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Sad Century

David Parrott: The 17th-Century Crisis

5 March 2015
Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the 17th Century 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 871 pp., £16.99, August 2014, 978 0 300 20863 4
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... between a series of events that were geographically dispersed but chronologically contemporary led to another set of essays, The General Crisis of the 17th Century, published in 1978 and edited by GeoffreyParker and Lesley Smith. Thanks particularly to the editors’ introduction and John Eddy’s essay on the effect of sunspots, the debate was pushed in a new direction: climate change and its impact ...
18 April 1985
The Thirty Years’ War 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Routledge, 340 pp., £20, January 1985, 0 7100 9788 3
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... GeoffreyParker’s new book on the Thirty Years’ War is the first major study of the subject to appear in English for nearly half a century. To be more exact, it is now 47 years since the publication of a book on ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey Parker

4 September 1980
Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... This book, French readers were told one month before its publication last January, ‘is already the intellectual event of 1980’. As if in answer, the first printing of 9,000 copies of the three-volume set, each containing 1,751 pages and weighing ten pounds, sold out within three weeks. At almost £50 per set, Civilisation Matérielle seems likely to prove the commercial event of 1980. The three ...

Ideas of War

Johann Sommerville

27 October 1988
The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Cambridge, 234 pp., £15, May 1988, 0 521 32607 9
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War and Society in Europe of the Old Regime: 1618-1789 
by M.S. Anderson.
Fontana, 239 pp., £4.95, May 1988, 0 00 686053 2
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Waging war: A Philosophical Introduction 
by Ian Clark.
Oxford, 154 pp., £17.50, April 1988, 0 19 827325 8
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... war itself is a major factor in the way in which it is waged.’ So to grasp what past wars were about ‘is undoubtedly, albeit not exclusively, an excursion into the history of ideas’. Professors Parker and Anderson discuss past wars, but rarely wander into the history of ideas. Parker’s book, which is scholarly, stimulating, lucid and very attractively presented, is concerned with technical ...

Battle of Britain

Patrick O’Brian

7 July 1988
The Spanish Armada 
by Colin Martin and Geoffrey Parker.
Hamish Hamilton, 296 pp., £15, April 1988, 0 241 12125 6
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Armada 1588-1988 
by M.J. Rodriguez-Salgado.
Penguin and the National Maritime Museum, 295 pp., £12.95, April 1988, 0 14 010301 5
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Armada: A Celebration of the 400th Anniversary of the Defeat of the Spanish Armada 1588-1988 
by Peter Padfield.
Gollancz, 208 pp., £14.95, April 1988, 0 575 03729 6
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Froude’s ‘Spanish Story of the Armada’, and Other Essays 
edited by A.L. Rowse.
Sutton, 262 pp., £5.95, May 1988, 0 86299 500 0
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Ireland’s Armada Legacy 
by Laurence Flanagan.
Sutton, 210 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 9780862994730
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The Armada in the Public Records 
by N.A.M. Rodger.
HMSO, 76 pp., £5.95, April 1988, 0 11 440215 9
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The Spanish Armada: The Experience of War in 1588 
by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Oxford, 300 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 19 822926 7
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... so far back that one looks for Niall of the Nine Hostages on the next page. Perhaps the best thing to do is to plunge into the middle or just beyond and then work back and forth as Colin Martin and GeoffreyParker do in The Spanish Armada. The first page shows Sir John Hawkins writing a dispatch to Walsingham dated from on board the Victory in the North Sea on 10 August 1588. Somewhere to leeward, in ...

Crypto-Republican

Simon Adams: Was Mary Queen of Scots a Murderer?

11 June 2009
Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I 
by Stephen Alford.
Yale, 412 pp., £25, May 2008, 978 0 300 11896 4
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... of Cecil’s tactics. All the subsequent Catholic ‘plots’, including the Gunpowder Plot, were the means ‘the Cecils’ used to destroy their enemies. The Ridolphi Plot was re-examined by GeoffreyParker in a 2001 lecture on ‘The Place of Tudor England in the Messianic Vision of Philip II of Spain’. Parker could find no evidence that Ridolphi was an English agent, but Guy continued to ...

Too Much for One Man

Thomas Penn: Kaiser Karl V

13 January 2020
Emperor: A New Life of Charles V 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 760 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 300 19652 8
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... The phrase would define his existence: one of almost incessant motion, war and conquest. He became a ruler of iron will and ambition, who shaped the politics and culture of not one continent but two.GeoffreyParker’s​ biography begins with a potential hostage to fortune. ‘Does the world,’ he asks, ‘really need another book about Charles V?’ There have been, he writes, more than five hundred ...

