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Big Acts

Ross McKibbin, 19 February 1981

Portrait of a Progressive: The Political Career of Christopher, Viscount Addison 
by Kenneth Morgan and Jane Morgan.
Oxford, 326 pp., £15, May 1980, 9780198224945
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... The Doctors Morgan had the happy idea of converting Jane Morgan’s doctoral thesis on the career of Christopher Addison into a book and the result is this important and sympathetic biography. As they point out in their preface, he has hitherto had no worthwhile study; R. J. Minney’s biography is, they rightly note, ‘very unsatisfactory’ and drawn from a narrow range of sources ...

Middle Way

Paul Addison, 6 December 1979

Consensus and Disunity: The Lloyd George Coalition Government 1918-1922 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 436 pp., £15
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... and, as if in sympathy, historians have moved to reassess the forgotten regimes. Now Kenneth Morgan has written a first-class study of the Lloyd Georgian experiment of 1918-1922. For some time a muffled debate has been in progress about how political history should be interpreted; from the top downwards, or from the grass roots up? Dr ...

Coalition Phobia

Brian Harrison, 4 June 1987

Labour People, Leaders and Lieutenants: Hardie to Kinnock 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 370 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 19 822929 1
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J. Ramsay MacDonald 
by Austen Morgan.
Manchester, 276 pp., £19.50, June 1987, 0 7190 2168 5
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Sylvia Pankhurst: Portrait of a Radical 
by Patricia Romero.
Yale, 334 pp., £17.50, March 1987, 0 300 03691 4
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Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst 
by Barbara Castle.
Penguin, 159 pp., £3.95, May 1987, 0 14 008761 3
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... summer, Labour will plunge once more into debating its own history. Not reluctantly, because as Kenneth Morgan points out, the Party ‘has been captivated, even obsessed, by its history’; even more than the Conservatives it is, he says, ‘a prisoner of its past’. Yet the debate will probably be more painful than in the recent past, because it ...

When Neil Kinnock was in his pram

Paul Addison, 5 April 1984

Labour in Power 1945-1951 
by Kenneth Morgan.
Oxford, 546 pp., £15, March 1984, 0 19 215865 1
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... these sectarian times can still convey a true appreciation of Labour’s finest hour, it is surely Kenneth Morgan. He writes for the wide spectrum of readers who still talk the language of common-sense democratic debate. Of course this is rather a deceptive language. It is actually the old Whig ideology, broad and flexible, on which the British have got ...

Churchill’s Jackal

Kenneth O. Morgan, 24 January 1980

Brendan Bracken 
by Charles Edward Lysaght.
Allen Lane, 372 pp., £10, September 1980, 0 7139 0969 2
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... It’s just that he isn’t a real person. He isn’t a human being at all.’ This verdict on Rex Mottram in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited conveys something of the despairing bafflement of contemporaries towards the real-life right-wing politician on whom Mottram was modelled – Brendan Bracken. Even in the political fluidity of the Thirties and the Second World War, Bracken, with his self-created and well-advertised mystique as a man of mystery, taxed to the limit the Tories’ appetite for self-made adventurers, already fully tested in the past by such as Disraeli and ‘F ...

The Tories’ Death-Wish

Kenneth O. Morgan, 15 May 1980

Tariff Reform in British Politics 
by Alan Sykes.
Oxford, 352 pp., £16, December 1979, 0 19 822483 4
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... What baffles one is the persistence of the party in a cause that was politically so calamitous.’ These perceptive words by Lord Blake, the foremost historian of the Conservative Party, aptly sum up the handling of the issues of protective tariffs and imperial preference by the Conservative or Unionist Party between 1903 and 1914. These Edwardian years were dominated by the Liberals, and especially by Lloyd George’s populistic brand of democratic radicalism and social reform ...

The Road to 1989

Paul Addison, 21 February 1991

The People’s Peace: British History 1945-1989 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 558 pp., £17.95, October 1990, 0 19 822764 7
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... Kenneth Morgan’s history of our times is both rewarding and frustrating. It is rewarding on government and politics since 1945, and frustrating on social and economic structure. Between the two, at the point where government and society meet, Dr Morgan is at his most interesting and controversial ...

