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The Scramble for Europe

Richard J. Evans: German Imperialism, 3 February 2011

Nazi Empire: German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler 
by Shelley Baranowski.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £17.99, November 2010, 978 0 521 67408 9
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... had come by the outbreak of the First World War to distinguish Germany from other major European powers and set it on a ‘special path’ to modernity that ended not in the creation of a democratic political system and open society to go with an industrial economy, but in the rise and triumph of the Third Reich. Such arguments were discredited by the ...

Lobbying

Richard J. Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens, 17 March 2016

Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... the death of Franz Josef, made strenuous efforts to broker peace between Austria and the Entente powers via Princess Sarsina, a member of the Habsburg network conveniently domiciled in neutral Switzerland. ‘Austria,’ Zita was reported to have said, ‘did not desire to be ruined for the sake of saving Alsace-Lorraine for Germany.’ The Germans got wind ...

Active, Passive, or Dead?

Martin Loughlin: Sovereignty, 16 June 2016

The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy 
by Richard Tuck.
Cambridge, 295 pp., £17.99, February 2016, 978 1 107 57058 0
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... sovereignty is absolute, perpetual and indivisible; to divide or share it is to destroy it. Richard Tuck’s new book, based on the Seeley Lectures he delivered at Cambridge in 2012, was conceived long before the EU referendum was tabled. But although he doesn’t engage with the present debate, he does identify the correct method of trying to resolve ...

Insults

Richard Wollheim, 19 March 1987

Semites and Anti-Semites 
by Bernard Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 297 79030 7
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After the Last Sky 
by Edward Said and Jean Mohr.
Faber, 224 pp., £6.95, September 1986, 0 571 13918 3
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... his most recent work, Semites and Anti-Semites, he has chosen to concentrate his formidable powers of analysis, and a massive accumulation of fact, upon a relatively restricted topic, which nevertheless raises large questions of historical and political understanding. The book deals with the widespread adoption within the Arab nation-states of the ...

What’s it for?

Martin Loughlin: The Privy Council, 22 October 2015

By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council – the Unknown Arm of Government 
by David Rogers.
Biteback, 344 pp., £25, July 2015, 978 1 84954 856 4
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... Justice to complain of the ‘new despotism’ caused by the growth of executive discretionary powers. Since 2012 the ministry has been headed by Conservative apparatchiks whose previous experience has not been in law but in broadcasting. One of the more arcane inherited institutions is the Privy Council. Apparently the oldest surviving governmental ...

Parcelled Out

Ferdinand Mount: The League of Nations, 22 October 2015

The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire 
by Susan Pedersen.
Oxford, 571 pp., £22.99, June 2015, 978 0 19 957048 5
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... high command when it conveyed Lenin back to Russia in that sealed train. In the Watergate affair, Richard Nixon scored not one but two own goals: first, by organising a burglary which could produce only minimal gain for the Republicans if it worked but would destroy him if it went wrong; then by secretly recording his conversations in the White House in the ...

How to Save the City-Dweller

Andrew Saint: Cities, 21 May 1998

Cities for a Small Planet 
by Richard Rogers.
Faber, 180 pp., £9.99, December 1997, 0 571 17993 2
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... Cities that are beautiful, safe and equitable are within our grasp.’ So says Richard Rogers at the end of this reworking of his Reith Lectures of 1995, and we must do our best to believe him. Suppose, however, that the lecturer had pronounced instead on another of the basic building-blocks of society – the family, for instance ...

Done for the State

John Guy: The House of York, 2 April 2020

The Brothers York: An English Tragedy 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 688 pp., £12.99, April, 978 0 7181 9728 5
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Richard III: The Self-Made King 
by Michael Hicks.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21429 1
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... claim was by lineal descent from Edward III, and was a strong one if you ignored the deposition of Richard II in 1399. In the mid-1450s, Richard, Duke of York, Edward’s father and England’s pushiest peer, had twice attempted to sideline Henry VI, who suffered from lengthy spells of mental illness and was repelled by the ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens, 21 September 1995

... In Ireland we don’t need aliens; we already have a race of higher beings with strange powers who gaze deep into our eyes and force us to have babies against our will. We call them priests. A loopy Protestant, on the other hand, has to make it up as she goes along. And no one makes it up better than your American Protestant, driven mad by all that sky ...

Go to the Devil

David Carpenter: Richard II, 22 July 2010

Richard II: Manhood, Youth and Politics, 1377-99 
by Christopher Fletcher.
Oxford, 336 pp., £24.95, August 2010, 978 0 19 959571 6
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... By far the most striking image of Richard II is the one found in the great portrait of him, crowned and enthroned, which still survives in Westminster Abbey. Painted in the 1390s, when the king was in his twenties, it gives him a slightly boyish, even feminine appearance, with red cheeks, full lips and a small goatee beard ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: The Article 50 Hearing, 5 January 2017

... Implementation of Treaties’. It’s a long sentence packed with dynamite. ‘All such rights, powers, liabilities, obligations and restrictions from time to time created or arising by or under the Treaties, and all such remedies and procedures from time to time provided for by or under the Treaties, as in accordance with the Treaties are without further ...

In Hiding

Nicholas Spice, 30 December 1982

Richard Strauss: A Chronicle of the Early Years 1864-1898 
by Willi Schuh, translated by Mary Whitall.
Cambridge, 555 pp., £35, July 1982, 0 521 24104 9
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... of Robert Browning’s Dramatis Personae. The author of Andrea del Sarto would have found in Richard Strauss a subject ideally suited to his imaginative powers. He would have cast the composer, not, I think, in his early years, but towards the end of his life: in 1940, perhaps, in late summer. The ...

Flub-Dub

Thomas Powers: Stephen Crane, 17 July 2014

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire 
by Paul Sorrentino.
Harvard, 476 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 674 04953 6
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... and leading news correspondents Crane met in Cuba such as Charles Michelson, Ernest McCready and Richard Harding Davis. These are rich materials but at the same time they are incomplete and sparse. Crane was not a prolific letter-writer and he left no diaries or memoir. Further confusing matters was Crane’s first biographer, Thomas Beer, whose Stephen ...

Long Haul

Thomas Jones: At Heathrow, 6 March 2003

... The official had a good look at the soles of my shoes, to make sure that I wasn’t doing a Richard Reid, planning to detonate the semtex I was walking on at 35,000 feet. We had a meal as we waited for our flight to be called, eating with plastic cutlery. I could almost hear the conscientious click of stable-doors being closed on empty stalls. Perhaps ...

The Unmaking of the President

Benjamin Barber, 7 October 1982

The Kennedy Imprisonment: A Meditation on Power 
by Garry Wills.
Atlantic/Little, Brown, 310 pp., $14.95, February 1982, 0 316 94385 1
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... with acuity on Madison and Jefferson and on Jack Ruby (the assassin of Kennedy’s assassin) and Richard Nixon. He is the closest thing the New World has to a Chesterton or a Burke. Who better to reflect on the relationship of sin and power, of eros and daring, of charisma and catastrophe, than an American pilgrim whose journey has taken him from William ...

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