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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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... about the capacity of fiction to report on the world is still very fashionable, and in that sense Norman Gash’s book on Robert Surtees goes against the grain of present-day literary analysis. It does not go against the traditional grain of writing about Surtees, a novelist who has almost always been praised simply as a reporter of the English scene in ...

Mere Party

Robert Stewart, 22 January 1987

Pillars of Government, and Other Essays on State and Society c.1770-c.1880 
by Norman Gash.
Arnold, 202 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7131 6463 8
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Sir Robert Peel: The Life of Sir Robert Peel after 1830 
by Norman Gash.
Longman, 745 pp., £12.50, July 1986, 0 582 49722 1
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... A new publication by Norman Gash is cause for excitement. His stature among living 19th-century English historians is rivalled only by that of Eric Hobsbawm, and since the two men’s writings have little in common except an elegantly plain and direct prose, Clio herself would find it difficult to award the palm to one or the other ...

Weathering the storm

Robert Blake, 18 October 1984

Lord Liverpool: The Life and Political Career of Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool 1770-1828 
by Norman Gash.
Weidenfeld, 265 pp., £16.95, August 1984, 0 297 78453 6
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... as notably second-rate. There is, however, another reason for his dim reputation. As Professor Gash points out at the end of this scholarly and most interesting biography, Liverpool ‘was a great conservative statesman; but it was before the rise of the Conservative Party and there is no niche for him in the party pantheon.’ No doubt this is a part of ...

Misunderstandings

J.H. Burns, 20 March 1986

Henry Brougham 1778-1868: His Public Career 
by Robert Stewart.
Bodley Head, 406 pp., £18, January 1986, 0 370 30271 0
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Rethinking the Politics of Commercial Society: The ‘Edinburgh Review’ 1802-1832 
by Biancamaria Fontana.
Cambridge, 256 pp., £22.50, December 1985, 0 521 30335 4
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... is ‘nonsense’; to Stewart, ‘whether the offer was made is a matter of doubt.’ Yet Norman Gash in his 1984 study of the then prime minister Lord Liverpool takes the matter seriously enough, and what no one questions is that Brougham was fully capable of such tergiversation. Was there, on this as on other such occasions, some ...

Fuss, Fatigue and Rage

Ian Gilmour: Two Duff Kings, 15 July 1999

George IV 
by E.A. Smith.
Yale, 306 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 300 07685 1
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... monarchy is surely shown by the actions of his brother. ‘In his short reign of seven years,’ Norman Gash once wrote, William IV ‘thrice dismissed a Ministry; twice dissolved Parliament for political purposes before its time; three times made formal proposals to his ministers for a coalition with their political opponents; and on one celebrated ...

A Win for the Gentlemen

Paul Smith, 9 September 1993

Entrepreneurial Politics in Mid-Victorian Britain 
by G.R. Searle.
Oxford, 346 pp., £40, March 1993, 0 19 820357 8
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... education coupled with a talent for business rather than a high station in landed society’, and Norman Gash has pointed out that ‘it would be nearer the truth to regard Liverpool’s Cabinet as a set of industrious middle-class administrators with a high, almost evangelical, sense of duty rather than as a group of careless, hardbitten ...

They don’t say that about Idi Amin

Andrew O’Hagan: Bellow Whinges, 6 January 2011

Saul Bellow: Letters 
edited by Benjamin Taylor.
Viking, 571 pp., $35, November 2010, 978 0 670 02221 2
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... thunder. More than once, however, I’ve seen writers ride bicycles on the high-wire, eat fire, gash themselves open to call attention to their books. They end up with little more than a scorched nose, a broken bone.’ But he was unable somehow to thumb his own scorched nose, or even vaguely laugh at the culture he eviscerated in his fiction, and his ...

He Roared

Hilary Mantel: Danton, 6 August 2009

Danton: The Gentle Giant of Terror 
by David Lawday.
Cape, 294 pp., £20, July 2009, 978 0 224 07989 1
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... His childhood was rural but eventful. Encounters with livestock left him broken-nosed, with a gash from a bull’s horn across his lips; smallpox left him scarred; he was tall, and grew burly if not obese. His ugliness was not of the craggy kind: ‘His bulbous cheeks,’ Lawday says, ‘gave him the look of an enormous cherub.’ To his political ...

A Ripple of the Polonaise

Perry Anderson: Work of the Nineties, 25 November 1999

History of the Present: Essays, Sketches and Despatches from Europe in the Nineties 
by Timothy Garton Ash.
Allen Lane, 441 pp., £20, June 1999, 0 7139 9323 5
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... were for a long time privileged zones – the terrains of St John Philby and Robert Byron, of Norman Douglas and Patrick Leigh-Fermor, of R.W.Seton-Watson and Rebecca West. Sorties farther afield – like Peter Fleming’s expeditions to the Gobi or Matto Grosso – were fewer. Paradoxically, the vast expanse of the Empire itself was not fertile soil for ...

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