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Russell and Ramsey

Ray Monk, 29 August 1991

Russell’s Idealist Apprenticeship 
by Nicholas Griffin.
Oxford, 409 pp., £45, January 1991, 0 19 824453 3
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Philosophical Papers 
by F.P. Ramsey, edited by D.H. Mellor.
Cambridge, 257 pp., £30, August 1990, 0 521 37480 4
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The Philosophy of F.P. Ramsey 
by Nils-Eric Sahlin.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £27.50, November 1990, 0 521 38543 1
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... respect and even awe, and his personality inspired a great and lasting affection. John Maynard Keynes – who held Ramsey’s gifts as an economist in enormously high regard – has written of his ‘bulky Johnsonian frame, his spontaneous gurgling laugh’ and ‘the simplicity of his feelings and reactions’, which, he said, blended ‘most ...

In the Sorting Office

James Meek, 28 April 2011

... flat-roofed, cuboid form of the houses, even the way they were spaced: it looked like Milton Keynes. To the left, towards the sea, the view was disorientingly different. It reminded me of an illustration in a book I had as a child of how the north European plain would have looked at the end of the Pleistocene era. Under a grey sky, the flatlands ...

Saint or Snake

Stefan Collini: Ann Oakley on Richard Titmuss, 8 October 2015

Father and Daughter: Patriarchy, Gender and Social Science 
by Ann Oakley.
Policy, 290 pp., £13.99, November 2014, 978 1 4473 1810 1
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... Descriptions​ of Richard Titmuss often drew on the language of otherworldliness. He was ‘the high priest of the welfare state’ according to an assessment quoted in the ODNB. His entry there considers, though judiciously rejects, his frequent characterisation as a ‘saint’; understandably, it doesn’t cite his LSE colleague Michael Oakeshott’s description of him as ‘a snake in saint’s clothing ...

How We Got to Where We Are

Peter Ghosh, 28 November 1996

Hope and Glory: Britain 1900-1990 
by Peter Clarke.
Allen Lane, 454 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 7139 9071 6
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... lain at the heart of all Peter Clarke’s previous work, on ‘new’ Liberalism before 1914, and Keynes and ‘progressivism’ thereafter. But we may wonder what the General Editor had to say when he read these pages: his response is perhaps to be found in the Epilogue, which is a mismatch of comic proportions. Here the idea that ‘the rise of the welfare ...

A.E. Housman and Biography

Hugh Lloyd-Jones, 22 November 1979

A.E. Housman 
by Richard Perceval Graves.
Routledge, 304 pp., £9.75
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... There is, as Richard Graves points out, no general biography of Housman. The books about him by Laurence Housman, Grant Richards and Percy Withers are valuable, because these men knew Housman and could describe him: but they are not biographies. George Watson’s A.E. Housman: A Divided Life is more like one, but it is not quite one; of Norman Marlow and Maude Hawkins I say nothing ...

Good Schools

Tessa Blackstone, 2 December 1982

The Changing Anatomy of Britain 
by Anthony Sampson.
Hodder, 476 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 9780340209646
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An English Education: A Perspective of Eton 
by Richard Ollard.
Collins, 216 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216495 7
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Survival Programmes in Britain’s Inner Cities 
Open University, 224 pp., £6.95, September 1982, 0 335 10111 9Show More
Liverpool 8 
by John Cornelius.
Murray, 177 pp., £5.95, September 1982, 0 7195 3975 7
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The Other Britain 
edited by Paul Barker.
Routledge, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1982, 9780710093080
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... a reflection of the hold which Eton has over Britain’s Establishment that a talented writer like Richard Ollard can devote a year or more of his time to a book about a single school during a short period of its history. Where else in the world could such a book be written and not gather dust at the back of old-fashioned bookshops? Ollard mentions in his ...

Napoleon was wrong

Ian Gilmour, 24 June 1993

Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... of the war, after noting the importance of manufacturing for Britain’s ability to pay her way, Keynes regretted ‘the celebrated inefficiency of British manufacturers’: the only hope, he thought, was for ‘the American Air Force (it is now too late to hope for much from the enemy) by some sad geographic slip to destroy every factory on the North-East ...

