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Hoping to Hurt

Paul Smith, 9 February 1995

The Cultivation of Hatred 
by Peter Gay.
HarperCollins, 685 pp., £25, April 1994, 0 00 255218 3
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... social utility of aggressive drives. If competition was a constant of human behaviour, so, as Adam Smith famously pointed out, was the rational, self-serving impulse to restrain it. If the survival and progress of the species was the goal, it was not difficult to argue that competition among individuals was dysfunctional: success depended on ...

Westminster’s Irishman

Paul Smith, 7 April 1994

The Laurel and the Ivy: The Story of Charles Stewart Parnell and Irish Nationalism 
by Robert Kee.
Hamish Hamilton, 659 pp., £20, November 1993, 0 241 12858 7
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The Parnell Split 1890-91 
by Frank Callanan.
Cork, 327 pp., £35, November 1992, 0 902561 63 4
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... Sometimes he was Smith, sometimes he was Stewart, and sometimes he was Preston, but the most telling of the aliases Charles Stewart Parnell used to conduct the liaison with Mrs O’shea that eventually destroyed him was undoubtedly ‘Mr Fox’. Revealed by the divorce proceedings of November 1890, which, in wrecking his alliance with Gladstonian Liberalism, cost him his leadership of the Irish Parliamentary party, it rebounded savagely on him in the last, desperate convulsions of his career, as he struggled in a punishing series of by-elections to recover the dominance of the Irish national cause which had been his unchallenged possession for over a decade ...

The People Must Be Paid

Paul Smith: Capital cities in World War I, 7 May 1998

Capital Cities at War: Paris, London, Berlin 1914-1919 
edited by Jay Winter and Jean-Louis Robert.
Cambridge, 622 pp., £60, March 1997, 0 521 57171 5
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... The war that broke out in 1914 was the first in which highly industrialised and urbanised states were to be found on both sides, and industrial muscle and urban stamina counted for as much as military professionalism, conscript grit and peasant stoicism. How far urban stamina could be relied on was not the least of the questions troubling nationalists in the years before the war ...

Scrum down

Paul Smith, 14 November 1996

Making Men: Rugby and Masculine Identity 
edited by John Nauright and Timothy Chandler.
Cass, 260 pp., £35, April 1996, 0 7146 4637 7
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... Though citing the suggestion that for South Africans ‘the rugby scrum was symbolic of the laager,’ John Nauright and Timothy Chandler enter the reservation that ‘such notions can be taken too far.’ Indeed they can. An inward-facing huddle of wagons, their occupants locked in some obscure struggle of their own, would have presented little problem to a marauding Zulu impi, unless that of throwing its assegais straight while doubled up with laughter ...

Historian in the Seat of God

Paul Smith: Lord Acton and history, 10 June 1999

Acton and History 
by Owen Chadwick.
Cambridge, 270 pp., £30, August 1998, 0 521 57074 3
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... To be the author of the best-known work of history never written is a guarantee of enduring celebrity, but also of lasting ridicule. On the marble bench in Venice where, by moonlight, in 1879, he expounded to an enthralled Herbert and Mary Gladstone the project of his great history of liberty, his ‘Madonna of the Future’, as he called it, Lord Acton was courting nemesis ...

The Whole Orang

Paul Smith, 12 March 1992

by Adrian Desmond and James Moore.
Joseph, 808 pp., £20, October 1991, 0 7181 3430 3
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... How pleasant to be Mr Darwin, who wrote such volumes of stuff without the necessity of gainful employment or institutional backing, or the need to budge very often from the old parsonage at Downe to which he withdrew at the age of 33, confidently telling an old servant as he sent the address: ‘this will be my direction for the rest of my life.’ Not the least valuable part of this massive but racy biography (at eight hundred pages a bargain for the price) is its detailed portrait of the independent gentleman scientist in almost the last epoch in which any individual could singlehandedly precipitate a major shift in human thought ...

