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Catherine Hall: The Atlantic Family, 19 July 2018

Children of Uncertain Fortune: Mixed-race Jamaicans in Britain and the Atlantic Family, 1733-1833 
by Daniel Livesay.
North Carolina, 448 pp., £45, January 2018, 978 1 4696 3443 2
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... Around​ 1800 William Macpherson, the 16-year-old son and heir to the chief of Clan Macpherson, decided to try his hand at planting in the West Indies. The family had been Jacobites and urgently needed to repair their finances. His father, Allan, had failed to make a fortune in the East Indies and William knew he had to make good ...

The smallest details speak the loudest

John Upton: The Stephen Lawrence inquiry, 1 July 1999

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry 
by Sir WilliamMacpherson.
Stationery Office, 335 pp., £26, February 1999, 0 10 142622 4
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The Case of Stephen Lawrence 
by Brian Cathcart.
Viking, 418 pp., £16.99, May 1999, 0 670 88604 1
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... the language of racial struggle in order to be sure of the media’s attention. By the end of the Macpherson Inquiry it was sometimes difficult to know whether the most important issue was investigating an unsolved murder or placating the victim’s mother and her constituency. On 7 May, three of the suspects, the two Acourts and Gary Dobson, were ...

The Calvinist International

Colin Kidd: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 22 May 2008

The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 267 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 300 13686 9
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Europe’s Physician: The Various Life of Sir Theodore de Mayerne 
by Hugh Trevor-Roper.
Yale, 438 pp., £25, October 2006, 0 300 11263 7
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... A.J.P. Taylor, Maurice Cowling, Lawrence Stone and the Cerberus of Scottish historiography, William Ferguson. But if the softer, gentler Trevor-Roper outlived many – though by no means all – of his foremost adversaries, their pupils and heirs had not forgotten the scars borne by the previous generation. In his battle with Trevor-Roper over matters ...

The Magic Trousers

Matt Foot: Police Racism, 7 February 2019

Behind the Blue Line: My Fight against Racism and Discrimination in the Police 
by Gurpal Virdi.
Biteback, 299 pp., £20, March 2018, 978 1 78590 321 2
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... assault, hadn’t been treated as a hate crime. Soon afterwards he decided to make a submission to Sir WilliamMacpherson’s inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. It was this inquiry that led to the charge that there was ‘institutional racism’ in the Met. After Virdi’s reinstatement in 2000, he was ...

Burying Scott

Marilyn Butler, 7 September 1995

The Life of Walter Scott: A Critical Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Blackwell, 386 pp., £19.99, January 1995, 1 55786 231 1
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... the first of its kind, John Gibson Lockhart’s pioneering five-volume Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott (1837-8), though the drift of the two Lives is in opposite directions. Sutherland has come to bury Scott, while Lockhart, the great man’s son-in-law, praises him in a public-relations exercise calculated to maintain the family’s prestige and ...

That Disturbing Devil

Ferdinand Mount: Land Ownership, 7 May 2014

Owning the Earth: The Transforming History of Land Ownership 
by Andro Linklater.
Bloomsbury, 482 pp., £20, January 2014, 978 1 4088 1574 8
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... of European adventurers into the New World. In the royal charter that Queen Elizabeth conferred on Sir Humphrey Gilbert in 1583, she granted him full power over the soil of ‘those large and ample countreys [that] extended Northward from the cape of Florida … to dispose thereof, of every part thereof in fee simple or otherwise, according to the order of the ...

Blame Robert Maxwell

Frederick Wilmot-Smith: How Public Inquiries Go Wrong, 17 March 2016

... On 15 June 2009, Gordon Brown announced an inquiry into the Iraq war – to investigate, as Sir John Chilcot, the inquiry’s chairman, put it, ‘the UK’s involvement in Iraq, including the way decisions were made and actions taken, to establish, as accurately as possible, what happened and to identify the lessons that can be learned’. Although ...

Feasting on Power

John Upton: David Blunkett’s Criminal Justice Bill, 10 July 2003

... criminal justice system in favour of victims, witnesses and communities’. At its heart lies a desire to deny justice to those who are most in need of its application, for the sake of increasing the conviction rate. The Bill’s celebration of victimhood astutely catches the mood of the tabloid press: Tony Blair has even suggested that the criminal justice ...

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