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Malcolm Vale: Agincourt, 19 May 2016

The Hundred Years War, Vol. IV: Cursed Kings 
by Jonathan Sumption.
Faber, 909 pp., £40, August 2015, 978 0 571 27454 3
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Agincourt 
by Anne Curry.
Oxford, 272 pp., £18.99, August 2015, 978 0 19 968101 3
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The Battle of Agincourt 
edited by Anne Curry and Malcolm Mercer.
Yale, 344 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 300 21430 7
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24 Hours at Agincourt: 25 October 1415 
by Michael Jones.
W.H. Allen, 352 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 0 7535 5545 3
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Agincourt: Henry V, the Man-at-Arms and the Archer 
by W.B. Bartlett.
Amberley, 447 pp., £20, September 2015, 978 1 4456 3949 9
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... As W.B. Bartlett puts it, the battle ‘made legends of a class known simply as “the English yeoman”, to whom the triumph of Agincourt more than any others belongs’. The 600th anniversary of the battle, fought on 25 October 1415, was celebrated last year with re-enactments, exhibitions, lectures, acts of memorialisation and remembrance, an ...

Hammers for Pipes

Richard Fortey: The Beginnings of Geology, 9 February 2006

Bursting the Limits of Time 
by Martin Rudwick.
Chicago, 840 pp., £31.50, December 2005, 0 226 73111 1
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... were first precipitated from a universal ocean. Hutton’s prose was opaque, but his champion John Playfair ensured that the wider world appreciated his message. Not long afterwards, William ‘Strata’ Smith produced the first good geological map, using characteristic fossils as guides to rock formations. After some difficulties in getting the map ...

The Vicar of Chippenham

Christopher Haigh: Religion and the life-cycle, 15 October 1998

Birth, Marriage and Death: Ritual, Religion and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England 
by David Cressy.
Oxford, 641 pp., £25, May 1998, 0 19 820168 0
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... ceremony, but the culmination of weeks or months of courtship, gift-giving and negotiation. John Hayne of Exeter pursued Susan Henley with godly vigour in 1634: his presents included Arthur Hildersham’s Lectures upon the Fourth of John, a Bible and two books of sermons, as well as ribbons, gloves and green silk ...

Cameron’s Crank

Jonathan Raban: ‘Red Tory’, 22 April 2010

Red Tory: How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix it 
by Phillip Blond.
Faber, 309 pp., £12.99, April 2010, 978 0 571 25167 4
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... triumph of a perverted and endlessly corrupting liberalism’. After a drive-by shooting of John Rawls (‘he had no convincing vision of the good society or the good life’), and a wildly constructive misreading of Rawls’s famous ‘veil of ignorance’, Blond ties himself in verbal knots as he tries to assert that the liberal state is destined to ...

Leave me alone

Terry Eagleton: Terry Eagleton joins the Yeomen, 30 April 2009

What Price Liberty? How Freedom Was Won and Is Being Lost 
by Ben Wilson.
Faber, 480 pp., £14.99, June 2009, 978 0 571 23594 0
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... of the high-minded Germans, but liberty as the right to be cussedly, bloody-mindedly oneself. ‘John is John,’ as Tony Blair wryly murmured of John Prescott when he punched a demonstrator, suggests something of this tautological quality. This brand of liberty is not in principle ...

At Norwich Castle Museum

Alice Spawls: ‘The Paston Treasure’, 13 September 2018

... or queen. The letters, first published in 1787, revealed a family on the make. Clement Paston, a yeoman farmer born at the end of the 14th century, set his son up as a lawyer. The lawyer bought land, and his son John inherited more, including Caister Castle, from his wife’s cousin, Sir ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... reported his findings to the president and his officials, including the White House counsel, John Dean. As 1972 was an election year, the strategy of the White House focused on containment. In the short term, at least, the president’s men were successful. The break-in did not become a big story. On 19 June Ron Ziegler, Nixon’s press secretary, called ...

Divided We Grow

John Barrell: When Pitt Panicked, 5 June 2003

The London Corresponding Society 1792-99 
edited by Michael T. Davis.
Pickering & Chatto, £495, June 2002, 1 85196 734 6
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Romanticism, Publishing and Dissent: Joseph Johnson and the Cause of Liberty 
by Helen Braithwaite.
Palgrave, 243 pp., £45, December 2002, 0 333 98394 7
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... than that of the LCS, was Joseph Johnson, who was born in Everton in 1738, the son of a Baptist yeoman farmer and small landowner. At 14 he was bound apprentice to a London bookseller; in 1760, aged 22, he opened his own shop in Fenchurch Street; five years later he moved to Paternoster Row, the centre of the London book trade; and when, in 1770, the ...

