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No Restraint

John Demos: Chief Much Business, 9 February 2006

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Faber, 402 pp., £20, August 2005, 0 571 21840 7
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... Throughout the summer of 1763, a succession of Indian chiefs journeyed through the forest west of the British colonial town of Albany, New York, all heading for a single destination. Tuscaroras, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas and others: all of the Six Nations of the famed Iroquois Confederacy were represented. The focus of their attentions was a white man living in their midst, whose father had died the previous winter far away in Ireland ...

Visual Tumult

John Demos: Sensory history, 30 November 2006

Sensory Worlds in Early America 
by Peter Charles Hoffer.
Johns Hopkins, 334 pp., $25, December 2005, 9780801883927
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... As the long skein of historians’ interest continues to unwind – from its once dominant focus on politics and warfare, to the successively ‘new’ fields of intellectual, social and cultural history – the newest of the new is the senses. Sight, sound, taste, touch, smell: each has a history, and each has beckoned to scholars for at least a decade ...

Eunice’s Story

Hilary Mantel, 20 October 1994

The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America 
by John Demos.
Knopf, 325 pp., $25, July 1994, 0 394 55782 4
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... II, last of the Spanish Habsburgs: from his dead hands across an ocean, to the bound hands of John Williams, a minister of religion in Deerfield, a small settlement in New England. Europe’s conflicts are echoed and mimicked in this precarious, snow-bound frontier territory. The winter of 1703 to 1704 had been a season of ugly rumour, of a defensive ...

Devils Everywhere

David Wootton: The Terrors of the Night, 9 March 2006

At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime 
by Roger Ekirch.
Weidenfeld, 447 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 297 82992 0
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Saving the Daylight: Why We Put the Clocks Forward 
by David Prerau.
Granta, 256 pp., £14.99, October 2005, 1 86207 796 7
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... history of nighttime, which draws on accounts of the dark in early modern Europe. In a recent LRB John Demos pondered the perils of popular history, in which events constantly drive the story onwards, in which interpretations receive short shrift, in which character and personality trump situation and circumstance. Ekirch has written a book that anybody ...

There is no alternative to becoming Leadbeater

Nick Cohen: Charles Leadbeater, 28 October 1999

Living on Thin Air: The New Economy 
by Charles Leadbeater.
Viking, 244 pp., £17.99, July 1999, 0 670 87669 0
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... Charles Leadbeater and Martin Jacques, were ex-Communists who had wound up their party and formed Demos, a research centre aligned to Tony Blair’s New Labour project. Geoff Mulgan, a former Trotskyist and director of Demos, became a contributor to the paper’s opinion pages, as did a strange young man who had changed his ...

At Tate Britain

Julian Bell: ‘Migrations’, 8 March 2012

... 1980s art warring has come to seem, how uncouth in its communitarian accents. Nomadism, as T.J. Demos points out in an essay in the catalogue, has taken over as a prevalent art-world mode, exemplified by city-hoppers such as the Belgian Francis Alÿs. A video follows Alÿs insouciantly striding along, running a stick against lines of London railings. No ...


Frank Kermode, 3 February 1983

Gissing: A Life in Books 
by John Halperin.
Oxford, 426 pp., £18.50, September 1982, 0 19 812677 8
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George Gissing: Critical Essays 
edited by Jean-Pierre Michaux.
Vision/Barnes and Noble, 214 pp., £11.95, March 1981, 0 85478 404 7
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... without it the oeuvre would be no more than the interesting record of a pained but minor artist. John Halperin, of course, takes a different view, claiming that a dozen of the novels are ‘first-rate’. In order to reach that total he has to include The Paying Guest – indeed, he thinks it a ‘masterpiece’. As it is a short book, about thirty thousand ...

Mere Life or More Life?

