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How a desire for profit led to the invention of race

Eric Foner: Slavery, 4 February 1999

Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America 
by Ira Berlin.
Harvard, 512 pp., £18.50, October 1998, 0 674 81092 9
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The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern 1492-1800 
by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 602 pp., £15, April 1998, 1 85984 890 7
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... to slavery in colonial America, seeking to explain the system’s origins. The new books by Ira Berlin and Robin Blackburn are outstanding contributions to this literature. Berlin, who has already written a study of free blacks in the 19th-century South, for many years directed the Freedmen and Southern Society ...

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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... in slaves developed within the United States. This ‘internal middle passage’, as the historian Ira Berlin has called it, involved the sale of more than two million slaves in the decades before the Civil War, a large number of whom were sent from older states such as Virginia to the burgeoning Cotton Kingdom of the Lower South. Every Southern newspaper ...

Issues of Truth and Invention

Colm Tóibín: Francis Stuart’s wartime broadcasts, 4 January 2001

The Wartime Broadcasts of Francis Stuart 
edited by Brendan Barrington.
Lilliput, 192 pp., £25, September 2000, 1 901866 54 8
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... printed invitation from Francis Stuart to a party in Dublin commemorating a party he had given in Berlin on St Patrick’s Day 1941. I wondered, when I read it, why Francis had sent this. Over the years he had invited me to several events, but he had never had invitations printed. I wondered if it was clear to him, as it was to me, that the invitation was a ...


Stephen Smith: Peace in Our Lunchtime, 6 October 1994

... the squaddy replies. A few of the Unionists I spoke to sounded this note of triumph at the IRA ceasefire but not many. Most were either sniffing secret deals or talking about waiting and seeing. ‘Peace in our lunchtime,’ one woman laughed. I thought I would leave it a few minutes before approaching the shop directly. A leather-jacketed stranger ...

Once a Syrian, always a Syrian

Maria Margaronis: Joseph O’Neill, 8 March 2001

Blood-Dark Track: A Family History 
by Joseph O'Neill.
Granta, 338 pp., £16.99, February 2001, 1 86207 288 4
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... War Two. Jim O’Neill was arrested in 1940, when Eamon de Valera’s Government, fearful that IRA activities might compromise Eire’s neutrality, rounded up all known IRA men. He was held for four years at the Curragh internment camp in County Kildare. Joseph Dakak was seized by the British at the Syrian border in ...

Finding an Enemy

Conor Gearty: Sixty Years of Anti-Terrorist Legislation, 15 April 1999

Legislation against Terrorism: A Consultation Paper. CM 4178. 
by Home Office and Northern Ireland Office.
70 pp., £9.95, December 1998, 0 10 141782 9
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... after an afternoon amble through a supportive House of Lords. It was the Irish in general, and the IRA in particular, who provided the explanation for this contrived panic, which could not be justified even from statistics available at the time. (The worst IRA atrocity of this period, the killing of five people in ...


Ian Gilmour, 23 October 1986

Britain’s Civil Wars: Counter-Insurgency in the 20th Century 
by Charles Townshend.
Faber, 220 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 0 571 13802 0
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Terrorism and the Liberal State 
by Paul Wilkinson.
Macmillan, 322 pp., £25, May 1986, 0 333 39490 9
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Terrorism: How the West can win 
edited by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Weidenfeld, 254 pp., £14.95, August 1986, 0 297 79025 0
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Political Murder: From Tyrannicide to Terrorism 
by Franklin Ford.
Harvard, 440 pp., £24.95, November 1985, 0 674 68635 7
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The Financing of Terror 
by James Adams.
New English Library, 294 pp., £12.95, July 1986, 0 450 06086 1
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They dare to speak out: People and institutions confront Israel’s lobby 
by Paul Findley.
Lawrence Hill (Connecticut), 362 pp., $16.95, May 1985, 0 88208 179 9
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... That will be news to the people of Northern Ireland, who will be keen to know whether the IRA are totalitarian Communists or radical Muslims. According to Mr Netanyahu, terrorism does not stem from social misery and frustration. There are no ‘root causes’ of terrorism other than ‘the political ambitions and designs of expansionist states and the ...