Burbocentrism

Tom Shippey, 23 May 1996

Beyond Uhura: ‘Star Trek’ and Other Memories 
by Nichelle Nichols.
Boxtree, 320 pp., £9.99, December 1995, 0 7522 0787 3
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I Am Spock 
by Leonard Nimoy.
Century, 342 pp., £16.99, November 1995, 0 7126 7691 0
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Science Fiction Audiences: Watching ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Star Trek’ 
by Henry Jenkins and John Tulloch.
Routledge, 294 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 415 06140 7
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‘Star Trek’: Deep Space Nine 
by Mark Altman, Rob Davis and Tony Pallot.
Boxtree, 64 pp., £8.99, May 1995, 0 7522 0898 5
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... was only about 10 per cent; and in their study of science fiction audiences, Henry Jenkins and John Tulloch note the continuing rejection of Star Trek by ‘the male establishment of literary science fiction fandom’. Actually, no group of fans can be called an establishment: none of them has any power at all, not even, for all the write-in ...

Urban Humanist

Sydney Checkland, 15 September 1983

Exploring the Urban Past: Essays in Urban History by H.J. Dyos 
edited by David Cannadine and David Reeder.
Cambridge, 258 pp., £20, September 1982, 0 521 24624 5
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Themes in Urban History: Patricians, Power and Politics in 19th-Century Towns 
edited by David Cannadine.
Leicester University Press, 224 pp., £16.50, October 1982, 9780718511937
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... There were studies on the Trevelyan model of the ‘what it felt like to be a villein or a yeoman’ school, finding their market in empathy and nostalgia. The Hammonds and others had provided an impetus for the ‘industrial revolution was hell’ school, finding their market among the indicters of contemporary society. But real work on the social ...

Big Ben

Stephen Fender, 18 September 1986

Franklin of Philadelphia 
by Esmond Wright.
Harvard, 404 pp., £21.25, May 1986, 0 674 31809 9
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... taxes on America, in the shape of the Townshend Acts of 1767 (to which other Americans like John Dickinson and Samuel Adams responded with ever more ingenious arguments like the right of Parliament to legislate for the colonies, as against tax them), Franklin wrote his son William ‘that no middle doctrine can be well maintained ... Something might be ...

Halls and Hovels

Colin Richmond, 19 December 1991

The Architecture of Medieval Britain 
by Colin Platt, with photographs by Anthony Kersting.
Yale, 325 pp., £29.95, November 1990, 0 300 04953 6
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... Yet they were as surely on their way to full farmhouse status as their occupants were en route to yeoman farmer.’ He is speaking of Gomeldon in Wiltshire, but evidently wishes us to take Gomeldon for all England. It is ‘surely on their way to’ which gives the game away: Mr Platt is writing to convince himself. Needless to say, there are no pictures of ...

Diary

Clive James, 20 May 1982

... Even if that is true will take it hard. The sceptic courts a sojourn in the Tower Of London with a yeoman as a guard. War fever mounts. All one can do is watch it And hope that this time our side doesn’t botch it. The Secretary of Defence, John Nott, Has made a whopping balls-up in the House. The Foreign Secretary’s ...

Anxious Pleasures

James Wood: Thomas Hardy, 4 January 2007

Thomas Hardy: The Time-Torn Man 
by Claire Tomalin.
Viking, 486 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 670 91512 2
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... to make marriage choices that are sociologically fraught: will the landed female farmer marry the yeoman or the gentleman farmer (Bathsheba and Gabriel Oak or Farmer Boldwood)? Will the milkmaid marry the clergyman’s son or the nouveau riche seducer (Tess and Angel Clare or Alec D’Urberville)? Will the intellectual stonemason take the plebeian slattern or ...

Man Is Wolf to Man

Malcolm Gaskill: C.J. Sansom, 23 January 2020

Tombland 
by C.J. Sansom.
Pan Macmillan, 866 pp., £8.99, September 2019, 978 1 4472 8451 2
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... down in a stream with her legs in the air. Footprints incriminate Edith’s estranged husband, John, who had left her for a barmaid nine years previously. Shardlake suspects John Boleyn has been framed. If he hangs, which seems likely, it would scandalise Elizabeth, who orders an investigation and wants him pardoned if ...

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