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Vitality

John Cannon, 10 May 1990

A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 
by Paul Langford.
Oxford, 803 pp., £25, September 1989, 0 19 822828 7
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Voters, Patrons and Parties: The Unreformed Electorate of Hanoverian England, 1734-1832 
by Frank O’Gorman.
Oxford, 445 pp., £40, August 1989, 0 19 820056 0
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... The publication of the first volume of the New Oxford History of England series, under the general editorship of J.M. Roberts, is something of an awesome event. Generations of schoolchildren and students thumbed their way through their predecessors, Davies and Clark, Woodward and Ensor, and it must be an agreeable thought to the new authors that their books will be selling deep into the 21st century ...

Downward Mobility

Linda Colley, 4 May 1989

The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians 
edited by John Cannon, R.H.C. Davis, William Doyle and Jack Greene.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £39.95, September 1988, 9780631147084
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Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian, 1772-1794 
by Patricia Craddock.
Johns Hopkins, 432 pp., £19, February 1989, 0 8018 3720 0
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Gibbon: Making History 
by Roy Porter.
Palgrave, 187 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 312 02728 1
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Macaulay 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 9780297794684
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Acton 
by Hugh Tulloch.
Trafalgar Square, 144 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 297 79470 1
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... is chiefly valuable for its diversity. The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians edited by John Cannon is a splendid work which, even in these straitened times, should be snapped up by every self-respecting school and college library. There are over two hundred contributors; there are more than four hundred and fifty biographical essays on the ...

Knick-Knackatory

Simon Schaffer, 6 April 1995

Sir Hans Sloane: Collector, Scientist, Antiquary, Founding Father of the British Museum 
edited by Arthur MacGregor.
British Museum, 308 pp., £50, November 1994, 0 7141 2085 5
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... natural-history keeper staged annual cremations of Sloane’s decaying entomological specimens. John Cannon, an eminent plant taxonomist, reveals that after contemplating Sloane’s herbarium ‘one is left with a slight nagging feeling of anti-climax’ because the collector had the misfortune to live just before taxonomy became a proper science with ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Ulysses v. O.J. Simpson, 28 July 2016

... the favourite,’ Flynn says. ‘Lord Howard de Walden’s, won at Epsom. Morny Cannon is riding him.’ I paused over that one – Morny Cannon. It turns out he was born in Hampshire, Herbert Mornington Cannon, and came from a long line of jockeys, and has been ...

Rogue Socialists

Michael Mason, 1 September 1988

Francis Place, 1771-1854: The Life of a Remarkable Radical 
by Dudley Miles.
Harvester, 206 pp., £40, April 1988, 0 7108 1225 6
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Radical Underworld: Prophets, Revolutionaries and Pornographers in London, 1795-1840 
by Iain McCalman.
Cambridge, 338 pp., £27.50, March 1988, 0 521 30755 4
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... worth speculating about. What, for example, is the truth of the legend that James Mill entrusted John Stuart’s political education to Place? Mr Miles does not touch on it. The story told in Iain McCalman’s Radical Underground is told perforce from the outside. There are no personal records to give an inner logic and life to the careers of the early ...

A Spanish girl is a volcano

John Pemble: Apostles in Gibraltar, 10 September 2015

John Kemble’s Gibraltar Journal: The Spanish Expedition of the Cambridge Apostles, 1830-31 
by Eric Nye.
Macmillan, 416 pp., £100, January 2015, 978 1 137 38446 1
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... are no sodomites in Greene’s account, and the only coward, crank and sap-headed dilettante is John Sterling, the would-be mastermind of the whole affair. Charismatic, feckless and volatile, Sterling had dropped out of Cambridge, and by 1827, when he was 21, drifted to London, where he was dabbling in journalism and trying to sort out his doubts about ...

Grub Street Snob

Terry Eagleton: ‘Fanny Hill’, 13 September 2012

Fanny Hill in Bombay: The Making and Unmaking of John Cleland 
by Hal Gladfelder.
Johns Hopkins, 311 pp., £28.50, July 2012, 978 1 4214 0490 5
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... much in the book to justify it. It is an impressively learned, scrupulously detailed study of John Cleland, author of one of the most salacious pieces of fiction in the English language; but it is no disrespect to Hal Gladfelder to wonder whether the Johns Hopkins press would have been quite so eager to take on an erudite study of an obscure 18th-century ...

