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Sheep into Goats

Gabriele Annan, 24 January 1980

The British Aristocracy 
by Mark Bence-Jones and Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.
Constable, 259 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 461780 5
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The Astors 
by Virginia Cowles.
Weidenfeld, 256 pp., £8.50, November 1980, 9780297776246
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Barclay Fox’s Journal 
edited by R.L. Brett.
Bell and Hyman, 426 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 0 7135 1865 0
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... every ten years. Her book falls into three main periods, beginning with the German immigrant John Jacob Astor (1763-1848) who founded the family fortunes in the fur trade. Those engaged in it were prepared to suffer appalling physical hardship in the frozen North and to ruin the Indians and one another as opportunity arose. The first ...

You have a new memory

Hal Foster: Trevor Paglen, 11 October 2018

Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen 
by John P. Jacob and Luke Skrebowski.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 252 pp., £45, July 2018, 978 1 911282 33 4
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Trevor Paglen 
by Lauren Cornell, Julia Bryan-Wilson and Omar Kholeif.
Phaidon, 160 pp., £29.95, May 2018, 978 0 7148 7344 2
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... shows a murky sea bottom with a section of tube that looks like marine junk. Here, as the curator John Jacob points out in his excellent essay in the Smithsonian publication, Paglen works against the obfuscation of terms like ‘cyberspace’ and ‘the cloud’; in his own words, Paglen aims to ‘rematerialise the network’ and thereby ‘to expand ...

The Future of John Barth

Michael Irwin, 5 June 1980

Letters 
by John Barth.
Secker, 772 pp., £7.95, May 1980, 0 436 03674 6
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The Left-Handed Woman 
by Peter Handke, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Eyre Methuen, 94 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 413 45890 3
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Passion Play 
by Jerzy Kosinski.
Joseph, 271 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 7181 1913 4
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... Offering a critical account of John Barth’s new book within the confines of a periodical review is like trying to haul a whale on board a fishing smack. For the sake of brevity, even my formal description of the work must be brutally oversimplified. It is an epistolary novel, divided into seven sections, one for every ‘letter’ of the title ...

Mrs Straus’s Devotion

Jenny Diski, 5 June 1997

Last Dinner on the ‘Titanic’: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner 
by Rick Archbold and Dana McCauley.
Weidenfeld, 128 pp., £9.99, April 1997, 1 86448 250 8
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The ‘Titanic’ Complex 
by John Wilson Foster.
Belcouver, 92 pp., £5.99, April 1997, 0 9699464 1 4
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Down with the Old Canoe 
by Steven Biel.
Norton, 300 pp., £18.95, April 1997, 9780393039658
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... in first class, and the hopes of the dispossessed in steerage. The Titanic was a ship of fools. As John Wilson Foster tells us, the grand staircase came in William and Mary style, though the balustrade was Louis XIV; the first-class dining saloon and reception rooms were Jacobean, the restaurant Louis XVI, the lounge Louis XV (Versailles), the reading and ...

Mastering the Art of Understating Your Wealth

Thomas Keymer: The Tonsons, 5 May 2016

The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... discipline and exported it to North America. As good a claimant as any is the London bookseller Jacob Tonson (1656-1736). With his hard-nosed nephew Jacob the younger (1682-1735), Tonson dominated the publishing business of his day and died a landed gentleman worth a reported £40,000 – though he was also an early ...

Heritage

Gabriele Annan, 6 March 1997

The Architect of Desire: Beauty and Danger in the Stan ford White Family 
by Suzannah Lessard.
Weidenfeld, 352 pp., £18.99, March 1997, 0 297 81940 2
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... Chanler clan, in the late 19th century, included II orphaned siblings maternally descended from John Jacob Astor. The eldest orphan had eight children, one of whom married Stanford White’s only child Lawrence. This Chanler lady, if you remember, became ‘Mama’ – Lessard’s grandmother with the second-generation liquid jewel/wine face. The ...

Spinoza got it

Margaret Jacob: Radical Enlightenment, 8 November 2012

A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy 
by Jonathan Israel.
Princeton, 276 pp., £13.95, September 2011, 978 0 691 15260 8
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... as described by historians such as Cassirer, Gay, Daniel Mornet, Franco Venturi, Robert Darnton, John Marshall (and myself) – dissolves in Israel’s dialectical thinking. Israel sees two Enlightenments, one radical and good, the other moderate and of mixed value at best. Born and educated in Britain, now teaching in the United States, he finds little of ...

