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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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... Revolutions,’ Barbara Tuchman writes, ‘produce other men, not new men. Half-way “between truth and endless error” the mould of the species is permanent. That is the earth’s burden.’ EdmundMorgan 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 ...

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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... a young upstart with two loaves of bread tucked under his arm, the original poor American boy about to make good. One of the leading historians of early American history during the last half-century, EdmundMorgan 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 ...
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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... imported slavery into the mainland colonies; had they not done so, he writes, ‘it is quite possible that the American Civil War would not have taken place.’ Johnson manages to ignore the work of EdmundMorgan, 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 ...
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 ...

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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... of these works the discussion focuses almost entirely on the problem of how ‘literacy’ affects 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 ...
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 ...
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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... Thus Keith Thomas is praised – for ‘speaking Freud without knowing it’. What a pity that, in a letter excerpted in the notes, Thomas distances himself from ‘the Master’. What a shame that EdmundMorgan, 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 ...

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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... even self-indulgent, about the digressive miscellaneousness of the enterprise, something again 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 ...

Tremendous in His Wrath

Eric Foner: George Washington, Slave Owner

9 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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... slavery. Before the American Revolution, he seems to have had no qualms about the institution. Thompson 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 ...
12 May 1994
John Steinbeck: A Biography 
by Jay Parini.
Heinemann, 605 pp., £20, March 1994, 0 434 57492 9
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... London’s), went on the road as a hobo and made a rather fitful stab at running away to sea. Steinbeck’s 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 ...

Seventy Years in a Filthy Trade

Andrew O’Hagan: E.S. Turner

15 October 1998
... has a firm memory of some of these characters, but I doubt if they have ever been rendered so 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 ...

Sailing Scientist

Steven Shapin: Edmund​ Halley

2 July 1998
Edmond Halley: Charting the Heavens and the Seas 
by Alan Cook.
Oxford, 540 pp., £29.50, December 1997, 0 19 850031 9
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... out of his own pocket, and who prepared a précis for personal presentation to the King – one of the earliest scientific soundbites. ‘But for him, in all human probability’, wrote Augustus de Morgan in the mid-19th century, the Principia ‘would not have been thought of, nor when thought of written, nor when written printed’. Halley ‘almost made’ Newton write the book. Halley was alter ...

Cheeky

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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... can be made in the most unlikely contexts. They also seem to have been a lifelong habit, not 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 ...

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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... in the interests of shareholders. The Aluminium War was a turning point in British business 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 ...

The Ironist

J.G.A. Pocock: Gibbon under Fire

14 November 2002
Gibbon and the ‘Watchmen of the Holy City’: The Historian and His Reputation 1776-1815 
by David Womersley.
Oxford, 452 pp., £65, January 2002, 0 19 818733 5
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... but it is hard to identify any group or coterie of ‘philosophers’ in whose activities he supposed he was taking part. His critics were more confident; they set him in the company of Middleton, Morgan, Tindal and Bolingbroke – Hume and Voltaire are also prominent, but the assault on Gibbon as an ‘English Voltaire’ responsible for the French Revolution necessarily belongs to the 1790s more ...

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