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Nicky, Willy and George

Christopher Clark: The Tsar, the Kaiser and the King, 22 October 2009

The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One 
by Miranda Carter.
Fig Tree, 584 pp., £25, September 2009, 978 0 670 91556 9
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... were not painful enough, the malign intelligence behind the plot had been the kaiser’s uncle, King Edward VII, who had died in 1910: This, in a nutshell, is the true, naked situation engineered so slowly and surely by Edward VII, elaborated and systematically expanded through covert talks with Paris and St Petersburg, and at last brought to completion ...

Winner’s History

Howard Erskine-Hill, 20 August 1981

Some Intellectual Consequences of the English Revolution 
by Christopher Hill.
Weidenfeld, 100 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 297 77780 7
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The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714 
by Christopher Hill.
Nelson, 296 pp., £5.95, September 1980, 0 17 712002 9
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... some good things, and some both great and good, undoubtedly came out of the period 1640-60 which Christopher Hill calls ‘the English Revolution’. What came out, however, was not necessarily originated by the period. It is a nice problem to distinguish causation from succession. In 12 short and easygoing chapters, originally the Merle Curti Lectures at ...

Types of Ambiguity

Conrad Russell, 22 January 1987

War, Taxation and Rebellion in Early Tudor England: Henry VIII, Wolsey and the Amicable Grant of 1525 
by G.W. Bernard.
Harvester, 164 pp., £25, August 1986, 0 7108 1126 8
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Reassessing the Henrician Age: Humanism, Politics and Reform 1500-1550 
by Alistair Fox and John Guy.
Blackwell, 242 pp., £22.50, July 1986, 0 631 14614 8
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The Union of England and Scotland 1603-1608 
by Bruce Galloway.
John Donald, 208 pp., £20, May 1986, 0 85976 143 6
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Stuart England 
edited by Blair Worden.
Phaidon, 272 pp., £25, October 1986, 0 7148 2391 0
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... levy was designed to allow Henry VIII to take advantage of the defeat and capture of the King of France to prosecute his French claims. The title was not just a piece of newspeak: it expressed a crucial ambiguity in Late Medieval constitutional thinking. The King must not tax without consent, but in a case of ...

It’s alive!

Christopher Tayler: The cult of Godzilla, 3 February 2005

Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters 
by William Tsutsui.
Palgrave, 240 pp., £8.99, December 2004, 1 4039 6474 2
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... one of the numerous sequels. True, pity for the creature was nothing new in giant monster movies: King Kong (1933) – re-released in 1952 – is an obvious template. But for an exercise in ‘cultural scab-picking’, as one anonymous fan has called it on the internet, Gojira seems peculiarly concerned to invest its star attraction with pathos. In the eerie ...

Women

Christopher Ricks, 20 May 1982

My Sister and Myself: The Diaries of J.R. Ackerley 
edited by Francis King.
Hutchinson, 217 pp., £8.95, March 1982, 9780091470203
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... Ackerley and his sister: about that only, since Nancy is granted no independent life. (Francis King does his best to supply her with one in his accommodating introduction.) Given that Ackerley could unquestionably write, his perverse refusal to make real the husband of Nancy, or her son, has to be evidence that it was his own flesh only that he yearned for ...

Rambling

James Wood: Speaking our Minds, 1 June 2000

... moment, for instance, in All’s Well that Ends Well, when Bertram is first introduced to the King of France. Instead of receiving Bertram in the usual way, and asking after him, the King starts reminiscing about Bertram’s father, whom he obviously loved:      Youth, thou bear’st thy father’s face; Frank ...

Go to the Devil

David Carpenter: Richard II, 22 July 2010

Richard II: Manhood, Youth and Politics, 1377-99 
by Christopher Fletcher.
Oxford, 336 pp., £24.95, August 2010, 978 0 19 959571 6
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... crowned and enthroned, which still survives in Westminster Abbey. Painted in the 1390s, when the king was in his twenties, it gives him a slightly boyish, even feminine appearance, with red cheeks, full lips and a small goatee beard. Much of this, however, is the work of 19th-century restorers: when the portrait is viewed under infrared reflectography, the ...

