Hart, Gary 1936–

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Hart, Gary 1936–

(John Blackthorn, Gary Warren Hart)

PERSONAL: Surname originally Hartpence; surname legally changed, 1961; born November 28, 1936 (some sources say 1937), in Ottawa, KS.; son of Carl (a farmer and salesman) and Nina Hartpence; married Oletha (Lee) Ludwig (a teacher), 1958; children: Andrea, John. Education: Southern Nazarene University, B.A., 1958; Yale University, B.D., 1961, J.D., 1964; Oxford University, D.Phil., 2001. Politics: Democrat. Hobbies and other interests: Reading, sculpting.

ADDRESSES: Home—Kittredge, CO. Office—Washington, DC. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Oxford University Press, 198 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016.

CAREER: Writer, historian, attorney, novelist, public speaker, and former U.S. senator. Admitted to bar of Colorado, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, 1964. U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, 1964–66, began as appellate attorney, became special assistant to Secretary Stewart Udall of U.S. Department of Interior; private practice of law in Denver, Colo., 1967–74; national director of U.S. Senator George S. McGov-ern's presidential campaign, 1970–72; U.S. Senate, Washington, DC, Democratic senator from Colorado, 1975–86, founder and first chairman of Environmental Study Conference, 1975, conglomerates adviser for Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II), 1977, adviser to United Nations Special Session on Disarmament, 1978, chairman of National Committee on Air Quality, 1978–81, founder of Conglomerates Military Reform Caucus, 1981; candidate for Democratic party's presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 elections; private practice of law in Denver, 1988–; U.S. Commission on National Security for the Twenty-First Century, co-chair, 1998–2001. Instructor in environmental resources at University of Colorado, 1967–70; consultant to National Water Commission and Public Land Review Commission, 1967–70; campaign organizer for Robert F. Kennedy, 1968; organizer of Democratic party's Reform Commission in Colorado, c. 1968; former member of board of commissioners of Denver Urban Renewal Authority and Park Hill Action Committee; member of board of visitors of U.S. Air Force Academy, 1975–, chairman, 1978–80; member of Council on Foreign Relations; Oxford University, visiting fellow and McCallum Memorial Lecturer; Yale University, Global Fund Lecturer; University of California, Regents Lecturer; member of board of directors, Global Green USA. Military service: U.S. Naval Reserve, 1980.


Right from the Start: A Chronicle of the McGovern Campaign, Quadrangle (New York, NY), 1973.

(With William S. Lind) America Can Win, Adler & Adler (Bethesda, MD), 1986.

Russia Shakes the World: The Second Russian Revolution and Its Impact on the West, Cornelia and Michael Bessie Books (New York, NY), 1991.

The Good Fight: The Education of an American Reformer, Random House (New York, NY), 1993.

The Patriot: An Exhortation to Liberate America from the Barbarians, Free Press (New York, NY), 1996.

The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People, Free Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in Twenty-First-Century America, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

The Fourth Power: A Grand Strategy for the United States in the Twenty-First Century, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

God and Caesar in America: An Essay on Religion and Politics, Fulcrum Pub. (Golden, CO), 2005.

James Monroe (biography), Times Books (New York, NY), 2005.

The Shield and the Cloak: The Security of the Commons, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.


(With William S. Cohen) The Double Man, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1985.

The Strategies of Zeus, William Morrow & Co. (New York, NY), 1986.

(Under pseudonym John Blackthorn) Sins of the Fathers, William Morrow & Co. (New York, NY), 1999.

(Under pseudonym John Blackthorn) I, Che Guevara, William Morrow & Co. (New York, NY), 2000.

Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times.

SIDELIGHTS: Gary Hart is probably the most notorious liberal politician to gain national prominence in the 1980s. Since announcing his candidacy for the Democratic Party's presidential election in 1984—a candidacy in which Hart explicitly emphasized his policies instead of his personality—he has, paradoxically, been assessed extensively on the basis of his personal life. During the 1984 campaign he was subjected by the media to keen scrutiny and psychological speculation after it was disclosed that he had changed both his surname and his birthdate. At that time rumors already circulated concerning his alleged philandering. Ultimately, however, his candidacy was substantially undone on political grounds when opponent Walter Mondale ridiculed Hart's political philosophy—one calling for "new ideas"—as mere rhetoric.

