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The Left’s Megaphone

Eric Hobsbawm, 8 July 1993

Harold Laski: A Political Biography 
by Michael Newman.
Macmillan, 438 pp., £45, March 1993, 0 333 43716 0
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Harold Laski: A Life on the Left 
by Isaac Kramnick and Barry Sheerman.
Hamish Hamilton, 669 pp., £25, June 1993, 0 241 12942 7
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... have undoubtedly pleased their subject. Both Michael Newman’s ‘Political Biography’ and Isaac Kramnick and Barry Sheerman’s ‘A Life on the Left’ rightly insist on their man’s public face. But even his political life was peculiar, if only because this profoundly political man never became a politician, or exerted serious influence on the ...

An Agreement with Hell

Eric Foner, 20 February 1997

Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution 
by Jack Rakove.
Knopf, 439 pp., $35, April 1996, 0 394 57858 9
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... or encourage any particular form of worship or religious expression. He helped to write what Isaac Kramnick and Laurence Moore have recently called a ‘godless Constitution’, which specifically prohibited religious tests for public office: quite an innovation for the 18th century. Moreover, Rakove shows, his understanding of religious freedom ...

Enlightenment Erotica

David Nokes, 4 August 1988

Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America 
by Peter Wagner.
Secker, 498 pp., £30, March 1988, 0 436 56051 8
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’Tis Nature’s Fault: Unauthorised Sexuality during the Enlightenment 
edited by Robert Purks Maccubin.
Cambridge, 260 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 521 34539 1
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The New Eighteenth Century: Theory, Politics, English Literature 
edited by Felicity Nussbaum and Laura Brown.
Methuen, 320 pp., £28, February 1988, 0 416 01631 6
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... heterosexual, the Newtonian establishment attacked him as if he had uttered the unthinkable.’ Isaac Kramnick was ‘savaged’ for broaching the subject of Burke’s homosexuality. Wilmarth Lewis was cowardly ‘to pretend that [Horace] Walpole was heterosexual.’ As Rousseau warms to his theme, his essay takes on an imperial sweep. The Mutiny on ...

The devil has two horns

J.G.A. Pocock, 24 February 1994

The Great Melody: A Thematic Biography and Commented Anthology of Edmund Burke 
by Conor Cruise O’Brien.
Minerva, 692 pp., £8.99, September 1993, 0 7493 9721 7
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... to denounce it as oppressive in Ireland. The same ambivalence was detected and explored by Isaac Kramnick in a book called The Rage of Edmund Burke (1977), and both historians are right in seeing it as the key to much in Burke. O’Brien’s explanation employs historical concepts more real and convincing than ...

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