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Casino Politics

David Stevenson: Writing European history, 6 October 2005

The Lights that Failed: European International History 1919-33 
by Zara Steiner.
Oxford, 938 pp., £35, April 2005, 0 19 822114 2
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... The Oxford History of Modern Europe belongs to a more leisured era. Its first volume, A.J.P. Taylor’s The Struggle for Mastery in Europe 1848-1918, appeared in 1954. Half a century later its two founding fathers, William Deakin and Alan Bullock, are dead, and their project remains incomplete. Individual volumes cover Germany, France from 1848 to 1945, Spain, the Low Countries, Romania and the European Jews ...

Von Hötzendorff’s Desire

Margaret MacMillan: The First World War, 2 December 2004

Cataclysm: The First World War as Political Tragedy 
by David Stevenson.
Basic Books, 564 pp., £26.50, June 2004, 0 465 08184 3
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... such as Norman Stone, Hew Strachan, Annette Becker and Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau. With Cataclysm, David Stevenson draws on much recent work to provide a comprehensive account of the war, with a welcome interest both in the non-European theatres and in the home fronts. His book is also part of a more general attempt to rethink the meaning of the Great War ...

Spot and Sink

Richard J. Evans: The End of WW1, 15 December 2011

With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 
by David Stevenson.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 7139 9840 5
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... was also a shift in the balance of power where the gas war was concerned. Few of the statistics David Stevenson gives in With Our Backs to the Wall, his book about the conduct of the war in 1918, are as striking as those involving poison gas. The Germans released 52,000 tons of gas on the Western Front, twice as much as the French and three and a half ...

At the Ashmolean

Rosemary Hill: The Capture of the Westmorland, 19 July 2012

... a put-upon bear-leader struggling to get his charge to learn more and drink less, the whole truth. David Stevenson and William Sandys, tutors to Lewisham and Basset, emerge as significant characters with important contacts and interests of their own. Piranesi dedicated a print to Sandys while Stevenson is depicted with ...

Collected Works

Angus Calder, 5 January 1989

Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 
by Mary Blewett.
Illinois, 444 pp., $29.95, July 1988, 0 252 01484 7
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Men’s Lives 
by Peter Matthiessen.
Collins Harvill, 335 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 00 272519 3
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On Work: Historical, Comparative and Theoretical Approaches 
edited by R.E. Pahl.
Blackwell, 752 pp., £39.95, July 1988, 9780631157625
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Slavery and Other Forms of Unfree Labour 
edited by Léonie Archer.
Routledge, 307 pp., £28, August 1988, 0 415 00203 6
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The Historical Meanings of Work 
edited by Patrick Joyce.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £27.50, September 1987, 0 521 30897 6
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Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590-1710 
by David Stevenson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 521 35326 2
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... Mythology of the Secret Societies (1972) illuminated much, but not the movement’s origins. Now David Stevenson can claim to have clarified these considerably, in a work of creative scholarship flavoured by exceptional candour and gusto. His subtitle gives his gist. In the 17th century, such characteristic features of Freemasonry as the local Lodge ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... that, for most writers, greedy to learn and emulate, this is the only important question. Randall Stevenson’s volume in the Oxford English Literary History, which provides an account of 1960 to 2000, prompts these thoughts, because his book has no interest in aesthetic intention and no interest in aesthetic success. It is a purely academic account of ...

In the Front Row

Susan Pedersen: Loving Lloyd George, 25 January 2007

. . . If Love Were All: The Story of Frances Stevenson and David Lloyd George 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 557 pp., £25, June 2006, 0 224 07464 4
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... bargain? Well, early in 1913, when Lloyd George was the chancellor making the proposal, Frances Stevenson, the daughter of a Scottish accountant and his part-French, part-Italian wife, did so. I can see why. It isn’t just that I’ve always had a soft spot for Lloyd George, who was a flesh and blood human being, and not one of those conscience-laden ...


