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At the Skunk Works

R.W. Johnson, 23 February 1995

Fool’s Gold: The Story of North Sea Oil 
by Christopher Harvie.
Hamish Hamilton, 408 pp., £18.99, October 1994, 0 241 13352 1
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... futuristic. It was, in Alvarez’s phrase, ‘outer space with bad weather’. This is the story Christopher Harvie has to tell. His is an immensely important book – astonishingly, there is no other good account in print of the North Sea phenomenon which has changed the world oil market, transformed the British and Norwegian economies ...

Yes, die

Gerald Hammond, 23 May 1996

The Five Books of Moses 
translated by Everett Fox.
Harvill, 1024 pp., £25, March 1996, 1 86046 142 5
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... as a gospel in his preface to that book of laws, blessings and curses. During the 17th century, as Christopher Hill has amply demonstrated, it was the Old Testament, in law almost as much as in narrative and prophecy, which acted as a major determinant in political debate. For the imitation of Christ read, in England and America, the imitation of ...

Norman Bread

Christopher Holdsworth, 16 October 1980

The Norman Conquest of the North 
by William Kapelle.
Croom Helm, 329 pp., £14.95, March 1980, 0 7099 0040 6
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Consul of God 
by Jeffrey Richards.
Routledge, 309 pp., £9.75, March 1980, 0 7100 0346 3
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Martin of Tours 
by Christopher Donaldson.
Routledge, 171 pp., £8.95, March 1980, 0 7100 0422 2
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by Steven Runciman.
Thames and Hudson, 160 pp., £9.50, March 1980, 0 500 25071 5
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... and yet they have features which make consideration of them together worthwhile. The earliest is Christopher Donaldson’s Martin of Tours, which concerns the life of a soldier who around the middle of the fourth century left his career in middle life to become a hermit and ultimately bishop of a see in north France. Consul of God by Jeffrey Richards is ...

You are a milksop

Ferdinand Mount, 7 May 2020

Providence Lost: The Rise and Fall of Cromwell’s Protectorate 
by Paul Lay.
Head of Zeus, 352 pp., £30, January 2020, 978 1 78185 256 9
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... seized him just before the Battle of Naseby.’In his rumbustious biography God’s Englishman, Christopher Hill diagnoses Cromwell as a manic depressive. When evaluating his performance in government, Hill, as a Marxist, was more plainspoken than some liberal historians, who tend to be mealy-mouthed and cower in the ...

Cite ourselves!

Richard J. Evans: The Annales School, 3 December 2009

The Annales School: An Intellectual History 
by André Burguière, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Cornell, 309 pp., £24.95, 0 8014 4665 1
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... students discussing the relative attractions of British Marxist historians like Eric Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill and E.P. Thompson, German neo-Weberians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler and Jürgen Kocka, American students of social inequality like Stephan Thernstrom, advocates of a social-anthropological approach such as Keith Thomas, partisans of a ...

Lumpers v. Splitters

Ferdinand Mount: How to Build an Empire, 31 March 2016

British Imperial: What the Empire Wasn’t 
by Bernard Porter.
I.B. Tauris, 216 pp., £20, October 2015, 978 1 78453 445 5
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Heroic Failure and the British 
by Stephanie Barczewski.
Yale, 267 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 300 18006 0
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... philosophy, and above all, into historiography, most notably perhaps in J.H. Hexter’s attack on Christopher Hill for lumping together a biased selection of the evidence to fortify his thesis about the rise of capitalism and the English Civil War. The temperature always rises when the splitters take action against the lumpers (it’s seldom the other ...

Hero as Hero

Tobias Gregory: Milton’s Terrorist, 6 March 2008

Why Milton Matters: A New Preface to His Writings 
by Joseph Wittreich.
Palgrave, 253 pp., £37.99, March 2008, 978 1 4039 7229 3
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... as far as we know he didn’t regularly attend a church. It is fair enough to describe him, as Christopher Hill did, as a radical Protestant heretic; but while Milton’s heterodoxy has become more widely acknowledged among scholars in recent years, there is still a good deal of confusion as to what it does and does not mean. ‘Orthodox’ and ...