In the ensuing years Hart worked to substantiate his reputation as an issues-oriented candidate by publishing America Can Win, an explication of his perspective on America's social and economic situations. He also softened his image as an aloof and enigmatic figure by occasionally discussing his past and his private life, and he revealed another aspect of himself by publishing two spy thrillers, The Double Man and The Strategies of Zeus. These various accomplishments enabled Hart to realize a position as the leading candidate for his party's nomination in the 1988 presidential election. But in mid-1987 allegations of sexual indiscretion once again threatened to undermine Hart's political aspirations. These rumors led to increased media attention and disclosures that, in turn, led to scandal and Hart's sudden withdrawal from the presidential race.

Although Hart achieved prominence for his politics, his background is in religion and philosophy. His father was a farmer who "drifted from job to job" according to Time, and his mother was a strict Christian who imposed a rigid code on her children; Hart was not allowed to smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol, nor was he allowed to dance or attend movies. In 1954 Hart enrolled at Bethany Nazarene College with intentions of studying for the ministry. At Bethany he was heavily influenced by Professor J. Prescott Johnson, who introduced him to the writings of nineteenth-century religious philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. According to Johnson, Hart was greatly influenced by Kierkegaard's work, notably his explication of the "either/or" proposition calling for either total commitment or detachment regarding causes and personal beliefs. Hart finished his studies at Bethany in 1958, but by that time his interests were turning away from specifically religious subjects. He nonetheless enrolled in Yale University's divinity school, but after graduating in 1961 he abandoned aspirations to the ministry and enrolled at Yale's law school, from which he graduated in 1964.

Upon completing his law studies Hart accepted a position as attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. He subsequently worked in the Department of the Interior, then moved to Colorado to teach and work as an attorney and a consultant. After U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy began campaigning for the Democratic party's 1968 presidential nomination, Hart became increasingly active in the party, and even after the candidate's assassination Hart continued to work for other party members.

In late 1968 Hart proved instrumental in organizing the Democratic party's Reform Commission in Colorado. At this time he befriended U.S. Senator George S. McGovern, who would become the party's presidential candidate in the 1972 election. Hart served as McGov-ern's campaign manager during that campaign, and his shrewd and innovative tactics were greatly responsible for McGovern's success. Perhaps foremost among Hart's contributions was his ability to correctly assess the strength of the party's liberal faction. He counseled McGovern to confirm his controversial, adamantly liberal positions on America's military and social programs. Hart also showed considerable expertise in his manipulation of McGovern's supporters within the party and in his ability to sustain McGovern's candidacy despite a seemingly constant monetary deficiency. To counter this severe lack of funds, Hart devised mailorder solicitations in which supporters were invited to contribute regular donations on a monthly basis. But though Hart's efforts enabled McGovern to win the Democratic Party's nomination, they were ineffective in helping him secure the presidency from Republican incumbent Richard M. Nixon. In Right From the Start: A Chronicle of the McGovern Campaign, Hart attributed McGovern's defeat to the remote nature of the party's liberalism, and he described the entire experience as obvious and absurd, tragic and comic.

Following McGovern's loss, Hart returned to his law practice in Denver and wrote Right From the Start. In 1973 he commenced his own political career by pursuing the Democratic Party's nomination for the U.S. Senate seat held by conservative Republican Peter H. Dominick. Hart won the election by an eighteen percent margin, and in 1975 he assumed his new post in Washington, DC.

In his first term Hart steadily established himself as a leading proponent of liberal causes. He proposed increases in education funding and supported national health legislation and government aid. In addition he advocated extensive revision of the nation's tax structure and urged a reduction in the country's considerable military budget.

