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Simon Schaffer

6 April 1995
Sir Hans Sloane: Collector, Scientist, Antiquary, Founding Father of the British Museum 
edited by Arthur MacGregor.
British Museum, 308 pp., £50, November 1994, 0 7141 2085 5
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... Society, whose collections of more than eighty thousand curiosities and antiquities, along with a magnificent library, formed the principal nucleus of the Museum founded after his death in 1753. ArthurMacgregor, who has previously co-edited an important work on the history of museums, has gathered here a series of essays by current and former staff of the British and Natural History Museums, who ...


Alan Ryan

6 November 1986
The Enemies Within: The Story of the Miners’ Strike 1984-5 
by Ian MacGregor and Rodney Tyler.
Collins, 384 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 00 217706 4
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A Balance of Power 
by Jim Prior.
Hamish Hamilton, 278 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780241119570
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... Mrs Thatcher’s two governments have each managed one unequivocal triumph. Her first administration saw off General Galtieri and his miscalculated assault on the Falklands, while her second saw off Arthur Scargill and his equally miscalculated assault on the National Coal Board. The triumphs were, of course, triumphs only in terms of the Government’s immediate aims – to throw out the occupying ...
21 December 1989
The New Museology 
edited by Peter Vergo.
Reaktion, 230 pp., £23, September 1989, 0 948462 04 3
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The Romantic Interior: The British Collector at Home 1750-1850 
by Clive Wainwright.
Yale, 314 pp., £35, November 1989, 0 300 04225 6
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Journal of the History of Collections, No 1 
edited by Oliver Impey and Arthur MacGregor.
Oxford, 230 pp., £23, June 1989, 0 00 954665 0
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... To attract support today, a great museum, whether of art, archaeology, ethnography or natural history, would be ill advised to draw attention to its extensive collection of specimens, even if it can reasonably be claimed that these specimens enable the visitor to confirm, extend and perhaps challenge the work of a Winckelmann, a Darwin or a Burckhardt. There would be little point in defending them ...
21 November 1985
The Miners’ Strike 
by Geoffrey Goodman.
Pluto, 213 pp., £4.50, September 1985, 0 7453 0073 1
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Strike: Thatcher, Scargill and the Miners 
by Peter Wilsher, Donald Macintyre and Michael Jones.
Deutsch, 284 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 233 97825 9
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... it was a disaster, most of all for the miners themselves. It is irresistible, in the interests of fairness at least, to look at the possibility that that verdict is wrong. Let us suppose – as Arthur Scargill invites us to – that it was forced upon them: that, as he also claims, it was a victory. There are two sets of reasons for believing that there was no choice but to fight an opponent who ...
10 March 1994
Scargill: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
HarperCollins, 296 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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... Exactly ten years after the start of the miners’ strike of 1984-85, the questions remain, in ascending order of importance: was Arthur Scargill, then and still President of the NUM, the right leader for the strike? Could the strike have been won? If it had, would this have improved the fortunes of the labour movement? Would such an ...

The Miners’ Strike

Michael Stewart

6 September 1984
... restrictive practices and excessive wage demands had – as she saw it – been sabotaging the economy for thirty years or more. Thus it was that the hard-headed Scottish-American business tycoon Ian MacGregor was appointed to sort out British Steel, and sort it out he did: after a doomed 13-week strike, the men accepted new manning procedures which in plants such as Port Talbot raised productivity ...


Ross McKibbin

23 October 1986
The Politics of the UCS Work-In: Class Alliances and the Right to Work 
by John Foster and Charles Woolfson.
Lawrence and Wishart, 446 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 85315 663 8
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A Lost Left: Three Studies in Socialism and Nationalism 
by David Howell.
Manchester, 351 pp., £29.95, July 1986, 0 7190 1959 1
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The Miners’ Strike 1984-5: Loss without Limit 
by Martin Adeney and John Lloyd.
Routledge, 319 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 7102 0694 1
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Red Hill: A Mining Community 
by Tony Parker.
Heinemann, 196 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 434 57771 5
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Strike Free: New Industrial Relations in Britain 
by Philip Bassett.
Macmillan, 197 pp., £10.95, August 1986, 9780333418000
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... had access to the diaries of some leading participants, and have skilfully used oral evidence. The only participants, they note, who refused to talk to them were the two prima donnas, Scargill and MacGregor. Furthermore, their evidence is fairly distributed: everyone comes out better than one remembered him/her, with the exception perhaps of some of the pickets. There is much inside information and a ...

