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15 May 1980
Health, Medicine and Mortality in the 16th Century 
edited by Charles Webster.
Cambridge, 417 pp., £18.50, December 1979, 0 521 22643 0
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... aspects of health, disease, and medical treatment, being especially concerned with biological aspects of normal life, with patients, and with systems of health care’. The first volume, edited by CharlesWebster, is of particular interest as an indication of the aims and methods of the series. Health, Medicine and Mortality in the 16th Century is said (on the dust-cover) to be the first volume to ...

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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... of utilitarian church, mediating the beliefs and presiding over the rituals of a society incapable of advancing any more metaphysical conception. For the past thirty years foreign observers cited in CharlesWebster’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 ...

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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... of the health services – of the care of the mentally ill, especially – a process unheard of in the NHS since its inception in 1948. In a gratifyingly compressed, although at times grey, account, CharlesWebster 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 ...
16 July 1981
Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... more scholarly (or more pedantic) generation proceeded to pick holes in them; and finally a boring via media is now being hammered out. In the history of science, there are still giants abroad. CharlesWebster, J.R. and M.C. Jacob have produced new and exciting syntheses in the grand manner. The object of Dr Hunter’s book is to reconsider the ‘academic dimension’ of the new science, and its ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Death of a Historian

30 December 1982
... Historian and produced The War at Sea 1939-1945 in four volumes. Though official in name, it was far from official in character. Roskill fought the censors of the Cabinet Office as resolutely as Sir CharlesWebster did when writing his History of the Strategic Air Offensive. Roskill went on to write more personal books: three volumes on Hankey and as a final production a hilarious life of Admiral of the ...

Opportunity Costs

Edward Luttwak: ‘The Bombing War’

21 November 2013
The Bombing War: Europe 1939-45 
by Richard Overy.
Allen Lane, 852 pp., £30, September 2013, 978 0 7139 9561 9
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... late July and early August 1943 and caused the first deliberately ignited firestorm. It is part of a longer passage printed in Appendix 30 of the official British history of the bombing of Germany by CharlesWebster and Noble Frankland, and demonstrates their relentless objectivity (all the more remarkable in a book published in 1961, only 16 years after the end of hostilities). My extract from the ...
19 December 1991
Alistair MacLean 
by Jack Webster.
Chapmans, 326 pp., £18, November 1991, 1 85592 519 2
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Alistair MacLean’s Time of the Assassins 
by Alastair MacNeill.
HarperCollins, 288 pp., £14.99, December 1991, 0 00 223816 0
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... age, for which they were clearly designed Already any number of hands, licensed and otherwise, have helped to further the adventures of James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Jeeves, Billy Bunter and Charles Pooter; not forgetting, from an earlier age, Flashman and Rochester’s mad wife. In a class of their own come the surrogate writers who are authorised to enrich the leftovers of a dead storyteller ...

In place of fairies

Simon Schaffer

2 December 1982
Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic 
by Daniel O’Keefe.
Martin Robertson, 581 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 85520 486 9
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Scienze, Credenze Occulti, Livelli di Cultura 
edited by Paola Zambelli.
Leo Olschki, 562 pp., April 1982, 88 222 3069 8
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... culture by the ruling class – and also as a manipulation of that culture for direct political ends Witch-crazes and printing, Reformation and civil war, all benefit from this reinterpretation. CharlesWebster analyses the work of the occult master Paracelsus, who drew on his own knowledge of the folklore of German miners to picture gnomes and mountain sprites as offering ‘a code of conduct for ...
19 August 1993
The Fate of Hong Kong 
by Gerald Segal.
Simon and Schuster, 256 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 671 71169 5
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The End of Hong Kong: The Secret Diplomacy of Imperial Retreat 
by Robert Cottrell.
Murray, 244 pp., £19.99, April 1993, 0 7195 4992 2
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... asked if anything could ever be learned from history, that the British delegation to Versailles had been given an account of the Congress of Vienna, approximately a century earlier, written by Sir CharlesWebster. From this they had learned that Talleyrand’s success in the negotiations, from a position of weakness, had been partly due to his having had agents collect the contents of the waste-paper ...
18 December 1980
Puritanism and Theatre 
by Margot Heinemann.
Cambridge, 300 pp., £12.50, March 1980, 0 521 22602 3
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John WebsterCitizen and Dramatist 
by M.C. Bradbrook.
Weidenfeld, 205 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 297 77813 7
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... finally in the two ‘city tragedies’ which are his greatest plays. The Changeling (1621) and Women Beware Women (?1623) seem to her to possess a kind of social realism absent from the work of Webster, Ford, Massinger, or Beaumont and Fletcher. In their treatment of social mobility and ambition, women and marriage, and in their ethical and religious overtones, they reflect the values of the City ...

Into the Underworld

Iain Sinclair: The Hackney Underworld

22 January 2015
... beasts are insatiable. They are living entities with a rage for earth. They have been given the names of ‘historical London figures’ and ‘modern day heroes’. Ada (Lovelace), who worked with Charles Babbage on his ‘analytical engine’, is paired with Phyllis (Pearsall), the artist who claimed to have tramped three thousand miles in mapping streets for the A-Z. The most recent partnership ...
3 October 1985
Great Britons: 20th-Century Lives 
by Harold Oxbury.
Oxford, 371 pp., £14.95, September 1985, 0 19 211599 5
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The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes 
edited by Max Hastings.
Oxford, 514 pp., £9.50, October 1985, 0 19 214107 4
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The Long Affray: The Poaching Wars in Britain 
by Harry Hopkins.
Secker, 344 pp., £12.95, August 1985, 9780436201028
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... baton, Sir William Robertson, is missing. Billy Smart, the circus proprietor, is in, though not Sir Alan Cobham, whose private air force introduced millions to flying, or Sir Donald Wolfit. Tom Webster, the sports cartoonist, gains his niche, but not ‘Beachcomber’. Enough of that; the game is too easy to play. The entries are skilfully ‘potted’, judicious in the DNB manner, but the more one ...

Descent into Oddness

Dinah Birch: Peter Rushforth’s long-awaited second novel

6 January 2005
Pinkerton’s Sister 
by Peter Rushforth.
Scribner, 729 pp., £18.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5235 7
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... that bind her thinking into coherence, if not into sense. There isn’t much she hasn’t read, or doesn’t remember. Oscar Wilde, the Brontës, Robert Louis Stevenson, Tennyson, George MacDonald, Charles Reade, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Louisa May Alcott, Wilkie Collins, Mary Braddon, Conan Doyle, Du Maurier, and plenty more. Her literary memory is a compendium of every syllabus in Victorian ...
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 ...

The Great National Circus

Eric Foner: Punch-Ups in the Senate

22 November 2018
The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War 
by Joanne Freeman.
Farrar, Straus, 450 pp., £20.99, September 2018, 978 0 374 15477 6
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... On​ 22 May 1856, Preston Brooks, a member of the US House of Representatives from South Carolina, strode into the Senate chamber shortly after the daily session had ended. Two days earlier, Charles Sumner, the Senate’s most outspoken critic of slavery, had delivered a five-hour speech, ‘The Crime against Kansas’. Sumner not only denounced the ‘rape’ of Kansas by pro-slavery forces ...

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