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The Scramble for Europe

Richard J. Evans: German Imperialism, 3 February 2011

Nazi Empire: German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler 
by Shelley Baranowski.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £17.99, November 2010, 978 0 521 67408 9
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... had come by the outbreak of the First World War to distinguish Germany from other major European powers and set it on a ‘special path’ to modernity that ended not in the creation of a democratic political system and open society to go with an industrial economy, but in the rise and triumph of the Third Reich. Such arguments were discredited by the ...

Lobbying

Richard J. Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens, 17 March 2016

Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... the death of Franz Josef, made strenuous efforts to broker peace between Austria and the Entente powers via Princess Sarsina, a member of the Habsburg network conveniently domiciled in neutral Switzerland. ‘Austria,’ Zita was reported to have said, ‘did not desire to be ruined for the sake of saving Alsace-Lorraine for Germany.’ The Germans got wind ...

Insults

Richard Wollheim, 19 March 1987

Semites and Anti-Semites 
by Bernard Lewis.
Weidenfeld, 288 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 297 79030 7
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After the Last Sky 
by Edward Said and Jean Mohr.
Faber, 224 pp., £6.95, September 1986, 0 571 13918 3
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... and in his most recent work, Semites and Anti-Semites, he has chosen to concentrate his formidable powers of analysis, and a massive accumulation of fact, upon a relatively restricted topic, which nevertheless raises large questions of historical and political understanding. The book deals with the widespread adoption within the Arab nation-states of the ...

Flub-Dub

Thomas Powers: Stephen Crane, 17 July 2014

Stephen Crane: A Life of Fire 
by Paul Sorrentino.
Harvard, 476 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 674 04953 6
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... and leading news correspondents Crane met in Cuba such as Charles Michelson, Ernest McCready and Richard Harding Davis. These are rich materials but at the same time they are incomplete and sparse. Crane was not a prolific letter-writer and he left no diaries or memoir. Further confusing matters was Crane’s first biographer, Thomas Beer, whose Stephen ...

More Fun

Tom Jaine, 7 July 1994

The Alchemy of Culture: Intoxicants in Society 
by Richard Rudgley.
British Museum, 160 pp., £14.95, October 1993, 0 7141 1736 6
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... One of the aims of anthropology,’ Richard Rudgley says, ‘is to understand the self by way of the other.’ Are we to take it that if the Koryaks of Siberia had a high old time on the fly-agaric – or on the recycled urine of a fly-agaric consumer – we too should stock up on magic mushrooms? Rudgley maintains that humans have ‘a universal need for liberation from the restrictions of mundane existence, satisfied by experiencing altered states of consciousness ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens, 21 September 1995

... In Ireland we don’t need aliens; we already have a race of higher beings with strange powers who gaze deep into our eyes and force us to have babies against our will. We call them priests. A loopy Protestant, on the other hand, has to make it up as she goes along. And no one makes it up better than your American Protestant, driven mad by all that sky ...

Done for the State

John Guy: The House of York, 2 April 2020

The Brothers York: An English Tragedy 
by Thomas Penn.
Penguin, 688 pp., £12.99, April, 978 0 7181 9728 5
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Richard III: The Self-Made King 
by Michael Hicks.
Yale, 388 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 0 300 21429 1
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... claim was by lineal descent from Edward III, and was a strong one if you ignored the deposition of Richard II in 1399. In the mid-1450s, Richard, Duke of York, Edward’s father and England’s pushiest peer, had twice attempted to sideline Henry VI, who suffered from lengthy spells of mental illness and was repelled by the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Buffy!, 7 March 2002

... tax breaks.) Buffy Summers is a Southern Californian teenager – blonde, 5'3" – with special powers (superhuman strength etc) that enable her to slay vampires with relative ease. Joss Whedon, the show’s creator, came up with the idea because he was tired of seeing small, blonde Californian teenage girls being on-screen victims. Buffy is helped by a ...