You have £2000, I have a kidney

Glen Newey: Morals and Markets, 21 June 2012

What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets 
by Michael Sandel.
Allen Lane, 244 pp., £20, April 2012, 978 1 84614 471 4
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How Much Is Enough?: The Love of Money and the Case for the Good Life 
by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky.
Allen Lane, 256 pp., £20, June 2012, 978 1 84614 448 6
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... on are egged on with a ‘newest stiffs’ page (current features: Ray Bradbury, Richard Dawson) and the lure of ‘cyberboner’ windfalls for those who manage to pick the next celebs to go. All this elicits from Sandel a mixture of bafflement and revulsion. In fact, as Sandel recognises, the line between insurance and gambling was blurred ...
Founders of the Welfare State 
edited by Paul Barker.
Gower, 138 pp., £14.95, February 1985, 0 435 82060 5
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The Affluent Society 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Deutsch, 291 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 233 97771 6
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... seminal figure, for he crossed the barrier between social and economic policy and, going beyond Keynes, anticipated many of the problems of the post-war mixed economy. For a while, it seemed as if Butskellism – which was the official Keynesianism – had solved everything. Moreover, it was widely supposed that the Welfare State with its provision ‘from ...

A Life without a Jolt

Ferdinand Mount: M.R. James, 26 January 2012

Collected Ghost Stories 
by M.R. James.
Oxford, 468 pp., £14.99, October 2011, 978 0 19 956884 0
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... mythography, Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, Bertrand Russell, J.B.S. Haldane and John Maynard Keynes (for being a renegade Eton-and-King’s man who thought the college needed shaking up). Lytton Strachey returned James’s contempt: ‘It’s odd that the provost of Eton should still be aged 16. A life without a jolt.’ The only modern innovations that ...

Better off in a Stocking

Jamie Martin: The Financial Crisis of 1914, 22 May 2014

Saving the City: The Great Financial Crisis of 1914 
by Richard Roberts.
Oxford, 320 pp., £20, November 2013, 978 0 19 964654 8
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... six million pounds in gold was paid out in just three days. In ‘War and the Financial System’, Keynes denounced the banks for exacerbating the panic in the City: ‘The banks revived for a few days the old state,’ he wrote, ‘of which hardly a living Englishman had a memory, in which the man who had £50 in a stocking was better off than the man who had ...

Benson’s Pleasure

Noël Annan, 4 March 1982

Edwardian Excursions: From the Diaries of A.C. Benson 1898-1904 
edited by A.C. Benson and David Newsome.
Murray, 200 pp., £12.50, April 1981, 9780719537691
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Geoffrey Madan’s Notebooks 
edited by John Gere and John Sparrow.
Oxford, 144 pp., £7.95, October 1981, 0 19 215870 8
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... the Oxford Movement pullulated with passionate attachments; two of the most frank avowals, which Richard Jenkyns quotes in his masterly study of the Victorian conception of Ancient Greece, came from Disraeli. Of course there were in the Nineties the Uranians and the aesthetes, disciples of Cory or Symonds or Carpenter, who justified their inclinations by ...

Let’s call it failure

John Lanchester: The Shit We’re In, 3 January 2013

... that, broadly speaking, is what is happening right now. People are sitting on that first tenner. Richard Feynman was once asked what he would pass on if the whole edifice of modern scientific knowledge had been lost, and all he could give to posterity was a single sentence. What axiom would convey the maximum amount of scientific information in the fewest ...

Libel on the Human Race

Steven Shapin: Malthus, 5 June 2014

Malthus: The Life and Legacies of an Untimely Prophet 
by Robert Mayhew.
Harvard, 284 pp., £20, April 2014, 978 0 674 72871 4
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... to drench the parade of Enlightenment optimism about human possibility. The Radical writer Richard Price reckoned that an expanding population was a good thing, and that it would follow inevitably from more virtuous forms of government. Condorcet foresaw endless social progress, an egalitarian society in which technological advance would provide for an ...


Ben Pimlott: Anthony Crosland, 3 September 1998

Crosland’s Future: Opportunity and Outcome 
by David Reisman.
Macmillan, 237 pp., £47.50, October 1997, 0 333 65963 5
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... but it is a moot point how much effect they had in the political arena. Genuine innovators, like Keynes and Beveridge, tended to be eclectically empirical. Indeed, those contemporary writers who seek to unravel recent political history – especially the history of the Left – by studying the history of theory are in danger of anachronism. As Henry Drucker ...

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