Glen Newey: Bad Arguments, 14 July 2011

Great Books, Bad Arguments: ‘Republic’, ‘Leviathan’ and ‘The Communist Manifesto’ 
by W.G. Runciman.
Princeton, 127 pp., £13.95, March 2010, 978 0 691 14476 4
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Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy 
by Bonnie Honig.
Princeton, 197 pp., £15.95, August 2011, 978 0 691 15259 2
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... position, Runciman argues that the concluding, and no less voraciously skipped, Part III of John Rawls’s Theory of Justice is in fact the best bit, as it dispenses with the duff argumentation of Parts I and II, and looks instead to how the principles of justice get implemented institutionally. But whatever messages The Communist Manifesto ...

On the Sofa

Kate Summerscale: ‘Making a Murderer’, 5 January 2017

... Avery went back to jail. In ten hours of television that took almost ten years to produce, Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi minutely reconstruct the investigation of Halbach’s death. In particular, their series explores the possibility that the police framed Steven Avery for the killing and obtained a false confession from Brendan Dassey. The show has been ...

Ultimate Choice

Malcolm Bull: Thoughts of Genocide, 9 February 2006

The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing 
by Michael Mann.
Cambridge, 580 pp., £17.99, January 2005, 0 521 53854 8
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Genocide in the Age of the Nation State. Vol. I: The Meaning of Genocide 
by Mark Levene.
Tauris, 266 pp., £24.50, August 2005, 1 85043 752 1
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Genocide in the Age of the Nation State: Vol. II: The Rise of the West and the Coming of Genocide 
by Mark Levene.
Tauris, 463 pp., £29.50, August 2005, 1 84511 057 9
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... of entire social groups that happen to get in the way. And then there is what Michael Walzer and John Rawls both call a ‘supreme emergency’, when direct attacks on civilian targets are required in circumstances of dire military necessity. Since, in the nuclear age, ‘supreme emergency has become a permanent condition,’ this means that it is legitimate ...

On Nicholas Moore

Peter Howarth: Nicholas Moore, 24 September 2015

... Laudanum, Kenelme Sexnoth Pope, H.N. (Helga Nevvadotoomuch, c/o Lord Godmanchester (Gumster), The John Peelcroft Hadmanchester Podgoets, Night Slide Clubb, P.O. Box 1AA, BBC-wise, W.1, and others. The translations were just as elastic as these cartoon-rubber composites. In the Robert Lowell version actually used by the Sunday Times, ‘Spleen’ opens: I’m ...

That Wild Mercury Sound

Charles Nicholl: Dylan’s Decade, 1 December 2016

The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12: The Cutting Edge 1965-66 
by Bob Dylan.
Columbia, £60, November 2015
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... circuit, but he was less familiar with the recording studio. He was ‘terrible’, his producer John Hammond recalled: ‘Bobby popped every p, hissed every s, and habitually wandered off mike.’ But in another sense he knew just what he was doing. The album was made in just six hours of studio time – two three-hour sessions – at a cost of around ...

In Your Guts You Know He’s Nuts

Thomas Sugrue: Barry Goldwater, 3 January 2008

The Conscience of a Conservative 
by Barry Goldwater.
Princeton, 144 pp., £8.95, June 2007, 978 0 691 13117 7
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... leftist Students for a Democratic Society), as well as members of the staunchly anti-Communist John Birch Society (named for an American missionary said to have been killed by Maoists in 1945) and Southern whites alienated by the federal government’s role in eliminating Jim Crow. All of them pegged their hopes on the Arizona Republican senator Barry ...


Julian Symons, 9 November 1989

The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of ‘St George’ Orwell 
by John Rodden.
Oxford, 478 pp., £22.50, October 1989, 0 19 503954 8
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... Christian, wondered what he would have said about drugs, trade unions, birth control and student demos. The American ex-Communist Granville Hicks believed that he would have come out against both Stalin and Joe McCarthy, and implied that he would have approved of repentant Communists testifying before the McCarthy Commission. Such pointless but harmless ...


Glen Newey: Life with WikiLeaks, 6 January 2011

... noted, of possessing at least one cardinal virtue. Where politicians continually have to flatter a demos that sees them as clay-footed, each citizen, banjaxed and blandished by turns, is apt to divine in himself a moral purity his political masters lack. Democracies create a climate of moral narcissism among the politicised classes. The thought then beckons ...

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