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History’s Revenges

Peter Clarke, 5 March 1981

The Illustrated Dictionary of British History 
edited by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 319 pp., £8.95, October 1980, 0 500 25072 3
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Who’s Who in Modern History, 1860-1980 
by Alan Palmer.
Weidenfeld, 332 pp., £8.50, October 1980, 0 297 77642 8
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... Here not only the meaning of the term but also the influence of the policy is suggested. See Richard Cobden. This leads us to the Anti-Corn Law League, and in turn to John Bright. With Bright we can choose to go back to the League or, reading to the end of the entry, on to the Second Reform Bill (‘His subsequent career was a failure’). The entry on ...


Rodney Hilton, 21 January 1988

Rituals of Royalty: Power and Ceremonial in Traditional Societies 
edited by David Cannadine and Simon Price.
Cambridge, 351 pp., £25, August 1987, 0 521 33513 2
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... imperial power, an emphasis especially directed at foreigners and the emperor’s subjects. Janet Nelson’s account of Carolingian ritual, especially under Charlemagne, interestingly downgrades its profile. She presents Charlemagne as un-autocratic, socially agreeable to the Frankish imperial nobility and to the higher clergy. It was the clergy who ...

Scenes from British Life

Hugh Barnes, 6 February 1986

Stroke Counterstroke 
by William Camp.
Joseph, 190 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 7181 2669 6
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Redhill Rococo 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 171 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 434 44046 9
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by Michael Irwin.
Deutsch, 231 pp., £8.95, September 1985, 0 233 97792 9
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... something to the example of politicians who have emulated the fiction and turned it into fact. Richard Crossman touched upon the subject once. At the end of his first day as Harold Wilson’s Minister of Housing in 1964, he confided in his diary: ‘I continue to have this curious sense of fiction, the feeling that I am living in a Maurice Edelman ...

Some More Sea

Patrick O’Brian, 10 September 1992

The Oxford Book of the Sea 
edited by Jonathan Raban.
Oxford, 524 pp., £17.95, April 1992, 9780192141972
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... pseudo-archaic ‘unhand me, grey-beard loon’, and by parodies; but now, having just finished Richard Holmes’s admirable Coleridge: Early Visions, I read it again, and very glad I am that I did so. The sea, the ship and her company may not belong to this world in any literal sense, but at times they blaze with a most uncommon splendour.And how ...

Tio Sam

Christopher Hitchens, 20 December 1990

In the Time of the Tyrants: Panama 1968-89 
by R.M. Koster and Guillermo Sanchez Borbon.
Secker, 430 pp., £17.99, October 1990, 0 436 20016 3
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... to a specific breed that might be termed the unpatriotic or pseudo-nationalist. Even before Nelson Rockefeller reported to Richard Nixon that in Latin America the military was ‘the essential force for constructive social change’, the United States had ruled the Monroe Doctrine states by means of the purchased ...


Julia Bryan-Wilson: Rosie Lee Tompkins, 17 December 2020

... Americans who left the South as part of the Great Migration, seeking what Isabel Wilkerson (after Richard Wright) calls ‘the warmth of other suns’. In 1958 she arrived in Richmond, California, a town in the East Bay, north of Oakland and Berkeley, whose thriving Black communities maintained cultural and affective ties to Southern culture through ...

More aggressive, dear!

Zachary Leader, 31 July 1997

My Aces, My Faults 
by Nick Bollettieri and Dick Schaap.
Robson, 346 pp., £17.95, June 1997, 1 86105 087 9
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... men in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon? Twenty-four hours earlier, Tim Henman had beaten Richard Krajicek, last year’s winner and the No. 4 seed. In his first match Greg Rusedski had eliminated Mark Philippousis, winner at Queen’s and the No. 7 seed. Although both Britons (Rusedski was raised in Canada but his mother is British) had already ...

Who’s Got the Moxie?

A. Craig Copetas, 23 March 1995

The Mexican Tree Duck 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 247 pp., £15.99, May 1994, 0 330 32451 9
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One to Count Cadence 
by James Crumley.
Picador, 338 pp., £5.99, May 1994, 0 330 32450 0
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... popworld of Beavis and Butthead and the fortysomething editors who deify Rosanne Arnold and Richard Nixon on the same page. Editors once made yearly scouting trips up to the North Country, just to avoid getting sucked into the black hole of fad and revisionism. These trips, which took place in the spring and always in a four-wheel-drive ...

