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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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... J.R. and M.C. Jacob have produced new and exciting syntheses in the grand manner. The object of Dr Hunter’s book is to reconsider the ‘academic dimension’ of the new science, and its institutions. He avoids ‘uncritical counting of heads’ as a means of deciding how many Fellows of the Royal Society were ‘Puritans’. The answer, of course, always ...

No High Heels in Paradise

Keith Thomas: John Evelyn’s Elysium Britannicum, 19 July 2001

Elysium Britannicum, or the Royal Gardens 
by John Evelyn, edited by John Ingram.
Pennsylvania, 492 pp., £49, December 2000, 0 8122 3536 3
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... the first place because, as a Royalist in 1650s, there were no openings for him in public life. As Michael Hunter suggested in his contribution to the 1998 colloquium, Evelyn’s subsequent career as connoisseur, savant and writer was something of a pis aller. Elysium Britannicum is thus a not-altogether-easy mixture of Royalist politics, modern ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Stop-Loss’, 8 May 2008

Stop-Loss 
directed by Kimberly Peirce.
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... the war in Vietnam were slow in coming. Saigon fell in 1975, and Hal Ashby’s Coming Home and Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter both date from 1978. Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was 1979. In their separate ways these films were all about damage done to Americans; any damage done to others was ...

Making saints

Peter Burke, 18 October 1984

Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom 1000-1700 
by Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell.
Chicago, 314 pp., £21.25, February 1983, 0 226 89055 4
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The Norman Conquest and Beyond 
by Frank Barlow.
Hambledon, 318 pp., £22, June 1983, 0 907628 19 2
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Miracles and the Medieval Mind 
by Benedicta Ward.
Scolar, 321 pp., £17.50, November 1983, 0 85967 609 9
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The Great Debate on Miracles: From Joseph Glanvill to David Hume 
by R.M. Burns.
Associated University Presses, 305 pp., £17.50, July 1983, 0 8387 2378 0
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Saints and their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History 
edited by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 435 pp., £35, December 1983, 0 521 24978 3
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... Since then, a number of historians have tried their hand at the prosopography of the saints. Michael Goodich has attempted to draw ‘a profile of 13th-century sainthood’, André Vauchez has studied the later Middle Ages, and now two specialists in Italian history, Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell, have surveyed the whole of Western Christendom from ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Basingstoke’s Paisleyite, 21 April 2005

... discounted it wouldn’t have made any difference: the new Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Andrew Hunter, would just have been elected with a majority of 12,451 rather than 12,450. Hunter won’t be seeking re-election in May, having seen his majority – which peaked in 1992 at 21,198, making Basingstoke an apparently ...

The Nephew

David Thomson, 19 March 1981

Charmed Lives 
by Michael Korda.
Penguin, 498 pp., £2.50, January 1981, 0 14 005402 2
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... of Hungarian nerve, social bluff and show-business instinct once commanded the British cinema. In Michael Korda’s telling, however, the panorama of picture-making is not always alight with understanding or information. The author may have been born on the night in 1933 when his uncle Alexander Korda’s first great success, The Private Life of Henry ...

The First Person, Steroid-Enhanced

Hari Kunzru: Hunter S. Thompson, 15 October 1998

The Rum Diary 
by Hunter S. Thompson.
Bloomsbury, 204 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 9780747541684
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The Proud Highway: The Fear and Loathing Letters. Vol. I 
by Hunter S. Thompson, edited by Douglas Brinkley.
Bloomsbury, 720 pp., £9.99, July 1998, 0 7475 3619 8
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... the chance to speak in an unmediated first person fulfilled a more urgent necessity. It allowed Michael Herr, on assignment in Vietnam for Esquire and Rolling Stone, to write about his own terror and confusion as he drifted through the war zone, and it allowed Joan Didion, in The White Album, to weave details of her anxious upscale-Californian life into a ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Enough about Politics, 15 April 1982

... politics, indeed too much. Instead, a warm welcome for a new book by that indefatigable tramper Hunter Davies. This one is A Walk along the Tracks,* an exploration of the disused railway lines which have now accumulated to 8,000 miles, with no doubt more to come. Some of these lines have been taken over by enlightened local authorities and turned into ...

