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Upper Ireland

Nicholas Canny, 16 March 1989

Modern Ireland 1600-1972 
by R.F. Foster.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £18.95, October 1988, 0 7139 9010 4
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... Historians of Ireland seem more compelled than those of any other country to move beyond their immediate research interests to offer general appraisals as a means of explaining the present condition of their country. Some do this through the medium of radio or television, others offer contributions to one of the several multi-volume paperback histories of Ireland, while most cherish the ambition to advance their opinions in a single-volume history tracing developments in Ireland from some crucial date in the past to the recent present ...


Nicholas Canny, 24 May 1990

The Emancipist: Daniel O’Connell, 1830-1847 
by Oliver Mac Donagh.
Weidenfeld, 372 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 297 79637 2
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... A full-scale biography of Daniel O’Connell deserves close attention, if only because the subject was such a colossus in his own time. This particular biography calls for even greater respect because its author, Oliver Mac Donagh, has established himself as the most incisive and (with the late F.S.L. Lyons) the most prolific Irish-born historian of his generation ...


Benedict Anderson, 21 January 1988

Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800 
edited by Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden.
Princeton, 290 pp., £22, September 1987, 0 691 05372 3
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... It is these creoles, ‘colonials’ as opposed to the ‘colonised’, who form the subjects of Canny and Pagden’s intelligent new book, Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800. In its compact pages we watch the crioulo Portuguese in Brazil, the criollo Spanish in ‘Latin America’, the créole French in Quebec, and the creole ...

Birth of a Náison

John Kerrigan, 5 June 1997

The Political World of Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, 1621-41 
edited by J.F. Merritt.
Cambridge, 293 pp., £35, March 1996, 0 521 56041 1
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The British Problem, c. 1534-1707: State Formation in the Atlantic Archipelago 
edited by Brendan Bradshaw and John Morrill.
Macmillan, 334 pp., £13.50, June 1996, 0 333 59246 8
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The Stuart Court and Europe: Essays in Politics and Political Culture 
edited by Malcolm Smuts.
Cambridge, 289 pp., £35, September 1996, 9780521554398
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Mere Irish and Fíor-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, its Development and Literary Expression Prior to the 19th Century 
by Joep Leerssen.
Cork, 454 pp., £17.95, November 1996, 1 85918 112 0
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... the Ulster Rebellion of 1641 clarify English crises at the expense of their local significance. As Nicholas Canny implies in the collection about Thomas Wentworth, Anglocentrism is particularly insidious when talk of interaction across the archipelago is used to obscure English expansionism. These books show how different the results can be when Early ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... may be seen in an examination of two sections dealing with overtly political writings. Nicholas Canny and Andrew Carpenter introduce ‘The Early Planters: Spenser and his Contemporaries’ by reaffirming Spenser’s status as a great poet in the English tradition, and then by redescribing him as an ‘apologist’ for English rule in ...

Shoot them to be sure

Richard Gott: The Oxford History of the British Empire, 25 April 2002

The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. I: The Origins of Empire 
edited by William Roger Louis and Nicholas Canny.
Oxford, 533 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924676 9
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. II: The 18th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and P.J. Marshall.
Oxford, 639 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924677 7
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. III: The 19th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Andrew Porter.
Oxford, 774 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924678 5
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. IV: The 20th Century 
edited by William Roger Louis and Judith Brown.
Oxford, 773 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924679 3
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The Oxford History of the British Empire. Vol. V: Historiography 
edited by William Roger Louis and Robin Winks.
Oxford, 731 pp., £14.99, July 2001, 0 19 924680 7
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... But broadly speaking, the radical historians of Empire – David Killingray, Peter Sluglett, Nicholas Tarling – have been confined to the final, historiographical volume, while the more conservative have been given the meaty chapters in the bulk of the History. The purpose of the Historiography volume is to trace themes that were dealt with ...

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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... themes of the volume figure in articles on the religious roots of Irish political ideologies (by Nicholas Canny and David Miller) and, rather incongruously, on the role of the potato in Irish demography (by K.H. Connell and L.M. Cullen). All four are seminal pieces, which have stimulated lively debates and further research. What gives most coherence to ...