Ex-King Coal

Arthur​ Marwick

31 March 1988
The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. IV, 1913-1946: The Political Economy of Decline 
by Barry Supple.
Oxford, 733 pp., £50, December 1987, 9780198282945
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... industry,’ lamented Sir Norman Siddall, who bravely filled the gap between the Coal Board chairmanship of Sir Derek Ezra, supreme servant and subtle bureaucrat of consensus, and that of Sir Ian MacGregor, vieux terrible of confrontation. ‘There is either too much or too little.’ Not since 1913, in fact, have the figures seemed roughly right. Coal had been ancillary, rather than essential, to ...

The Sound of Thunder

Tom Nairn: The Miners’ Strike

8 October 2009
Marching to the Fault Line: The 1984 Miners’ Strike and the Death of Industrial Britain 
by Francis Beckett and David Hencke.
Constable, 303 pp., £18.99, February 2009, 978 1 84901 025 2
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Shafted: The Media, the Miners’ Strike and the Aftermath 
edited by Granville Williams.
Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, 176 pp., £9.99, March 2009, 978 1 898240 05 1
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... and towns, which keep the workers on strike. Descent into labour-market anomie and disposability was the threat here, a betrayal of the Leninist idea. Himself from another South Yorkshire village, Arthur Scargill, the leader of the NUM, felt the threat strongly, but believed that it might cause the idea to be redeemed and renewed. The British Communist Party, to which he had once belonged, opposed ...


Tom Shippey: The Druids

9 July 2009
Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... obviously the wrong way round? That looks like a rhetorical question with only one sensible answer, but there is a case to be made the other way, as Hutton indicated in Witches, Druids and King Arthur (2003). The same could be said about King Arthur as about druids. On the one hand we have the ‘historical King Arthur’, about whom we know effectively nothing – not even whether such a person ...
6 June 1985
Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Huw Beynon.
Verso, 252 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 86091 820 3
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Policing the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Bob Fine and Robert Millar.
Lawrence and Wishart, 243 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 85315 633 6
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The Strike: An Insider’s Story 
by Roy Ottey.
Sidgwick, 157 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780283992285
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Scargill and the Miners 
by Michael Crick.
Penguin, 172 pp., £2.95, March 1985, 0 14 052355 3
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The Great Strike: The Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 and its Lessons 
by Alex Callinicos and Mike Simons.
Socialist Worker, 256 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 905998 50 2
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... permitted the massive closure programme of the 1950s and 1960s with barely a murmur of union opposition). With no background, loyalties or long-term future in the NCB (or indeed even in Britain), Ian MacGregor typifies the abrasive commercialism of new-style public-sector management heads. (Ironically this Florida voter, with his anti-union reputation, admiration for Tory economics, and even greater ...
22 June 1989
... sights? That one million council houses would have been sold off? That doctors’ surgeries would be anti-Conservative committee-rooms, as happened in the Vale of Glamorgan by-election in May; that Arthur Scargill would be seeking to become a fully-owned subsidiary of Ron Todd? Yet all this has come to pass, and so has industrial action by academics. That is, for me, the saddest development of all ...
9 May 1996
John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... co-star in films such as Rio Grande and The Quiet Man was dying of cancer. John Wayne: American takes its title from this Congressional medal. Once you start to look for him, he’s everywhere. Ian MacGregor, the man who helped Thatcher crush the miners, is ‘John Wayne with a Scottish brogue and a pinstripe suit’. ‘Now we don’t want to see no John Wayne performances out here,’ a sergeant tells ...
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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... for J.F.K. To be sure, the bits are juicy: Joe Kennedy propositioning his sons’ girlfriends and introducing Gloria Swanson into his household as if she were a maiden aunt rather than his mistress; Arthur Krock, eminent pundit, first procuring girls for the Kennedy boys, and later arranging to purloin a Pulitzer Prize for Jack’s mediocre thesis, after Krock himself had rewritten it and had it ...


Neal Ascherson: Scotophobia

5 April 2007
... won more English votes than Labour. The lesson is that any serious Tory revival could carry the party to an almost impregnable domination of English politics. In Monty Python and the Holy Grail King Arthur rides up to a muddy peasant and announces: ‘I am Arthur, king of the Britons.’ ‘King of the who? . . . Who are the Britons?’ The king answers rather uncertainly: ‘We are all Britons! ...

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