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Flowers in His Trousers

Christopher Benfey: Central Park’s Architect, 6 October 2016

Frederick Law Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture and Society 
edited by Charles E. Beveridge.
Library of America, 802 pp., £30, November 2015, 978 1 59853 452 8
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... his younger brother, John, at Yale, making friends with some of his high-minded circle, including Charles Loring Brace, who later founded the Children’s Aid Society. Brace and the Olmsted brothers travelled to Europe in 1850, walking through the English countryside and visiting farmers there and on the Continent. A trip to Birkenhead Park, opened only three ...

One-Man Ministry

Susan Pedersen: Welfare States, 8 February 2018

Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State 
by Chris Renwick.
Allen Lane, 323 pp., £20, September 2017, 978 0 241 18668 8
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... welfare state. Instead Renwick tops and tails his book with the well-known figure of Sir William Beveridge, opening with a vignette of the great social reformer going to the Commons on 16 February 1943 to listen to the debate on his plan for comprehensive social insurance, and closing on 5 July 1948, the ‘appointed day’ on which the Labour government ...
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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... David Donnison make what they can of a disparate assembly which ranges from Josephine Butler and Charles Booth to R.I. Morant and William Beveridge. As Donnison points out, equality was seldom their explicit goal. Nor was the growth of a centralised bureaucratic state. Nor were trade-offs between social justice and ...

So Very Silent

John Pemble: Victorian Corpse Trade, 25 October 2012

Dying for Victorian Medicine: English Anatomy and Its Trade in the Dead Poor, c.1834-1929 
by Elizabeth Hurren.
Palgrave, 380 pp., £65, December 2011, 978 0 230 21966 3
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Dickens and the Workhouse: Oliver Twist and the London Poor 
by Ruth Richardson.
Oxford, 370 pp., £16.99, February 2012, 978 0 19 964588 6
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... critics. Carlyle, Disraeli, Kingsley, Ruskin, Morris, Shaw, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Churchill, Beveridge – all arraigned it as morally indefensible. It punished not only the ‘undeserving’ poor (the ‘residuum’ or ‘underclass’ of incorrigibles) but the ‘deserving’ poor too – those indigent through no fault of their own. For a while the ...

One Nation

José Harris, 23 June 1988

The Health Services since the War. Vol. I: Problems of Health Care: The National Health Service before 1957 
by Charles Webster.
HMSO, 479 pp., £27.50, April 1988, 0 11 630942 3
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... advancing any more metaphysical conception. For the past thirty years foreign observers cited in Charles Webster’s study have perceived the NHS as an ‘integral part of the total pattern of the British state’, as an ‘altogether natural feature of the British landscape’, and ‘almost a part of the Constitution’. In contemporary British mythology ...

Their Way

José Harris: On the Origin of Altruism, 12 March 2009

The Invention of Altruism: Making Moral Meanings in Victorian Britain 
by Thomas Dixon.
British Academy, 420 pp., £60, May 2008, 978 0 19 726426 3
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... Soviet-style Marxism. Some of the most prominent social planners of those years, such as William Beveridge and Barbara Wootton in Britain, Pierre Laroque and Francis Netter in France, together with many campaigners for a united or federal postwar Europe, were heirs and exemplars of the positivist tradition of social, political and legal thought. Two ...

Sunny Days

Michael Howard, 11 February 1993

Never Again: Britain 1945-51 
by Peter Hennessy.
Cape, 544 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 224 02768 9
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Churchill on the Home Front 1900-1955 
by Paul Addison.
Cape, 493 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 224 01428 5
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... Hobson and soft socialists like R.H. Tawney. They may not all have willed the means proposed by Beveridge and Keynes (though an increasing number of them did) but most of them willed the end. They implemented the plans of their Labour masters not only dutifully but often with enthusiasm. It is most improbable, to put it no more strongly, that any social ...

Outbreak of Pleasure

Angus Calder, 23 January 1986

Now the war is over: A Social History of Britain 1945-51 
by Paul Addison.
BBC/Cape, 223 pp., £10.95, September 1985, 0 563 20407 9
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England First and Last 
by Anthony Bailey.
Faber, 212 pp., £12.50, October 1985, 0 571 13587 0
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A World Still to Win: The Reconstruction of the Post-War Working Class 
by Trevor Blackwell and Jeremy Seabrook.
Faber, 189 pp., £4.50, October 1985, 0 571 13701 6
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The Issue of War: States, Societies and the Far Eastern Conflict of 1941-1945 
by Christopher Thorne.
Hamish Hamilton, 364 pp., £15, April 1985, 0 241 10239 1
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The Hiroshima Maidens 
by Rodney Barker.
Viking, 240 pp., £9.95, July 1985, 0 670 80609 9
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Faces of Hiroshima: A Report 
by Anne Chisholm.
Cape, 182 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 224 02831 6
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End of Empire 
by Brain Lapping.
Granada, 560 pp., £14.95, March 1985, 0 246 11969 1
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Outposts 
by Simon Winchester.
Hodder, 317 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 340 33772 9
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... reformer and Julian Huxley the socially-conscious scientist helped to set up Unesco. William Beveridge, a Liberal, saw his Welfare State largely enacted; Creech Jones, chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau which had been founded in 1940, became the minister responsible for the colonies; and the ‘garden city ideal’ of the Town and Country Planning ...

