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Holland’s Empire

V.G. Kiernan, 17 August 1989

Dutch Primacy in World Trade, 1585-1740 
by Jonathan Israel.
Oxford, 462 pp., £45, June 1989, 0 19 822729 9
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... Jonathan Israel seeks, as few before him have done, to explain the phenomenal rise and then fall of the Dutch commercial hegemony by viewing it against a global background. His theme is its centrality ‘for over a century in the making of the Early Modern world’. His big book comes close to being a history of Europe, even of the whole world, or at least of commercial relations everywhere and the bearing of these on political relations ...

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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... Once primarily interested in economic history, Jonathan Israel has more recently turned his attention to the intellectual roots of Western modernity in the 18th-century Enlightenment. In the 1980s, critics on the left would have told him not to bother. During that decade the Enlightenment became a prime target in the American culture wars ...

The Brothers Koerbagh

Jonathan Rée: The Enlightenment, 14 January 2002

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 
by Jonathan Israel.
Oxford, 810 pp., £30, February 2001, 0 19 820608 9
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... with scant acknowledgment to her; and if they have all added a few extra pebbles to the cairn, Jonathan Israel now comes along with a massive concrete block. Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750 comprises half a million words of evidence for a systematic underground movement of progressive thought that formed itself ...

Horrible Heresies

Jonathan Rée: Spinoza’s Big Idea, 16 March 2017

The Collected Works of Spinoza Vol. II 
edited and translated by Edwin Curley.
Princeton, 769 pp., £40.95, June 2016, 978 0 691 16763 3
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... and he was soon launched on a posthumous career as the figurehead of the atheistic movements that Jonathan Israel likes to call the ‘radical enlightenment’. Subversive Spinozism was still being championed in plebeian London as late as the 1830s, when – as G.H. Lewes would recall – a poverty-stricken German Jewish watchmaker called Cohn (‘a man ...

Lost in Leipzig

Alexander Bevilacqua: Forgotten Thinkers, 29 June 2023

Knowledge Lost: A New View of Early Modern Intellectual History 
by Martin Mulsow, translated by H.C. Erik Midelfort.
Princeton, 434 pp., £35, January, 978 0 691 20865 7
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... are presented as ‘the heroic forerunners of modernity’ (this is surely a dig at Jonathan Israel, who sees the Enlightenment as a battle of heroic radicals against conservatives and moderates).For Mulsow, the ‘dividing line between the knowledge precariat and the knowledge bourgeoisie’ is a better frame of analysis than ...
Hans Memling: The Complete Works 
by Dirk de Vos.
Thames and Hudson, 431 pp., £95, October 1994, 0 500 23698 4
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... though curiously, in this view, without art. Writing about De Vos in the TLS, the historian Jonathan Israel argued that, far from being unconnected with the real world, Memling provided the art appropriate to give quasi-legitimacy to new men: his patrons were ambitious arrivistes in the employ of the ducal court. Memling, in ...

Newton reinvents himself

Jonathan Rée, 20 January 2011

Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist 
by Thomas Levenson.
Faber, 318 pp., £9.99, August 2010, 978 0 571 22993 2
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... head and our country repeopled with foreigners’. He did not miss a trick in turning himself, as Jonathan Israel once put it, into an object of ‘national detestation’. The only comfort he could offer his subjects was the exhilaration of war. Within a few days of the coronation, the English fleet engaged the French off the coast of Ireland, and at ...

Homage to Braudel

Geoffrey Parker, 4 September 1980

Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe – XVIIIe siécle 
by Fernand Braudel.
Armand Colin, 544 pp.
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... by some new studies’: but the works referred to are not the excellent recent articles of Jonathan Israel, nor even the 1976 book of Gonzalo de Raparaz, but an article of Lewis Hanke published in 1961 and another by Raparaz from 1967. But there are not many areas in which Civilisation Matérielle is out of date. On the contrary, a considerable ...

Enlightenment’s Errand Boy

David A. Bell: The Philosophes and the Republic of Letters, 22 May 2003

Calvet’s Web: Enlightenment and the Republic of Letters in 18th-Century France 
by L.W.B. Brockliss.
Oxford, 471 pp., £55, July 2002, 9780199247486
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The Great Nation: France from Louis XV to Napoleon 
by Colin Jones.
Allen Lane, 651 pp., £25, August 2002, 0 7139 9039 2
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... As Diderot himself later acknowledged, ‘we had contemporaries during the age of Louis XIV’ (Jonathan Israel has recently restated this argument in a new form in Radical Enlightenment, focusing on the Netherlands and the circle of Spinoza). Brockliss takes a different tack. He wants to show, first, that the Republic of Letters survived into the late ...

The Israel Lobby

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt: The Israel Lobby, 23 March 2006

... Six-Day War in 1967, the centrepiece of US Middle Eastern policy has been its relationship with Israel. The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread ‘democracy’ throughout the region has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but that of much of the ...

Travels in Israel

Gabriel Piterberg: ‘Are you not from this country?’, 21 September 2006

... On the road to Qiryat Shemona in northern Israel, on Sunday, 13 August, just before the ceasefire is declared, my mobile phone buzzes incessantly: my mother would just like to know if I think that either Jews or Arabs are worth dying for. Woody Allen’s line about being brought up by a castrating Zionist mother comes to mind ...

The Lobby Falters

John Mearsheimer: Charles Freeman speaks out, 26 March 2009

... 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 ...

Middle Eastern Passions

Keith Kyle, 21 February 1980

The Palestinians 
by Jonathan Dimbleby.
Quartet, 256 pp., £12.50, September 1980, 0 7043 2205 6
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The Rabin Memoirs 
by Yitzhak Rabin.
Weidenfeld, 272 pp., £10, November 1980, 0 297 77546 4
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... to get out of the way so as to provide free-fire zones for the Arab armies. The Arabs, as Jonathan Dimbleby shows in his book, stick passionately by the contention tint they were either physically ejected by the Israelis or impelled to flee by Jewish psychological warfare. In the original draft of his book Yitzhak Rabin, who in 1948 was a 26-year-old ...

Short Cuts

Mouin Rabbani: Medical Apartheid, 18 March 2021

... The​ Israeli defence minister, Benny Gantz, said on 25 February that Israel was suspending an initiative to provide nineteen countries with a hundred thousand surplus jabs from its stock of Covid-19 vaccines. The gesture by Benjamin Netanyahu had not been part of Covax, the global initiative to ensure more equitable access to inoculations ...


Jonathan Sumption, 16 July 1981

Crusader Institutions 
by Joshua Prawer.
Oxford, 519 pp., £30, September 1980, 0 19 822536 9
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... powers, and their political development remained in the retentive hands of European functionaries. Israel is different, and so were the Crusading kingdoms of the Levant which preceded it. Here, moreover, Europeans were not colonials but migrants, creating their own institutions. Here they did not have the advantage enjoyed by the Spanish in South America and ...

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