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‘H. and I are going to rebel’

Angelique Richardson

31 July 2020

The Life in the UK handbook boasts that Britain ‘became the largest empire the world has ever seen’ with railways ‘built throughout’, producing ‘more than half of the world’s iron, coal and cotton cloth’ (nothing on who provided the labour and who died doing so, or where the cotton came from) while reformers ‘led movements to improve conditions of life for the poor’. It goes on to say that ‘some people began to question whether the Empire could continue’ but gives no information on colonial resistance or movements for independence, or the work of Black abolitionists such as Olaudah Equiano, Joseph Knight and Samuel Sharpe (or if anyone questioned whether it should continue).

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What Didn’t Happen

Michael Wood

Historians​ are often suspicious of the notion of the counterfactual. It’s hard enough to establish what happens, they suggest, without having to worry about what might have happened. The facts are the facts, aren’t they? When we have agreed on what they are, of course. But then contemporary historians inherit a large legacy of hubris, the knowledge of ‘how it really...

Collection

Diverted Traffic

A newsletter and online collection from the LRB, featuring one piece from our archive per day, chosen for its compulsive, immersive and escapist qualities, and also for its total lack of references to plague, pandemics or quarantine.

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After the Shock

Adam Tooze

The mistake in thinking that we are in a ‘new Cold War’ is in thinking of it as new. In putting a full stop after 1989 we prematurely declare a Western victory. From Beijing’s point of view, there was no end of history, but a continuity – not unbroken, needless to say, and requiring constant reinterpretation, as any live political tradition does, but a continuity nevertheless. Although American hawks have only a crude understanding of China’s ideology, on this particular matter they have grasped the right end of the stick. We have to take seriously the CCP’s sense of mission. We should not comfort ourselves with the thought that because nationalism is the main mode of Chinese politics today, Xi’s administration is nothing more than a nationalist regime. China under the control of the CCP is, indeed, involved in a gigantic and novel social and political experiment enrolling one-sixth of humanity, a historic project that dwarfs that of democratic capitalism in the North Atlantic.

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‘You People’

Clare Bucknell

At  Pizzeria  Vesuvio, somewhere in South London in 2003, the difference between being a chef and being a waitress isn’t just professional. Nia and Ava, who work front of house, are British and European, white or – in Nia’s case – white-looking; Shan, Guna and Rajan in the kitchen are Sri Lankan Tamils, refugees from the civil war working illegally...

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The Suitcase

Frances Stonor Saunders

Who rise from here to the sky of the upper worldAnd re-enter the sluggish drag of the body?What possesses the poor souls? Why this mad desireTo get back to the light? 

Seamus Heaney, Aeneid, Book VI

Thesuitcase arrived long after its owner had left. It was handed over to me nine years ago in the car park of a London church on a miserable, gun-metal grey morning. The suitcase is...

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Forster in Cambridge

Richard Shone

My first sight​ of E.M. Forster was of him coming towards me on Clare Bridge in Cambridge. It was a cold afternoon in November 1968 and Forster was on his way back to King’s College, next door to Clare, where I was in my first term as an undergraduate. He was wearing a thick coat, striped tie and flat cap, and walked with a stick. He slightly shied away against the parapet of the...

 

The Age of Sail

N.A.M. Rodger

The‘common seamen’ of the age of sail are both an obvious subject to write about, and an obvious one to avoid. Most readers, and writers, will have a sense of the seaman’s life as having been exotic, dangerous, heroic even – but there are not many real experts on it, and fewer still with the literary powers necessary to recreate a way of life so remote from most...

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Talking Politics: History of Ideas

After each episode of the new Talking Politics podcast, brought to you in partnership with the London Review of Books, continue your exploration of the history of ideas in our unrivalled archive of essays and reviews, films and podcasts.

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LRB Books: Collections and Selections

Rediscover classic pieces, recurring themes, and the dash the London Review of Books has cut through the history of ideas, for the past 40 years, with LRB Collections and now LRB Selections: two new series of collectible books.

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Good news from Bury Place!

We are delighted to announce that the London Review Bookshop has reopened its doors! For further details of how socially distanced browsing will work, visit the bookshop website. You can phone them on 020 7269 9030 to place a pre-paid order for collection, and they are once again talking orders via email or phone for international mail order. You can also order from a selection of booksellers’ favourites and lockdown picks online, via the London Review Book Box website. The Cake Shop is also back, for takeaway only, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. Stay tuned for news of upcoming digital events, and we hope to see you very soon. Thank you for your support.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

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