A Moustache Too Far

Danny Karlin: Melville goes under

8 May 2003
Herman Melville: A Biography. Vol. II: 1851-91 
by Hershel Parker.
Johns Hopkins, 997 pp., £31, May 2002, 0 8018 6892 0
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... earth. The better the biography, the worse: the great smooth luxurious Rolls reconverts the energy of the writer’s ascent into mere horizontal force. The publication of the second volume of Hershel Parker’s biography of Herman Melville brings to a close an enterprise of archival and critical scholarship that has lasted forty years – nearly as long as Melville’s writing career. The picture of ...

Lethal Pastoral

Paul Keegan: Housman’s Lethal Pastoral

17 November 2016
Housman Country: Into the Heart of England 
by Peter Parker.
Little, Brown, 446 pp., £25, June 2016, 978 1 4087 0613 8
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... but do as Housman exhorts in one of his blasphemous squibs: ‘Mary-Jane the train is through yer:/Hallelujah, Hallelujah!/We will gather up the fragments that remain.’ In Housman Country, Peter Parker does it by writing the life and times not of the man but of his most famous book: the growing pains of A Shropshire Lad, the vicissitudes of its reception, its cultural ‘aftermaths’. The word ...

At Home in the Huntington

John Sutherland: The Isherwood Archive

10 June 1999
... at birth all the fashionable literary neuroses but his fairy godmother ‘quite forgot the gift of literary skill’. (Once celebrated as the Shelley of the Thirties, he was later described by Geoffrey Grigson as the ‘Rupert Brooke of the Depression’.) Isherwood, he grudgingly conceded, could claim ‘accomplishment’. Isherwood returned the tepid compliment, 12 years later, with a script for ...

The natives did a bunk

Malcolm Gaskill: The Little Ice Age

19 July 2018
A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America 
by Sam White.
Harvard, 361 pp., £23.95, October 2017, 978 0 674 97192 9
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... A priest reported seeing cockerels’ combs freeze and fall off. The consequences of the cold weather were so serious that they couldn’t be contained politically. In a 2013 study, the historian GeoffreyParker argued that the ‘general crisis’ of the 17th century, a litany of wars, invasions, rebellions, massacres, epidemics and famines, can be explained by the Little Ice Age. Others have seen ...
16 February 1984
Justice at Nuremberg 
by Robert Conot.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £15, October 1983, 0 297 78360 2
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The Nuremberg Trial 
by Ann Tusa and John Tusa.
Macmillan, 519 pp., £12.95, October 1983, 0 333 27463 6
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... when the tribunal deliberated the alternates spoke and voted as judges. The US judges were Francis Biddle, an aristocratic New Deal Democrat who had been Roosevelt’s Attorney-General, and John J. Parker, a US circuit court judge, who had been nominated to the Supreme Court in 1930 by President Hoover, but rejected by the Senate owing to opposition by labour and blacks. Although the Russians proposed ...

Heiling Hitler

Geoffrey​ Best: Churchill, Hitler and the ‘Times’

21 June 2001
The ‘Times’ and Appeasement: The Journals of A.L. Kennedy 1932-39 
Cambridge, 312 pp., £40, March 2001, 0 521 79354 8Show More
Churchill and Appeasement 
by R.A.C. Parker.
Papermac, 290 pp., £12.99, May 2001, 0 333 67584 3
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... the Times explaining the mind of the British Government to the world and the British people, or was it explaining the mind of the British people to the British Government and the world? The editor, Geoffrey Dawson, played it whichever way he chose: now covertly carrying messages from the Foreign Office or the PM, now appearing to send messages to them; and neither the British public nor the world at ...

Sitting it out

Paul Sieghart

2 August 1984
Two men were aquitted 
by Percy Hoskins.
Secker, 221 pp., £9.95, May 1984, 0 436 20161 5
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... giants at the Old Bailey. In a trial for murder by poisoning, it was the tradition that the Attorney-General himself should lead for the prosecution. In the other corner, Adams was represented by Geoffrey Lawrence QC, one of the most skilful advocates of his day, whose normal practice lay in the civil rather than the criminal courts. Not for him the faded Rumpole clichés of ‘I am bound to put it to ...

Untouched by Eliot

Denis Donoghue: Jon Stallworthy

4 March 1999
Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems 
by Jon Stallworthy.
Carcanet, 247 pp., £14.95, September 1998, 1 85754 163 4
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... the rugby matches in which he played and quotes favourable reviews of his performances from newspapers of the day. Stallworthy has always been well-connected. As a youngster, he became friends with Geoffrey Keynes. In Oxford, and although he came down with a mere Second, Helen Gardner urged him to do a B.Litt. and write a dissertation on Yeats’s manuscripts. Stallworthy had no interest in writing a ...

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