Hart won reelection in 1981, but by that time his ambitions had shifted to the presidency. He announced his candidacy in 1982, two years before the actual election, and intensified his espousal of the liberal perspective. To many observers, Hart sought to portray himself as a pioneering innovator in American politics, one whose campaign was explicitly directed at ideas instead of image, and his slogan, "We need new ideas," came to summarize his campaign strategy. About his personality and past Hart spoke little. "I'm a private man," he contended. Nevertheless, it was discovered that Hart had changed his name from Hartpence, misrepresented his birthdate by one year, and twice altered his signature. These curious actions, which Hart only vaguely explained, were minimized by him as harmless and inconsequential. "I don't think they're issues with the people," he stated in Time, "though they seem to be the issues with reporters."

Allegations of sexual misconduct also circulated during Hart's first campaign. Rumors of sexual indiscretion apparently distressed staff members, although Hart dismissed such talk as mere gossip and lies. Some associates, however, later revealed an awareness of his questionable activities, and reporters eventually noted—during the 1987 scandal—that there was a general awareness among members of the press that Hart was sexually active outside his marriage.

Hart's 1984 candidacy, however, was probably most damaged by opponent Walter Mondale's ability to mock the validity of Hart's political image and his platform. Borrowing a phrase from a popular television commercial, Mondale appraised Hart's policies and asked, "Where's the beef?" With that question, posed during a nationally televised debate, Mondale succeeded in prompting skepticism regarding Hart's political enterprise, and throughout the remainder of the campaign he continued to question Hart's self-appointed role as a new leader in American politics. Mondale eventually won the Democratic Party's nomination, but he lost the 1984 election to incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan.

After completing his second term in the Senate, Hart withdrew from campaign politics and turned to writing. He worked to bolster his reputation as an innovative liberal by delineating his policies in America Can Win, his book written with William S. Lind, and several position papers. In these writings Hart introduced his Strategic Investment Initiative, an ambitious socioeconomic program designed to promote improved education and technological development through federal investment initiatives provided to state and local governments. These initiatives, in turn, would fund expanded school years and compensatory programs for the underprivileged and would provide capital for recovering businesses and industries. Among Hart's other policies were plans to modify welfare spending and to increase the federal tax rate. Consistent with liberal policies, Hart opposed an increase in the military budget.

In the mid-1980s Hart also published two political thrillers, The Double Man and The Strategies of Zeus. Both novels concern dashing, dedicated political officials, and both works feature pointed comparisons of American and Soviet attitudes. The Double Man, which Hart wrote with William S. Cohen while both men were senators, was probably the more praised of the two books. It concerns a rather naive senator who discovers that a Soviet agent is manipulating terrorists to thwart key capitalists.

Hart worked without collaborators on The Strategies of Zeus, contending that the novel's commercial reception would serve as an "acid test" for his viability as a writer. Like Hart's earlier novel, The Strategies of Zeus centers on political intrigue—specifically, a plot centering on weapons negotiations—and weighs notions of patriotism and honor against those of pleasure and profit. But Hart intended the work to be instructive as well as entertaining, and he revealed that he had even considered complementing his actual narrative with essays on arms control and nuclear weapons. He told the Washington Post that the book, in addition to its purposes as an "acid test" and an educational adventure, would function as a vehicle for creating greater rapport with the American public. Post reviewer Paul Taylor reported that Hart intended "to use the novel's publication as an excuse to start talking more about himself." Taylor added, though, that Hart acknowledged his own inability to discuss his past and private life.

It was questionable conduct in Hart's private life that nearly sabotaged his bid for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 1988 presidential election. In early 1987 Hart showed surprising political strength—despite enormous debts from the 1984 campaign and a conspicuous lack of peer support—and was the favored candidate. In May, however, reports indicated that Hart was involved with a model, eventually identified as Donna Rice. Angered, Hart denied the rumors and challenged reporters to track his activities. The Miami Herald accepted Hart's challenge, and the newspaper published evidence revealing Hart's ties with Rice. As Hart continued to vehemently deny that he had compromised his marriage through his relationship with Rice, indications of other sexual indiscretions circulated in the press. As unfavorable publicity increasingly threatened his campaign, Hart suddenly withdrew from the race. The Washington Post, which reportedly possessed evidence of Hart's philandering, consequently abandoned plans to publish their findings.

