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Out of this World

David Armitage, 16 November 1995

Utopia 
by Thomas More, edited by George Logan, Robert M. Adams and Clarence Miller.
Cambridge, 290 pp., £55, February 1995, 0 521 40318 9
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Utopias of the British Enlightenment 
edited by Gregory Claeys.
Cambridge, 305 pp., £35, July 1994, 0 521 43084 4
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... is, in every sense, unapproachable and, for the present, inimitable. More might have approved David Hume’s epitaph on utopianism: ‘All plans of government, which suppose great reformation in the manners of mankind, are plainly imaginary. Of this nature, are the Republic of Plato and the Utopia of Sir Thomas More.’ However, for More this would have ...

The Last War of Religion

David Armitage, 9 June 1994

The Language of Liberty, 1660-1832: Political Discourse and Social Dynamics in the Anglo-American World 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 404 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 521 44510 8
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The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification. Vol. I 
edited by Bernard Bailyn.
Library of America, 1214 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 940450 42 9
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... All rebellions resemble one another, but every revolution is revolutionary in its own way. The French wrote the classic modern script for revolution – utopian, transformative and bloody – but even they recognised that the prologue to their drama had been playing in America since 1776. When viewed from 1789 or 1793, however, the American Revolution looked distinctly unrevolutionary ...

Multiple Kingdoms

Linda Colley: The origins of the British Empire, 19 July 2001

The Ideological Origins of the British Empire 
by David Armitage.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £35, September 2000, 0 521 59081 7
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... their doubts about the desirability and viability of such a strategy. One of the many virtues of David Armitage’s Ideological Origins of the British Empire is that its author is markedly transatlantic in background, and consequently able to understand and mediate between these very different intellectual sensibilities and scepticisms. Trained at ...

Clashes and Collaborations

Linda Colley, 18 July 1996

Empire: The British Imperial Experience, from 1765 to the Present 
by Denis Judd.
HarperCollins, 517 pp., £25, March 1996, 9780002552370
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Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire 
edited by P.J. Marshall.
Cambridge, 400 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 0 521 43211 1
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Lords of All the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c.1500-c.1800 
by Anthony Pagden.
Yale, 244 pp., £19.95, August 1995, 0 300 06415 2
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... Part II contains several essays by different specialists on the life of the British Empire. David Fieldhouse examines how far it promoted economic development or under-development. Ged Martin and Benjamin Kline discuss emigration and identities. John MacKenzie supplies a piece on imperial art. Finally, Marshall, followed by an Australian, an African and ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... and creating something more than a stepping-stone between us and several dozen Collected Poems. Armitage and Crawford entitle their introduction ‘The Democratic Voice’, binding the last fifty years of poetry into its wider social and cultural contexts – education acts, decolonisation, immigration – while Sean O’Brien, author of The Deregulated ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon, 9 August 2001

One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... Good now extends this fine line of wit even further: Here is a list of the people that Andrew and David have hitherto regarded as talentless, overrated, or simply wankers: Oasis, the Stones, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Robbie Williams, Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, Evelyn Waugh, Auberon Waugh, Salman Rushdie, Jeffrey Archer, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, William ...

The Superhuman Upgrade

Steven Shapin: The Book That Explains It All, 12 July 2017

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow 
by Yuval Noah Harari.
Vintage, 528 pp., £9.99, March 2017, 978 1 78470 393 6
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... from recent prods to produce work of greater scope. In The History Manifesto (2014), Jo Guldi and David Armitage worry that the production of scholarly miniatures disqualifies historians from contributing to urgent cultural and political discussions – about climate change, sustainable production, international governance etc – in which the longue ...

Always on Top

Edward Said: From Birmingham to Jamaica, 20 March 2003

Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-67 
by Catherine Hall.
Polity, 556 pp., £60, April 2002, 0 7456 1820 0
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... Africa and Asia don’t seem quite as bad. The perplexingly affirmative work of Niall Ferguson and David Armitage scants, if it doesn’t actually trivialise, the suffering and dispossession brought by empire to its victims. More is said now about the modernising advantages the empires brought, and about the security and order they maintained. There is ...

Great Scott Debunked

Chauncey Loomis, 6 December 1979

Scott and Amundsen 
by Roland Huntford.
Hodder, 665 pp., £13.95
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... explorers seems to have become a popular pastime. In recent years, Oliver Ransford has diagnosed David Livingstone as a manic depressive, Dennis Rawlins has discredited Robert Peary’s claim to the North Pole, and William McKinlay has proved that Vihjalmur Stefansson was a selfish cad. Debunking probably was inevitable. These men were all of the heroic age ...

