nostalgia

(Washington, DC) All this typing about politics, ideas, policy, the American people–2,077 posts on this site, plus articles, emails, graphs–and what I really care about, of course, is me: my own passage through time. For instance, how long ago did … Continue reading

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Syracuse is taking over

I am a native of Syracuse, NY, born and raised. I think my accent is “downstate” thanks to my parents. Our family was part of the Great Brooklyn Diaspora. But I grew up extremely familiar with what I considered a … Continue reading

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my past from the air

(In DC for the Everyday Democracy board meeting): We landed through clouds that ripped open just as we passed above the Kennedy Center, revealing Northwest DC spread out over the airplane wing. It was my seventh landing in DC this … Continue reading

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in-flight nostalgia

(On a plane from Boston to San Francisco) I spent every childhood summer in England–in a different home almost each year–and have returned there repeatedly in adulthood. Whenever a long time passes without a visit, I feel subtle nostalgia growing. … Continue reading

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losing one’s past

“The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss … Continue reading

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Washington memories

I spent this morning in DC (speaking at the Woodrow Wilson Center) and was back in my new home of Boston by mid-afternoon. It was a two metro-system day. DC is where I lived from age 22 until last July, … Continue reading

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“the buzzy philosophy element”

I’m spending occasional moments cleaning out my office after 15 years. It’s an excavation into the forgotten past. For example, I had no recollection of this letter from a British editor. The subject is Something to Hide, my novel that … Continue reading

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a strange journey

I had an invitation to attend a conference at Ditchley, a Georgian mansion in Oxfordshire, early last December. On my way to Dulles Airport, I learned that my father was in some danger; a cancer that we thought had been … Continue reading

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