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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... of blues records. A brief affair with the daughter of the champion of the English Revolution, Christopher Hill, Master of Balliol. The interestingly named Fanny Hill was also involved, at this period, with Raymond Carr, Warden of St Antony’s College, which Marks describes as the ‘CIA’s Oxford annexe’. The ...

Half-Way up the Hill

Frank Kermode, 7 July 1988

Young Betjeman 
by Bevis Hillier.
Murray, 457 pp., £15.95, July 1988, 0 7195 4531 5
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... about family and school. Born at Gospel Oak, Betjeman moved up with his parents to better-off West Hill; fans will remember his touching invocation of the house there (‘Deeply I loved thee, 31 West Hill!’), as well as some very subtle verses (‘Lissenden Mansions! And my memory sifts/Lilies from lily-like electric ...

Elton at seventy

Patrick Collinson, 11 June 1992

Return to Essentials: Some Reflections on the Present State of Historical Study 
by G.R. Elton.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £16.95, October 1991, 0 521 41098 3
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... that that is what they are. Ideology means Marxism (and especially that ‘erring colleague’, Christopher Hill), but Elton reserves some of his ammunition for the alternative, liberal determinists, Arnold Toynbee, Sir John Plumb, J.H. Hexter, while not forgetting that morally admirable but woefully misled and misleading Christian Socialist ...

What to call her?

Jenny Diski, 9 October 2014

... children, but because your IQ is so high, we’re going to send you to a private school, St Christopher’s, which takes a few local authority cases like yours,’ the psychologists at University College Hospital had said to me, rather unpsychologically. I was 11.) My father relented and Doris sent me to a progressive day school. At the new school, aged ...


Christopher Reid, 18 October 2001

... with hoards of costly machinery in their arms, like toys they won’t share;    past Bald Oak Hill,    down the more shaded side of which the Bollockshire Hunt has scuffled many a morning to its kill;    past St Boldric’s church,    with the slant steeple, which Cromwell’s lads once briefly visited, leaving behind them saints ...

The Limit

Rosemary Hill, 2 November 1995

Christopher Wood: An English Painter 
by Richard Ingleby.
Allison and Busby, 295 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 85031 849 1
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Barbara Hepworth: A Life of Forms 
by Sally Festing.
Viking, 343 pp., £20, May 1995, 0 670 84203 6
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... The lives of Christopher Wood and Barbara Hepworth are case-studies, each in its way unhappy, of the artist as a product of his own creation. For both the idea of art, the lure of fame, the wish to escape from the stolid Northern middle class into which they were born, were motivating forces as powerful as the desire to express a vision through painting or sculpture ...

Out of the East

Blair Worden, 11 October 1990

The King’s Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of Thomas Wolsey 
by Peter Gwyn.
Barrie and Jenkins, 666 pp., £20, May 1990, 0 7126 2190 3
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Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 300 pp., £17.95, May 1990, 0 582 06064 8
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The Writings of William Walwyn 
edited by Jack McMichael and Barbara Taft.
Georgia, 584 pp., $45, July 1989, 0 8203 1017 4
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... cannot say, for it is a long time since anyone tried. The most influential recent study of him, by Christopher Hill, is more a series of essays than a biography. Morrill’s volume is not a biography either, but it is as accomplished a substitute for one as a collaborative venture could expect to provide. In invoking Elton’s pronouncement on ...

The Unrewarded End

V.G. Kiernan: Memories of the CP, 17 September 1998

The Death of Uncle Joe 
by Alison Macleod.
Merlin, 269 pp., £9.95, May 1997, 0 85036 467 1
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Enemy Within: The Rise and Fall of the British Communist Party 
by Francis Beckett.
Merlin, 253 pp., £9.95, August 1998, 0 85036 477 9
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... of expulsion from Gollan. On top of this came a minority report from three members – one was Christopher Hill – of the commission of enquiry into democracy within the Party: they concluded that there was no democracy at all. An agreement to hold an extraordinary congress served to postpone final decisions. It took place on Good Friday 1957. Arnold ...

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