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Linda Colley, 1 November 1984

The Origins of Anglo-American Radicalism 
edited by Margaret Jacob and James Jacob.
Allen and Unwin, 333 pp., £18.50, February 1984, 0 04 909015 1
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Insurrection: The British Experience 1795-1803 
by Roger Wells.
Alan Sutton, 312 pp., £16, May 1983, 9780862990190
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Radicalism and Freethought in 19th-Century Britain 
by Joel Wiener.
Greenwood, 285 pp., $29.95, March 1983, 0 313 23532 5
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For King, Constitution and Country: The English Loyalists and the French Revolution 
by Robert Dozier.
Kentucky, 213 pp., £20.90, February 1984, 9780813114903
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... Just the place for a snark, the Bellman said. And with equal assurance, political activists from Tom Paine to Friedrich Engels and historians from Elie Halévy to Edward Thompson have hailed 18th and 19th-century Britain as just the place for a revolution. For superficially – though only superficially – the conditions seem to have been almost ideal ...

At the tent flap sin crouches

James Wood: The Fleshpots of Egypt, 23 February 2006

The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary 
by Robert Alter.
Norton, 1064 pp., £34, November 2004, 0 393 01955 1
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... the word, or the deed, but the face. ‘Darkness was upon the face of the deep,’ runs the King James Version in the second verse of the opening of Genesis. ‘And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.’ Two uses of ‘face’ in one verse, and a third implied face, surely: God’s ...


Jacob Beaver: Harold Beaver, 3 April 2003

... I was stoned out of my mind. Back in the room, my father was absorbed in an article about Henry James. I discovered that the shower emitted hot water. It felt like divine intervention. I’ve no idea how long I spent under the nozzle, transfixed by the warm rush. When I emerged, the room was four inches deep in steaming water. The drain was blocked, but my ...

A Smaller Island

Matthew Reynolds: David Mitchell, 10 June 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 
by David Mitchell.
Sceptre, 469 pp., £18.99, May 2010, 978 0 340 92156 2
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... sinister closed nunnery within a sinister closed shrine. Into this archipelago of confinement step Jacob de Zoet, a young clerk from the Netherlands who is hoping to earn his fortune; and Aibagawa Orito, a young midwife whose skill has earned her the privilege of studying under the island’s physician, Dr Marinus, and thus of being, apart from the courtesans ...

At Auckland Castle

Nicola Jennings: Francisco de Zurbarán, 4 June 2020

... owner couldn’t be blamed for failing to anticipate the resulting public outcry: the pictures of Jacob and 11 of his 12 sons had hung at Auckland Castle in County Durham for more than 250 years, and, though viewable by appointment, had attracted little attention. In 2012, the castle and its paintings were bought for £15 million by Jonathan Ruffer, a ...

Spinoza got it

Margaret Jacob: Radical Enlightenment, 8 November 2012

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy 
by Jonathan Israel.
Princeton, 276 pp., £13.95, September 2011, 978 0 691 15260 8
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... its origins in the 1680s, in the response to the invigorated absolutism of Louis XIV in France and James II in England. The French Protestants who fled persecution, and Locke, who hid in the Dutch republic from agents sent by James II to capture him, were credited with formulating new ideas about religious ...

I love her to bits

Deborah Friedell: ‘The Testaments’, 7 November 2019

The Testaments 
by Margaret Atwood.
Chatto, 419 pp., £20, September 2019, 978 1 78474 232 4
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... In​ P.D. James’s strangest novel, The Children of Men (1992), humans stop being able to get pregnant, and no one can figure out why. Scientific research comes to nothing. Years pass without a newborn child. All the nurseries close, then all the schools. With no hope of posterity, landowners let their estates rot; scholars take up golf ...

Short Cuts

James Meek: Deepfakery, 5 December 2019

... usually between five and 15 minutes long, featuring Faragist reliables like Nigel Farage himself, Jacob Rees-Mogg or Johnson. Each will be placed in a situation where they appear both to be endorsed by a highly respectable institution and surrounded by vicious enemies – Farage in the European Parliament, Rees-Mogg on the BBC being asked a hostile question ...

The Two Jacobs

James Meek: The Faragist Future, 1 August 2019

... will live in a nice house in the middle of London, but it won’t be his house. Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Arron Banks bought it for him. They own 10 Downing Street, and they own him. Amid a cascade of extreme events and consequences, we all tend to lose focus – not just the humble citizen but those charged with steering us through. Early in the ...

Sheep into Goats

Gabriele Annan, 24 January 1980

The British Aristocracy 
by Mark Bence-Jones and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.
Constable, 259 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 461780 5
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The Astors 
by Virginia Cowles.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 9780297776246
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Barclay Fox’s Journal 
edited by R.L. Brett.
Bell and Hyman, 426 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 7135 1865 0
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... every ten years. Her book falls into three main periods, beginning with the German immigrant John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) who founded the family fortunes in the fur trade. Those engaged in it were prepared to suffer appalling physical hardship in the frozen North and to ruin the Indians and one another as opportunity arose. The first John ...


James Wood: These Etonians, 4 July 2019

... slightly vulgar double-breasted suit – surely an Ealing comedy idea of an English gent? – came Jacob Rees-Mogg. Him! Like Johnson, Rees-Mogg appeared unchanged from schooldays. He was four years below me, notorious as soon as he arrived, because he never seemed young. He wandered around the school gazing blandly at people through his windscreen spectacles ...

Myths of the Artist’s Youth

Nicholas Penny, 7 November 1991

... of that influence is not always obvious and the biographer is always liable to exaggerate it. Max Jacob, Apollinaire, the Steins – such figures live in this biography not only as very strange, strong personalities but by virtue of their beliefs and talents which Richardson vividly summarises. Jacob was Picasso’s first ...

More Pasts Than One

Eric Foner, 23 March 1995

Telling the Truth about History 
by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob.
Norton, 322 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 0 393 03615 4
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... an intellectually plausible lineage for the nation state. As Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob demonstrate, a particular version of history has played a major role in defining the American nation. What they call the ‘self-congratulatory national history’ of the 19th century helped to recast the experience of a few million people on the fringe of ...

Echoes from the Far Side

James Sheehan: The European Age, 19 October 2017

The Pursuit of Power: Europe 1815-1914 
by Richard J. Evans.
Penguin, 848 pp., £12.99, June 2017, 978 0 14 198114 7
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... built, railways altered the way millions of men and women experienced time and space: the train, Jacob Burckhardt wrote in 1840, ‘glides in 33 or 35 minutes to … distant Potsdam … It really flies there like a bird.’ They also greatly enhanced the ability of governments to project power, allowing them to penetrate their territories and control their ...

The Other Thomas

Charles Nicholl, 8 November 2012

... The tale of the apostle Thomas is a sea unspeakably vast.’ Thus the Syriac poet Jacob of Sarugh, who lived in upper Mesopotamia in the late fifth and early sixth centuries. The words are stirring but to our ears perhaps surprising, because in the West we think we know Thomas’s ‘tale’ and its significance pretty well ...

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