In the field

Nigel Hamilton, 5 November 1981

Washington Despatches, 1941-45: Weekly Political Reports from the British Embassy 
edited by H.G. Nicholas.
Weidenfeld, 700 pp., £20, August 1981, 0 297 77920 6
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British Intelligence and the Second World War. Vol. II 
by F.H. Hinsley, E.E. Thomas, C.F.G. Ransom and R.C. Knight.
HMSO, 850 pp., £15.95, September 1981, 0 11 630934 2
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Mars without Venus: A Study of Some Homosexual Generals 
by Frank Richardson.
William Blackwood, 188 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 9780851581484
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Soldiering on: An Unofficial Portrait of the British Army 
by Dennis Barker.
Deutsch, 236 pp., £8.50, October 1981, 0 233 97391 5
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A Breed of Heroes 
by Alan Judd.
Hodder, 288 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 340 26334 2
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War in Peace: An Analysis of Warfare Since 1945 
edited by Robert Thompson.
Orbis, 312 pp., £9.95, September 1981, 0 85613 341 8
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... Some weeks ago Sir Isaiah Berlin gave a broadcast in which he described his first visit to the legendary Russian poet Anna Akhmatova in Moscow in 1945 – a visit cut short in its prime by the bellowing of Randolph Churchill in the courtyard outside, hotly pursued by the Russian Secret Police. Alas, such humorous anecdotes will not be found by Berlin devotees in his latest book, Washington Despatches ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Swing Time’, 4 April 2019

... and Shall We Dance and George Stevens for Swing Time); and there are the differences among Irving Berlin (Top Hat), Jerome Kern (Swing Time) and George Gershwin (Shall We Dance) as composers. There is some amazing dialogue (in this case by Allan Scott and Ernest Pagano – Allan Scott is credited on all three movies): ‘What are the grounds for divorce in ...

De Valera and Churchill

John Horgan, 21 July 1983

In Time of War 
by Robert Fisk.
Deutsch, 566 pp., £25, April 1983, 0 233 97514 4
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... pro-German sentiment, it is true, but it was never more than marginal. It could be found among the IRA, who still believed that England’s difficulty was Ireland’s opportunity. It was sometimes based on a mistaken class analysis of the conflict: in the words of one of Mr Fisk’s informants, ‘the Establishment people around here [Co. Kerry] did not want ...

I sizzle to see you

John Lahr: Cole Porter’s secret songs, 21 November 2019

The Letters of Cole Porter 
edited by Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh.
Yale, 672 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21927 2
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... and disappear before one’s eyes with an almost sinister facility.’As late as 1926, Irving Berlin, the songwriter Porter most admired and the only other master of the Broadway musical besides himself to write both words and music, counselled the frustrated Porter to return to New York where the city and the audience were much changed since he’d ...

At the Courtauld

T.J. Clark: Symptoms of Cézannoia, 2 December 2010

... flushed fruit turns out to be a painting of part of a painting produced 20 years before (now in Berlin): an ominous, doom-laden vision of familiar things, done in the great thunder and lightning impasto of Cézanne’s first (I hate ‘early’) style. The Moscow Smoker’s elbow goes off at a neat tangent into a long vertical borrowed from the edge of a ...

Through Plate-Glass

Ian Sansom: Jonathan Coe, 10 May 2001

The Rotters’ Club 
by Jonathan Coe.
Viking, 405 pp., £14.99, April 2001, 0 670 89252 1
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... fixing onto a sequel. The book begins: ‘On a clear, blueblack, starry night, in the city of Berlin, in the year 2003, two young people sat down to dinner. Their names were Sophie and Patrick.’ These two, it turns out, are merely the offspring of two of the novel’s main characters, whose stories Sophie proceeds to tell: ‘Come with ...

‘It didn’t need to be done’

Tariq Ali: The Muslim Response, 5 February 2015

... for the victims of Allied bombings at the Hôtel de Ville. War fever apart (the shouts of ‘To Berlin!’ in 1914), the great moments of unanimity have taken place at public funerals – like those of Victor Hugo, Pierre Overney, Jean-Paul Sartre, or Edith Piaf. Sunday’s demonstration is of the same order, the crowd is moved by sentiment and satisfied by ...

Uneasy Listening

Paul Laity: ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, 8 July 2004

Germany Calling: A Personal Biography of William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw-Haw’ 
by Mary Kenny.
New Island, 300 pp., £17.99, November 2003, 1 902602 78 1
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Lord Haw-Haw: The English Voice of Nazi Germany 
by Peter Martland.
National Archives, 309 pp., £19.99, March 2003, 1 903365 17 1
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... Beaverbrook instructed his newspapers to monitor the anonymous propaganda programmes coming out of Berlin, and the Express radio critic, who wrote under the name Jonah Barrington, began to invent nicknames for the various broadcasters: ‘Auntie Gush’, ‘Ursula the Pooh’, ‘Uncle Smarmy’. It amounted to an unofficial attempt to kill propaganda by ...

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