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The Calvinist International

Colin Kidd: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 22 May 2008

The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 267 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 300 13686 9
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Europe’s Physician: The Various Life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 438 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 300 11263 7
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... which he traced back, ultimately, to Erasmus. His study of the Huguenot doctor Sir Theodore de Mayerne (1573-1655), put together after his death by one of his most brilliant pupils, Blair Worden, is itself a powerful corrective to the balder version of his own argument. As he recognised, before its decline into localised scholastic sterility – not ...

Highway to Modernity

Colin Kidd: The British Enlightenment, 8 March 2001

Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World 
by Roy Porter.
Allen Lane, 728 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7139 9152 6
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... surrounded by an indifferent, if not actively hostile, Catholic population, they could presumably do little harm. In the winter of 1733-4 the cause célèbre in English Court politics was the question of whether Thomas Rundle, another of Queen Caroline’s favourites, would win preferment to the see of Gloucester. In the end, his heterodoxy was deemed too ...

Bastard Gaelic Man

Colin Kidd, 14 November 1996

The Correspondence of Adam Ferguson 
edited by Vincenzo Merolle.
Pickering & Chatto, 257 pp., £135, October 1995, 1 85196 140 2
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... communitarians of the wishful thinking they themselves detect in a spent liberalism. Against can-do optimism of the sort which infects even the hardheaded programme set out in Amitai Etzioni’s The Spirit of Community, Ferguson was inoculated threefold. He was, first, a self-conscious Newtonian, concerned to substitute an intense observation of the moral ...

Pudding Time

Colin Kidd: Jacobites, 14 December 2006

1715: The Great Jacobite Rebellion 
by Daniel Szechi.
Yale, 351 pp., £25, June 2006, 0 300 11100 2
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... rise in support of the Stuarts was risky enough when backed up by a foreign army and navy; but to do so in the absence of overseas support seems reckless. Yet Szechi shows that the rising of 1715 drew in more supporters than the better known escapade of 1745. He reckons that the maximum strength of the Jacobite armies in 1715 was about fourteen thousand Scots ...

Sabre-Toothed Teacher

Colin Kidd: Cowling, 31 March 2011

The Philosophy, Politics and Religion of British Democracy: Maurice Cowling and Conservatism 
edited by Robert Crowcroft, S.J.D. Green and Richard Whiting.
I.B. Tauris, 327 pp., £54.50, August 2010, 978 1 84511 976 8
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... Maurice Cowling was the English intelligentsia’s self-appointed pantomime ogre. Hamming up his villainy, he deliberately courted boos and hisses. In 1990, on the publication of the second edition of his book Mill and Liberalism (1963), he remembered with delight that one of its original reviewers had ‘obligingly’ described it as ‘“dangerous and unpleasant”, which was what it was intended to be ...

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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... Notwithstanding​ the 55:45 split between unionists and nationalists in the independence referendum last autumn, the major – if unacknowledged – cleavage in Scottish politics lies within the SNP itself, between its cannily cautious leadership and its enthusiastic rank and file. The SNP has grown phenomenally since last September, when it had about 25,000 members, to its current tally of more than 100,000 ...

It took a Scot

Colin Kidd: English Nationalism, 29 July 2015

The Formation of the English Kingdom in the Tenth Century 
by George Molyneaux.
Oxford, 302 pp., £65, May 2015, 978 0 19 871791 1
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The English and Their History 
by Robert Tombs.
Allen Lane, 1012 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 103165 1
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Conquests, Catastrophe and Recovery: Britain and Ireland 1066-1485 
by John Gillingham.
Vintage, 345 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956324 2
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From Restoration to Reform: The British Isles 1660-1832 
by Jonathan Clark.
Vintage, 364 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 956323 5
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Britain since 1900: A Success Story? 
by Robert Skidelsky.
Vintage, 472 pp., £10.99, October 2014, 978 0 09 957239 8
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... Until​ our recent discontents England had never succumbed to doctrinal nationalism. Absent from English history was the obsessiveness found in many countries across Europe about the recovery of authentic nationhood. Although the English have often been perturbed about the condition of England, they have rarely floated nationalist solutions to their problems ...

