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Maurice Thomson’s War

Perry Anderson, 4 November 1993

Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict and London’s Overseas Traders 1550-1653 
by Robert Brenner.
Cambridge, 734 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 521 37319 0
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The Nature of the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 466 pp., £32, June 1993, 0 582 08941 7
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... whose work has set the agenda for debate on the English Revolution since the Seventies. Kevin Sharpe’s Personal Rule of Charles I, Conrad Russell’s Fall of the British Monarchies and John Morrill’s Nature of the English Revolution all represent distinct standpoints, but certain common features continue to stand out. Rejecting both constitutional ...


D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1984

Last Ferry to Manly 
by Jill Neville.
Penguin, 165 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 14 007068 0
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Down from the Hill 
by Alan Sillitoe.
Granada, 218 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 246 12517 9
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God Knows 
by Joseph Heller.
Cape, 353 pp., £8.95, November 1984, 0 224 02288 1
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Wilt on High 
by Tom Sharpe.
Secker, 236 pp., £8.95, October 1984, 9780436458118
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... defaced the beauties and distorted the stories. We have to imagine King David denouncing the King James Bible on the grounds that James was a ‘faggot’ and insisting that there was nothing faggotty about his own friendship with Jonathan. He quotes David’s lament for Saul and Jonathan, only to interrupt it with: ‘You ...

Downsize, Your Majesty

David Cannadine, 16 October 1997

The Royals 
by Kitty Kelley.
Warner, 547 pp., $27, September 1997, 0 446 51712 7
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... royal entourage and its hangers-on: Lord Snowdon, Raine Spencer, Major Ronald Ferguson, Koo Stark, James Hewitt, Madam Vasso and the rest. Thus described by Kelley, the House of Windsor is part Evelyn Waugh, part Tom Sharpe, wholly Spitting Image. It is not so much that she descends to personalities as that she is incapable ...

Slavery and Revenge

John Kerrigan, 22 October 2020

... However you construe the evidence, Cambridge was a victim of what the historian of slavery James Walvin calls ‘plantocratic revenge’: legal or irregular retribution – whipping, shackling, lynching – that was used to punish rebellious behaviour or to make an example of someone in order to deter revolt. ‘Scratch a planter,’ Walvin ...

The Card-Players

Paul Foot, 18 September 1986

Error of Judgment: The Truth about the Birmingham Bombings 
by Chris Mullin.
Chatto, 270 pp., £10.95, July 1986, 0 7011 2978 6
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... Five of them had been arrested as they tried to get on a ferry to Belfast to attend the funeral of James McDade, a prominent IRA member who had blown himself to pieces planting a bomb in Coventry. They had left Birmingham by train less than half an hour before the bombs went off, and the bombs were planted within a few hundred yards of Birmingham’s New ...

Still messing with our heads

Christopher Clark: Hitler in the Head, 7 November 2019

Hitler: A Life 
by Peter Longerich.
Oxford, 1324 pp., £30, July 2019, 978 0 19 879609 1
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Hitler: Only the World Was Enough 
by Brendan Simms.
Allen Lane, 668 pp., £30, September 2019, 978 1 84614 247 5
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... To turn to Peter Longerich’s Hitler: A Life, superbly translated by Jeremy Noakes and Lesley Sharpe, is to re-encounter the sober, appraising diction that Knausgaard deplores in Kershaw’s writing. Longerich is in no doubt that his subject was emotionally ‘retarded’ and unable to feel empathy. Hitler’s early life reveals, he writes, a ‘lack of ...

Narco Polo

Iain Sinclair, 23 January 1997

Mr Nice: An Autobiography 
by Howard Marks.
Secker, 466 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 436 20305 7
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Pulp Election: The Booker Prize Fix 
by Carmen St Keeldare.
Bluedove, 225 pp., £12.99, September 1996, 0 9528298 0 0
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... and Dom Perignon ... Peter Whitehead married Dido Goldsmith, daughter of Teddy and niece of Sir James. I was Peter’s best man. Bianca Jagger was Dido’s best lady’); the Thatcherite on-yer-bike business memoirs (lists of flights, airport hotel massages, exotic sunsets, cockerels’ balls for dinner); jollies out East with the dictator-friendly Lord ...

Lecherous Goates

Tobias Gregory: John Donne, 20 October 2016

John Donne 
edited by Janel Mueller.
Oxford, 606 pp., £95, July 2015, 978 0 19 959656 0
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... And true playne harts doe in the faces rest; Where can wee find two better Hemispheares, Without sharpe North, without declining West? What ever dyes, was not mixt equally. If our two Loves bee One, or Thou and I Love so alike that none doe slacken, none can dye. The poem describes the erotic glow at the beginning of an affair. ‘Countrey ...

In the Shady Wood

Michael Neill: Staging the Forest, 22 March 2018

The Shakespearean Forest 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £75, August 2017, 978 0 521 57344 3
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... that ‘other Eden’; and the barbarity of its inhabitants was proven, in the words of James I’s attorney-general for Ireland, Sir John Davies, by their stubborn and perverse refusal to ‘plant any gardens or orchards, enclose or improve their lands, [or] live together in settled villages or towns’. The Irish rebels, according to Davies, were ...

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