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The Corrupt Bargain

Eric Foner: Democracy? No thanks, 21 May 2020

Why Do We Still Have the Electoral College? 
by Alexander Keyssar.
Harvard, 544 pp., £28.95, May, 978 0 674 66015 1
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Let the People Pick the President: The Case for Abolishing the Electoral College 
by Jesse Wegman.
St Martin’s Press, 304 pp., $24.50, March, 978 1 250 22197 1
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... Placing prominent men of ‘discernment’ between the electorate and the final outcome, Alexander Hamilton insisted, would hold popular passions in check and prevent a demagogue, perhaps beholden to a foreign government, rising to power. James Madison had a more self-interested objection to popular election. The political power of the South, where slaves made ...

Bard of Friendly Fire

Robert Crawford: The Radical Burns, 25 July 2002

Robert Burns: Poems 
edited by Don Paterson.
Faber, 96 pp., £4.99, February 2001, 0 571 20740 5
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The Canongate Burns: The Complete Poems and Songs of Robert Burns 
edited by Andrew Noble and Patrick Scott Hogg.
Canongate, 1017 pp., £40, November 2001, 0 86241 994 8
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... letters ‘in 1985 arguably achieved its most significant addition by appending Professor G. Ross Roy’s name as editor.’ Given that Noble and Hogg take such pleasure in pointing out where other editors have slipped up or copied one another, it’s unfortunate that their own texts are sometimes careless. You don’t have to be Christopher Ricks to ...

Trouble down there

Ferdinand Mount: Tea with Sassoon, 7 August 2003

Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet 1886-1918 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 600 pp., £9.99, September 2002, 0 7156 2894 1
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Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches 1918-67 
by Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Duckworth, 526 pp., £30, April 2003, 0 7156 2971 9
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Sassoon: The Worlds of Philip and Sybil 
by Peter Stansky.
Yale, 295 pp., £25, April 2003, 0 300 09547 3
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... such as P.G. Wodehouse and Ian Fleming, and only a little inferior to Malcolm Lowry and Patrick Hamilton, who were golfers as well as drinkers of championship class. This devotion to sport went with a declared aversion to women and, at this stage, to sex in any form. He told Carpenter in 1911 that he was ‘still unspotted’, and so he seems to have ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... size and follow the American practice of dividing their larger paginations into sections. Denis Hamilton, then the editor of the Sunday Times, devised what he called his ‘Big Read’ policy by devoting the early pages of the new second section (‘to be kept for leisure reading’) to expensive book serialisations, mainly the stories of famous men such as ...

Boomerang

Sylvia Lawson, 18 February 1988

Australians: A Historical Library 
Fairfax, Syme and Weldon, AUS $695Show More
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... bookshops burst, the coffee-tables groan – may be less than obvious. The anthropologist Annette Hamilton, reviewing Australians to 1788, judges that excellent volume disappointing, not so much in what it says and shows of precontact Aboriginality, but in the limitation of its address to readers who are already culturally privileged. The work, she ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... worst) of them combined the secrecy of Whitehall with the languor of Fitzrovia. It was Patrick Hamilton in conversation with George Smiley down a blind alley off Rathbone Place, with froth sliding down the insides of pint tumblers and lipsticked fags in every ashtray. Men such as Gamlin practically lived in Langham Place: their outer bounds were ...

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