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2 December 1993
Wilson: The Authorised Life 
by Philip Ziegler.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 297 81276 9
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... they covered the vicissitudes of deck-tennis?) were to be sacrificed to the Moloch of re-armament. It’s been debated for decades whether Wilson resigned on this matter, along with Aneurin Bevan and JohnFreeman, because of the principle of National Health, or because of the more ancient principle of reculer pour mieux sauter. And it’s hard to blur this choice, but Ziegler has a clumsy try at the ...

The Lobby Falters

John​ Mearsheimer: Charles Freeman​ speaks out

26 March 2009
... Many people in Washington were surprised when the Obama administration tapped Charles Freeman to chair the National Intelligence Council, the body that oversees the production of National Intelligence Estimates: Freeman had a distinguished 30-year career as a diplomat and Defense Department ...

The Great National Circus

Eric Foner: Punch-Ups in the Senate

22 November 2018
The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War 
by Joanne Freeman.
Farrar, Straus, 450 pp., £20.99, September 2018, 978 0 374 15477 6
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... he died a few months after the assault at the age of 37, suffocating from croup. Anyone with even a passing interest in the Civil War era has heard of the attack on Charles Sumner. But as Joanne Freeman demonstrates in The Field of Blood (the title an allusion to the Senate floor in a letter received by Sumner), it was far from the only violent incident involving members of Congress. Freeman, who ...

Dream Ticket

Peter Shore

6 October 1983
The Diary of Hugh Gaitskell 1945-1956 
by Philip Williams.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, September 1983, 0 224 01911 2
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... The chemistry of the two men made it highly unlikely. Michael Foot, in his eulogistic biography of his great friend, Bevan, quotes this passage from an obituary of Gaitskell, written in 1963 by John Strachey, who had strong relations with both men and who attended, as they did, the weekly dinner given for a small group of ministers by Stafford Cripps. Bevan, writes Foot, ‘would give Gaitskell ...

Always On

Stephanie Burt: Facebook

10 June 2010
The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook 
by Ben Mezrich.
Heinemann, 260 pp., £11.99, July 2009, 978 0 434 01955 7
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The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future 
by Craig Watkins.
Beacon, 249 pp., £17.50, October 2009, 978 0 8070 6193 0
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Stealing MySpace: The Battle to Control the Most Popular Website in America 
by Julia Angwin.
Random House, 371 pp., £17.50, March 2009, 978 1 4000 6694 0
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The Tyranny of Email: The Four Thousand Year Journey to your Inbox 
by John Freeman.
Scribner, 244 pp., £17.99, October 2009, 978 1 4165 7673 0
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The Peep Diaries: How We’re Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbours 
by Hal Niedzviecki.
City Lights, 256 pp., £12, May 2009, 978 0 87286 499 3
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... real concern is with what happens when people of whatever age conduct their social lives online. Much of his research attacks the familiar claim that heavy internet use makes people more isolated. JohnFreeman’s polemic The Tyranny of Email cites a study that purports to show how ‘people burned up two hours a day on the internet’ that ‘they would normally spend with family and friends ...
1 June 2000
Working-Class New York: Life and Labour Since World War Two 
by Joshua Freeman.
New Press, 393 pp., $35, May 2000, 1 56584 575 7
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... of Henry George’s bestseller of the 1880s), New York today is more polarised economically than anywhere else in the US – a fact explained in part by the decline of the labour movement. Joshua Freeman’s Working-Class New York chronicles the events from 1945 to the present that have turned America’s quintessential union city into one in whose political and cultural life labour is only a shadowy ...
25 October 1990
Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... cane: much relish here in the details. ‘Dick’ moans to Stephen Spender: ‘Even if I become prime minister, I’ll never again be as great as I was at Winchester.’ ‘Dick’ is immortalised by John Betjeman: Broad of Church and Broad of Mind, Broad Before and Broad Behind. ‘Dick’ competes with Auden for the affections of a rugby-player – I cherish this bit because years later, in a ...
14 November 1996
Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... he despised the very notion of the ‘long term’. Nobody tries to make a case for James Callaghan, Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock as candidates for the pantheon and some of the devotion to the late John Smith derives, no doubt, from a desperate endeavour to find a leader of note somewhere. Hence this book. ‘Hugh Gaitskell was the grandfather of Tony Blair’s revolution, the original Labour ...

Up the Garden Path

R.W. Johnson: Michael Foot

26 April 2007
Michael Foot: A Life 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Harper, 568 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 0 00 717826 1
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... at length later on, but he never did. Bevan was the principal figure in Foot’s political life. As Morgan puts it, Foot was not just Bevan’s comrade but (modestly) ‘his Boswell, his Engels, his John the Baptist, and of course his parliamentary heir’. At this distance it is difficult to understand the passions of the decade-long civil war between Bevanites and Gaitskellites which originated ...