One’s Rather Obvious Duty

Paul Smith, 1 June 2000

Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values 
by Philip Williamson.
Cambridge, 378 pp., £25, September 1999, 0 521 43227 8
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... How bogus was Baldwin? When he said in 1925, ‘I give expression, in some unaccountable way, to what the English people think’, the statement was, as Philip Williamson notes in this ambitious new assessment, ‘in any literal sense … untrue’. Similarly with his claim to be ‘voicing what is in the minds of the dumb millions of this country’, though there the assertion was so framed as to make falsification more difficult ...

Refuge of the Aristocracy

Paul Smith: The British Empire, 21 June 2001

Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire 
by David Cannadine.
Allen Lane, 264 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 7139 9506 8
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... The British Empire attained its maximum extent just after the First World War, but the peak of imperial visibility and imperialist sentiment at home was arguably reached two or three decades earlier, most colourfully in the great imperial pageant that marked the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897. The thumping Unionist electoral triumph of 1895 was confidently ascribed by Sir Robert Ensor (who had been a Winchester schoolboy at the time) to an upsurge of expansionist imperialism, while A ...

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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... of ‘entrepreneurial’ needs closer attention). Spawned by Scutari and Sebastopol out of Adam Smith, the great watchwords of private enterprise – competition, performance and testing – rode out to do battle with bureaucracy, nepotism and sloth. A.H. Layard had ‘often heard it said’, he told the Commons, ‘why does not the Government allow some ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Blair on Blincoe?, 21 March 2002

... King Tony’s clothes aroused considerable excitement, impeccably turned out as he was in That Paul Smith Shirt with the naked woman on the cuffs. According to the Guardian, the PM’s soft-porn chemise was a gift from Cherie Booth QC; but who knows? A year or two ago Smith was given a knighthood, and he sits ...

Holborn at Heart

Jonathan Parry, 23 January 1997

Disraeli: A Brief Life 
by Paul Smith.
Cambridge, 246 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 521 38150 9
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... show what a man of determination and vision could make of a lowly upbringing. The great merit of Paul Smith’s new brief study of Disraeli is that he interprets his subject as an artist who moulded both his identity and that of his political milieu until he could create a congenial political style. The first half of the book is an enjoyable and highly ...

Jews on horseback

Peter Clarke, 10 May 1990

by John Vincent.
Oxford, 127 pp., £4.95, March 1990, 0 19 287681 3
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... been fashioned, with exquisite workmanship, right down to the fine silver handles, by Professor Paul Smith (as he now is), the leading authority on Disraelian social policy. For if there was one claim which animated the great man’s warmhearted admirers it was that he was not only an author who had spied ‘two nations – THE RICH AND THE ...

Genderbait for the Nerds

Christopher Tayler: William Gibson, 22 May 2003

Pattern Recognition 
by William Gibson.
Viking, 356 pp., £16.99, April 2003, 0 670 87559 7
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... and sees that it’s time for her meeting with Bernard Stonestreet, an ad exec in ‘a Paul Smith suit, more specifically the 118 jacket and the 11T trouser’. Cayce, by contrast, wears a ‘museum-grade replica of a US MA-1 flying jacket . . . created by Japanese obsessives’. Afterwards there’s lunch, ‘the food California-inflected ...

Queen Famine’s Courtier

Paul Delany, 3 February 1983

Robert Graves: His Life and Works 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Hutchinson, 607 pp., £14.95, May 1982, 0 09 139350 7
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In Broken Images: Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1914-1946 
edited by Paul O’Prey.
Hutchinson, 371 pp., £12.95, May 1982, 0 09 147720 4
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Progress of Stories 
by Laura Riding.
Carcanet, 380 pp., £7.95, August 1982, 0 85635 402 3
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... and choosing to have eight children, Graves always knew what was owed to Mammon. Martin Seymour-Smith has the task, therefore, of explaining two personalities within a single identity: the daimonic poet, and the practical man of letters. For Graves himself, this was no problem. He knew he was schizoid: but poetry justified his manic side, ordered it, and ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin, 9 June 1994

... Like many others I have been puzzled by the reaction to John Smith’s death. It was reported as though it were at least that of a prime minister, and his funeral was, as the BBC noted, in effect a state funeral. The decision of both the BBC and ITV to double the ordinary length of their evening news broadcasts on the day of his death could be put down to the social democratish inclinations of the programmers, but the speed with which the coverage had to be assembled suggests that it was more instinctive ...

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