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Gold out of Straw

Peter Mandler: Samuel Smiles, 19 February 2004

Self-Help: With Illustrations of Character, Conduct and Perseverance 
by Samuel Smiles, edited by Peter Sinnema.
Oxford, 387 pp., £7.99, October 2002, 0 19 280176 7
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... of Böttgher and Palissy make clear, Smiles’s heroes are not all Englishmen (though they are, as Peter Sinnema says, almost all male and European). Napoleon I does not always come out poorly from the frequent comparisons with the Duke of Wellington, and Smiles pointedly praises la carrière ouverte aux talents characteristic of the French but not of the ...

Here’s to the high-minded

Stefan Collini, 7 April 1994

After the Victorians: Private Conscience and Public Duty in Modern Britain 
edited by Susan Pedersen and Peter Mandler.
Routledge, 265 pp., £40, February 1994, 0 415 07056 2
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... suggests that this extended historical episode is essentially over. As Susan Pedersen and Peter Mandler emphasise in the introductory essay of After the Victorians, the volume is intended to challenge the once conventional assumption that the early decades of the 20th century saw a decisive break with the values of the Victorian era, the ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead, 6 March 2014

Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... knowledge’ to work for counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Peter Mandler wants to rescue Mead. His book portrays her as one of the more sympathetic US internationalists. First, she got Americans interested in the far corners of the globe in the early 1940s when, in Mandler’s ...

Hugh Dalton to the rescue

Keith Thomas, 13 November 1997

The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 523 pp., £19.95, April 1997, 0 300 06703 8
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Ancient as the Hills 
by James Lees-Milne.
Murray, 228 pp., £20, July 1997, 0 7195 5596 5
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The Fate of the English Country House 
by David Littlejohn.
Oxford, 344 pp., £20, May 1997, 9780195088762
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... that rural nostalgia has been the fuel of British economic decline. One of the many merits of Peter Mandler’s superb study is that it utterly demolishes these assumptions. He shows that, by Continental standards, Britain has been exceptionally slow to protect its country houses. Political intervention has been resisted and commercial development ...


Susan Pedersen, 6 October 2011

Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... a sympathetic but intellectually astute account of the work that any academic would kill for (by Peter Ghosh), a full bibliography of the works, a brief but mordantly funny sketch of McKibbin’s unrelieved gloom as a writer of political journalism. One might think that such fidelity to the genre would make the book unreadable, but the opposite is ...

Bowling along

Kitty Hauser: The motorist who first saw England, 17 March 2005

In Search of H.V. Morton 
by Michael Bartholomew.
Methuen, 248 pp., £18.99, April 2004, 0 413 77138 5
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... of urbanisation. On the whole, though, Morton’s politics are sufficiently well-hidden for Peter Mandler, in The Fall and Rise of the Stately Home (1997), to call him ‘no reactionary’ (on the grounds of his move, in 1931, to the Daily Herald), and his England a ‘relatively liberated and democratic version of the Arts and Crafts ...

Snakes and Ladders

Stefan Collini: Versions of Meritocracy, 1 April 2021

The Crisis of the Meritocracy: Britain’s Transition to Mass Education since the Second World War 
by Peter Mandler.
Oxford, 361 pp., £25, September 2020, 978 0 19 884014 5
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The Meritocracy Trap 
by Daniel Markovits.
Allen Lane, 464 pp., £10.99, August 2020, 978 0 14 198474 2
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... stories stand out is an indication that education does not work in this way for the majority.Peter Mandler​ ’s book The Crisis of the Meritocracy does not directly address these conceptual issues, but instead draws from official statistics, social surveys, longitudinal studies and similar sources in an effort to answer one specific historical ...

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