Then, in a startling move in mid-December, 1987, Hart announced that he was reentering the 1988 Democratic presidential race. "There is no shame in losing, only in quitting," he declared. Addressing a cheering crowd of supporters in New Hampshire, Hart explained: "My family—Lee, John, and Andrea—understands the difficulties ahead. They are totally behind this step because we believe in ourselves and the American people."

His decision prompted a barrage of queries into his motives for renewing the presidential campaign. Some political strategists argued that he sought federal matching funds for campaign debts, including more than one million dollars still owed from his 1984 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Others claimed that despite the humiliation of his earlier withdrawal, Hart retained a loyal political following and considerable political appeal. That following proved insubstantial, however, and in March, 1988, Hart ended his candidacy.

Since dropping out of the presidential race, and the public eye, Hart has worked to strengthen and redefine himself as a scholar and a writer. He took another turn as a novelist, writing two books under the pseudonym of John Blackthorn. The first, Sins of the Fathers, revolves around a pair of nuclear warheads hidden in Cuba since the 1962 Missile Crisis and about to be sold to a radical group that plans to detonate them during the country's anniversary celebration in 1999. A middleaged professor named McLemore, the son of a man who was shot as a spy during the Missile Crisis, is in Cuba to research what really happened during those frightful days. When he discovers the existence of the warheads, however, both the CIA and the Cuban Security Police want his help in stopping the radicals. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that Blackthorn's "assured debut reads like the work of someone who's been perusing this terrain for years."

I, Che Guevara, Hart's other Blackthorne novel, proceeds from the announced retirement of Fidel Castro and the effect such an event would have on Cuba's future and international standing. In the turmoil following Castro's announcement, a charismatic older man emerges on the political scene, endorsing a democratic freedom movement in the country. The man is eventually revealed to be Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who was not killed in 1967, after all, and who has decided to return to public life after years in seclusion. Operating under the name Ernesto Blanco, Guevara's True Republic party gains more and more popularity, aided by two American females, a journalist and an assassin, and the party's message begins to take root in the Cuban consciousness: govern yourself. Many staples of the democratic election process, such as the press, the politicians, and the power brokers, are treated with cynicism and some scorn, but in an interview with Don O'Briant in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hart explained that "I wanted to show the effects of corruption and what would happen if a true democratic movement would arise." Booklist contributor Vanessa Bush called the book a "thought-provoking novel about the radicalism of the concept of democracy." The author "writes with passion, skill, and a sure knowledge of Cuba," commented Barbara Conaty in the Library Journal. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "Blackthorn's political drama is compelling and believable, written with style, clarity, and conviction." Notably, Hart had at one time served as a sort of unofficial ambassador to Cuba and is well-versed in the country's history and politics.

Most of Hart's written works since the 1980s, however, have been nonfiction focused on history, political and social reform, and other topics of public policy, foreign policy, and national defense. The Good Fight: The Education of an American Reformer is both Hart's autobiography and his tribute to four reformers that profoundly influenced his political career: John Wesley, Thomas Jefferson, Soren Kirkegaard, and Leo Tolstoy. Casting himself in the role of reformer, Hart explores his kinship with these men who "fought the good fight" in order to bring about social and political change. The book "reminds us why Hart was an unusual and important figure in American public life—a man with a restless intelligence, an instinctive distrust of orthodoxy and experts, and a commitment to the public good in the best Jeffersonian tradition," observed Jonathan Rowe in the Washington Monthly. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed: "This deeply reflective stirring testament argues that sweeping, periodic reform is necessary to avoid revolution or chaos."

