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Beyond Nietzsche and Marx

Richard Rorty, 19 February 1981

Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-1977 
by Michel Foucault, edited by Colin Gordon.
Harvester, 270 pp., £18.50, October 1980, 9780855275570
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Michel Foucault: The Will to Truth 
by Alan Sheridan.
Tavistock, 243 pp., £10.50, November 1980, 0 422 77350 6
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Herculine Barbin 
by Oscar Panizza and Michel Foucault, translated by Richard McDougall.
Harvester, 199 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 0 85527 273 2
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... now has to make Marxist theory an explicit topic of reflection. From the Marxist point of view, as Colin Gordon says here, ‘the trouble with Foucault’s [early] work was that its originality was in inverse proportion to its utility for Marxism.’ The problem Gordon is talking about is better described by ...

Triumph of the Termites

Tom Nairn: Gordon Brown, 8 April 2010

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Viking, 802 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 670 91851 5
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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the Dream Job Turned Sour 
edited by Colin Hughes.
Guardian, 294 pp., £8.99, January 2010, 978 0 85265 219 0
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Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown 
by Christopher Harvie.
Verso, 206 pp., £8.99, February 2010, 978 1 84467 439 8
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... by the covers. A sad, thoughtfully dithering photo of the prime minister fronts What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown? The cover of Christopher Harvie’s book features a cartoon from the Independent: an apocalyptic lightning flash strikes and anoints David Cameron, while Brown and Alistair Darling flee London as Parliament quakes against the background of a setting ...

Why read Clausewitz when Shock and Awe can make a clean sweep of things?

Andrew Bacevich: The Rumsfeld Doctrine, 8 June 2006

Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq 
by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor.
Atlantic, 603 pp., £25, March 2006, 1 84354 352 4
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... To that effort, this very fine book makes an important contribution. A decade ago, Michael Gordon, a reporter with the New York Times, and Bernard Trainor, a retired US Marine Corps lieutenant general, collaborated on The Generals’ War, still perhaps the best narrative history of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-91. Cobra II, a worthy successor, is ...

Clear Tartan Water

Colin Kidd: The election in Scotland, 27 May 1999

... the SNP campaign for ‘Scotland’s Penny’ – their commitment not to implement in Scotland Gordon Brown’s cut in the standard rate of income tax from 23p to 22p in the pound – has been rubbished by the newspapers, the tabloids in particular, which have fallen in behind Labour and the Union. In the event the campaign did not turn on the national ...

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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... 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 curiously tangled ...

How They Brought the Good News

Colin Kidd: Britain’s Napoleonic Wars, 20 November 2014

In These Times: Living in Britain through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815 
by Jenny Uglow.
Faber, 739 pp., £25, November 2014, 978 0 571 26952 5
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... for parliamentary reform and a popular clamour against Catholic relief, which culminated in the Gordon Riots, the largest popular disturbance in 18th-century Britain. An alternative view, associated with E.P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class (1963) and – in a hyperbolic version – with Roger Wells’s Insurrection (1983), emphasises ...

Non-Stick Nationalists

Colin Kidd: Scotland’s Law, 23 September 2015

Constitutional Law of Scotland 
by Alan Page.
W. Green, 334 pp., £95, June 2015, 978 0 414 01456 5
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... unattended for three days after an accident on the A9 was reported to the police (they both died). Gordon Wilson, a former leader of the SNP, has called for the break-up of the national police service, and the creation of four new regional forces. Yet, this brouhaha notwithstanding, the controversy over police reforms has not translated into a perception of ...

Howl

Adam Mars-Jones, 21 September 1995

Fullalove 
by Gordon Burn.
Secker, 231 pp., £14.99, August 1995, 0 436 20059 7
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... as long as it takes to read the hook. The same expectation holds good when a novelist proposes, as Gordon Burn does in his new novel Fullalove, that not green cheese or God’s love but black pus – meaningless suffering, and an appetite for meaningless suffering – is the basic building-block of the universe. The narrator is a journalist in his ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Paul Foot has a shocking story to tell, the story of Colin Wallace. It is, quite literally, a story of gunpowder, treason and plot. The fact that Foot’s publishers have had to rush the book out in weeks in order to beat the deadline of the new Official Secrets Act, and have deliberately forsaken all advance publicity for fear of pre-emptive action against the book, says something rather disgraceful about the difficulty of getting a fair hearing in this country ...