Unaccommodated Man

Christopher Tayler: Adventures with Robert Stone, 18 March 2004

Bay of Souls 
by Robert Stone.
Picador, 250 pp., £16.99, February 2004, 0 330 41894 7
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... but without it life would be meaningless as well. Or so the characters come to suspect. Michael Ahearn, the leading man of Stone’s new novel, Bay of Souls, starts out as one of these worldly protagonists. Quietly dissatisfied, fond of the bottle but sustained by the unexamined vestiges of Catholic faith, he teaches American literature in a sterile ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘3.10 to Yuma’, 1957 & 2007 , 18 October 2007

3.10 to Yuma 
directed by James Mangold.
September 2007
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3.10 to Yuma 
directed by Delmer Daves.
August 1957
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... longer glimpse of Peter Fonda’s entrails than most people will be eager to have (he’s a bounty hunter who’s been shot during the robbery of a coach). In the fantasy style required of current cinema, his body, open entrails notwithstanding, shows no sign of human vulnerability: as soon as the bullet is removed he is riding the trail again with the rest of ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Tree of Life’, 28 July 2011

The Tree of Life 
directed by Terrence Malick.
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... is set in small-town Texas in the 1950s, when the Sean Penn character was a boy, Jack, played by Hunter McCracken with a worried, stoic stubbornness that is really engaging. All the acting is persuasive, understated, in tune with what we might think of as the quiet strangeness of ordinary life once you stop to look at it. We are watching not so much a piece ...

Last Leader

Neal Ascherson, 7 June 1984

Citizen Ken 
by John Carvel.
Chatto, 240 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 3929 3
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... and sophisticated proto-culture’. Everything that we are today has emerged from the hunter-gatherer tradition. ‘All of our ability, the development of our intellect, all of our early culture grows out of those kinship groups operating overwhelmingly in a co-operative way ... The hunter-gatherer is what ...

Enabler’s Revenge

David Runciman: John Edwards, 25 March 2010

The Politician: An Insider’s Account of John Edwards’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal That Brought Him Down 
by Andrew Young.
Thomas Dunne, 301 pp., $24.99, January 2010, 978 0 312 64065 1
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Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House 
by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.
Viking, 448 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 670 91802 7
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... to Young’s role, which by the end included going on the run with Edwards’s mistress Rielle Hunter and their love-child (with Young’s own wife and three children in tow), having allowed Edwards to tell the press that he – Young – was the father of Hunter’s baby. How does anyone get into the position of ...

Coats of Every Cut

Michael Mason, 9 June 1994

Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society 
by Norman Gash.
Oxford, 407 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 19 820429 9
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... him in that dress, he would be seen cantering away on a long-tailed white barb, in a peagreen duck-hunter, with cream-coloured leather and rose-tinted tops. The Surtees novels are so densely populated by costumes, in such a variety of fashions, fabrics, colours, states of wear and degrees of cleanliness, that they may be experienced as a kind of dream-like ...

Pepys’s Place

Pat Rogers, 16 June 1983

The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Vol X: Companion and Vol XI: Index 
edited by Robert Latham.
Bell and Hyman, 626 pp., £19.50, February 1983, 0 7135 1993 2
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The Diary of John Evelyn 
edited by John Bowle.
Oxford, 476 pp., £19.50, April 1983, 0 19 251011 8
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The Brave Courtier: Sir William Temple 
by Richard Faber.
Faber, 187 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 571 11982 4
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... be possible to treat some of this material in a wider ideological context, as has been done by Michael Hunter in Science and Society in Restoration England (1981), with its impressive analysis of the scientific community at local and national level. Some of the diplomatic history seems faintly old-fashioned, and maybe we needed an entry on the United ...

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