Make me work if you can

T.H. Breen, 18 February 1988

Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775 
by Roger Ekirch.
Oxford, 277 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 19 820092 7
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... convicts after they had been sentenced. Indeed, this book and a series of excellent articles by Kenneth Morgan should become mandatory reading for those who imagine that privatisation might represent an improvement over a state-run penal system. The British government negotiated contracts with merchants who specialised in the convict trade. It was a ...

Modern Wales

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 November 1981

Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880-1980 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Oxford, 463 pp., £15, March 1981, 0 19 821736 6
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... industrial and urban population, and much of the rural population, too, in particular areas. Dr Morgan sums up the effect of the growth of this section: ‘Every major Welsh political movement in the last hundred years, from Cymru Fydd in the 1890s down to Plaid Cymru in the 1970s, found difficulty in reconciling its industrial and rural ...

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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... bus who’d actually voted for him ten years earlier, and I’d done it with some exasperation. Kenneth Morgan’s over-long biography brings back all these feelings. Part of the problem is Morgan himself. He has written a long list of books about Wales, the Labour Party, Lloyd George, Wales, Jim ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Magdalen College Portraits, 3 May 1984

... I move on to a story of peaceful though remarkable government – to Labour in Power 1945-1951 by Kenneth O. Morgan. This is a remarkable achievement of political history. The first Attlee government changed the entire character of British politics and administration, or so it seemed at the time – here was a government ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... commendable in the light of recent misadventures than it did to idealistic critics at the time. Kenneth Morgan describes Wilson’s career after 1969 as a ‘slow diminuendo’, but it is arguably in this period that his most enduring political legacy was established. First, after the failed bid for EEC entry and Labour’s return to opposition in ...

Dev and Dan

Tom Dunne, 21 April 1988

The Hereditary Bondsman: Daniel O’Connell, 1775-1829 
by Oliver MacDonagh..
Weidenfeld, 328 pp., £16.95, January 1988, 0 297 79221 0
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Eamon de Valera 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
University of Wales Press, 161 pp., £19.95, November 1987, 0 7083 0986 0
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Nationalism and Popular Protest in Ireland 
edited by C.H.E. Philpin.
Cambridge, 466 pp., £27.50, November 1987, 0 521 26816 8
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Northern Ireland: Soldiers talking, 1969 to Today 
by Max Arthur.
Sidgwick, 271 pp., £13.95, October 1987, 0 283 99375 8
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War as a Way of Life: A Belfast Diary 
by John Conroy.
Heinemann, 218 pp., £12.95, February 1988, 0 434 14217 4
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... in the making of British politics’ from the University of Wales, under the general editorship of Kenneth O. Morgan. ‘Personal’ it certainly is, but it is also the work of a distinguished biographer whose earlier subjects include Arthur Conan Doyle and P.G. Wodehouse. This may appear to be a strangely assorted ...

Empty Cookie Jar

Donald MacKenzie: Ethnoaccountancy, 22 May 2003

Pipe Dreams: Greed, Ego and the Death of Enron 
by Robert Bryce.
PublicAffairs, 394 pp., £9.99, November 2002, 1 903985 54 4
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Enron: The Rise and Fall 
by Loren Fox.
Wiley, 384 pp., £18.50, October 2002, 0 471 23760 4
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... 1986, Enron was involved in joint drilling with Bush’s company, Spectrum 7. Enron’s chairman, Kenneth Lay, seems to have developed a joshing intimacy with Bush. Loren Fox reproduces Bush’s 1997 birthday letter to Lay: ‘55 years old. Wow! That is really old. Thank goodness you have such a young, beautiful wife.’ Political links outside the US were ...

The New Archaeology

Patrick Wormald, 18 March 1982

A Short History of Archaeology 
by Glyn Daniel.
Thames and Hudson, 232 pp., £9.50, June 1981, 0 500 02101 5
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A Social History of Archaeology 
by Kenneth Hudson.
Macmillan, 197 pp., £20, March 1981, 0 333 25679 4
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Rites of the Gods 
by Aubrey Burl.
Dent, 258 pp., £12, September 1981, 0 460 04313 7
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... who proved Thomsen’s three-age system (stone, bronze, iron) by excavation in the field; Lewis Morgan, whose classification of human development into seven ‘ethnic periods’ from ‘lower savagery’ (up to the discovery of fire) to ‘civilisation’ (from the alphabet onwards) strongly influenced Engels; and, at the other extreme, Giovanni Battista ...

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