In The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People, Hart endorses sweeping changes in the structure of the American military, in effect modernizing the Army by reverting to an effective framework from the country's early years. Hart wishes to keep the American military closer to American soil, where it is logically most needed for defense. The armed forces of the post-Cold War days have become too large and unwieldy to function effectively, he says, and so large and professional a military system is both prone to overcommitment throughout the world and is apt to create a public detachment from important security issues. In many ways, Hart says, the American people have come to rely on a force of professional soldiers to protect them; they no longer know how to protect themselves. To restore this ability, Hart proposes returning the military to the "well-regulated militia" as described in the Constitution. This would involve recognizing all military-age males and some females as being part of the country's unorganized militia. The citizenry would be trained in military tactics and would retain their weapons in their own homes. Most of the time, they would live their lives as normal, but when called upon for national defense, these armed citizens would be able to assemble quickly and offer an enormous armed resistance (essentially every adult in the country) to any domestic invader. A well-trained and thoroughly armed citizenry would also be able to foil any type of military coup or fascist-minded administration that wanted to impose martial law or other conditions that the citizenry was unwilling to accept. Hart's suggestion is radical, but he "makes a strong case for bringing back something very much like the classical militia, or perhaps the twentieth-century Swiss version, in his post-Cold War era," observed Glenn Harlan Reynolds in Reason. Though the military and power elite may have considerable difficulty with Hart's argument, it nonetheless "draws on formidable traditions of democratic thought," noted Foreign Affairs contributor Eliot A. Cohen. "Hart's book is well-written and thoroughly anchored in both military and political realities," Reynolds stated. A reviewer on the State Guard Association of the United States noted that "the book is loaded with useful ideas and concepts, but it actually addresses the Army itself, and furnishes provocative insights."

Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in Twenty-First-Century America offers a solution for the ongoing conflict over individual freedoms, states' rights, and governmental power by reassessing and reapplying Jefferson's political theories. Hart's suggestions provide a moderate solution that allows "the political participation of individual citizens while fostering a more effective federal structure," commented a reviewer in Pub-lishers Weekly. That same reviewer found that many of Hart's solutions leaned more toward the theoretical than the practical, but a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that "Hart makes a strong case for the republican virtue of allowing local people to make some if not all of the day-by-day decisions that affect their lives—and for the ability of the populace to undertake that hard work."

In The Fourth Power: A Grand Strategy for the United States in the Twenty-First Century, Hart expounds on a revised approach to foreign policy designed to combat what he sees as America's "strategy of empire," its unilateral approach to foreign issues with little regard for the opinions of other countries, and the sometimes bullying tactics that the United States uses to force others to accept the U.S. way of doing things. An imperial America, Hart notes, is incompatible with the country's origins and character as a republic. He encourages the application of the "fourth power" after economic, military, and political power—that is, core American values such as representative government and personal liberty, in matters of foreign policy. Application of these ideals, Hart notes, will help lead to greater security, opportunity, and the promotion of democracy around the world. "Hart states his case with eloquence and generally sound reasoning," observed Booklist contributor Jay Freeman. Grame Voyer, writing in the Weekly Standard, called Hart's work "a worthy contribution to foreign polity debate" and a book that "warrants attention."

Hart's James Monroe is a biography of an often overlooked U.S. president and political figure who was the first "national security" president. Among Monroe's accomplishments during his presidency (1817–25) were the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase; avoidance of war with England, France, and Spain; and further recovery in the aftermath of the War of 1812. Hart explains the principles behind the famed Monroe Doctrine, which at their core were a U.S. policy of refusing to allow any monarchical European government into the Americas, particularly the United States. Far from an eviction notice declaring that Europe was no longer welcome in the United States, the doctrine also held America to the same standards of noninterference in European affairs. Hart elaborates deeply and carefully on the life of Monroe, a career soldier, politician, and diplomat who helped formulate some of America's most important guiding principles. Library Journal reviewer Thomas J. Baldino named the book "a satisfying and informative read," while a Kirkus Reviews contributor called the book "a well-written, useful precis of Monroe's life and career."



Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Hart, Gary, Right From the Start: A Chronicle of the McGovern Campaign, Quadrangle (New York, NY), 1973.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 13, 2000, Don O'Briant, "Book Notes: Getting to the Hart of the 'Che' Matter; Thriller Taps Into Cuban Ties," review of I, Che Guevara, p. D2.

