Godfrey Hodgson: a legendary author who predicted America’s unravelling

The legendary Godfrey Hodgson, author of essential books and reports on the US, a journalist with The Observer and then The Sunday Times Insight Team when they were in their prime, and in later life the head of the fellowships programme at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University, has died, aged 86. This is just a note to acknowledge the remarkable series of articles, a masterclass of analysis and observation, that he wrote for openDemocracy.

The first was a month after 9/11 when he reflected on a theme that he had written about at length: that the US thought of itself as “the exceptional country”. Americans thought they had created a model for the world and believed it was only a matter of time before the rest of us, everywhere, would come to see this. Perhaps, Hodgson suggested, more in hope than expectation, the shock of the terrorist assault would finally make America realise it was not the exception after all.

The most striking contribution Hodgson made, however, was not in any single article or essay, like this. From April 2004 to November 2011, he wrote 80 articles on American politics, sometimes monthly. These track the decline of the Bush presidency: with brilliant characterisations of George W. Bush’s flaccid character, class background and corruptions; the pathetic grovelling of Tony Blair seeking American influence; and the rise and victory of Obama, which is coolly observed…


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