Yearning for Polar Seas

James Hamilton-Paterson: North, 1 September 2005

The Ice Museum: In Search of the Lost Land of Thule 
by Joanna Kavenna.
Viking, 334 pp., £16.99, February 2005, 0 670 91395 2
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The Idea of North 
by Peter Davidson.
Reaktion, 271 pp., £16.95, January 2005, 1 86189 230 6
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... and Scotland the more deeply felt his writing becomes. His examination of Northern poets such as David Morley, Simon Armitage and Sean O’Brien is marvellously sensitive to their regionalism and to the bitter undertow of history and class politics in some of their work. I have a grouse about both these books: neither has ...
A Word from the Loki 
by Maurice Riordan.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 571 17364 0
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After the Deafening 
by Gerard Woodward.
Chatto, 64 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 7011 6271 6
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The Ice-Pilot Speaks 
by Pauline Stainer.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £6.95, October 1994, 1 85224 298 1
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The Angel of History 
by Carolyn Forché.
Bloodaxe, 96 pp., £7.95, November 1994, 1 85224 307 4
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The Neighbour 
by Michael Collier.
Chicago, 74 pp., £15.95, January 1995, 0 226 11358 2
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Jubilation 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, March 1995, 0 19 282451 1
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... In a recent radio programme, Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell, two of the most prominent of the New Generation poets, retraced the journey undertaken by Auden and MacNeice in Letters From Iceland – a sign of the renewed interest which younger poets are showing in the poetry of the Thirties. Although Yeats and Eliot were publishing some of their greatest poems during the Thirties, it was Auden who created the style which most of his contemporaries sought to imitate, and it is Auden, more than Yeats or Eliot, who is influencing younger poets today ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle, 15 October 1998

Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... visitation complaints and defamation suits, and the answers have always been ‘it all depends.’ David Cressy’s excellent book suggests a different approach, examining conflicts over ritual and offering stories rather than statistics. Despite Coverdale, Gouge and the Admonition, a wedding was not only a religious ceremony, but the culmination of weeks or ...

Diary

Alison Light: Wiltshire Baptists, 8 April 2010

... knew the Old Testament. Upavon’s chapel is called the Cave of Adullam, the stronghold where David sought refuge from Saul’s armies (1 Samuel), presumably as a reminder of the persecution suffered by dissenters; Little Zoar, near Calne, is evidence of the fortress mentality of those strict Calvinists among the Baptists who believed that only the Elect ...

Wrong Again

Bruce Cumings: Korean War Games, 4 December 2003

... to fabricate a first bomb,’ and eight or nine kilograms for subsequent ones. According to David Albright, one of the best and most reliable independent experts, ‘the most credible worst-case estimate’ is that the North may have between 6.3 and 8.5 kg of reprocessed plutonium. In other words, the CIA’s educated guess, endlessly repeated in the ...

Jihad

James Wood, 5 August 1993

TheNew Poetry 
edited by Michael Hulse, David Kennedy and David Morley.
Bloodaxe, 352 pp., £25, May 1993, 1 85224 244 2
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Who Whispered Near Me 
by Killarney Clary.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1993, 1 85224 149 7
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Sunset Grill 
by Anne Rouse.
Bloodaxe, 64 pp., £5.95, March 1993, 1 85224 219 1
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Half Moon Bay 
by Paul Mills.
Carcanet, 95 pp., £6.95, February 1993, 9781857540000
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Shoah 
by Harry Smart.
Faber, 74 pp., £5.99, April 1993, 0 571 16793 4
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The Autonomous Region 
by Kathleen Jamie.
Bloodaxe, 79 pp., £7.95, March 1993, 9781852241735
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Collected Poems 
by F.T. Prince.
Carcanet, 319 pp., £25, March 1993, 1 85754 030 1
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Stirring Stuff 
by Selwyn Pritchard.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 145 pp., £8.99, April 1993, 9781856193085
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News from the Brighton Front 
by Nicki Jackowska.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 86 pp., £7.99, April 1993, 1 85619 306 3
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Translations from the Natural World 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 67 pp., £6.95, March 1993, 1 85754 005 0
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... And it is true that a fighting politics seethes in poets like Sean O’Brien and Simon Armitage. One feels, however, that the best and most interesting poets in this large anthology are not the writers that fit inside the editorial fist. For instance, the introduction makes much of the ballad-writers like Paul Durcan and Geoff Hattersley, and ...

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