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Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution, 18 December 2014

The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... George III, backed by his former prime minister and favourite John Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Bute. Eric Nelson’s new book advances the royalist reinterpretation of 18th-century America a crucial stage further. Though Nelson departs from McConville’s position in important respects, The Royalist Revolution and The ...

Manufacturing in Manhattan

Eric Foner, 1 June 2000

Working-Class New York: Life and Labour Since World War Two 
by Joshua Freeman.
New Press, 393 pp., $35, May 2000, 1 56584 575 7
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... in this subject in the two decades after 1965. Inspired by the work of E.P. Thompson and Eric Hobsbawm, American scholars redefined a field which had been almost exclusively taken up with the history of trades union to encompass working-class life and culture outside the workplace as well as within it. Practised primarily by historians who came of ...


Eric Hobsbawm, 3 June 1982

War and Society in Revolutionary Europe 1770-1870 
by Geoffrey Best.
Leicester University Press/Fontana, 336 pp., £12, March 1982, 0 00 634747 9
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European Empires from Conquest to Collapse 1815-1960 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Leicester University Press/Fontana, 285 pp., £12, March 1982, 0 00 634826 2
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... in recognising publicly that the de facto traditions of the British Navy consisted not only of Nelson but also of ‘rum, sodomy and the lash’, and Best rightly reminds us that the only other armed forces in the 18th century as barbarous in their recruitment and as brutal in their management as the British Navy were to be found in Russia and ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: The Party Conferences, 19 October 2017

... Never despair​ of finding diamonds in the dust. Sir Eric Pickles, until 2015 Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, isn’t the sort of figure from whom one expects or desires fragments of autobiography, but, introducing his internal review of the Conservative Party’s performance in the 2017 election, he offered a gem, unasked: In my Whitehall office as a minister, over my left shoulder, facing visitors, was a photograph of Che Guevara ...

Did Lady Brewster faint?

Eric Korn, 24 April 1997

Huxley: Evolution’s High Priest 
by Adrian Desmond.
Joseph, 372 pp., £20, March 1997, 0 7181 3882 1
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... humility of the return to earthworms: as children we knew his story as we knew the life of Nelson or St George. There was no such moving image for Thomas Henry Huxley, Darwin’s bulldog (or Rottweiler) as there is not for Nelson’s Hardy or St George’s horse; the acts of the chief apostle are not celebrated. We ...

I just get my pistol and shoot him right down

Eric Foner: Slave-Dealing, 22 March 2018

The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History 
by Anne C. Bailey.
Cambridge, 197 pp., £19.99, November 2017, 978 1 316 64348 8
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... even spawning genome-themed tours of ancestral African homelands. The sociologist Alondra Nelson’s recent book The Social Life of DNA explores these themes in depth and raises questions about both the scientific credibility of DNA findings and whether science can really be the vehicle for healing old wounds and answering questions about personal ...

Beware the Extremists

Conor Gearty, 19 February 2015

... a diplomat from the South African embassy to speak at one of its events. In those Cold War days Nelson Mandela was still a terrorist and defenders of apartheid were heroes to some on the hard right. But protests seemed likely and the university authorities felt compelled to withdraw permission for the meeting. When a few weeks later a meeting with the ...

The Wonderfulness of Us

Richard J. Evans: The Tory Interpretation of History, 17 March 2011

... including Henry II and Becket, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, Charles II and William III, Nelson and Wellington, Gladstone and Disraeli. In addition to the three British courses, students have to take one period of European history before 1914, and two world history courses, one involving an ancient society such as China or Japan, the other focusing ...


R.W. Johnson: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War, 6 May 2004

The Lion and the Springbok: Britain and South Africa since the Boer War 
by Ronald Hyam and Peter Henshaw.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, May 2003, 0 521 82453 2
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... the white settlers in East Africa were of ‘an extraordinarily good type’. Smuts, rather than Nelson Mandela, was South Africa’s man of the century: from 1895 to 1948, his enormous energy was brought to bear continuously on the shape and future of the country. It is only when one realises this, and knows what Smuts was thinking, that one understands why ...

Even When It’s a Big Fat Lie

Alex Abramovich: ‘Country Music’, 8 October 2020

Country Music 
directed by Ken Burns.
PBS, eight episodes
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... Oxford published Ken Burns’s ‘The Civil War’: Historians Respond. Two of the essays, by Eric Foner and Leon Litwack, were scathing, but, for the most part, the book’s tone was measured; Burns and Geoffrey Ward, who had written the film’s script, contributed replies. But a funny thing happened as Burns made more documentaries: instead of making ...

Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... with Eddie Grundy? Old Walter Gabriel must be long gone, but what happened to his scapegrace son, Nelson? Are the village shop and post office still open, or does everyone in Ambridge have to drive to Borchester to shop at Tesco? Is The Bull now part of the portfolio of Punch Taverns plc? I ask these important questions because, last week, clicking on the ...


Stuart Airlie, 17 November 1983

Medieval Germany and its Neighbours 900-1250 
by K.J. Leyser.
Hambledon, 302 pp., £18, February 1983, 0 907628 08 7
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The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians 751-987 
by Rosamond McKitterick.
Longman, 414 pp., £9.95, June 1983, 0 582 49005 7
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Ideal and Reality in Frankish and Anglo-Saxon Society: Studies presented to J.M. Wallace-Hadrill 
edited by Patrick Wormald, Donald Bullough and Roger Collins.
Blackwell, 345 pp., £27.50, September 1983, 0 631 12661 9
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... given an idea of the nature of that culture. It is a great pity that she did not take up Dr J.L. Nelson’s suggestion that Dhuoda’s stress on the role of the father in the family mirrored developments in the social structure affecting the world of politics – Dr McKitterick’s avowed concern, after all. But she is reluctant to touch on such ...

But I wanted a crocodile

Thomas Meaney: Castro in Harlem, 4 February 2021

Ten Days in Harlem: Fidel Castro and the Making of the 1960s 
by Simon Hall.
Faber, 276 pp., £17.99, September 2020, 978 0 571 35306 4
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... It would hardly​ be possible, Eric Hobsbawm once said, to imagine rebels better designed to appeal to the New Left than Castro and his comrades. Despite occasional sneers from Third World elders (Nasser dismissed them as ‘a bunch of Errol Flynns’), Western liberals were just as infatuated as radicals. The New York Times published an admiring three-part profile of Castro from his hideout in the Sierra Maestra in 1957, when he was still a revolutionary newt ...

Be interesting!

John Lanchester: Martin Amis, 6 July 2000

by Martin Amis.
Cape, 401 pp., £18, May 2000, 0 224 05060 5
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... had left him a bit short of obvious villains and hate-figures – until, incredibly, he settled on Nelson Mandela’) and even more tremendous jokes. Amis is a much-envied man, but this relationship really is worth envying: My father and I often had occasion to agree that ‘fuck off’ was very funny. One naturally admired its brutality and brevity – but ...

The God Squad

Andrew O’Hagan: Bushland, 23 September 2004

... Christian Legal Society, as the first chief of the department’s faith-based office. He named Eric Treene, former litigation director at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, as special counsel for religious discrimination, a new position in the Justice Department.4 The most striking thing about the Republican convention was Bush’s refusal to allow it ...

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