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Something of Importance

Philip Williamson

2 February 1989
The Coming of the First World War 
edited by R.J.W. Evans and Hartmut Pogge von Strandmann.
Oxford, 189 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 19 822899 6
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The Experience of World War One 
by J.M. Winter.
Macmillan, 256 pp., £17.95, November 1988, 0 333 44613 5
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Russia and the Allies 1917-1920. Vol II: The Road to Intervention, March-November 1918 
by Michael Kettle.
Routledge, 401 pp., £40, June 1988, 0 415 00371 7
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Douglas Haig 1861-1928 
by Gerald De Groot.
Unwin Hyman, 441 pp., £20, November 1988, 0 04 440192 2
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Nothing of Importance: A Record of Eight Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion 
by Bernard Adams.
The Strong Oak Press/Tom Donovan Publishing, 324 pp., £11.95, October 1988, 9781871048018
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1914-1918: Voices and Images of the Great War 
by Lyn Macdonald.
Joseph, 346 pp., £15.95, November 1988, 0 7181 3188 6
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... rest, there were considerable amounts of other published memoir material. An example is that of Bernard Adams, one of a series of reprints – The Fourteen-Eighteen collection – edited by an antiquarian bookseller, Peter T. Scott. Adams was a product of Malvern and Cambridge, and a lieutenant in the same battalion ...

‘We’re Not Jittery’

Bernard Porter: Monitoring Morale

8 July 2010
Listening to Britain: Home Intelligence Reports on Britain’s Finest Hour May-September 1940 
edited by Paul Addison and Jeremy Crang.
Bodley Head, 492 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 1 84792 142 0
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... within the fairly new Ministry of Information (or propaganda), to find out. It was headed by Mary Adams, one of British television’s earliest producers, before TV was shut down for the duration of the war: she moved to Whitehall and was given the task of monitoring domestic morale. She may be thought to have been a surprising choice. For a start, she was a ...
25 January 1990
Henry Adams 
by Ernest Samuels.
Harvard, 504 pp., £19.95, November 1989, 9780674387355
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The Letters of Henry AdamsVols I-VI 
edited by J.C Levenson, Ernest Samuels, Charles Vandersee and Viola Hopkins-Winner.
Harvard, 2016 pp., £100.75, July 1990, 0 674 52685 6
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... Henry Adams is a rare bird in American letters: rich, autonomous, and socially unassailable; descendant of Presidents, secure within the genteel Establishment, yet holding himself aloof from it; historian of his country, toward which he felt a proprietary concern; and, by his own reckoning, ‘a failure in politics and literature, in society and in solitude, in hatred and in love ...
9 June 1994
The Language of Liberty, 1660-1832: Political Discourse and Social Dynamics in the Anglo-American World 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 404 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 521 44510 8
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The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification. Vol. I 
edited by Bernard Bailyn.
Library of America, 1214 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 940450 42 9
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... notably Britain, the American Revolution may still be unfinished. Looking back in 1818, John Adams asked a fundamental question: ‘But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the hearts and minds of the people; a change in their religious ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution

18 December 2014
The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... of republicanism excavated by a distinguished group of historians, including Caroline Robbins, Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood and J.G.A. Pocock, offered a compelling account of the reasons British Americans broke with monarchy and then embarked on such a distinctive constitutional experiment, hedged with an idiosyncratic Bill of Rights. For example, the ...

‘I thirst for his blood’

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Henry James

25 November 1999
Henry James: A Life in Letters 
edited by Philip Horne.
Penguin, 668 pp., £25, June 1999, 0 7139 9126 7
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A Private Life of Henry James: Two Women and His Art 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Chatto, 500 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 7011 6166 3
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... famous pieces, like the eloquent response of 1914 to a ‘melancholy outpouring’ from Henry Adams, in which James pronounced himself ‘that queer monster the artist, an obstinate finality, an inexhaustible sensibility’, and urged his friend to ‘cultivate’ his consciousness in full knowledge that ‘the past that was our lives is at the bottom of ...