Lurching up to bed with the champion of Cubism

Nicholas Penny: Douglas Cooper, 20 January 2000

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Picasso, Provence and Douglas Cooper 
by John Richardson.
Cape, 320 pp., £20, November 1999, 0 224 05056 7
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... composers. Money is always involved. The final arbiter in the case of the fake Légers was ‘the canny old dealer’ Kahnweiler, and he also chose the organiser of the Gris retrospective at Dortmund (Richardson rather than Cooper). Whether chivalrically ‘acquitting himself’ with Cooper or making frenzied love by moonlight in Ischia, embarrassed by his ...

Ways of being a man

Nicholas Spice, 24 September 1992

The English Patient 
by Michael Ondaatje.
Bloomsbury, 307 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 9780747512547
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... clock may blow off fragile limbs. To survive in this unsafe place, to remain intact, we must be canny as spies, artful as thieves. Almasy and Kip (Caravaggio too) are masters in this mortal game: Almasy through knowledge (‘I have always had information like a sea in me’) and an art of anonymity, Kip through self-containment, watchfulness, precise ...

No Dancing, No Music

Alex Clark: New Puritans, 2 November 2000

All Hail the New Puritans 
edited by Nicholas Blincoe and Matt Thorne.
Fourth Estate, 204 pp., £10, September 2000, 1 84115 345 1
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... to behave or what to believe. New Puritanism is not a religion, then, but it might, according to Nicholas Blincoe, be ‘the beginning of a new wave’ and present its adherents with ‘a chance to blow the dinosaurs out of the water’. This tongue-in-cheekiness, which from time to time comes across as a swaggering disrespect for all other contemporary ...

Upper and Lower Cases

Tom Nairn, 24 August 1995

A Union for Empire: Political Thought and the Union of 1707 
edited by John Robertson.
Cambridge, 368 pp., £40, April 1995, 0 521 43113 1
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The Autonomy of Modern Scotland 
by Lindsay Paterson.
Edinburgh, 218 pp., £30, September 1994, 0 7486 0525 8
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... to the result. She thus succeeded one of Europe’s outstanding politiclowns, the late Sir Nicholas Fairbairn. Normally garbed in tartanic garments designed by his own hand and inhabiting a nearby castle, Sir Nicholas had been famously critical of the SNP’s open-door citizenship policy which would, for ...

An Endless Progression of Whirlwinds

Robert Irwin: Asian empire, 21 June 2001

Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia 
by Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac.
Little, Brown, 646 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 85589 8
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Tibet: The Great Game and Tsarist Russia 
by Tatiana Shaumian.
Oxford, 223 pp., £16, October 2000, 0 19 565056 5
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... sympathiser who seems to have regarded Asian exploration as a proving ground for the superman; Nicholas Roerich, the artist and barmy quester after the fabled hidden city of Shambhala; and many others. Evidently, the book is loosely focused and some of the figures whose lives Karl Meyer and Shareen Brysac chronicle were in no sense protagonists in the ...

Henry Hill and Laura Palmer

Philip Horne, 20 December 1990

... he pragmatically calculates he’s in an impossible corner and they’ll kill him if he stays. As Nicholas Pileggi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Scorsese, says in his hideously informative Wiseguy,* the documentary book on which the film is based: ‘He willingly turned on the world he knew and the men with whom he had been raised with the same ...

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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... champion of Blenheim (1712), an eye-catching edition of Shakespeare by the future Whig laureate Nicholas Rowe (1709) and Addison’s heavily ideological tragedy Cato (1713), for which he paid more than £100 before the play was even performed. Godfrey Kneller’s Kit Cat Club portraits, clockwise from top left: Jacob Tonson (1717); Robert Walpole ...

The King and I

Alan Bennett, 30 January 1992

... order by April 1991, when, knowing it was far from finished and in some despair, I put it through Nicholas Hytner’s door. Coming away from the house, I felt rather like one of those practical jokers who arrange for an unsuspecting victim to be landed with a load of slurry. That Hytner was then enthusiastic about the script and with him the director of the ...

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