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Praising God

David Underdown, 10 June 1993

Going to the Wars: The Experience of the British Civil Wars 1638-1651 
by Charles Carlton.
Routledge, 428 pp., £25, October 1992, 0 415 03282 2
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... In a striking passage in his memoirs Richard Baxter recalls watching the battle of Langport as a young chaplain in the army of the Parliament. After some fierce fighting, panic suddenly set in among the Royalists on the opposite hill. Standing next to Baxter was the godly Major Thomas Harrison. As the Cavaliers broke and fled, Baxter heard him ‘with a loud voice break forth into the praises of God with fluent expressions, as if he had been in a rapture ...

Women on top

David Underdown, 14 September 1989

The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe 
by Rudolf Dekker and Lotte van de Pol.
Macmillan, 128 pp., £27.50, February 1989, 0 333 41252 4
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... Sex, an eminent British historian observed a few years ago, is not an important subject for the historian. Plenty of historians had already proved him wrong, and they have continued to do so: Flandrin, Foucault, Laslett, Shorter, Stone – one could put together quite an impressive list. But most of their work has dealt primarily with sex as a set of relationships defined by the biological differences between men and women, rather than with gender, which involves the perception and social construction of those differences ...


David Underdown, 4 May 1989

Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England 1509-1640 
by Roger Manning.
Oxford, 354 pp., £35, February 1988, 0 19 820116 8
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... We have been taught to think of the Tudor monarchs as having brought stability to England after the disorders of the 15th century. So they did, in a way. Yet between 1509 and 1640 there were more than three hundred riots in England, many of them occasioned by the enclosure of common land or the denial of customary rights of pasture. Some were large enough to be dignified by the names ‘rising’ or ‘rebellion’, as was the case in the Midlands in 1607; others were small and insignificant, a handful of obscure villagers levelling someone’s hedges and letting their cattle in ...

Up and doing

Susan Brigden, 6 August 1992

Fire from Heaven: Life in an English Town in the 17th Century 
by David Underdown.
HarperCollins, 308 pp., £17.99, May 1992, 0 00 215865 5
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... a time, aspired to godliness is a remarkable one, and is here well and enjoyably told. Professor Underdown seeks to explain ‘who the reformers were, whom they were reforming, how and why they did it, and why in the end they failed’. Crucial to the transformation of Dorchester into ‘the most puritan town in England’ was the fire of 1613 which might ...

Real Power

Conrad Russell, 7 August 1986

Revel, Riot and Rebellion: Popular Politics and Culture in England 1603-1660 
by David Underdown.
Oxford, 324 pp., £17.50, November 1985, 0 19 822795 7
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The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics 
by David Starkey.
George Philip, 174 pp., £9.95, November 1985, 0 540 01093 6
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... for the rest, it would be hard to find a more extreme contrast in historical methods. Professor Underdown, as he makes clear in his preface, sees no virtue in attempts at explanation of the Civil War which concentrate on political events at the centre. For him, it is necessary to understand society in depth. For Dr Starkey, on the other hand, it is ...

6/4 he won’t score 20

John Sturrock, 7 September 2000

Start of Play: Cricket and Culture in 18th-Century England 
by David Underdown.
Allen Lane, 258 pp., £20, September 2000, 0 7139 9330 8
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... life but a game of cricket? – beauty the bat and man the ball,’ he’s quoted as saying in David Underdown’s book. The Duke, a big sponsor of the game in its years of consolidation in the second half of the 18th century, reverted on non-match days to his role of seducer of upper-class women, and no doubt felt that the life’s-a-game-of-cricket ...


Linda Colley, 1 November 1984

The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism 
edited by Margaret Jacob and James Jacob.
Allen and Unwin, 333 pp., £18.50, February 1984, 0 04 909015 1
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Insurrection: The British Experience 1795-1803 
by Roger Wells.
Alan Sutton, 312 pp., £16, May 1983, 9780862990190
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Radicalism and Freethought in 19th-Century Britain 
by Joel Wiener.
Greenwood, 285 pp., $29.95, March 1983, 0 313 23532 5
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For King, Constitution and Country: The English Loyalists and the French Revolution 
by Robert Dozier.
Kentucky, 213 pp., £20.90, February 1984, 9780813114903
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... study of John Everard; and there is some predictably tough and valuable political analysis from David Underdown and Nicholas Rogers. What emerges from most of these essays, however, is not so much the undoubted ideological confluence of English and American radicals, as the disparities between their respective national experiences in the past and their ...

Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... before men had a word for it. How indeed could they have a word for it until it had happened? David Underdown, one of the five big names contributing to this festschrift, has a characteristically wise survey of ‘Community and Class’ in the English Revolution. Disregarding Hexter’s prohibitions, he concludes: ‘The Marxist model of local ...

Maurice Thomson’s War

Perry Anderson, 4 November 1993

Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict and London’s Overseas Traders 1550-1653 
by Robert Brenner.
Cambridge, 734 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 521 37319 0
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The Nature of the English Revolution 
by John Morrill.
Longman, 466 pp., £32, June 1993, 0 582 08941 7
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... to defeat its purpose. For truer narratives, we have to move forward in time to historians – Underdown, Woolrych, Worden, Gentles – more sympathetic to the revolutionary experience itself, who have written the modern accounts of Pride’s Purge, the Putney Debates, the Rump or the New Model Army. But with the exception of the last, these still cover ...

I want my wings

Andrew O’Hagan: The Last Tycoons, 3 March 2016

West of Eden: An American Place 
by Jean Stein.
Cape, 334 pp., £20, February 2016, 978 0 224 10246 9
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... Modern​ Hollywood isn’t really Hollywood – it’s Calabasas. With everyone now the David O. Selznick of his own social picture, gossip replaced with tweets, and fan magazines with selfies, the grandeur of old Hollywood can seem mythical. Like proper myths, its stories are almost exclusively about metamorphosis, self-destruction and things going wrong, but they are at least stories as opposed to advertisements ...

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