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Whoopers and Shouters

James Morone: William Jennings Bryan, 21 February 2008

A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan 
by Michael Kazin.
Anchor, 374 pp., $16.95, March 2007, 978 0 385 72056 4
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... Inherit the Wind. I once played the role of Bryan and the director kept saying: ‘More pompous, Morone. Make him more pompous.’ Michael Kazin is a fine historian who specialises in the lost causes of the left. He has written sympathetic books on the Populist movement and the 1960s. In A Godly Hero, his life of Bryan, he now draws an unexpected ...

The Triumph of Plunder

James Morone: Gore Vidal on the venal history of America, 23 September 2004

Inventing a Nation: Washington, Adams, Jefferson 
by Gore Vidal.
Yale, 198 pp., £8.99, September 2004, 0 300 10592 4
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... in the first session of Congress offer a variation on the theme. What did men like John Adams and James Madison accomplish in the first legislature? The state needed funds, so the great political theorists haggled and horse-traded about whom to tax. First there was a proposed levy on molasses. The Virginians suggested six cents per gallon, New England, which ...

El Casino Macabre

James Morone: Rebellion of the Rich, 21 June 2007

Wall Street: A Cultural History 
by Steve Fraser.
Faber, 656 pp., £12.99, April 2006, 0 571 21829 6
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Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors 
by Charles S. Maier.
Harvard, 373 pp., £18.95, May 2006, 0 674 02189 4
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... party, came dressed as Henry VIII and fed lion meat to his guests. Back in the mutinous 1960s, James Baldwin promised a ‘fire next time’. But the fire this time comes in cool, ironic novels like Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities. When Oliver Stone released his satirical movie Wall Street, the business press embraced the slick financial ...

Good for Nothing

James Morone: America’s ‘base cupidity’, 19 May 2005

Born Losers: A History of Failure in America 
by Scott Sandage.
Harvard, 362 pp., £22.95, February 2005, 9780674015104
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... In 1629, King Charles I granted the Massachusetts Bay Company a standard commercial charter containing a clerical slip that changed the world. The document charged the stockholders with duly electing a board of management – a governor and 18 assistants – and holding them to account at quarterly meetings. However, crown officials failed to specify where the company headquarters should be (London would have been the usual assumption) and the wily leaders of the company absconded to New England, where they transformed quarterly meetings into government sessions, stockholders into freemen, assistants into magistrates, the governor into a Governor, and then piously declared their new regime to be ‘a city on a hill’ ready to serve as a model of divinely inspired governance for the rest of the world (well, for England, which came to the same thing ...

Smut-Finder General

Colin Kidd: The Dark Side of American Liberalism, 25 September 2003

Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History 
by James Morone.
Yale, 575 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09484 1
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... science – the American Political Science Association has some ten thousand members. However, as James Morone, a professor of political science at Brown University, reassures us, his colleagues in the discipline have themselves a very defective grasp of American political culture. In particular, Morone believes that ...

Collected Works

Angus Calder, 5 January 1989

Men, Women and Work: Class, Gender and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 
by Mary Blewett.
Illinois, 444 pp., $29.95, July 1988, 0 252 01484 7
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Men’s Lives 
by Peter Matthiessen.
Collins Harvill, 335 pp., £15, August 1988, 0 00 272519 3
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On Work: Historical, Comparative and Theoretical Approaches 
edited by R.E. Pahl.
Blackwell, 752 pp., £39.95, July 1988, 9780631157625
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Slavery and Other Forms of Unfree Labour 
edited by Léonie Archer.
Routledge, 307 pp., £28, August 1988, 0 415 00203 6
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The Historical Meanings of Work 
edited by Patrick Joyce.
Cambridge, 320 pp., £27.50, September 1987, 0 521 30897 6
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Origins of Freemasonry: Scotland’s Century 1590-1710 
by David Stevenson.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, November 1988, 0 521 35326 2
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... till thou return unto the ground.’ The New English Bible translates as ‘labour’ what King James’s scholars called ‘sorrow’ – ‘Accursed shall be the ground on your account. With labour you shall win your food from it.’ A few pages later comes the very odd passage in which Noah’s son Ham sees him naked when drunk. Awakening from his ...

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