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Restoration

Stephen Wilson

4 November 1993
... You must have escaped in a hurry dropping so many little intimacies from our lives – thermal vests, long johns, a lace camisole, a black bow-tie, a packet of Tampax on the floor beside the bed, my old tennis-shoes (were your backs done in too?). I picture your arrival, through the rockery, sinking your feet into heather, shrugging off rhododendron branches, strands of honeysuckle; prising open the sash with an iron bar, your bodies folded like contortionists among slivers of glass and wood ...

A Flat in Neuilly

Douglas Johnson

3 February 1983
Ideology and Experience: Anti-Semitism in France at the time of the Dreyfus Affair 
by Stephen Wilson.
Associated University Presses, 812 pp., £30, August 1982, 0 8386 3037 5
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Cinq Années de ma Vie 
by Alfred Dreyfus.
Maspéro, 263 pp., frs 15
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La Républic et les Juifs après Copernic 
by Schmuel Trigano.
Les Presses d’Aujourd’hui, 272 pp., frs 75, April 1982, 2 901386 03 2
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... voiced against the French Communist Party, make an affirmative answer distressingly plausible. Stephen Wilson’s large and learned book, in which he studies the political, social and intellectual aspects of anti-semitism in France at the end of the 19th century, is therefore very timely, as is the reprinting of Dreyfus’s recollections of his ...
14 September 1989
Conflict and Control: Law and Order in 19th-Century Italy 
by John Davis.
Macmillan, 308 pp., £8.95, July 1988, 0 333 28647 2
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Feuding, Conflict and Banditry in 19th-Century Corsica 
by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 565 pp., £45, September 1988, 0 521 35033 6
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... disputed, and/or cannot be enforced? This is the problem addressed by both these excellent books. Stephen Wilson’s canvas is narrower, but it enables him to ground his analysis in a wealth of illustrative detail. Nobody in Corsica had ever had a monopoly of violence; and the French authorities who tried to establish one in the century after the island ...

Making saints

Peter Burke

18 October 1984
Saints and Society: The Two Worlds of Western Christendom 1000-1700 
by Donald Weinstein and Rudolph Bell.
Chicago, 314 pp., £21.25, February 1983, 0 226 89055 4
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The Norman Conquest and Beyond 
by Frank Barlow.
Hambledon, 318 pp., £22, June 1983, 0 907628 19 2
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Miracles and the Medieval Mind 
by Benedicta Ward.
Scolar, 321 pp., £17.50, November 1983, 0 85967 609 9
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The Great Debate on Miracles: From Joseph Glanvill to David Hume 
by R.M. Burns.
Associated University Presses, 305 pp., £17.50, July 1983, 0 8387 2378 0
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Saints and their Cults: Studies in Religious Sociology, Folklore and History 
edited by Stephen Wilson.
Cambridge, 435 pp., £35, December 1983, 0 521 24978 3
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... a salutary shock. Miracles and canonisation procedures are among the many subjects discussed in Stephen Wilson’s extremely useful anthology of articles on the saints and their cults. The ten essays reprinted in this volume include the classic study of St Besse by Robert Hertz and the no less important reflections on ‘the sociological study of ...

Mikoyan Shuddered

Stephen Walsh: Memories of Shostakovich

21 June 2007
Shostakovich: A Life Remembered 
by Elizabeth Wilson.
Faber, 631 pp., £20, July 2006, 0 571 22050 9
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... valueless as a psychological document, and not much less so as a factual one. Elizabeth Wilson knows all this as well as anyone. In her own preface to the original 1994 edition of her documentary biography Shostakovich: A Life Remembered she noted that at the end of the 1980s, when she was conducting her researches, glasnost was enabling Russians ...
23 April 1987
The Myriad Faces of War: Britain and the Great War 1914-1918 
by Trevor Wilson.
Polity, 864 pp., £35, September 1986, 9780745600932
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British Strategy and War Aims 1914-1916 
by David French.
Allen and Unwin, 274 pp., £25, September 1986, 0 04 942197 2
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The Old Lie: The Great War and the Public School Ethos 
by Peter Parker.
Constable, 319 pp., £15, March 1987, 0 09 466980 5
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... on the Western Front. Over naval affairs the exchanges of heavy fire between Arthur Marder and Stephen Roskill reduced all others to awe-struck silence. On domestic politics Lord Beaverbrook and his acolyte A.J.P. Taylor gave us plenty to be going on with, even before younger specialists like Cameron Hazlehurst began to dissect the minutiae of Cabinet ...

Cowboy Coups

Phillip Knightley

10 October 1991
Smear! Wilson and the Secret State 
by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay.
Fourth Estate, 502 pp., £20, August 1991, 9781872180687
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... Intelligence Service had penetrated British life. The MI5 officer quickly dispensed with the Wilson Government – its penetration was taken as read – slandered Wilson’s own loyalties and those of several members of his Cabinet, and then moved on to the Royal family. The thrust of his accusations was that ...

What to do with the Kaiser?

Stephen Sedley: Charging the Kaiser

11 October 2018
The Trial of the Kaiser 
by William A. Schabas.
Oxford, 432 pp., £24.99, October 2018, 978 0 19 883385 7
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... by the Allies, on the charge of being the criminal mainly responsible for the War’. Woodrow Wilson, informed of the decision as he embarked for France on 3 December, refused to commit the US to anything until he reached Paris. But although by the spring of 1920 it had become evident that neither an international trial in absentia nor a trial in Holland ...