Booklist, May 15, 1993, Joe Collins, review of The Good Fight: The Education of an American Reformer, p. 1660; June 1, 1996, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Patriot: An Exhortation to Liberate America from the Barbarians, p. 1640; April, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Minutemen, p. 1285; January 1, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of I, Che Guevara, p. 872; July, 2004, Jay Freeman, review of The Fourth Power: A Grand Strategy for the United States in the Twenty-First Century, p. 1805; October 1, 2005, Ray Olson, review of James Monroe, p. 20.

Foreign Affairs, September-October, 1998, Elliot A. Cohen, review of The Minutemen: Restoring an Army of the People, p. 150.

Insight on the News, September 2, 1991, Arnold Beich-man, review of Russia Shakes the World: The Second Russian Revolution and Its Impact on the West, p. 44.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of Restoration of the Republic: The Jeffersonian Ideal in Twenty-First-Century America, p. 931; August 1, 2005, review of James Monroe, p. 827.

Library Journal, September 1, 1991, Zachary T. Irwin, review of Russia Shakes the World, p. 214; April 15, 1993, Karl Helicher, review of The Good Fight, p. 112; May 15, 1996, Thomas H. Ferrell, review of The Patriot, p. 74; May 15, 1998, John R. Vallely, review of The Minuteman, p. 99; June 15, 1999, John Hiett, review of Sins of the Fathers, p. 124; November 15, 1999, Barbara Conaty, review of I, Che Guevara, p. 97; September 15, 2005, Thomas J. Baldino, review of James Monroe, p. 73.

Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1985, Dick Roraback, review of The Double Man, p. 22.

National Review, August 23, 1993, John R. Coyne, Jr., review of The Good Fight, p. 64; May 19, 2003, John J. Miller, "He, Gary Hart: The Author of I, Che Guevara Gets Frisky Again."

New Republic, May 18, 1987, Morton Kondracke, "Pumping Policy," p. 13.

New York Times Book Review, May 5, 1985, Francis X. Clines, review of The Double Man, p. 24; June 8, 1986, Mark A. Uhlig, review of America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform, p. 30; January 25, 1987, Bill O'Reilly, review of The Strategies of Zeus, p. 20; July 18, 2004, Ryan Lizza, "Wisdom of the Losers," review of The Fourth Power, p. 8.

Orbis, winter, 1999, Andrew J. Bacevich, review of The Minuteman, p. 145.

Political Science Quarterly, summer, 1992, Dan Caldwell, review of Russia Shakes the World, p. 376.

Publishers Weekly, July 25, 1991, review of Russia Shakes the World, p. 42; April 23, 1993, review of The Good Fight, p. 66; May 13, 1996, review of The Patriot, p. 66; March 16, 1998, review of The Minuteman, p. 43; November 9, 1998, review of Sins of the Fathers, p. 56; March 1, 1999, review of Sins of the Fathers, p. 32; November 8, 1999, review of I, Che Guevara, p. 48; July 8, 2002, review of Restoration of the Republic, p. 44.

Reason, May, 1999, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, review of The Minutemen, p. 70.

Washington Post Book World, April 7, 1985, Jack Beatty, review of The Double Man, p. 1; May 4, 1986, review of America Can Win, p. 6; December 28, 1986, review of The Strategies of Zeus, p. 3.

Washington Monthly, July-August, 1993, Jonathan Rowe, review of The Good Fight, p. 52; June, 1996, David Linker, review of The Patriot, p. 56; July-August, 1998, Patrick J. Sloyan, review of The Minutemen, p. 48.

Weekly Standard, October 4, 2004, Graeme Voyer, review of The Fourth Power, p. 38.


Gary Hart Home Page, http://www.garyhartnews.com (February 6, 2006).

New Republic Online, http://www.tnr.com/ (December 23, 2002), Michelle Cottle, "The Strange Return of Gary Hart," profile of Gary Hart.

State Guard Association of the United States Web site, http://www.sgaus.org/ (February 6, 2006), review of The Minuteman.

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