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Pankaj Mishra: Niall Ferguson’s Burden, 3 November 2011

Civilisation: The West and the Rest 
by Niall Ferguson.
Allen Lane, 402 pp., £25, March 2011, 978 1 84614 273 4
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... kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity’ to the unctuous ‘Empire-Lite’ of Michael Ignatieff and the ‘liberal imperialism’ peddled by Robert Cooper, one of Blair’s fly-by-night gurus. ‘Islamofascism’ seemed as evil as Nazism, Saddam Hussein was another Hitler, a generation-long battle loomed, and invocations of Winston ...

The Great Scots Education Hoax

Rosalind Mitchison, 18 October 1984

The Companion to Gaelic Scotland 
edited by Derick Thomson.
Blackwell, 363 pp., £25, December 1983, 0 631 12502 7
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Experience and Enlightenment: Socialisation for Cultural Changes in 18th-Century Scotland 
by Charles Camic.
Edinburgh, 301 pp., £20, January 1984, 0 85224 483 5
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Knee Deep in Claret: A Celebration of Wine and Scotland 
by Billy Kay and Cailean Maclean.
Mainstream, 232 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 906391 45 8
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Education and Opportunity in Victorian Scotland: Schools and Universities 
by R.D. Anderson.
Oxford, 384 pp., £25, July 1983, 0 19 822696 9
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Scotland: The Real Divide 
edited by Gordon Brown and Robin Cook.
Mainstream, 251 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 906391 18 0
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Wealth and Virtue: The Shaping of Political Economy in the Scottish Enlightenment 
edited by Istvan Hont and Michael Ignatieff.
Cambridge, 371 pp., £35, November 1983, 0 521 23397 6
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... Historians of any society have to learn to be wary of the accepted myths of their subject. Sometimes these bogus visions of the past are deliberately created or fostered by the governing group. Sometimes they come from an educated but perhaps unsophisticated middle class, anxious to gain historical sanction for its security and power. Sometimes these beliefs are the possession and creation of the working class ...

Self-Amused

Adam Phillips: Isaiah Berlin, 23 July 2009

Isaiah Berlin, Enlightening: Letters 1946-60 
edited by Henry Hardy and Jennifer Holmes.
Chatto, 844 pp., £35, June 2009, 978 0 7011 7889 5
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... wrongs real and imaginary – it did.’ ‘The charge of cowardice bothered him all his life,’ Michael Ignatieff says in his sympathetic biography of Berlin, and adds, not quite as a non-sequitur: ‘But his work does not have the shape of a man eager to please at any cost.’ Shape is not the same as content, though it is certainly true that the ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Notes on 1997, 1 January 1998

... records the birthdays of various contemporary literary figures. Here is Dennis Potter on 17 May, Michael Frayn on 8 September, Edna O’Brien on 15 December, and so naturally I turn to my own birthday. May 9 is blank except for the note: ‘The first British self-service launderette is opened on Queensway, London 1949.’ 4 January. George F. tells me that ...

What’s going on?

Peter Mair: The Netherlands, 14 December 2006

Murder in Amsterdam: The Death of Theo van Gogh and the Limits of Tolerance 
by Ian Buruma.
Atlantic, 278 pp., £12.99, October 2006, 1 84354 319 2
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... who became famous by taking a very public stance against multiculturalism, grew quite excited when Michael Ignatieff’s name came up in his conversation with Buruma. ‘You and I meet for the first time,’ Scheffer says, ‘yet you mention Ignatieff as though I’ve naturally heard of him. You are right, of course. I ...

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