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Ronald Hutton, 5 August 1982

Fenland Riots and the English Revolution 
by Keith Lindley.
Heinemann, 259 pp., £16.50, March 1982, 0 435 32535 3
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Commonwealth to Protectorate 
by Austin Woolrych.
Oxford, 433 pp., £22.50, March 1982, 0 19 822659 4
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... In previous centuries most histories of the English Revolution were coloured by the rival ideologies of Royalist and Roundhead. In the past few generations the division has tended to be drawn instead between the followers of Karl Marx and those of Samuel Gardiner, between those who see political action as an expression of tensions within society as a whole and those who see the vital political events as occurring at the centre and echoing in the provinces ...


Tom Shippey: The Druids, 9 July 2009

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 491 pp., £30, May 2009, 978 0 300 14485 7
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... When I first met Ronald Hutton, at a conference in Montana ten years ago, he remarked that if you looked at a modern book on druids, what you were likely to find was a number of chapters about ancient druids – about whom we know very little – followed by a perfunctory coda on modern druids, about whom we know a great deal ...

War without an Enemy

Blair Worden, 21 January 1982

The Outbreak of the English Civil War 
by Anthony Fletcher.
Arnold, 446 pp., £24, October 1981, 0 7131 6320 8
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The Royalist War Effort 
by Ronald Hutton.
Longman, £12, October 1981, 0 582 50301 9
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... shared the political preoccupations of the capital is a subject on which Anthony Fletcher and Ronald Hutton might disagree, but they are at one in urging us to use the terms ‘neutralism’ and ‘localism’ more discriminately, and in demonstrating that many of the ‘neutrality pacts’ which have commanded recent attention prove to have been ...

Lighting-Up Time

Wendy Doniger, 6 March 1997

The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 542 pp., £19.99, June 1996, 0 19 820570 8
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... source of both modern folk rituals and Christianity. Against Frazer and the neo-Frazerian coven, Hutton argues that each of the major rituals that we still celebrate today (Christmas, New Year, Valentine’s Day, Shrove Tuesday, Easter, May Day, Guy Fawkes and some others) can be traced back to a specific moment in British history, and that few, if any, are ...

Jigsaw Mummies

Tom Shippey: Pagan Britain, 6 November 2014

Pagan Britain 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 480 pp., £25, November 2013, 978 0 300 19771 6
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The King in the North: The Life and Times of Oswald of Northumbria 
by Max Adams.
Head of Zeus, 450 pp., £25, August 2013, 978 1 78185 418 1
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... a few years ago, and more information is being unearthed all the time. A paradox that emerges from Ronald Hutton’s extraordinarily wide-ranging survey is that the more data archaeology supplies, the less sure we are of what it all means, or meant. Take the case of the Red Lady of Paviland on the Gower Peninsula, the earliest indication of religious ...

Hateful Sunsets

David Craig: Highlands and Headlands, 5 March 2015

Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place 
by Philip Marsden.
Granta, 348 pp., £20, October 2014, 978 1 84708 628 0
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... or otherwise, as seems to have been the habit among inquirers for centuries. In Pagan Britain Ronald Hutton shows that the beliefs supposed to underlie ancient practices have often been imposed with little evidence.* Roman writers went in for ‘atrocity propaganda’ to portray the Britons they had conquered as savage barbarians. In Dorset some ...


Conrad Russell, 5 September 1985

The Restoration: A Political and Religious History of England and Wales 1658-1667 
by Ronald Hutton.
Oxford, 379 pp., £17.50, June 1985, 0 19 822698 5
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... for historians, the most remarkable fact about this book is that it remained to be written. Dr Hutton was justified in complaining that hitherto the history of the ‘English Revolution’ has read like ‘a marvellous story with the last chapter missing’. This is so no longer, but what does it tell us about ourselves that we have allowed the concept of ...

