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David Cannadine

27 July 1989
The Social Politics of Anglo-Jewry 1880-1920 
by Eugene Black.
Blackwell, 428 pp., £35, February 1989, 9780631164913
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The Persistence of Prejudice: Anti-Semitism in British Society during the Second World War 
by Tony Kushner.
Manchester, 257 pp., £29.95, March 1989, 0 7190 2896 5
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The Club: The Jews of Modern Britain 
by Stephen Brook.
Constable, 464 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 09 467340 3
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... ineradicable weaknesses in the Anglo-Jewish historical tradition are well illustrated by the three books under review. The most important, the most detailed and the most scholarly is that by EugeneBlack. The central question he seeks to answer is deceptively simple. How did the Jewish cousinhood, the Rothschilds, the Samuels, the Cohens and their relatives, all of whom were proudly élitist and ...

Fouling the nest

Anthony Julius

8 April 1993
Modern British Jewry 
by Geoffrey Alderman.
Oxford, 397 pp., £40, September 1992, 0 19 820145 1
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... wants to understand the nature of Anglo-Jewish assimilation, the work of Todd Endelman is indispensable; if one wants to understand the politics of the community in its formative years, one must read EugeneBlack; the arrival of East European Jewry has been illuminatingly detailed by Lloyd Gartner; the career of Lord Jakobovits, the present Chief Rabbi’s predecessor, has been better analysed by Chaim ...

Best of All Worlds

James Oakes: Slavery and Class

11 March 2010
Slavery in White and BlackClass and Race in the Southern Slaveholders’ New World Order 
by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene​ Genovese.
Cambridge, 314 pp., £14.99, December 2008, 978 0 521 72181 3
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... In 1965 Eugene Genovese published his first book, The Political Economy of Slavery, a stunning reinterpretation of the antebellum South. Although he wrote as a Marxist, he revived the bourgeois critique of slavery ...

Bobbery

James Wood: Pushkin’s Leave-Taking

20 February 2003
Pushkin: A Biography 
by T.J. Binyon.
HarperCollins, 731 pp., £30, September 2002, 0 00 215084 0
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... It is in some ways unfortunate that Tchaikovsky set Eugene Onegin to music, not Rossini, the composer of deep shallows. Pushkin, according to T.J. Binyon’s remarkable biography, became ‘addicted’ to Rossini while living in Odessa, where an Italian ...

Looking for Mrs Kelly

Betsy Blair: Files on the Fifties

4 June 1998
... of dates, number of copies sent to those offices and a reprimand or two when they arrived late. The hard information is pathetic. On each page the word ‘confidential’ is crossed out in heavy black ink and marked ‘Declassified on 11/4/97’. Page 1 reads: Foreign Service of the United States of America American Embassy Paris 8, France. Date: December 28, 1955 To: Director FBI From: Legat ...

Our Slaves Are Black

Nicholas Guyatt: Theories of Slavery

4 October 2007
Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World 
by David Brion Davis.
Oxford, 440 pp., £17.99, May 2006, 0 19 514073 7
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The Trader, the Owner, the Slave 
by James Walvin.
Cape, 297 pp., £17.99, March 2007, 978 0 224 06144 5
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The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000 
by Colin Kidd.
Cambridge, 309 pp., £16.99, September 2006, 0 521 79324 6
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The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders’ Worldview 
by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene​ Genovese.
Cambridge, 828 pp., £18.99, December 2005, 0 521 85065 7
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... rise of antislavery in Britain and America coincide with an intensification of racial thinking? David Brion Davis’s Inhuman Bondage throws light on the process by which slavery became exclusively black. There were many European precedents for white slavery, not only in the classical period but in the trading networks of the late medieval Mediterranean. The word ‘slave’ derives from sclavus, or ...

I want to howl

John Lahr: Eugene​ O’Neill

5 February 2015
Eugene​ O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts 
by Robert Dowling.
Yale, 569 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 0 300 17033 7
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... If you were​ throwing a pity party among American playwrights, the antisocial, alcoholic, self-dramatising misery named Eugene Gladstone O’Neill would win the door prize. At the age of 21, already making a myth of his sense of doom, O’Neill was calling himself ‘the Irish luck kid’. By then, he’d been thrown out of ...

