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Religion, grrrr

Rachel Aviv: The Scientology Mythos, 26 January 2012

The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion 
by Hugh Urban.
Princeton, 268 pp., £19.95, September 2011, 978 0 691 14608 9
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... In The Church of Scientology, one of only a handful of academic treatments of the subject, Hugh Urban is less interested in the experiences of Scientologists than in the legal processes and semantic twists through which a set of beliefs becomes a religion. A professor of religious studies at Ohio State, Urban is ...

Hugh Dalton to the rescue

Keith Thomas, 13 November 1997

The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 523 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 06703 8
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Ancient as the Hills 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7195 5596 5
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The Fate of the English Country House 
by David Littlejohn.
Oxford, 344 pp., £20, May 1997, 9780195088762
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... National Trust. Meanwhile most progressives were more interested in taxing the aristocracy to fund urban welfare schemes than in preserving their stately homes. The Royal Commission on Historical Monuments was set up in 1908, but the buildings it was required to list and describe had to have been erected before 1714. In 1911 Lord Curzon intervened with his own ...


Hugh Pennington: Bedbugs!, 6 January 2011

... distances and ride about town. But how good they are at very local travel remains undetermined. Urban myths have been around for a long time. ‘Bedbugs are popularly credited with an amazing amount of intelligence,’ observed the British Ministry of Health’s ‘Report on the Bedbug’ in 1934. ‘It is stated that they will travel long distances, 50 ...

Biting Habits

Hugh Pennington: The Zika Virus, 18 February 2016

... yellow fever in 1915. Apparent success in South America came quite quickly. Aedes aegypti is very urban, but in the early years of the campaign it wasn’t necessary to get rid of it completely in order to make yellow fever disappear; if Aedes aegypti bred in fewer than 5 per cent of houses that was good enough. But after twenty years the virus ...

Dreams of Fair Game

George Woodcock, 20 May 1982

Maps and Dreams 
by Hugh Brody.
Jill Norman and Hobhouse, 297 pp., £7.95, January 1982, 0 906908 76 0
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... economic systems is the one theme that threads its way through the story of the New World,’ says Hugh Brody in Maps and Dreams. ‘European beliefs that hunting people occupied the bottom rung of an evolutionary ladder, together with contrary views of the hunter as an ideal of human existence alongside which contemporary European or American destruction of ...

‘Spurious’ is the word we want

Ian Gilmour, 28 November 1996

Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher 
by George Urban.
Tauris, 206 pp., £19.95, September 1996, 1 86064 084 2
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... This book tells how the author fell in and out of love with Margaret Thatcher. Although George Urban found her ‘an attractive lady’, with ‘the movements, the legs and walk of a young woman’, his love affair was wholly ideological. Urban, who is or was on the extreme right, was attracted by ‘the great spirit that animated her policies in many areas’; and he greatly admired her ‘galvanisation of the British people at a time of accelerating decline’; yet it was her attitude to foreign policy which chiefly excited his passion ...


Terry Eagleton: The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín, 14 October 1999

The Blackwater Lightship 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 273 pp., £15, September 1999, 0 330 38985 8
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... described as Southside realism, at least in its opening pages. Helen O’Doherty and her husband Hugh live with their small sons on the middle-class south side of Dublin, though Hugh is an Irish-language enthusiast from Donegal and Helen comes from small-town Wexford. Helen is estranged from her mother Lily, and fantasises ...

Liking it and living it

Hugh Tulloch, 14 September 1989

by Linda Colley.
Weidenfeld, 132 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79587 2
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by Nicholas Phillipson.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79592 9
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... claim that his Origins of the Second World War was essentially Namierite is surely disingenuous: Hugh Trevor-Roper suggests, on the contrary, that Namier would have been appalled had he lived to read that book. Taylor’s attempt to drain the narrative of its moral content, to depict Hitler as a traditional statesman in international affairs pursuing limited ...

