Taki Taki

The school that made an American century

The relationships between Groton old boys shaped American Cold War strategy [Photo: Historic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo]

New York

With the Karamazovian hangover now only a weekly occurrence, the healthy life rules supreme. Well, most of the time. Up early, I go for a brisk 30-minute walk, then it’s breakfast in the park that stretches out two blocks away. I finish off with two sets of 20 push-ups on a park bench, a few kicks and punches using leaves as targets, then cross Fifth Avenue going east. (Karate is now a three-night-a-week activity, and I’ve given up Judo as it takes up too much time and needs too many partners.) I then buy the papers from a friendly Indian, get my first coffee of the day from a friendlier Greek, and return to my flat in the 1928 art-deco marvel that is my Park Avenue abode. I exchange jokes about their sex life with the three uniformed doormen who are from Puerto Rico, Howard Beach and Montenegro, then tuck into a hearty breakfast prepared by Margarita, the Colombian lady who has been with me for 40 years in New York, brought up my two children, and still cannot speak a word of English.

So I was surprised the other day, as I was crossing Park Avenue, when a nice-looking young man asked me in English if I was ‘Taki of The Spectator?’ All the more surprised since I was wearing a mask. He turned out to be as pleasant as he looked, and later in the week he sent me a book about the boarding school he attended, Groton. Ted Leonhardt is co-author of the book about his alma mater, and a practising lawyer. Groton is the American Eton, and then some. In his book Ted explains how Groton’s old-boy network actually made the American century, how the relationships between Groton boys developed in shaping American Cold War policy.

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