Anthony Thwaite, 26 October 1989

Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath 
by Anne Stevenson.
Viking, 413 pp., £15.95, October 1989, 0 670 81854 2
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... it makes me think that the body was governing the mind. The rehearsal of all this is painful. Anne Stevenson, against the odds, has written a decent and intelligent book. It is certainly the best book on Sylvia Plath so far – and it isn’t graceless to point out that most of the earlier books have been conspicuously unsatisfactory. But Bitter Fame carries ...

Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce, 11 September 2014

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... and John Balliol, lord of Galloway. Both claims originated in the marriages of the daughters of David, earl of Huntingdon, the youngest grandson of David I of Scotland. Balliol had a claim by primogeniture, as the grandson of Earl David’s eldest daughter, Margaret. The strength of ...

Who Will Lose?

David Edgar, 25 September 2008

Inside the Presidential Debates: Their Improbable Past and Promising Future 
by Newton Minow and Craig LaMay.
Chicago, 219 pp., £11.50, April 2008, 978 0 226 53041 3
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... include a sitting president or vice-president as a candidate since Dwight Eisenhower fought Adlai Stevenson in 1952. For the first time, a woman or a black person is guaranteed national elective office in a country that historically has been resistant to both. The two parties are neck and neck in a race in which – unlike in 2000 or 2004 – there is likely ...

Blessed, Beastly Place

Douglas Dunn, 5 March 1981

Precipitous City 
by Trevor Royle.
Mainstream, 210 pp., £6.95, May 1980, 0 906391 09 1
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RLS: A Life Study 
by Jenni Calder.
Hamish Hamilton, 362 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 241 10374 6
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by J. MacDougall Hay.
Canongate, 450 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 903937 79 4
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Scottish Satirical Verse 
edited by Edwin Morgan.
Carcanet, 236 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 85635 183 0
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Collected Poems 
by Robert Garioch.
Carcanet, 208 pp., £3.95, July 1980, 0 85635 316 7
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... did not edit the Bannatyne Manuscript. It was edited by his colleague in the Court of Session, Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, whose Annals led Sir Walter Scott to laud him as ‘the restorer of Scottish history’. Does it matter that the notorious cry of ‘Whaur’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’ greeted Home’s tragedy in London, not Edinburgh? It ...

The Family Biden

Christian Lorentzen, 6 January 2022

... with Hallie, his brother’s widow, in order to ‘break’ his father psychologically. Bill Stevenson, Jill Biden’s first husband, tells Schreckinger that unnamed supporters of Trump offered to pay him to write in a memoir that Joe and Jill began having an affair while Joe’s first wife, Neilia, was still alive, ‘and that the affair drove Neilia to ...

Dialect with Army and Navy

David Wheatley: Douglas Dunn and Politovsky, 21 June 2001

The Donkey’s Ears: Politovsky’s Letters Home 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 176 pp., £7.99, May 2000, 0 571 20426 0
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The Year's Afternoon 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £7.99, October 2000, 0 571 20427 9
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... Year’s Afternoon, presents an altogether more benevolent vision of life at sea, as Robert Louis Stevenson launches Dunn on the ‘Seven Seas’ pollutionless stretches that wander for miles and miles’. The ending is unblushingly nostalgic: ‘Ah, Stevenson, your pages pleased me as a boy./Now that I’m not, I weep over ...

What are we there for?

Tom Stevenson: The Gulf Bargain, 9 May 2019

AngloArabia: Why Gulf Wealth Matters to Britain 
by David Wearing.
Polity, 275 pp., £15.99, September 2018, 978 1 5095 3203 2
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... treated as the decisive moment in the transition from British to US dominance in the region, but David Wearing shows that, in spite of Suez and other setbacks for Britain on the periphery (the 1958 coup in Iraq, the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s), British influence in fact increased in the core Gulf states over the next 15 years, with successful palace ...

War Chariots

Tom Stevenson: On the US and Taiwan, 4 July 2024

... may sometimes make obstreperous territorial claims, he said, ‘but they don’t do anything.’ David Daokui Li, the director of the Centre for China in the World Economy at Tsinghua University, has argued that, ‘facing the increasingly hawkish stance of the United States’, the consensus within China is ‘to respect and negotiate with the United States ...

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