Misappropriation

Colin Kidd: Burke, 4 February 2016

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke 
by Richard Bourke.
Princeton, 1001 pp., £30.95, September 2015, 978 0 691 14511 2
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Training Minds for the War of Ideas: Ashridge College, the Conservative Party and the Cultural Politics of Britain, 1929-54 
by Clarisse Berthezène.
Manchester, 214 pp., £75, June 2015, 978 0 7190 8649 6
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The Writings and Speeches of Edmund Burke, Vol. IV: Party, Parliament and the Dividing of the Whigs, 1780-94 
edited by P.J. Marshall and Donald Bryant.
Oxford, 674 pp., £120, October 2015, 978 0 19 966519 8
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... with wit, cerebral depth and a marvellous turn of phrase. But reductionism of this sort won’t do, as Richard Bourke shows in his erudite and compelling study of Burke’s political life. Burke’s earliest works, before his engagement to the Rockingham Whigs, were concerned with fundamental questions in political philosophy and aesthetics. The Tory ...

The Obdurate Knoll

Colin Kidd: The Obdurate Knoll, 1 December 2011

Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan 
by Jeff Greenfield.
Putnam, 434 pp., £20.25, March 2011, 978 0 399 15706 6
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11.22.63 
by Stephen King.
Hodder, 740 pp., £19.99, November 2011, 978 1 4447 2729 6
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... thoughts of Johnson, relieved that Kennedy has been assassinated in Florida: ‘Imagine if he’d been killed in Texas. I’d be suspect number one.’ Although several novelists have used the Kennedy assassination as a means of exploring the underside of American society, assassination fiction remains a variant of the ...

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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... Why, Bailyn asked, had America not become Canada? More unsettling still was Bailyn’s tour de force, The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (1975), in which he reconstructed the early stages of the American Revolution through the eyes of Tory loyalists. Wood too, in The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1992), emphasised the abrupt discontinuity of the ...

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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... Low Countries in 1794, and Napoleon – alert to the potential of air war – set up a Compagnie d’Aérostiers. During the invasion panic of 1803, Uglow notes, a new play, Goody Two Shoes; or Harlequin Alabaster, was performed at Sadler’s Wells; in it a French invasion by balloon is foiled at a lighthouse, in the process confounding our own expectations ...

Not Very Permeable

Colin Kidd: Rory Stewart’s Borderlands, 19 January 2017

The Marches: Border Walks with My Father 
by Rory Stewart.
Cape, 351 pp., £18.99, October 2016, 978 0 224 09768 0
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... Enoch-land repels. A hard Brexit will make the choices facing Scots more painful still. Do we cut ourselves off from European markets, or from our largest market by far, the English market with which we have been integrated since 1707? Despite the blindingly obvious arithmetic favouring economic union with England, Scots presented with a second ...

A Betting Man

Colin Kidd: John Law, 12 September 2019

John Law: A Scottish Adventurer of the 18th Century 
by James Buchan.
MacLehose, 513 pp., £14.99, August 2019, 978 1 84866 608 5
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... markets, especially before and during the draws: the loan came from the purchase by the well-to-do of expensive tickets, some of which carried special prizes, and all of which entitled the bearer to an annuity. England’s financial revolution enabled this formerly middle-ranking power to emerge as a dominant player in international relations, but it was by ...

Duels in the Dark

Colin Kidd: Lewis Namier’s Obsessions, 25 November 2019

Conservative Revolutionary: The Lives of Lewis Namier 
by D.W. Hayton.
Manchester, 472 pp., £25, August 2019, 978 0 7190 8603 8
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... The events of the story take place in a country house whose archive has attracted the attention of Dr Wenceslaus Bottwink, a Central European Jew and expert on the high politics of the reign of George III. In the course of his researches on certain ‘confidential letters’ written by Lord Bute in the early 1760s, Bottwink also manages to solve a ...

Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... market-driven Conservatism we have known since the Thatcher era. Indeed, in asserting that ‘we do not believe in untrammelled free markets,’ it openly rejected Thatcherite certainties. But after this startling anti-laissez-faire manifesto, which was blamed by many for nearly losing the election, the campaign descended, as Timothy acknowledges, into ...

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