Tales from the Bunker

Christopher Hitchens, 10 October 1991

... to Jordan. I was surprised by the unexpected sprightliness on so many sides. The Plucky Little King (he is actually called The PLK by all officials in Washington as a matter of course) has actually succeeded in making himself rather popular He has played host with a good grace, not just to almost half a million new Palestinians, but to untold numbers of ...

At the Party

Christopher Hitchens, 17 April 1986

Hollywood Babylon II 
by Kenneth Anger.
Arrow, 323 pp., £5.95, January 1986, 0 09 945110 7
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Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan 
by Robin Wood.
Columbia, 336 pp., $25, October 1985, 0 231 05776 8
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... very well since. Kenneth Anger has been this kind of wallflower at the orgy for years. The dragon king of gorgeous Hollywood has him in thrall. His snappy chapter-headings (‘Closely Observed Blondes’, ‘Babylon Boozers’, ‘Hollywood Drugstore’) give a promise that is always kept. A sample from another chapter (‘The Magic of Self-Murder’) conveys ...

The Trouble with HRH

Christopher Hitchens, 5 June 1997

Princess Margaret: A Biography 
by Theo Aronson.
O’Mara, 336 pp., £16.99, February 1997, 1 85479 248 2
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... should be present for any royal birth. (This ‘ancient tradition’ dated back to the reign of King James II and the rumour about the ‘warming-pan baby’ delivered covertly to his consort, Mary of Modena.) So J.R. Clynes, Home Secretary to Ramsay MacDonald, had to journey to Glamis Castle and wait for 16 days for the waters to break. He passed the time ...

Royal Anxiety

Gabriele Annan, 9 June 1994

The Queen 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 341 pp., £20, April 1994, 0 297 81211 4
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Divine Right: The Inglorious Survival of British Royalty 
by Richard Tomlinson.
Little, Brown, 357 pp., £17.50, June 1994, 0 316 91119 4
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... other people who shared these views – as many did and do. Take the Duke and Duchess of Windsor: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth knew, Harris writes, that the Duke ‘was irresponsible, insensitive, feckless. He never paused to consider the implications of what he said and did. They put nothing past the mesmeric influence on him of “that ...

Praise Yah

Eliot Weinberger: The Psalms, 24 January 2008

The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 518 pp., £22, October 2007, 978 0 393 06226 7
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... valley of the shadow of death; make a joyful noise; go from strength to strength . . . The 1611 King James Authorised Version of the Book of Psalms – and of course of the entire Bible – is so deep in the English language that we no longer know when we are repeating its phrases. Inextricable from the beliefs and practices of its faithful for four hundred ...

Chronicities

Christopher Ricks, 21 November 1985

Gentlemen in England 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 311 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 02 411165 1
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... an out-of-date beau and a not-yet-in-date subject of the once in a while and future king whom Henry James will christen Edward the Caresser. And at the centre of the novel is Professor Horace Nettleship, banked and glowering, a man whose geological hammer has chipped away his deity, and who is deep-seatedly obsessed with the monstrous ...

Diary

Jeremy Harding: Hitchens, 31 March 2011

... I heard a few bars of Chris Corner’s song ‘I Salute You Christopher’ a day or so before the new IAMX album, Volatile Times, was released. The song, which appears on the album, is subtitled ‘Ode to Christopher Hitchens’: I salute you Christopher I salute your life How you played the dice … That ‘played’, in the past tense, has the ring of a funeral bell and a cracked one at that ...

The Word on the Street

Elaine Showalter, 7 March 1996

Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics 
by Anonymous.
Chatto, 366 pp., £15.99, February 1996, 0 7011 6584 7
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... Stanton.) Most of the novel’s reviewers have acknowledged its excellence. In the New Yorker, Christopher Buckley (himself a suspect) called Primary Colors ‘an absolutely dazzling book, the best political novel in many years’. In Newsweek, Walter Shapiro found it ‘the best aide’s-eye view of politics since Robert Penn Warren’s All the ...

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