Under the Steinway

Jenny Diski: Marco Roth

7 March 2013
The Scientists: A Family Romance 
by Marco Roth.
Union Books, 196 pp., £14.99, January 2013, 978 1 908526 19 9
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... as Roth puts it, ‘precocious’) but insecure and awkward. It is a sort of normal Western, urban, nuclear, family romance, as the book is subtitled, with added Aids, kilims and inheritance threats. Eugene Roth, who ran a sickle-cell anaemia clinic at Mount Sinai Hospital, was the son of a man who married for money and to get on, and he suffered as a child would under those circumstances. He called ...

The Whole Sick Crew

Thomas Jones: Donna Tartt

31 October 2002
The Little Friend 
by Donna Tartt.
Bloomsbury, 555 pp., £16.99, October 2002, 0 7475 6211 3
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... Deep South, but the world of the novel is hermetically self-contained. The heroine is Harriet Cleve Dufresnes, 12 years old, ‘sturdily built, like a small badger, with round cheeks, a sharp nose, black hair bobbed short, a thin, determined little mouth’. When she was a baby, her big brother Robin was murdered, hanged from the tree in the front yard on Mother’s Day. The culprit has never been ...

The Village Life

James Meek: Pushkin in English

6 June 2019
Novels, Tales, Journeys 
by Aleksandr Pushkin, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
Penguin, 512 pp., £9.99, October 2017, 978 0 241 29037 8
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... though that boredom had a liberating effect, giving him the blank time his writing needed. His response to an anti-literary countryside was to make literature. His masterpiece, the verse novel Eugene Onegin, opens with the protagonist’s uncle dying in his manor house.* Later, the house, the estate and its serfs pass to Onegin, who, sated with Petersburg high society, moves to the country to ...
8 November 2012
... vine branches bloom. On the other hand, for me Eros lies quiet at no season. Nay rather, like a Thracian north wind ablaze with lightning, rushing from Aphrodite accompanied by parching madnesses, black, unastonishable, powerfully, right up from the bottom of my feet [it] shakes my whole breathing being. [fr. 286 as ‘Woman’s Constancy’ by John Donne] In woman, on the one hand, those ...

Friends

Eugene​ Goodheart

16 March 1989
The company we keep: An Ethics of Fiction 
by Wayne Booth.
California, 485 pp., $29.55, November 1988, 0 520 06203 5
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... Wayne Booth begins his new book by recalling how in the early Sixties he and his colleagues at the University of Chicago could ignore the distress of a young black assistant professor, Paul Moses, who declared that he would no longer teach Huckleberry Finn because he found the portrayal of Jim offensive. Booth remembers with more than a twinge of conscience ...

Bully off

Susannah Clapp

5 November 1992
Dunedin 
by Shena Mackay.
Heinemann, 341 pp., £14.99, July 1992, 0 434 44048 5
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... Scottishness of Mackay’s Dunedin is more a matter of moral style than of civic life, and her New Zealand a place of lush temptations and hazards – of bubbling geysers, sweet-briared verandas and black thighs. It is a place where a family’s lives are narrowed by an oppressive father – while the father’s own fantasy and fancy wander. It is also a place where the family’s maid-servants ...
8 May 1986
... my friends Bob and Ida Baker and their small children, but because Baker promised that if I came out he’d arrange for me to meet Bernard Malamud. Bern taught nearby at the state university in Eugene, Oregon. He’d been in Eugene (pop. 50,000) since leaving New York (pop. 8,000,000) and a night-school teaching job there in 1949 – 12 years in the Far West instructing Oregonian freshmen in the ...

The Nutcracker

Jon Stallworthy

17 September 1987
... of 1938. A very far cry from the Champs Elysées,les croissants dans le petit café, a pipe and Le Monde, a part in a continuous historical play I was helping to write all day, white-tie reception, black-tie dinner, five-star brandy and five-star dreams: a canter in the Bois … Maxim’s … So there I was in a dim Chancery, all day the very model of a modern Second Secretary, reviewing files on ...

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