Messianism

John Dunn, 30 December 1982

The Myth of the Nation and the Vision of Revolution 
by J.L. Talmon.
Secker, 632 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 436 51399 4
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... In The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy in 1952 the late Jacob Talmon offered an influential diagnosis of ‘the most vital issue of our time ... the headlong collision between empirical and liberal democracy on the one hand, and totalitarian democracy on the other, in which the world crisis of today consists ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck, 16 November 2000

The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... as a mere imitator. Richard Dana thought his ‘Marco Bozzaris’ was America’s best lyric poem. John Quincy Adams referred to one of his poems in a speech to the House of Representatives in 1836. Most inexplicable of all, on 15 May 1877, fifty thousand people gathered in Central Park to see President Hayes unveil a statue of Halleck in the so-called ...

More Pasts Than One

Eric Foner, 23 March 1995

Telling the Truth about History 
by Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob.
Norton, 322 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 0 393 03615 4
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... an intellectually plausible lineage for the nation state. As Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob demonstrate, a particular version of history has played a major role in defining the American nation. What they call the ‘self-congratulatory national history’ of the 19th century helped to recast the experience of a few million people on the fringe of ...

Full-Employment Utopias

Christopher Hill, 16 July 1981

Utopia and the Ideal Society: A Study of English Utopian Writing, 1516-1700 
by J.C. Davis.
Cambridge, 427 pp., £25, March 1981, 0 521 23396 8
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Science and Society in Restoration England 
by Michael Hunter.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £18.50, March 1981, 0 521 22866 2
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... Peter Chamberlen’s The Poore Mans Advocate (1649), Peter Cornelius Plockhoy (1659), John Bellers’s Proposals for Raising a College of Industry (1695), and two essays by an anonymous Hermeticist, Philadept, published in 1698 and 1700. Many in this last group were discussed in 1952 by J.K. Fuz in a pioneering work, Welfare Economics in English ...

Jack and Leo

John Sutherland, 27 July 1989

The Letters of Jack London 
edited by Earle Labor, Robert Leitz and Milo Shepard.
Stanford, 1657 pp., $139.50, October 1988, 0 8047 1227 1
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Tolstoy 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 572 pp., £16.95, May 1988, 0 241 12190 6
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... schooner (the original of Wolf Larson’s hell-ship, the Ghost). He returned to enlist as one of Jacob S. Coxey’s army of unemployed in its protest march on Washington. Still not 20, he hoboed all round North America, spent some time in jail and returned to enrol at Berkeley. He dropped out after a semester to dig for gold in the Yukon. He was back in ...

Diary

John Lloyd: Long weekend in Yaroslavl, 20 July 1995

... complete and coercive, self-sacrificing and non-negotiable. I had with me my seven-year-old son, Jacob. We were given the smaller of the two rooms as our bedroom, while Sasha lodged with friends nearby, and Natasha, Tania and Nikolai slept in the larger room. No question of a hotel or of my staying with neighbours. Knowing their poverty, I had brought a bag ...

Gutted

Steven Shapin, 30 June 2011

A Modern History of the Stomach: Gastric Illness, Medicine and British Society, 1800-1950 
by Ian Miller.
Pickering and Chatto, 195 pp., £60, May 2011, 978 1 84893 181 7
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... guinea pigs. In 1822, the illiterate young French-Canadian was working as a ‘voyageur’ for John Jacob Astor’s fur-trading company in northern Michigan. He was hanging out with a bunch of rowdies in the company store when a shotgun accidentally went off and he was hit below his left nipple. The injury was serious and likely to be fatal – his ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Detroit’, 21 September 2017

Detroit 
directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
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... North and the difficulties of race relations. The lecturing effect is mitigated by the magnificent Jacob Lawrence paintings in the background, and effectively collapses when the text asserts that ‘change was inevitable.’ One major point of the movie is how little has changed since 1967, and Bigelow has said as much in interviews. Unless of course the ...

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