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T.H. Breen, 10 May 1990

The First Salute 
by Barbara Tuchman.
Joseph, 347 pp., £15.95, March 1989, 0 7181 3142 8
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Sister Republics: The Origins of French and American Republicanism 
by Patrice Higonnet.
Harvard, 317 pp., £19.95, December 1988, 0 674 80982 3
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Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America 
by Edmund Morgan.
Norton, 318 pp., £12.95, September 1988, 0 393 02505 5
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... truth and endless error” the mould of the species is permanent. That is the earth’s burden.’ Edmund Morgan and Patrice Higonnet are less pessimistic. They see the great ideological transformations of the 18th century as a continuing challenge. To be sure, those who dreamed of creating a genuine liberal democracy may have failed to achieve their ...

Is he winking?

Joseph J. Ellis: Benjamin Franklin, 20 March 2003

Benjamin Franklin 
by Edmund S. Morgan.
Yale, 339 pp., £19.95, October 2002, 0 300 09532 5
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... make good. One of the leading historians of early American history during the last half-century, Edmund Morgan has, like Franklin, demonstrated great range, oblivious to the habit of specialisation and the accompanying turf wars that claim so many academic casualties. He has written biographies of John Winthrop, Ezra Stiles, Roger Williams and George ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... that the American Civil War would not have taken place.’ Johnson manages to ignore the work of Edmund Morgan, David Brion Davis and numerous other scholars of the past thirty years who have demonstrated that slavery was an intrinsic element of American life almost from the beginning of the colonial era, and that it imparted a powerful exclusionary ...

Word of Mouth

Edmund Leach, 3 March 1988

The Interface between the Written and the Oral 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 328 pp., £27.50, July 1987, 0 521 33268 0
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... the structure of a previously ‘non-literate’ society. This is not of course a new theme. L.H. Morgan, the archetypal, stage-by-stage social evolutionist of the late 19th century, saw the great divide between Barbarism and Civilisation as marked by ‘the Invention of a Phonetic Alphabet, with the use of writing’. A hundred and fifty years earlier Vico ...

Keeping the show on the road

John Kerrigan, 6 November 1986

Tribute to Freud 
by H. D.
Carcanet, 194 pp., £5.95, August 1985, 0 85635 599 2
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In Dora’s Case: Freud, Hysteria, Feminism 
edited by Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane.
Virago, 291 pp., £11.95, October 1985, 0 86068 712 0
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The Essentials of Psychoanalysis 
by Sigmund Freud, edited by Anna Freud.
Hogarth/Institute of Psychoanalysis, 595 pp., £20, March 1986, 0 7012 0720 5
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Freud and the Humanities 
edited by Peregrine Horden.
Duckworth, 186 pp., £18, October 1985, 0 7156 1983 7
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Freud for Historians 
by Peter Gay.
Oxford, 252 pp., £16.50, January 1986, 0 19 503586 0
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The Psychoanalytic Movement 
by Ernest Gellner.
Paladin, 241 pp., £3.50, May 1985, 0 586 08436 3
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The Freudian Body: Psychoanalysis and Art 
by Leo Bersani.
Columbia, 126 pp., $17.50, April 1986, 0 231 06218 4
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... a letter excerpted in the notes, Thomas distances himself from ‘the Master’. What a shame that Edmund Morgan, having learned so much from Freud, forgot to mention him in his work on the Puritan family. As for E.R. Dodds, it’s unscrupulous of Gay to offer his Greeks and the Irrational as exemplary Freudian scholarship when its debts to Nietzsche and ...

At the Hydropathic

T.J. Binyon, 6 December 1984

Agatha Christie 
by Janet Morgan.
Collins, 393 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 00 216330 6
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... At first sight Janet Morgan does not seem the obvious person to choose as the official biographer of Agatha Christie. She describes herself on the jacket of the book as a ‘writer and consultant’, who now ‘advises governments, companies and other organisations on long-range strategic planning, new technology and different approaches to whatever they find themselves doing ...

Anything but Staffordshire

Rosemary Hill, 18 September 1997

Rare Spirit: A Life of William De Morgan 1839-1917 
by Mark Hamilton.
Constable, 236 pp., £22.50, September 1997, 0 09 474670 2
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... William De Morgan’s Life, death and reputation form a curious episode in the history of taste. He died, in 1917, a famous Edwardian novelist, and was almost forgotten. Nearly half a century later he was rediscovered as a great Victorian ceramist. Appropriately, the technique in which he excelled as a potter, lustre, is one that has itself been several times lost, rediscovered and discarded again by different civilisations ...

