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Sean Wilentz, 19 April 1990

America’s Rome. Vol I: Classical Rome 
by William Vance.
Yale, 454 pp., £19.95, September 1989, 0 300 03670 1
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America’s Rome. Vol II: Catholic and Contemporary Rome 
by William Vance.
Yale, 498 pp., £19.95, September 1989, 0 300 04453 4
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... tried to regain the kind of holistic perspective that came naturally to Tocqueville and many lesser 19th-century observers. Unfortunately, they paid an enormous price: for with all of their genre-blurring in search of The American, they ended up obscuring the things that divided Americans from one another, as well as the ways American culture had ...

The vanquished party, as likely as not innocent, was dragged half-dead to the gallows

Alexander Murray: Huizinga’s history of the Middle Ages, 19 March 1998

The Autumn of the Middle Ages 
by John Huizinga, translated by Rodney Payton.
Chicago, 560 pp., £15.95, December 1997, 0 226 35994 8
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... is given as Hennegouwen, Henry (of Trastamara) as Heinrich (why not Enriquez for that matter?), Margaret (of Anjou) as Margareth, and so on. To be translated more than once is the mark of a classic, and automatically makes one wonder how this one is faring after 78 years. How enduring the appeal of its subject-matter remains can be gauged from the ...

Think of Mrs Darling

Jenny Diski: Erving Goffman, 4 March 2004

Goffman's Legacy 
edited by Javier Treviño.
Rowman and Littlefield, 294 pp., £22.95, August 2003, 0 7425 1978 3
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... and Esterson, Willmott and Young, J.K. Galbraith, Maynard Smith, Martin Gardner, Richard Leakey, Margaret Mead; psychoanalysts, sociologists, economists, mathematicians, historians, physicists, biologists and literary critics, each offering their latest thinking for an unspecialised public, and the blue spines on the pile of books on the floor of the bedsit ...

Jane Austen’s Latest

Marilyn Butler, 21 May 1981

Jane Austen’s ‘Sir Charles Grandison’ 
edited by Brian Southam.
Oxford, 150 pp., £7.95, March 1981, 0 19 812637 9
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... begins his Introduction to ‘Grandison’ by quoting the apparently prophetic observation of Margaret Drabble in 1974. Ever since she said it, there has been a run of near misses or all-buts, beginning with Another Lady’s completion of Jane Austen’s fragment ‘Sanditon’, and continuing with someone else’s notion of ‘The Watsons’. Then, in ...

As deadly as the male

D.J. Enright, 12 September 1991

Women Who Kill 
by Ann Jones.
Gollancz, 482 pp., £4.99, August 1991, 0 575 05139 6
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... chivalry stands contempt. A pleasanter irony, also involving chivalry, arises in the story of Margaret Nicholson, a seamstress, who in 1786 approached George III with a written petition and, concealed beneath it, a knife. ‘The king was saved by his exceedingly fine manners,’ for as he took the petition he bowed deeply to the woman and avoided the ...


Hugo Young, 24 March 1994

Europe: The Europe We Need 
by Leon Brittan.
Hamish Hamilton, 248 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 241 00249 4
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... the fact that the greatest limitations on it had already been conceded. Maastricht, a much lesser invasion of sovereignty than the Single European Act, stood proxy for the debate that conspicuously did not take place in the Eighties. The Parliamentary discussion concerned Britain more than Europe. Far from addressing the future dynamic of the Union, it ...

How bad are we?

Bernard Porter: Genocide in Tasmania, 31 July 2014

The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania 
by Tom Lawson.
Tauris, 263 pp., £25, January 2014, 978 1 78076 626 3
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... of colonial genocide should be taught in British schools, which makes the book relevant to the (lesser) history wars that are going on now in Britain, over how celebratory the national curriculum should be. The genocide began, as genocides often did (and perhaps still do), with competition for land between the native population and British immigrants, who ...

