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Say what you will about Harold

Christopher Hitchens, 2 December 1993

Wilson: The Authorised Life 
by Philip Ziegler.
Weidenfeld, 593 pp., £20, September 1993, 0 297 81276 9
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... been debated for decades whether Wilson resigned on this matter, along with Aneurin Bevan and John Freeman, 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 task. Prescription charges, on the one ...

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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... of his research attacks the familiar claim that heavy internet use makes people more isolated. John Freeman’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,’ but Watkins finds that young people’s internet use ...

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 official, but he has publicly criticised Israeli policy and America’s special relationship with Israel, saying, for example, in a speech in 2005, that ‘as long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected ...

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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... 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 a verbal lashing, and Gaitskell would reply with cold ...

Diary

Sophie Harrison: Taking blood, 21 July 2005

... Venetian Bleeding Glass, a late 19th-century paean to this vanishing tradition of extravagance, John Freeman 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 different chemicals, which allow the blood to be kept in the ...

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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... 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 teaches history and ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 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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... 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 villainous wine-bar called the Bung Hole, Crossman told a group ...

Digging up the Ancestors

R.W. Johnson, 14 November 1996

Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... 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 moderniser,’ the blurb begins. With Labour under Blair ...

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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... 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 with the split of 1951, when Gaitskell imposed prescription ...

Manufacturing in Manhattan

Eric Foner, 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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... 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 presence. A major contribution to understanding the ...

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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... 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 voters were ...

1086, 1886, 1986 and all that

John Dodgson, 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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... 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 custom. The Introduction of Brown’s book should be ...

Molehunt

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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... 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 greater opportunities in the West for both humint operations ...

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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... 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, Freeman initiated the ...

Doom Sooner or Later

John Leslie, 5 June 1997

Imagined Worlds 
by Freeman Dyson.
Harvard, 216 pp., £14.50, May 1997, 0 674 53908 7
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... Freeman Dyson warns us in Imagined Worlds that he is now ‘an old scientist pretending to be a sage’ and that ‘we learn from science and from history that the future is unpredictable.’ As well as diagnosing our present ills, however, Dyson offers strong hopes that our descendants will colonise not just their own galaxy in its entirety, but others too ...

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