It is a not-entirely frivolous question to ask, in the context of this journal’s celebration of the European past, if the affair of Joe Klein, author of Primary Colors, the best-selling novel about the Clinton campaign for president in 1992, has anything to teach us about what the historian Peter Laslett once called “The World We Have Lost.” For it is not only the written (or painted, sculpted, etc.) record of the European past that we ought properly to value, but the largely unwritten traditions—involving honor and propriety, what is worthy of emulation and what is not—out of which these artifacts may be said to have sprung. It is because we have given too little attention to these matters that when Joe Klein was forced, after having been identified by a handwriting expert employed by The Washington Post, to admit to his authorship, there was no generally agreed upon standard of behavior according to which...

 
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