Jewish Liberation

David Katz, 6 October 1983

The Jewish Community in British Politics 
by Geoffrey Alderman.
Oxford, 218 pp., £17.50, March 1983, 9780198274360
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Economic History of the Jews in England 
by Harold Pollins.
Associated University Presses, 339 pp., £20, March 1983, 0 8386 3033 2
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... communist. Certainly a people which produced both Rothschild and Trotsky, as well as many lesser men in their image, might find themselves objects of virulent hatred from both left and right. Jewish economic achievements and championship of social change are undoubtedly a source of pride in the Jewish community, but when under attack these features of ...


Paul Addison, 23 January 1986

The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... open for an alternative morality of reaction. Whitehead quotes the judgment of Stuart Hall: ‘Margaret Thatcher speaks quite authentically for those people who felt they were left behind by permissiveness, threatened by affluence, challenged by the sexual revolution, who never wanted a libertarian society, who believe in greater authority, in the ...

Making a Mouth in a Contemptuous Manner

John Gallagher: Civility Held Sway, 4 July 2019

In Pursuit of Civility: Manners and Civilisation in Early Modern England 
by Keith Thomas.
Yale, 457 pp., £25, June 2018, 978 0 300 23577 7
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... and his joints as supple’ – it’s clear to anyone who’s read the words of the ‘lesser sort’ that many were familiar with the language of civility and used it themselves. Thomas shows that labouring people defined ‘civility’ as ‘honesty, industry and sobriety’, giving the example of a Lancashire applicant for poor relief who ...

Opprobrious Epithets

Katrina Navickas: The Peterloo Massacre, 20 December 2018

Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre 
by Jacqueline Riding.
Head of Zeus, 386 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 1 78669 583 3
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... Bamford, John Knight, Joseph Healey and Joseph Johnson were sentenced to a year in prison on the lesser charge of seditious conspiracy; Hunt got two and a half years. The repercussions of the legislation and the trial were felt nationally, and the popular democratic movement was effectively crushed for a decade until the unrest preceding the Reform Bill of ...

Great Sums of Money

Ferdinand Mount: Swingeing Taxes, 21 October 2021

The Dreadful Monster and Its Poor Relations: Taxing, Spending and the United Kingdom, 1707-2021 
by Julian Hoppit.
Allen Lane, 324 pp., £25, May, 978 0 241 43442 0
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... successful federal systems bequeathed by their former colonial masters (the same is true, to a lesser extent, of the more centralised Indian constitution). But in the UK itself? Scarcely a sniff. Since Winston Churchill toyed with the idea of reviving the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy in 1913, federalism (and PR too, for that matter) has remained a fad for ...
... but few would agree with the strategy of immediately sending troops because George Bush and Margaret Thatcher assumed that wogs could be told to behave by the white man: there is a pattern of such contemptuous attitudes towards the Arab world, from the days of the British expeditionary force sent to Egypt in 1882 to put down the Orabi rebellion to the ...

Lying abroad

Fred Halliday, 21 July 1994

by Henry Kissinger.
Simon and Schuster, 912 pp., £25, May 1994, 9780671659912
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True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
BBC, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 563 36955 8
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Mandarin: The Diaries of Nicholas Henderson 
by Nicholas Henderson.
Weidenfeld, 517 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 297 81433 8
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... it to obey simple commands in French), and much about the comings and goings of Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher, Roy Jenkins, Prince Charles and the like – plenty of material here for a comparative study of the discourteous and the bibulous, with suggestions of an inverse correlation between the two. At one point in Henderson’s career, however, the ...

The Redeemed Vicarage

John Lennard, 12 May 1994

Pictures of Perfection 
by Reginald Hill.
HarperCollins, 303 pp., £14.99, March 1994, 0 00 232392 3
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... of the dreaming spires, and (via the epigraphs) of literary self-reference. As had happened to lesser degrees in the strange East Anglian isolation of The Nine Tailors and the Post-Modern setting of Murder Must Advertise, the effect was to breed in the shell of the detective story a novel of ideas sought in the manners of conversation. It was through the ...

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