Sophie Harrison: Taking blood

21 July 2005
... Washington was relieved of nine pints of blood within 24 hours; he died shortly afterwards. In The Old Venetian Bleeding Glass, a late 19th-century paean to this vanishing tradition of extravagance, JohnFreeman Knott, a Dublin doctor, mourns the passing of such times, which he calls the ‘primrose days of phlebotomy’. The consultant explained that the collection tubes are pre-filled with ...


Christopher Andrew

22 January 1987
Sword and Shield: Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus 
by Jeffrey Richelson.
Harper and Row, 279 pp., £11.95, February 1986, 0 88730 035 9
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The Red and the Blue: Intelligence, Treason and the University 
by Andrew Sinclair.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £12.95, June 1986, 0 297 78866 3
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Inside Stalin’s Secret Police: NKVD Politics 1936-39 
by Robert Conquest.
Macmillan, 222 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 39260 4
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Conspiracy of Silence: The Secret Life of Anthony Blunt 
by Barrie Penrose and Simon Freeman.
Grafton, 588 pp., £14.95, November 1986, 0 246 12200 5
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... apart, much of Richelson’s useful survey is a digest of previous work on the KGB. At times it is too much of a digest: the notes to Chapter Two contain 27 consecutive references to two books by John Barron. Despite the enormous Soviet investment in technical intelligence, Richelson considers its importance smaller than in the United States, because of inferior Soviet technology and the much ...
22 May 1986
Domesday: 900 Years of England’s Norman Heritage 
edited by Kate Allen.
Millbank in association with the National Domesday Committee, 192 pp., £3, March 1986, 0 946171 49 1
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The Normans and the Norman Conquest 
by R. Allen Brown.
Boydell, 259 pp., £19.50, January 1985, 0 85115 427 1
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The Domesday Book: England’s Heritage, Then and Now 
edited by Thomas Hinde.
Hutchinson, 351 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 09 161830 4
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Domesday Heritage 
edited by Elizabeth Hallam.
Arrow, 95 pp., £3.95, February 1986, 0 09 945800 4
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Domesday Book through Nine Centuries 
by Elizabeth Hallam.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £12.50, March 1986, 0 500 25097 9
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Domesday Book: A Reassessment 
edited by Peter Sawyer.
Arnold, 182 pp., £25, October 1985, 0 7131 6440 9
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... published in 1969, this book presents the Conquest of England as a part of the Norman ‘expansion’ which also colonised Sicily and Antioch. It is corrective of the Anglo-Saxon propaganda of Freeman and Stenton, proper to bear in mind as we contemplate the 900-year history of a great monument which the Norman administrative and political genius constructed upon the durable remains of Anglo-Saxon ...


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 pitfalls of the computer and explains that the data-base for his poll-book analysis must contain a variety of types of constituency: ‘generalisations based upon the study of a handful of freeman boroughs would be dangerous.’ He then constructs a data-base with one householder borough and five freeman boroughs, having ruled out burgage boroughs ‘because of the obvious pressure under which ...

Deadly Eliza

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: ‘The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors’

1 November 2001
The Whole Family: A Novel by Twelve Authors 
by William Dean Howells et al.
Duke, 416 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2838 0
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Publishing the Family 
by June Howard.
Duke, 304 pp., £13.50, November 2001, 0 8223 2771 6
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... he done so, however, than he was upstaged by an ‘old-maid aunt’: a character whom Howells had originally relegated to the tenth chapter, but who arrived in the next instalment, by Mary Wilkins Freeman, to drop what the editor later termed ‘a bomb-shell on our literary hearthstone’. Strenuously resisting Howells’s characterisation of the aunt even as she took unexpected charge of the plot ...
3 October 1996
The Quest for God: A Personal Pilgrimage 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 216 pp., £14.99, March 1996, 0 297 81764 7
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Is There a God? 
by Richard Swinburne.
Oxford, 144 pp., £20, February 1996, 0 19 823544 5
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God in Us: A Case for Christian Humanism 
by Anthony Freeman.
SCM, 87 pp., £5.95, September 1993, 0 344 02538 1
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Robert Runcie: The Reluctant Archbishop 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Hodder, 401 pp., £20, October 1996, 0 340 57107 1
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... not to answer this particular prayer. Either way, prayer seemed a fool’s game, and one of the cardinal promises of the New Testament – ‘If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will give it’ (John 14) – seemed not to be a promise. Faith might move mountains, but in an invisible mountain range. And I noticed that when people were speaking in tongues, instead of producing a nonsense version of ...

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