Fatalism

Graham Hough, 16 July 1981

A Start in Life 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 176 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 9780224018999
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Rhine Journey 
by Ann Schlee.
Macmillan, 165 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 333 28320 1
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The Sure Salvation 
by John Hearne.
Faber, 224 pp., £6.50, May 1981, 0 571 11670 1
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Beloved Latitudes 
by David Pownall.
Gollancz, 140 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 575 02988 9
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... of their sorrow are divided on strictly traditional lines by the gender of their authors – the cannon and the firing-squad against the drawing-room and the kitchen stove. At the end of David Pownall’s book the protagonist and his confidant are shot. At the end of John Hearne’s the leading characters have been ...

Morality in the Oxygen

E.S. Turner: Tobogganing, 14 December 2000

How the English Made the Alps 
by Jim Ring.
Murray, 287 pp., £19.99, September 2000, 0 7195 5689 9
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Killing Dragons: The Conquest of the Alps 
by Fergus Fleming.
Granta, 398 pp., £20, November 2000, 1 86207 379 1
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... climbed for the challenge, those who climbed for science and those who climbed to be nearer Him. John Tyndall, a scientist-mountaineer of high ideals, claimed to find moral and mystical edification in high places: ‘There is assuredly morality in the oxygen of the mountains, as there is immorality in the miasma of a marsh.’ His great rival, Leslie ...

One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith, 3 December 1992

An Evil Cradling 
by Brian Keenan.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £16.99, September 1992, 0 09 175208 6
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Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives 
by Con Coughlin.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 316 90304 3
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... to his train, he spoke skittishly of the politicians with whom he had to treat. The sight of the Cannon cinema on the Hagley Road elicited a lively appreciation of the neglected art of the Western. A short time later, when Terry Waite was held hostage in Beirut, journalists found themselves asking what his links were with Oliver North. I have on my desk the ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Shot At Dawn, 30 November 2006

... an act of parliament in September 2000. Westminster proved more cautious: SAD’s UK organiser, John Hipkin, was rebuffed by the first Blair administration, after meeting with the then armed forces minister, John Reid. The figures for military executions are puzzling. The French were the most enthusiastic executioners of ...

Where a man can be a man

Margaret Anne Doody, 16 December 1993

All the Pretty Horses 
by Cormac McCarthy.
Picador, 302 pp., £5.99, November 1993, 0 330 33169 8
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... is imprisoned largely because of love-complications (the same applies to McCarthy’s young John Grady Cole). Tortured, immured, separated from his beloved, Habrokomes is given the relief of a dream: he thought he saw his own father Lykomedes in black clothing travelling across all the lands and seas and arriving finally at his prison where he ...

Class Traitor

Edward Pearce, 11 June 1992

Maverick: The Life of a Union Rebel 
by Eric Hammond.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 297 81200 9
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... or worse, this union in its modern shape and title was born out of the struggle waged by Les Cannon, Jock Byrne and the later deleted Mark Young against the Communist leadership which had rigged elections in a style which would have done credit to the Kennedys or the Daleys in Chicago. The ETU resistance (it was hardly less) had received no succour from ...

Suck, chéri

E.S. Turner: The history of sweets, 29 October 1998

Sugar-Plums and Sherbet: A Prehistory of Sweets 
by Laura Mason.
Prospect, 250 pp., £20, June 1998, 0 907325 83 1
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... Peace reopened the tainted sugar routes. The victors celebrated not only with Nelson’s Balls (cannon balls, presumably) but with Nelson’s Buttons, Wellington Sticks and Bonaparte’s Ribs. Laura Mason is introduced as a food historian with a scientific background. She is thoroughly at home with the technicalities of sugar-boiling, a subtle process which ...

The Beast on My Back

Gerald Weissmann, 6 June 1996

The Harmony of Illusions: Inventing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 
by Allan Young.
Princeton, 327 pp., £28, March 1996, 0 691 03352 8
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... patterns. He pinpoints the birth of traumatic memory to a machine-made disaster, the train crash. John Erichsen was perhaps the first physician to describe the syndrome in the 1860s while examining victims of British railway accidents; he called it ‘railway spine’, and attributed it to vaguely defined neurological mechanisms that originated in dorsal ...

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