Royal Panic Attack

Colin Kidd: James VI and I, 16 June 2011

King James VI and I and His English Parliaments 
by Conrad Russell, edited by Richard Cust and Andrew Thrush.
Oxford, 195 pp., £55, February 2011, 978 0 19 820506 7
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... proper history of the Whigs began only with the Exclusion Crisis of 1679, the attempt to exclude Charles II’s Roman Catholic heir presumptive, James, Duke of York, from the throne. In the political dramas of the 1680s the Russell dynasty produced two of the iconic figures of English Whig mythology: the Whig martyr William, Lord Russell, and one of the ...
Beyond the Pale: White Women, Racism and History 
by Vron Ware.
Verso, 263 pp., £34.95, February 1992, 0 86091 336 8
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Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation 
by Mary Louise Pratt.
Routledge, 257 pp., £35, January 1992, 9780415026758
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... somehow be construed as racist. What a pleasure it is to recall, amid Ware’s subtleties. Sir Charles Napier’s celebrated, though possibly apocryphal riposte to the Indian brahmins who pleaded that suttee was a national custom: ‘My nation also has a custom. When men burn women alive, we hang them ... Let us all act according to national ...

A Very Smart Bedint

Frank Kermode: Harold Nicolson, 17 March 2005

Harold Nicolson 
by Norman Rose.
Cape, 383 pp., £20, February 2005, 0 224 06218 2
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... a biography of his father, Lord Carnock, a bestselling life of King George V, a life of Mrs Charles Lindbergh’s father, some novels and some historical studies. Of these works I had read only one, the pseudo-autobiographical Some People, first published in 1927 (according to the Author’s Note, ‘many of the following sketches are purely ...

A Revision of Expectations

Richard Horton: Notes on the NHS, 2 July 1998

The National Health Service: A Political History 
by Charles Webster.
Oxford, 233 pp., £9.99, April 1998, 0 19 289296 7
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... NHS since its inception in 1948. In a gratifyingly compressed, although at times grey, account, Charles Webster concludes that the Ely episode brought ‘a fresh spirit of determination’ to the care of long-stay patients. It did more than that: it released additional money, spurred improvements in hospital facilities and raised standards of ...

Ideologues

Peter Pulzer, 20 February 1986

The Redefinition of Conservatism: Politics and Doctrine 
by Charles Covell.
Macmillan, 267 pp., £27.50, January 1986, 0 333 38463 6
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Thinkers of the New Left 
by Roger Scruton.
Longman, 227 pp., £9.95, January 1986, 0 582 90273 8
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The Idea of Liberalism: Studies for a New Map of Politics 
by George Watson.
Macmillan, 172 pp., £22.50, November 1985, 0 333 38754 6
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Socialism and Freedom 
by Bryan Gould.
Macmillan, 109 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 333 40580 3
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... social and political life, of which the most important is religion. All of this comes out well in Charles Covell’s scholarly, discriminating and curiously detached study of the Cambridge fogeys – Michael Oakeshott, John Casey, Maurice Cowling and Roger Scruton – with side-glances at Shirley Robin Letwin and the conservative potential in ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... the Rockinghamites (nominally headed by the Marquess of Rockingham, but whose effective leader was Charles James Fox) and the followers of Lord Shelburne. This ministry was riddled with dispute, and on Rockingham’s death in the summer of 1782 the Foxites abandoned Shelburne’s new government, which itself imploded in the spring of 1783. As in 2010, when the ...

North and South

Raphael Samuel, 22 June 1995

Coming Back Brockens: A Year in a Mining Village 
by Mark Hudson.
Cape, 320 pp., £16.99, October 1994, 0 224 04170 3
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... of Parliament. A.J. Cronin, the best-selling novelist whose fictions probably did as much as the Beveridge Report – and certainly more than the Thirties poets – to secure Labour’s landslide victory in the 1945 election, had served one of his medical apprenticeships in the Rhondda valley; amputating the leg of a miner trapped in a rock fall had been his ...

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