Unnatural Rebellion

Malcolm Gaskill: ‘Witches’, 2 November 2017

The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present 
by Ronald Hutton.
Yale, 360 pp., £25, August 2017, 978 0 300 22904 2
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... guilt, lust, rage, remorse, envy and fear – the last of these is the key word in the subtitle of Ronald Hutton’s panoptic, penetrating book. Hutton is unflinching in describing misery yet encourages understanding of the peculiar arrangements of circumstance that make people think and behave in wrong-headed and ...

Little Brits

Tom Shippey: Murder on Hadrian’s Wall, 19 November 2015

The Real Lives of Roman Britain 
by Guy de la Bédoyère.
Yale, 241 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20719 4
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... which de la Bédoyère quotes as fact, is also now thought to be ‘thoroughly insecure’, as Ronald Hutton explained in Blood and Mistletoe (2009), a book that also reminds us not to believe all that classical historians wrote about druids.* And though de la Bédoyère is suitably cagey about the disappearance of IX Legion Hispana, he does like the ...

Policing the Police

Fredrick Harris: The Black Panthers, 20 June 2013

Black against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party 
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin.
California, 539 pp., £24.95, January 2013, 978 0 520 27185 2
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... The party’s first test case came in early 1967, when Newton, Seale and 16-year-old Lil’ Bobby Hutton, their first recruit, were driving in the predominantly black section of North Oakland. They spotted a police car patrolling the neighbourhood and decided to follow it. With shotguns and rifles in plain view, the three drove beside and then ahead of the ...

Noddy is on page 248

Jay Griffiths: On the streets, 10 June 1999

The Penguin Book of 20th-Century Protest 
edited by Brian MacArthur.
Penguin, 440 pp., £20, October 1998, 0 670 87052 8
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DIY Culture: Party and Protest in Nineties Britain 
edited by George McKay.
Verso, 310 pp., £11, July 1998, 1 85984 260 7
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... her dictatorial style, not by the peasants who felt her fist in their faces. There are protests by Ronald Reagan, Enoch Powell and Adolf Hitler. There are two pieces about the Titanic, two about the Lusitania and two on the abdication of Edward VIII. Considering what MacArthur omits, repetitions are irritating. (There is also a repeated typo. You may wonder ...

It wasn’t the Oval

Blake Morrison: Michael Frayn, 7 October 2010

My Father’s Fortune: A Life 
by Michael Frayn.
Faber, 255 pp., £16.99, September 2010, 978 0 571 27058 3
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... represented his university against Northants. Harold Pinter, who wrote wistfully of seeing Len Hutton in his prime, captained a team called the Gaieties XI. Simon Gray, David Hare and Ronald Harwood are or were known to be keen on the game, too. And Tom Stoppard, another follower, has a striking set-piece in The Real ...

Three Weeks Wide

Rosemary Hill: A Psychohistory of France, 7 July 2022

France: An Adventure History 
by Graham Robb.
Picador, 527 pp., £25, March, 978 1 5290 0762 6
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... The Wicker Man in 2006. Robb ignores recent studies of the druids, the most important of which is Ronald Hutton’s Blood and Mistletoe (2009). While Hutton is concerned chiefly with the druids in Britain, the primary sources are the same and his scholarly and balanced account of the history and the myths deserves at ...


W.G. Runciman: Exit Blair, 24 May 2007

... admiring, however reluctantly, of his unscrupulous cunning. But it emerged pretty clearly from the Hutton and Butler Reports that he had persuaded himself of both the practicality and the virtuousness of what he had made up his mind to do and had then arranged to be sheltered from any information that might have given him pause. (Alastair Campbell to John ...

Serious Mayhem

Simon Reynolds: The McLaren Strand, 10 March 2022

The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren: The Biography 
by Paul Gorman.
Constable, 855 pp., £14.99, November 2021, 978 1 4721 2111 0
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... Virgin baulked at that, and the single was released as ‘No One Is Innocent (A Punk Prayer by Ronald Biggs)’. The song takes the form of an ironic petition to the Almighty for forgiveness, for Martin Bormann and ‘Nazis on the run’, for Hindley and Brady, for Idi Amin, for the foul-mouthed Sex Pistols and for Biggs himself, who had ‘sold his ...

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