Madmen and Specialists

Anthony Appiah, 7 September 1995

Colonial Psychiatry and the ‘African Mind’ 
by Jock McCulloch.
Cambridge, 185 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 521 45330 5
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... these leonine adventures (which led to Cobb’s forced retirement in August 1938) was Dr John Colin Carothers, the central figure in this study. McCulloch came to know Carothers while working on this book and the retired psychiatrist provided him with access to much material as well as allowing himself to be interviewed. We may assume that much of ...

Managed by Ghouls

Tom Nairn: Unionism’s Graveyard, 30 April 2009

Union and Unionisms: Political Thought in Scotland, 1500-2000 
by Colin Kidd.
Cambridge, 312 pp., £15.99, December 2008, 978 0 521 70680 3
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... Colin Kidd’s study of Scottish Unionism goes, as he himself insists, sternly against the prevailing ideological current, which is focused on the emergence of political nationalism in both Scotland and Wales. Kidd thinks his book will serve its purpose if it unsettles this debate, and brings about a revision of ‘the basic categories of political analysis ...

Sing Tantarara

Colin Kidd, 30 October 1997

Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency 
by Stephen Knott.
Oxford, 258 pp., £19.50, November 1996, 0 19 510098 0
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The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 367 pp., £25, December 1996, 1 85619 637 2
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American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson 
by Joseph Ellis.
Knopf, 365 pp., $26, February 1997, 0 679 44490 4
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Slave Laws in Virginia 
by Philip Schwarz.
Georgia, 253 pp., $40, November 1996, 0 8203 1831 0
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... American Constitution? Ellis’s radical Jefferson, like the disoriented John Adams presented in Gordon Wood’s classic Creation of the American Republic, fails to appreciate the intricate machinery of the new Madisonian Republicanism. Ellis carefully tracks Jefferson’s ‘tortured’ positions on slavery and the future of the races, accounting for the ...

William Wallace, Unionist

Colin Kidd: The Idea of Devolution, 23 March 2006

State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707 
by Iain McLean and Alistair McMillan.
Oxford, 283 pp., £45, September 2005, 0 19 925820 1
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... The new Parliament has not attracted major politicians. Labour heavyweights, such as Gordon Brown and Robin Cook, stayed in London; even Alex Salmond, the leader of the SNP, decided after a term in the Scottish Parliament that he preferred to abandon Edinburgh for the clubbability of Westminster. More significantly, after only a year as first ...

Maiden Aunt

Colin Kidd: Adam Smith, 7 October 2010

Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life 
by Nicholas Phillipson.
Allen Lane, 345 pp., £25, August 2010, 978 0 7139 9396 7
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Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and moral theory 
by Fonna Forman-Barzilai.
Cambridge, 286 pp., £55, March 2010, 978 0 521 76112 3
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... free market – was playful rather than integral to his message. The co-architect of New Labour, Gordon Brown, went a few steps further, attempting to rehabilitate Smith, not without some plausibility, as a proponent of ‘the helping hand’. In part this manoeuvre was prompted by local piety, for Brown was brought up and has his constituency in Smith’s ...

It was worse in 1931

Colin Kidd: Clement Attlee, 17 November 2016

Citizen Clem: A Biography of Attlee 
by John Bew.
Riverrun, 668 pp., £30, September 2016, 978 1 78087 989 5
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... In a moment which anticipated the notorious Granita conversation of 1994 between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, he told Stafford Cripps that ‘any time you wish it I shall always be ready to retire in your favour.’ As Bew remarks, ‘That conversation hung in the air for a number of years.’ For, when the ailing and assailed Lansbury formally stepped down ...

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