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Skimming along

Ross McKibbin

20 October 1994
The Major Effect 
edited by Anthony Seldon and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 500 pp., £20, September 1994, 0 333 62273 1
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... John Major has now been prime minister for four years. For us, as presumably for him, it often seems a lifetime, so crowded has his premiership been with crises of one sort or another. DennisKavanagh and Anthony Seldon not unreasonably, therefore, think this the moment to assess his prime ministerial career; the result is The Major Effect, a collection of 26 essays by a distinguished group of ...

Nanny knows best

Michael Stewart

4 June 1987
Kinnock 
by Michael Leapman.
Unwin Hyman, 217 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 04 440006 3
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The Thatcher Years: A Decade of Revolution in British Politics 
by John Cole.
BBC, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 563 20572 5
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Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? 
by Dennis Kavanagh.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 827522 6
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The New Right: The Counter-Revolution in Political, Social and Economic Thought 
by David Green.
Wheatsheaf, 238 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 7450 0127 0
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... question which it looks only too likely that Kinnock will eventually be called upon to answer. And so we come to Mrs Thatcher, a central figure in the three other books under review, particularly in DennisKavanagh’s careful and well-researched study of the causes and consequences of the breakdown of the post-war political consensus. Mrs Thatcher took office as a ‘political mobiliser’, not a ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Reflections on Tawney

4 August 1988
... might it not be a very long time before this one does? To help us towards an informed and dispassionate answer, we now have the Nuffield volume on last year’s election.† in which David Butler and DennisKavanagh recount the ebb and flow of battle in that relentlessly detailed and studiously prosaic style which has characterised the Nuffield studies from the beginning; and there is precious little ...

2000 AD

Anne Sofer

2 August 1984
The British General Election of 1983 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 333 34578 9
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Militant 
by Michael Crick.
Faber, 242 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13256 1
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... in his current role as defender of democracy will survive his transformation into guerrilla leader on the barricades (that production to open in London next spring) is very doubtful. The Butler and Kavanagh book has no cheerier message for the Labour Party. It traces how opinion in the British electorate – in particular on nationalisation and the trade unions – has been shifting over a number of ...

Redheads in Normandy

R.W. Johnson: The 1997 election

22 January 1998
The British General Election of 1997 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 343 pp., £17.50, November 1997, 0 333 64776 9
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Labour's Landslide 
by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge.
Manchester, 211 pp., £40, December 1997, 0 7190 5159 2
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Britain Votes 1997 
edited by Pippa Norris and Neil Gavin.
Oxford, 253 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 9780199223220
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Collapse of Stout Party: The Decline and Fall of the Tories 
by Julian Crtitchley and Morrison Halcrow.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £20, November 1997, 0 575 06277 0
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Les Election Legislatives, 25 Mai-1er Juin 1997: Le president desavoue 
Le Monde, 146 pp., frs 45, June 1998Show More
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... their hands in the air and the entire project collapsed. Since then there has not been a single book-length academic study of a French election. It is now evident that Butler’s (and, since 1974, DennisKavanagh’s) work is irreplaceable: each volume includes things a political historian needs to know and can find nowhere else. The lack of a stronger sociological and analytic perspective remains a ...
26 November 1987
Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... away, and biographies thinner on the ground, the chroniclers of Macmillan, Home, Wilson, Heath, Callaghan and Thatcher have less to go on, and are more vulnerable to the prejudices of their readers. DennisKavanagh is nicer about the Heath Government than I find plausible; the Seventies syndrome of absurdly over-optimistic promises followed by continuous industrial strife was started by Heath’s ...

A Big Life

Michael Hofmann: Seamus Heaney

3 June 2015
New Selected Poems 1988-2013 
by Seamus Heaney.
Faber, 222 pp., £18.99, November 2014, 978 0 571 32171 1
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... he looks like a boy at a funeral, serious almost to the point of tears. ‘In the middle of a space that is separate and a little sorrowing’, as Heaney put it once, a line quoted back at him by Dennis O’Driscoll in the epic 2008 book of interviews called Stepping Stones that will stand as a partial monument to both men. If Heaney – who, it turns out, fished only about a dozen times in his life ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney

11 June 2009
Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis​ O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... that contributed greatly to a writer’s inner life. How to supplement – or correct, or displace – a future biography without taking years to concentrate on a memoir? Seamus Heaney and Dennis O’Driscoll have found a good way. Stepping Stones is not quite Heaney’s autobiography: it is, instead, a long collection of interviews, revised collaboratively, in which Heaney describes each ...

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