The earth had need of me

Joanna Biggs: A nice girl like Simone, 16 April 2020

Becoming Beauvoir: A Life 
by Kate Kirkpatrick.
Bloomsbury, 476 pp., £20, August 2019, 978 1 350 04717 4
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Parisian Lives: Samuel Beckett, Simone de Beauvoir and Me, a Memoir 
by Deirdre Bair.
Atlantic, 347 pp., £18.99, February 2020, 978 1 78649 265 4
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Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol. II: 1928-29 
by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by Barbara Klaw.
Illinois, 374 pp., £40, June 2019, 978 0 252 04254 6
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... husband of one of her female lovers without the woman knowing. The publication of her letters to Nelson Algren in 1997 made the relationship she had with Sartre look passionless, as did the photo that emerged in 2008 of Beauvoir at 42, pinning her hair up in Algren’s bathroom wearing just a pair of heels. And her insistence that Sartre was the ...


Linda Colley: Global History, 26 September 2013

The French Revolution in Global Perspective 
edited by Suzanne Desan, Lynn Hunt and William Max Nelson.
Cornell, 240 pp., £16.50, April 2013, 978 0 8014 7868 0
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... What is history for? What do we want it to do? In 1731, an obscure Kentish schoolmaster named Richard Spencer offered some answers. Properly to ascertain his position in geographical space, he reasoned, required not a single map, but access to a global atlas, one that would allow him to ‘see what London and the adjacent parts are in the kingdom; what the kingdom is in Europe, and what Europe is in the universe ...

The big drops start

John Bayley, 7 December 1989

Coleridge: Early Visions 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 409 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 340 28335 1
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Wordsworth: Romantic Poetry and Revolution Politics 
by John Williams.
Manchester, 203 pp., £29.95, November 1989, 0 7190 3168 0
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Sara Coleridge, A Victorian Daughter: Her Life and Essays 
by Bradford Keyes Mudge.
Yale, 287 pp., £18.95, September 1989, 0 300 04443 7
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... perpetually present – and never more so than in this almost incredibly vivid biography. Richard Holmes has a genius for the job, as he showed fifteen years ago in his biography of Shelley. In a sense, there is no need to bring Coleridge to life, but in this compelling narrative of those early years of the poet Holmes makes us seem actually to be ...

Pipe down back there!

Terry Castle: The Willa Cather Wars, 14 December 2000

Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism 
by Joan Acocella.
Nebraska, 127 pp., £13.50, August 2000, 0 8032 1046 9
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... citation, and more than happy to let the jargon-mad professors hang themselves. Thus poor Robert Nelson, author of a 1988 book on the novelist, gets mercilessly dinged for writing about Cather’s oscillation between a ‘phallocentric hegemony’ and a ‘vaginocentric’ one. (According to Nelson, as cruelly quoted by ...


Charles Nicholl: ‘The Shakespeare Circle’, 19 May 2016

The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography 
edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells.
Cambridge, 358 pp., £18.99, October 2015, 978 1 107 69909 0
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... over the course of the 16th century. Among those who migrated from Stratford was a tanner’s son, Richard Field, a fellow pupil of Shakespeare’s at the local grammar school. He left in 1580, at the age of 18, to serve as an apprentice to a French immigrant printer in the Blackfriars, Thomas Vautrollier. In her essay on Field, Carol Chillington Rutter ...


Nicholas Penny, 15 July 1982

Victorian Sculpture 
by Benedict Read.
Yale, 414 pp., £30, June 1982, 0 300 02506 8
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... Perhaps arrogantly, we suspect that people did not feel the need for a statue of Cobden or Richard Coeur de Lion, but felt that they (and, above all, that others) should feel the need. It is noteworthy that despite the concern with commemorating worthies such as King Arthur and Francis Drake in 18th-century England none of the national heroes ...

Tony and Caroline

Ben Pimlott, 26 November 1987

Out of the Wilderness: Diaries 1963-67 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 592 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 09 170660 2
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... diaries get their reward. If we see the politics of the Sixties more from the point of view of Richard Crossman than, say, of Michael Stewart, the reason is that Crossman kept a diary and Stewart did not. Nevertheless, the possibility of publication is seldom the only reason for keeping a diary. Like any habit that becomes addictive, diary-writing has its ...

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