Author Archives: Michael Pocalyko

The Grabovo Conspiracy

I truly love conspiracy theories. I don’t believe a single one of them. Instead I am fascinated by the way some people passionately embrace them, in the same manner that an ethnographer might systematically discern a primitive belief system, at once fascinated and repelled by the same observation. One of my never-going-to-be-published starter novels had a plot that was all about conspiracy theories. Variously called The Counselor or Limits to Privilege in a couple of training-wheels drafts, its protagonist was an ex-White House staffer, once Continue reading →

Nobody Actually Reads Piketty

I live a life of keeping secrets. It is exceedingly rare, and sometimes provides a story with a message, when I get to tell a secret. This is one of those times. I’m a life member of the storied Council on Foreign Relations. Have been, for the past 23 years. My entering class included people a lot more important than me, like Sandra Day O’Connor. I snuck through the membership screening in the fall of 1990 at the age of 35 because Dick Neustadt and Continue reading →

1964: The Last World of the Fair

The Sixties were an era rather than a chronological decade. They began on November 22, 1963 and ended on August 9, 1974, bracketed by the events that double-stunned the nation: the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the resignation of Richard Nixon. But there was a period of easing in, a long moment of inflection that began exactly five months after Kennedy’s death. Fifty years. Half a century, well deserving reflection. Let’s journey to the New York World’s Fair. My title here takes a turn Continue reading →


I have walked in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Independence Square in central Kyiv. “Euromaidan,” literally the Euro Square, along with all matters Ukrainian, have dominated our international consciousness for the past two months. For me it’s personal, energized by the legacy of my grandfather Nicholas Pocalyko. Let’s meet him on a great day in a posed photograph—one that tells so much. He is 53 years old in Palmerton, Pennsylvania in early 1946. He beams broadly, laughing, arms around four of his five sons home from the war Continue reading →