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Topologically massive gravity as a Pais-Uhlenbeck oscillator

We give a detailed account of the free- field spectrum and the Newtonian limit of the linearized ` massive' ( Pauli -Fierz), 'topologically massive' ( Einstein Hilbert - Chern - Simons) gravity in 2 + 1 dimensions about a Minkowski spacetime. For a certain ratio of the parameters, the linearized free theory is Jordan diagonalizable and reduces to a degenerate ` Pais - Uhlenbeck' oscillator which, despite being a higher derivative theory, is ghost free.