Perils and Promise

When the White House speechwriters crafted Ronald Rea gan's Christmas message, they tried desperately to get away from Charles Dickens' hoary label for any era: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." But they failed, drawn again to that time-worn language to describe the maddening contradictions of the world today. And indeed, Dickens' words may be especially apt for 1982, a year with no poetry in its sound, no numerical magic. It is a year that a number of scholars and statesmen are already predicting will be momentous for...

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