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Welfare in America

William Plowden

11 July 1991
American Social Welfare Policy: A Structural Approach 
by Howard Karger and David Stoesz.
Longman, 371 pp., £18.95, November 1990, 0 8013 0193 9
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America’s Misunderstood Welfare State 
by Theodore Marmor, Jerry Mashaw and Philip Harvey.
Basic Books, 268 pp., $22.95, October 1990, 9780465001224
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The American Prospect 
edited by Paul Starr and Robert Kuttner.
New Prospect, 168 pp., $31
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... welfare programmes created a whole set of ‘perverse incentives’ which, directly or indirectly, actually made things worse. This thesis was popularised in the influential book Losing ground, by CharlesMurray, published in 1984. Murray noted the inconclusive findings of social research. He pointed out that since 1965 generous rates of social security benefit had been available to workers and non ...
26 January 1995
The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life 
by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray.
Free Press, 845 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 02 914673 9
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... States. No one who has been exposed to any of the American media can have escaped it. Among the reactions was a chorus of élite liberal denunciations. The New Republic of 31 October ran a piece by Murray followed by 18 criticisms. Stephen Jay Gould spoke out in the New Yorker of 28 November. I especially recommend Alan Ryan’s analysis in the New York Review of Books of 17 November, followed in the ...

Got to keep moving

Jeremy Harding

24 May 1990
Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-War Pop 
by Charles​ Shaar Murray.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.99, November 1989, 0 571 14936 7
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Autobiography 
by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £13.95, February 1990, 0 333 53195 7
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... The idea that a falling object was about to defy gravity before it hit the ground is a familiar one in the mythology of the pop idol. It is the gist of Charles Shaar Murray’s book about Jimi Hendrix, who enjoyed a great career as a virtuoso guitar player between 1966 and 1970, when he died in a London hospital after an overdose of sleeping pills. In a sparkling homage ...
3 July 1997
Number One Millbank: The Financial Downfall of the Church of England 
by Terry Lovell.
HarperCollins, 263 pp., £15.99, June 1997, 0 00 627866 3
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... it the power to distribute the revenues of the cathedrals and bishops where the clergy needed it most. This organisation very soon started to show signs of the malaise it was set up to cure. One man, Charles Knight Murray, assumed great power over the Church estates, but forgot to tell the Commissioners that he was a director of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway and an eager speculator in railway ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays

8 November 2018
... Some things​ in the relations between authors and publishers never change. Dear Mr Murray, edited by David McClay (John Murray, £16.99), a collection of letters written to six generations of the Murray family, is full of familiar complaints. Jane Austen was ‘very much disappointed … by the delays of the printers’. Maria Rundell, author of A New System of Domestic Cookery (1805), was furious ...
7 March 2013
Words of the World: A Global History of the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ 
by Sarah Ogilvie.
Cambridge, 241 pp., £17.99, November 2012, 978 1 107 60569 5
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... to the left of the headword. Murray’s successors William Craigie and Charles Onions tussled over whether to maintain this practice. Proofs of the Supplement dated 11 September 1929 retain Murray’s so-called tramlines; in the next proofs, dated 2 July 1930, they are gone. Between these dates, Onions joined the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English, where he became acutely aware of the ...

Good New Idea

John Lanchester: Universal Basic Income

18 July 2019
... support and child benefit and everything else, and simply chuck them out. They would be replaced with a single cash payment, given to everyone, irrespective of circumstances. In the frank words of CharlesMurray, he of The Bell Curve: ‘What I want is a grand compromise between the left and the right. We on the right say: “We will give you huge government, in terms of the amount of money we spend ...

A Plumless Pudding

John Sutherland: The Great John Murray​ Archive Disaster

18 March 2004
... Modest sums were paid for both sets of material. The papers had been retained by the Bentley family, after the takeover of the firm by Smith, Elder & Co (itself soon to be taken over by John Murray). A descendant – loyally named Richard Bentley – had lovingly conserved and catalogued them for posterity. In 1967, the BL acquired a tranche of early Macmillan papers: Harold Macmillan, it seems ...
6 July 1995
Hippie Hippie Shake: The Dreams, the Trips, the Trials, the Love-ins, The Screw Ups … The Sixties 
by Richard Neville.
Bloomsbury, 376 pp., £18.99, May 1995, 0 7475 1554 9
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... all, grow old and grey and hear ourselves sounding alarmingly like those class and style enemies, our parents? Hey, let’s have ourselves a past. In Schoolkids Oz, one of the teenage guest editors. Charles Shaar Murray (now a revered, middle-aged rock music critic), issued an interesting warning. Talking about the popularity of straight, commercial pop music (‘Sugar, Sugar, Honey, Honey’), and the ...

Too Young

James Davidson: Lord Alfred Douglas

21 September 2000
Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas 
by Douglas Murray.
Hodder, 374 pp., £20, June 2000, 0 340 76770 7
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... and vanity was wrapped up in such attractive features. Wilde compared him to a pet lion-cub wreaking havoc on reaching actual size, but he was less impressive and more sinister than that, a King Charles spaniel of vicious temperament, a cute Walt Disney rattlesnake, or a beautiful child vampire. He was hardly an angel in the 1890s, but he truly blossomed after Oscar’s death, when he converted to ...

Running out of Soil

Terry Eagleton: Bram Stoker and Irish Protestant Gothic

2 December 2004
From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker 
by Paul Murray.
Cape, 356 pp., £18.99, July 2004, 0 224 04462 1
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... for verisimilitude, or it can mean one which succeeds in penetrating to the truth of how things are. Realism can refer to the representational mode of an art form, or to its cognitive effect. Paul Murray quotes me in this book as claiming that the Irish literary tradition is one of ‘largely non-realistic works’, whereas what I actually wrote was ‘non-realist’. ‘Realistic’ is a value term ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED

20 April 1989
... add about five thousand recently accumulated words or new senses of words. The computer has changed the typography, which looks good, though a keen eye might miss some of the beauties of hot metal.Murray’s system of registering pronunciation has been replaced by the International Phonetic Alphabet. Foreign alphabets, except Greek, are now transliterated. These and other changes are explained in the ...

Eminent Athenians

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

1 October 1981
The Greek Heritage in Victorian Britain 
by Frank Turner.
Yale, 461 pp., £18.90, April 1981, 0 300 02480 0
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... It is handsomely printed, and the numerous misprints do not seriously impede the reader; and it is well illustrated, though I hope no future author will reproduce the ghastly portrait of Gilbert Murray by a relation which the National Portrait Gallery foolishly accepted. The Victorians made the Greeks out to have been far more like themselves than they can have been: by now anthropology and ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment

5 April 2007
The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... so Sher looks through all that Scottish mind and heart to the paper, cash and receivables behind. Other scholars, such as William Zachs in his study of the London-based Scottish publisher John Murray, have passed this way but none with such labour or at such Darntonian length. The heart or backbone of Sher’s enterprise is an ‘empirical database’ of 115 Scottish authors and 360 works ...

Handbooks

Valerie Pearl

4 February 1982
The Shell Guide to the History of London 
by W.R. Dalzell.
Joseph, 496 pp., £12.50, July 1981, 0 7181 2015 9
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... has it been a quarry for later historians of London that the judgment of the DNB still stands: ‘all subsequent works on London have been more or less indebted to Cunningham’s Handbook.’ John Murray, who published Cunningham, was also the publisher of many best-selling foreign handbooks (his mansion in Wimbledon built on the proceeds was nicknamed ‘Handbook Hall’), and he commissioned the ...

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