Two Spots and a Bubo

Hugh Pennington: Use soap and water, 21 April 2005

Return of the Black Death: The World’s Greatest Serial Killer 
by Susan Scott and Christopher Duncan.
Wiley, 310 pp., £16.99, May 2004, 0 470 09000 6
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The Great Plague: The Story of London’s Most Deadly Year 
by Lloyd Moote and Dorothy Moote.
Johns Hopkins, 357 pp., £19.95, April 2004, 0 8018 7783 0
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Plague: The Mysterious Past and Terrifying Future of the World’s Most Dangerous Disease 
by Wendy Orent.
Free Press, 276 pp., £17.99, May 2004, 0 7432 3685 8
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... a couple of thousand. As the Oxford Textbook of Medicine says: ‘The major animal reservoirs are urban rats as well as rural rodents including ground squirrels and prairie dogs. The Oriental rat flea Xenopsylla cheopis is the most efficient vector. When bitten by a rodent flea humans become an accidental host and play no role in disease transmission except ...

Black, White and Female

Betty Wood, 2 May 1985

The Limits of Liberty: American History 1607-1980 
by Maldwyn Jones.
Oxford, 696 pp., £22.50, November 1983, 0 19 913074 4
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America: A Narrative History 
by Charles Brown Tindall.
Norton, 1425 pp., £16.95, July 1984, 0 393 95435 8
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The Longman History of the United States 
by Hugh Brogan.
Longman, 740 pp., £19.95, March 1985, 0 582 35385 8
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American Tough: The Tough-Guy Tradition and American Character 
by Rupert Wilkinson.
Greenwood, 221 pp., £27.95, March 1984, 0 313 23797 2
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... to changes in the economic, social and cultural landscape. Maldwyn Jones, Charles Tindall and Hugh Brogan have played absolutely safe and settled for an orthodox approach. They neither dispute nor deviate significantly from the well-trodden paths of traditional historiography. If Professors Jones and Tindall are to be criticised, it is not so much for ...


Inigo Thomas: My Father, Hugh Thomas, 15 June 2017

... of perjuring yourself. Then we began to go through the details of the death certificate. Name: Hugh Swynnerton Thomas. Date of death: 7 May 2017. Your relation to him? Son. A few years ago, when I asked my father why he wasn’t going to the house in south-west France where he had for several summers spent a few weeks, his answer sounded ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Cheney’s Cavalier Way with a Shotgun, 9 March 2006

... News travels fast on the internet, and not always along the most predictable channels. Urban Dead is a sadly compulsive and hugely popular text-based MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) in which human and zombie characters battle for control of a post-apocalyptic virtual city. The general idea is that people are meant to kill zombies and zombies are meant to kill people, but there are players who think it’s more fun to attack their own kind ...

Short Cuts

Rory Scothorne: Edinburgh’s Festivalisation, 4 January 2024

... soldiers, were arrested. Several of the culprits were deported and on 22 April three teenagers – Hugh MacDonald, Hugh McIntosh and Neil Sutherland – were hanged. Hundreds of police and soldiers lined the streets for the execution, in what Knox calls ‘a pageant of civil and military power’. In 1993 the party was ...

Making saints

Peter Burke, 18 October 1984

Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom 1000-1700 
by Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell.
Chicago, 314 pp., £21.25, February 1983, 0 226 89055 4
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The Norman Conquest and Beyond 
by Frank Barlow.
Hambledon, 318 pp., £22, June 1983, 0 907628 19 2
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Miracles and the Medieval Mind 
by Benedicta Ward.
Scolar, 321 pp., £17.50, November 1983, 0 85967 609 9
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The Great Debate on Miracles: From Joseph Glanvill to David Hume 
by R.M. Burns.
Associated University Presses, 305 pp., £17.50, July 1983, 0 8387 2378 0
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Saints and their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History 
edited by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 435 pp., £35, December 1983, 0 521 24978 3
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... The Cult of the Saints, as ‘spiritual impresarios’. Then it was the turn of the Popes, such as Urban II in the 11th century, Calixtus II in the 12th and Gregory IX in the 13th. As Professor Barlow reminds us in an essay reprinted in his new collection, it was Calixtus II who canonised Hugh Abbot of Cluny in 1120. It was ...

Swiping at Suburbs

Andrew Saint: The course of British urbanism, 31 March 2005

Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City 
by Tristram Hunt.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £25, June 2004, 0 297 60767 7
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... after the Napoleonic Wars threw up unprecedented patterns and scales of employment, resulting in urban centres of unbridled energy, turbulence and degradation, if also a strange sublimity. That is the ferocious phase of the Victorian city, best represented by Manchester, which comes first in Hunt’s affections. After 1850 there follows the reform of local ...

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