Put it in your suitcase

Nicholas Penny: Sotheby’s

18 March 1999
Sotheby’s: Bidding for Class 
by Robert Lacey.
Little, Brown, 354 pp., £20, May 1998, 0 316 64447 1
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Sotheby’s: Inside Story 
by Peter Watson.
Bloomsbury, 325 pp., £7.99, May 1998, 0 7475 3808 5
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... for the benefit of the art trade. The best part of Lacey’s book is the portrait of Peter Cecil Wilson, third son of Sir Mathew ‘Scatters’ Wilson, Bart. PCW became a porter in the furniture department at Sotheby’s in 1936, was allowed to catalogue and market an important sale of antique rings the following year, and ...
19 August 1993
The End of the House of Windsor: Birth of a British Republic 
by Stephen Haseler.
Tauris, 208 pp., £14.95, June 1993, 1 85043 735 1
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The Rise and Fall of the House of Windsor 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 211 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 1 85619 354 3
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Royal Throne: The Future of the Monarchy 
by Elizabeth Longford.
Hodder, 189 pp., £16.99, April 1993, 0 340 58587 0
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Diana v. Charles 
by James Whitaker.
Signet, 237 pp., £14.99, May 1993, 0 670 85245 7
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The Tarnished Crown 
by Anthony Holden.
Bantam, 400 pp., £16.99, May 1993, 0 593 02472 9
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Inheritance: A Psychological History of the Royal Family 
by Dennis Friedman.
Sidgwick, 212 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 283 06124 3
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Raine and Johnnie: The Spencers and the Scandal of Althorp 
by Angela Levin.
Weidenfeld, 297 pp., £17.99, July 1993, 0 297 81325 0
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... components of Britishness that is the fundamental cause of the monarchy’s current malaise. Stephen Haseler, author of one of the most intelligent of the 1993 vintage of royal books, is absolutely right that ‘the magnitude of the appropriation by the monarchy of the symbols of nationhood and authority is breathtaking.’ Her Majesty’s Government ...

Too Proud to Fight

David Reynolds: The ‘Lusitania’ Effect

28 November 2002
Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ 
by Diana Preston.
Doubleday, 543 pp., £18.99, May 2002, 0 385 60173 5
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Lusitania: Saga and Myth 
by David Ramsay.
Chatham, 319 pp., £20, September 2001, 1 86176 170 8
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Woodrow Wilson 
by John Thompson.
Longman, 288 pp., £15.99, August 2002, 0 582 24737 3
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... The appeal to necessity has a long history in warfare. In The Rights and Duties of Neutrals Stephen Neff calls it ‘a sort of juridical “wild card” which allows a state to “trump” the normal rights of other states in times of desperation’.* Germany wasn’t the only country to have played it: in 1807 necessity was invoked to justify ...
20 July 1995
Naturalist 
by Edward O.Wilson.
Allen Lane, 380 pp., £20, August 1995, 0 7139 9141 0
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Journey to the Ants: A Story of Scientific Exploration 
by Bert Hölldobler and Edward O.Wilson.
Harvard, 228 pp., £19.95, November 1994, 0 674 48525 4
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... Vindaloo. Something of the same determinedly trivial desire to prove himself is revealed in Edward Wilson’s Naturalist. The great myrmecologist’s memoir is filled with references to scaling the highest mountains, collecting the most species, and above all to standing where no (white) man had ever stood before, finding organisms hitherto ‘unknown to ...

Mohocks

Liam McIlvanney: The House of Blackwood

5 June 2003
The House of Blackwood: Author-Publisher Relations in the Victorian Era 
by David Finkelstein.
Pennsylvania State, 199 pp., £44.95, April 2002, 0 271 02179 9
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... to edit the Quarterly. But for the magazine’s first twenty-five years, its mainstay was John Wilson. As Christopher North, he wrote mountains of copy. Reviews, feature articles, verses, sentimental tales of peasant life, unsentimental tales of gothic horror: he churned the stuff out in heroic bouts of scribbling that tested his physical strength as much ...

Mockmen

Stephen Wall

27 September 1990
Brazzaville Beach 
by William Boyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 314 pp., £13.95, September 1990, 1 85619 026 9
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A Bottle in the Smoke 
by A.N. Wilson.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 279 pp., £13.95, September 1990, 1 85619 019 6
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Temples of Delight 
by Barbara Trapido.
Joseph, 318 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7181 3467 2
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... carry conviction. It’s William Boyd’s strongest performance so far. The narrator of A.N. Wilson’s The Bottle in the Smoke is also engaged in retrospect and revaluation, as any hero of a roman fleuve is likely to be. It’s the second novel in a sequence begun with Incline our hearts (1988), which took us through the orphaned Julian Ramsay’s early ...
25 October 1990
Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... On 22 February 1965, the fifth month of Harold Wilson’s first ministry, Richard Crossman recorded the following in his Diaries of a Cabinet Minister: Then Harold Wilson raised the issue of Anthony Howard. He has just been appointed by the Sunday Times to be the first Whitehall correspondent in history, looking into the secrets of the Civil Service rather than leaking the secrets of the politicians ...

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