Two-Faced

Peter Clarke

21 September 1995
LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Oxford, 584 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 19 820240 7
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... to deflect most of the money away from the obvious political uses that had been intended. George Bernard Shaw’s indignant account of a subsequent meeting of the Fabian executive, at which Webb ‘hinted that the bequest had been left to him to dispose of as he thought fit, and that the executive had nothing to do with it’, was not just Shavian ...
17 December 1981
The Forward March of Labour Halted? 
by Eric Hobsbawm, Ken Gill and Tony Benn.
Verso, 182 pp., £8.50, November 1981, 0 86091 041 5
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... the Left, but by no means all are intellectuals. There is not only Professor Raymond Williams but Bernard Dix of NUPE and Jack Adams, Convenor at BL, Longbridge; not only Martin Jacques, editor of Marxism Today, but Peter Carter, UCATT regional organiser; not only Royden Harrison, professor of social history at Warwick, but ...
18 October 2001
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 
by Stella Rimington.
Hutchinson, 296 pp., £18.99, September 2001, 0 09 179360 2
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... for its ‘gross boastfulness’: ‘It is written, if I may say so, in the style of “How Bill Adams Won the Battle of Waterloo”. The writer has been so anxious to show how important he was, how invariably he was right, and how much more he could tell if only his mouth was not what he was pleased to call closed.’ Peter Wright’s Spycatcher (1987) got ...

Damnable Deficient

Colin Kidd: The American Revolution

17 November 2005
1776: America and Britain at War 
by David McCullough.
Allen Lane, 386 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 7139 9863 6
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... right – appear to regard Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and John Adams as the American equivalents of Plato, Aristotle, Cato and Brutus, while the wider culture acknowledges the near-superhuman qualities of the men of 1776. The founders in their periwigs, breeches and frockcoats hold a secure place in the popular iconography ...

The Getaway Car

Glen Newey: Machiavelli

21 January 2016
Machiavellian Democracy 
by John McCormick.
Cambridge, 252 pp., £21.99, March 2011, 978 0 521 53090 3
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Machiavelli in the Making 
by Claude Lefort, translated by Michael Smith.
Northwestern, 512 pp., £32.50, January 2012, 978 0 8101 2438 7
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Redeeming ‘The Prince’: The Meaning of Machiavelli’s Masterpiece 
by Maurizio Viroli.
Princeton, 189 pp., £18.95, October 2013, 978 0 691 16001 6
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... was namechecked as an early exponent of libertinism in Farquhar’s The Constant Couple, and Bernard Mandeville attracted a certain amount of knocking copy (‘Mandevil’) – but their reputations have been detoxified as Machiavelli’s hasn’t. In part that’s because of his irreligion and liking for blasphemy, which Leo Strauss claimed to find ...
18 April 1996
A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution 
by Theodore Draper.
Little, Brown, 544 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 316 87802 2
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... more self-government. The most recent generation of scholars, inspired above all by the work of Bernard Bailyn, has moved the ideas of the revolutionaries to centre stage. One can only explain the feverish American resistance to mild British measures like the Sugar and Stamp Acts, they insist, by understanding that they were refracted through an ideology ...

Self-Made Man

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Edith Wharton’s Domestic Arrangements

5 April 2007
Edith Wharton 
by Hermione Lee.
Chatto, 853 pp., £25, February 2007, 978 0 7011 6665 6
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... Berry’s death in 1927 may have left Wharton ‘utterly rudderless’, as she wrote to Bernard Berenson; but she still managed to get into his Paris apartment and to burn almost all the letters she had ever written to him. ‘No words can say, because such things are unsayable, how the influence of his thought, his character, his deepest ...

Heat-Seeking

Susan Pedersen: A.J.P. Taylor

10 May 2007
A.J.P. Taylor: Radical Historian of Europe 
by Chris Wrigley.
Tauris, 439 pp., £25, August 2006, 1 86064 286 1
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... site of his first (and only) spate of serious archival research and of his meeting with Margaret Adams, the well-to-do music student who would become his first wife. Ambition and strong recommendations won Taylor a teaching post at Manchester in 1930, where he wrote his first books on Continental diplomacy, began reviewing for the Guardian, played a minor ...
16 March 2000
Morgan: American Financier 
by Jean Strouse.
Harvill, 816 pp., £25, June 1999, 9781860463556
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... Pierpont Morgan has never said “I” in his life.’ Strouse would agree. ‘He was, as Henry Adams said of Theodore Roosevelt, “pure act”.’ But Schlegel goes on to say, ‘if you could pierce through him, you’d find panic and emptiness in the middle’, which Strouse wouldn’t say of Morgan. He may lack any very complicated internal life, or the ...

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