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Leave them weeping

Colin Grant: Frederick Douglass, 1 August 2019

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom 
by David Blight.
Simon and Schuster, 892 pp., £30, November 2018, 978 1 4165 9031 6
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... original sin. The Constitution had classified a black man as three-fifths of a person. Like John Brown, with whom he corresponded, Douglass believed that this could only be atoned for, and abolition achieved, by the use of force. But he drew back when Brown encouraged him to join the doomed and bloody ...

Is Michael Neve paranoid?

Michael Neve, 2 June 1983

... influenced by Christian pietism, idealist philosophy, particularly that of Schelling, the work of John Brown, the former pupil of Cullen who attempted to relate all diseases to states of over or under-excitation of the nervous system, and the example of English mad-doctors, for whose empirical method Heinroth had considerable respect: William Perfect ...

Royal Americans

D.A.N. Jones, 4 October 1984

Lincoln 
by Gore Vidal.
Heinemann, 657 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 434 83077 1
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Stars and Bars 
by William Boyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £8.50, September 1984, 0 241 11343 1
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... will already know that Lincoln has four more years to live before he is shot by Herold’s friend, John Wilkes Booth, the most notorious of all those Americans who have sought to win fame by killing heroes and idols. In this urgent manner, blending the legendary and the humdrum, Gore Vidal introduces his story, like a 20th-century version of a Greek tragedy ...

Chastity

John Barton, 16 March 1989

The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity 
by Peter Brown.
Faber, 504 pp., £32.50, February 1989, 0 571 15446 8
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Adam, Eve and the Serpent 
by Elaine Pagels.
Weidenfeld, 189 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 297 79326 8
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Heaven: A History 
by Colleen McDannell and Bernhard Lang.
Yale, 410 pp., £16.95, November 1988, 0 300 04346 5
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... to the theme of two more weighty studies, Elaine Pagels’s Adam, Eve and the Serpent and Peter Brown’s The Body and Society. This theme is human sexuality. Until very recently, almost all Christians assumed without question that this would have no place in the world to come, where ‘they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of ...

The world’s worst-dressed woman

Ruth Bernard Yeazell, 1 August 1996

Queen Victoria’s Secrets 
by Adrienne Munich.
Columbia, 264 pp., £22, June 1996, 0 231 10480 4
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... later circulated about her well-publicised weakness for male attendants like the Scottish gillie, John Brown, the Queen did not always adhere to this message. While Victoria may surely be forgiven for relaxing her grasp on the marble Albert, her refusal to moderate her attentions to Brown suggests that in this ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon BrownThe Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... The guiding star of his youth has entirely vanished from his firmament. In 1975 the young Gordon Brown compiled, edited and published a socialist manifesto entitled Red Paper for Scotland. At 24, he had just completed a three-year term as rector of Edinburgh University and chaired the University Court in the face of continuous opposition from some of the ...

Valorising Valentine Brown

Patricia Craig, 5 September 1985

Ascendancy and Tradition in Anglo-Irish Literary History from 1789 to 1939 
by W.J. McCormack.
Oxford, 423 pp., £27.50, June 1985, 0 19 812806 1
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Across a Roaring Hill 
edited by Gerald Dawe and Edna Longley.
Blackstaff, 258 pp., £10.95, July 1985, 0 85640 334 2
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Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 
by Seamus Deane.
Faber, 199 pp., £15, July 1985, 0 571 13500 5
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Escape from the Anthill 
by Hubert Butler.
Lilliput, 342 pp., £12, May 1985, 0 946640 00 9
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... of the new English-speaking aristocracy that had ousted the old Irish-speaking one. ‘Valentine Brown’, as these purists saw it, was the sort of ludicrous name an arriviste landowner might call himself – someone who’d installed himself in a demesne of the great McCarthys, now dead or dispersed. In this world, the speaker of ‘cunning ...

What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... Like many​ recent political memoirists, Gordon Brown begins his story in medias res. Given his rollercoaster time in Downing Street, punctuated by the gut-wrenching drama of the financial crisis, there should have been plenty of arresting moments to choose from. Some, though, are already taken. Alistair Darling, for instance, starts Back from the Brink, his 2011 account of what it was like being Brown’s chancellor, on Tuesday, 7 October 2008, when Sir Tom McKillop, the chairman of RBS, called him to announce that his bank was about to go bust and to ask what the government planned to do about it ...

Pentecost

John Burnside, 19 June 2003

... mud fretted with bird-prints light slurred with oil and slicked reflections ice white or coffee brown strawberry red or a blue that never arrives at daylight. We are here so you can name the world you know one object at a time: fishing boat, lighthouse, herring gull, open sky, those shoals of fish that skirt the harbour walls searching for food a work you ...

The Reshuffle and After

Ross McKibbin: Why Brown should Resign, 25 May 2006

... however, it isn’t clear how much we can read into them. Local elections in the last days of John Major’s government did, it’s true, accurately predict the outcome of the 1997 general election, but that is very unusual. In any case, comparisons between Major’s last days and the position of the present government don’t really hold up. Labour’s ...

Dephlogisticated

John Barrell: Dr Beddoes, 19 November 2009

The Atmosphere of Heaven: The Unnatural Experiments of Dr Beddoes and His Sons of Genius 
by Mike Jay.
Yale, 294 pp., £20, April 2009, 978 0 300 12439 2
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... the French Republic. Just before the arrests, an English medical student studying in Edinburgh, John Edmonds Stock, had been sent down to London by Watt with a letter to the London Corresponding Society inviting them to mount a similar insurrection. Hearing just in time that he was a wanted man, he disappeared, to resurface later in Philadelphia, where he ...

As God Intended

Rosemary Hill: Capability Brown, 5 January 2012

The Omnipotent Magician: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown 1716-83 
by Jane Brown.
Chatto, 384 pp., £20, March 2011, 978 0 7011 8212 0
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... for the W Front?’ These were the questions he intended to put to Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, then at the peak of his career as the most famous and sought after landscape designer of the day, who had been booked to make an inspection of Burton Constable and give his opinion of its ‘capabilities’ for improvement. Constable’s notes are a ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 9 October 2013

... writing in the Mail, thinks the way to understand Damian McBride’s relationship to Gordon Brown is by analogy with the Third Reich. McBride didn’t need to take direct orders from his boss because he already understood the violence that Brown wished on his enemies. The underling was working towards the ...

Narrative

John Burnside, 17 March 2011

... with your father? Or was it someone else rigged up the boat to drag a skier through the sweet brown river, kids taking turns to stand tall in the wake and feel the cool of it, the unaccustomed thrill of seeing themselves from the outside, almost grown and elegant, like people who had luck and money? All afternoon they hurtled back and forth at breakneck ...

Guerrilla into Criminal

Richard White: Jesse James, 5 June 2003

Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War 
by T.J. Stiles.
Cape, 510 pp., £20, January 2003, 9780224069250
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... 1860s, western Missouri and eastern Kansas produced Border Ruffians, Jayhawkers, guerrillas and John Brown. Pro-slavery men and Abolitionists, Confederates and Union men murdered their opponents. Unionists expelled many non-combatants in an attempt to deny guerrillas support. The Southern guerrillas rode under the black flag, slaughtering their ...

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