Tremendous in His Wrath

Eric Foner: George Washington, Slave Owner, 19 December 2019

‘The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret’: George Washington, Slavery and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon 
by Mary Thompson.
Virginia, 502 pp., £32.50, January 2019, 978 0 8139 4184 4
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... believes that the revolutionary experience changed him. He came to recognise what the historian Edmund S. Morgan called ‘the American paradox’ – the contradiction between the language of liberty invoked by the patriots and the reality of slaveholding. While Washington at first did not allow black men to enrol in the ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Nightmare Alley’, 24 February 2022

... be called mentalism. This is the territory of Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, as it was of Edmund Goulding’s 1947 movie of the same name and the 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham on which both are based: a place where probabilities and magic hang out together, where trickery and psychic luck both have a home. The date is right too. Vallejo died ...

At the House of Mr Frog

Malcolm Gaskill: Puritanism, 18 March 2021

The Puritans: A Transatlantic History 
by David D. Hall.
Princeton, 517 pp., £20, May 2021, 978 0 691 20337 9
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The Journey to the Mayflower: God’s Outlaws and the Invention of Freedom 
by Stephen Tomkins.
Hodder, 372 pp., £12.99, February 2021, 978 1 4736 4911 8
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... was allergic to merriment; while teaching at Harvard in the 1650s, according to the historian Edmund S. Morgan, he ‘suffered the most innocuous pranks of his students with a ludicrous air of mourning’. But he was also prey to normal irritations and fears: he was a twitchy hypochondriac, a neighbour’s swinging door ...

Boomster and the Quack

Stefan Collini: How to Get on in the Literary World, 2 November 2006

Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870-1918 
by Philip Waller.
Oxford, 1181 pp., £85, April 2006, 0 19 820677 1
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... in which the publisher appears to have colluded with the author. Take the appearances of one John Morgan Richards. On page 65 we are introduced to him as an ‘American, domiciled in England since 1867 and now owner of the Academy’. On page 92 we are told that ‘the Academy had been bought in 1896 by the American patent-medicine advertiser John ...

All of Denmark was at his feet

John Sutherland, 12 May 1994

John Steinbeck: A Biography 
by Jay Parini.
Heinemann, 605 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 434 57492 9
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... first novel, Cup of Gold (1929, based on the adventures of the Elizabethan buccaneer, Henry Morgan) was an acknowledged homage to James Branch Cabell’s florid historical romances. In 1929 Steinbeck was introduced to Hemingway’s work by his future wife, Carol Henning, who gave him a copy of ‘The Killers’. It was to be as formative as Malory and ...

The First Hostile Takeover

James Macdonald: S.G. Warburg, 4 November 2010

High Financier: The Life and Time of Siegmund Warburg 
by Niall Ferguson.
Allen Lane, 548 pp., £30, July 2010, 978 0 7139 9871 9
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... life: it dealt a ‘decisive blow … to the unhurried “gentlemanly” style of business’, as Edmund de Rothschild put it. Warburg himself later claimed that he disliked the whole episode and would have preferred a friendly deal. But there can be no doubt that the rapid increase of the bank’s business dated from the moment he showed he was able to take ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner, 15 October 1998

... clearly as a group, or so hilariously as a palsied social tribe. There’s the horrible bookseller Edmund Curll, Pope’s enemy of twenty years, who is spattered with ordure in The Dunciad; ‘stage-struck priests’ like the Rev. John Home, whose Douglas gave rise to a Scottish roar from the pit: ‘Whaur’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?’ There is word of ...


Norman Page, 16 March 1989

Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VI, 1920-1925 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 379 pp., £27.50, March 1987, 0 19 812623 9
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Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy: Vol. VII, 1926-1927 
edited by Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate.
Oxford, 304 pp., £29.50, October 1988, 0 19 812624 7
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Thomas Hardy: The Offensive Truth 
by John Goode.
Blackwell, 184 pp., £17.95, September 1988, 0 631 13954 0
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The Thomas Hardy Journal. Vol. IV: October 1988 
edited by James Gibson.
Thomas Hardy Society, 80 pp., £2.50, October 1988, 0 00 268541 8
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Hardy’s Metres and Victorian Prosody 
by Dennis Taylor.
Oxford, 297 pp., £32.50, December 1988, 9780198129677
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Collected Short Stories 
by Thomas Hardy.
Macmillan, 936 pp., £16.95, October 1988, 0 333 47332 9
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... merely manifestations of an old man’s retrospective disillusion. In 1887 he began a letter to Edmund Gosse, ‘I shall be very pleased indeed to hand on the subscription to the Barnes memorial’; continued a few lines later, ‘As to despondency I have known the very depths of it – you would be quite shocked if I were to tell you how many weeks ...

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