How to Save the City-Dweller

Andrew Saint: Cities, 21 May 1998

Cities for a Small Planet 
by Richard Rogers.
Faber, 180 pp., £9.99, December 1997, 0 571 17993 2
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... Cities that are beautiful, safe and equitable are within our grasp.’ So says Richard Rogers at the end of this reworking of his Reith Lectures of 1995, and we must do our best to believe him. Suppose, however, that the lecturer had pronounced instead on another of the basic building-blocks of society – the family, for instance ...

Active, Passive, or Dead?

Martin Loughlin: Sovereignty, 16 June 2016

The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy 
by Richard Tuck.
Cambridge, 295 pp., £17.99, February 2016, 978 1 107 57058 0
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... sovereignty is absolute, perpetual and indivisible; to divide or share it is to destroy it. Richard Tuck’s new book, based on the Seeley Lectures he delivered at Cambridge in 2012, was conceived long before the EU referendum was tabled. But although he doesn’t engage with the present debate, he does identify the correct method of trying to resolve ...

Dearest Papa

Richard Altick, 1 September 1983

The Correspondence of Thomas Carlyle and John Ruskin 
edited by George Allan Cate.
Stanford, 251 pp., $28.50, August 1982, 0 8047 1114 3
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Ruskin Today 
by Kenneth Clark.
Penguin, 363 pp., £2.95, October 1982, 0 14 006326 9
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John Ruskin: Letters from the Continent 1858 
edited by John Hayman.
Toronto, 207 pp., £19.50, December 1982, 0 8020 5583 4
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... in the country, were of little account to the genteel Ruskin compared with his intellectual powers and his dedication to their joint crusade to save England from herself. He had reason to be grateful to the older man for the help and encouragement he received at a crucial moment in his career, when the heterodox social and economic opinions he expressed ...

Shelley in Season

Richard Holmes, 16 October 1980

The Unacknowledged Legislator: Shelley and Politics 
by P.M.S. Dawson.
Oxford, 312 pp., £16.50, June 1980, 0 19 812095 8
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Shelley and his World 
by Claire Tomalin.
Thames and Hudson, 128 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 9780500130681
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... frees us from slavery,’ remarks Dr Dawson, ‘which is really despair of our own powers, by demonstrating that we are not eternally bound to what is actual, as Prometheus was bound to his cliff by the belief that Jupiter was omnipotent.’ Later, he somewhat dryly adds: ‘it is, of course, natural for an anarchist to insist that true order ...

Nuts about the Occult

Richard J. Evans: ‘Hitler’s Monsters’, 2 August 2018

Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich 
by Eric Kurlander.
Yale, 422 pp., £12.99, May 2018, 978 0 300 23454 1
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... or ‘Aryan’ race (hence the term Ariosophy) from degeneracy and decay by channelling magical powers derived from the Norse gods. While taking these counter-currents to Enlightenment thought seriously enough to study them in detail, Goodrick-Clarke remained sceptical about their influence on Nazism. At best, he concluded, they had some currency in the ...

Parcelled Out

Ferdinand Mount: The League of Nations, 22 October 2015

The Guardians: The League of Nations and the Crisis of Empire 
by Susan Pedersen.
Oxford, 571 pp., £22.99, June 2015, 978 0 19 957048 5
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... high command when it conveyed Lenin back to Russia in that sealed train. In the Watergate affair, Richard Nixon scored not one but two own goals: first, by organising a burglary which could produce only minimal gain for the Republicans if it worked but would destroy him if it went wrong; then by secretly recording his conversations in the White House in the ...

In Hiding

Nicholas Spice, 30 December 1982

Richard Strauss: A Chronicle of the Early Years 1864-1898 
by Willi Schuh, translated by Mary Whitall.
Cambridge, 555 pp., £35, July 1982, 0 521 24104 9
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... of Robert Browning’s Dramatis Personae. The author of Andrea del Sarto would have found in Richard Strauss a subject ideally suited to his imaginative powers. He would have cast the composer, not, I think, in his early years, but towards the end of his life: in 1940, perhaps, in late summer. The scene: Strauss’s ...

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