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Who was the enemy?

Bernard Porter: Gallipoli

20 May 2015
by Alan Moorehead.
Aurum, 384 pp., £25, April 2015, 978 1 78131 406 7
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Gallipoli: A Soldier’s Story 
by Arthur Beecroft.
Robert Hale, 176 pp., £12.99, March 2015, 978 0 7198 1654 3
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Gallipoli 1915 
by Joseph Murray.
Silvertail, 210 pp., £12.99, April 2015, 978 1 909269 11 8
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Gallipoli: The Dardanelles Disaster in Soldiers’ Words and Photographs 
by Richard van Emden and Stephen Chambers.
Bloomsbury, 344 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 1 4088 5615 4
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... contains a flinch-making description of him amputating his mate’s thumb with a jack-knife (‘Tubby thanked me a thousand times’). Then there is the splendid book edited by Richard van Emden and StephenChambers, which consists mainly of soldiers’ and sailors’ letters and diaries, British, Anzac and Turkish – no French or Indian, apart from a couple of Indian officers in the British army – ...

Jours de Fête

Mark Thornton Burnett

9 January 1992
Shakespeare’s Festive World: Elizabethan Seasonal Entertainment and the Professional Stage 
by François Laroque, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Cambridge, 423 pp., £45, September 1991, 0 521 37549 5
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... When Shakespeare et la fête appeared in 1988, it was building upon approaches already established in the studies of C.L. Barber, E.K. Chambers and Enid Welsford which related Shakespeare’s plays to Elizabethan calendrical customs. What distinguished Laroque’s book, however, was the breadth of its documentation and discussion, which ...

Short Cuts

Stephen​ Sedley: Labour and Anti-Semitism

10 May 2018
... was evident I couldn’t be one. What he had picked up, presumably at home, was the vernacular anti-Semitism which had first excused and then validated everything from the Nuremberg Laws to the gas chambers and might readily have made collaborators of families like Harvey’s if Hitler had crossed the Channel. But it didn’t feel like that either to him or to me. What it presented me with was my first ...

Who wouldn’t buy it?

Colin Burrow: Speculating about Shakespeare

20 January 2005
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare 
by Stephen​ Greenblatt.
Cape, 430 pp., £20, October 2004, 9780224062763
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... As I was reading Stephen Greenblatt’s biography of Shakespeare on the train there was a woman sitting near me doing a deal on the phone. She was getting agitated. ‘But I have to transfer the money to Mr Shakespeare ...

Farewell Sovereignty

Stephen​ Sedley: The Case for the Regicides

9 February 2006
The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold 
by Geoffrey Robertson.
Chatto, 429 pp., £20, October 2005, 0 7011 7602 4
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... Inn and had been appointed solicitor-general, the Inn had no portrait and no memorial of him. In the unbroken series of portraits of law officers of the Crown on the walls of the attorney-general’s chambers in Buckingham Gate, and in the National Portrait Gallery, all that survives is a single, almost certainly posthumous, stage-villain caricature. Robertson fixes the evening in Gray’s Inn as the book ...


Stephen​ Sedley: Judges’ Lodgings

11 November 1999
... of James Fox’s The Langhorne Sisters – Nancy had been the middle one of the five – and began to understand. Not long afterwards I looked through the manuscript memoirs of my old head of chambers, John Platts-Mills. John, now in his nineties and still occasionally practising, came to Balliol as a Rhodes Scholar from New Zealand in 1928. He boxed, rowed and through the Carlton Club became a ...

The Judges’ Verdicts

Stephen​ Sedley

30 January 2017
... it has been the rolling back of ministerial claims to arbitrary power, exercised by the use of the royal prerogative, that has shaped the British constitution.In 1636 a London trader called Richard Chambers sued the mayor for having wrongfully imprisoned him for refusing to pay ship money. His case was that the tax was itself unlawful, having been levied by the Crown without the authority of Parliament ...

Be careful what you wish for

Stephen​ Sedley: Human Rights Acts

30 August 2018
The Conservative Human Rights Revolution: European Identity, Transnational Politics and the Origins of the European Convention 
by Marco Duranti.
Oxford, 502 pp., £59, February 2017, 978 0 19 981138 0
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... account, drawn from British, French, German, Italian, Dutch and US archives, is that the convention was an individualistic and conservative project, devised outside the offices of governments and the chambers of parliaments and designed to stem the postwar tide of socialism and statism. Through it, he argues, ‘conservatives enshrined human rights as European values in the service of a nostalgic ...

Short Cuts

Stephen​ Sedley: The Supreme Court’s Judgment

2 March 2017
... it has been the rolling back of ministerial claims to arbitrary power, exercised by the use of the royal prerogative, that has shaped the British constitution.In 1636 a London trader called Richard Chambers sued the mayor for having wrongfully imprisoned him for refusing to pay ship money. His case was that the tax was itself unlawful, having been levied by the Crown without the authority of Parliament ...

Operation Backfire

Francis Spufford: Britain’s space programme

28 October 1999
... rockets, he was a sixth-former in Doncaster who gingerly carried a darkened bottle of industrial peroxide home on the bus. His girlfriend’s father, a metalwork teacher, helped out with the engine chambers; the fuel injectors were made from the little plastic tubes inside biros. When Scott-Scott went for his interview at the Armstrong Siddeley Rocket Department a few years later, they worried that ...

Plimsoll’s Story

Stephen​ Sedley

28 April 2011
The Oxford History of the Laws of England 1820-1914: Vol. XI, English Legal System; Vol. XII, Private Law; Vol. XIII, Fields of Development 
edited by William Cornish et al.
Oxford, 3571 pp., £495, February 2010, 978 0 19 925883 3
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... present the more room there is for idiosyncrasy and the less for perspective. Moreover, it’s not that difficult, at least in the law, to bridge those last hundred-odd years. The senior clerk in the chambers where I was a pupil in the 1960s had started work towards 1890 as a boy in the Temple, where he had been trained to write copperplate with the steel-nibbed pen that he would still use to copy out ...
30 October 1997
Dust-bowl Migrants in the American Imagination 
by Charles Shindo.
Kansas, 252 pp., £22.50, January 1997, 0 7006 0810 9
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In the Country of Country 
by Nicholas Dawidoff.
Faber, 365 pp., £12.99, June 1997, 0 571 19174 6
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... strike in The Grapes of Wrath), resulted in outright victory for the strikers within a few days. It was indeed organised by an official from the Cannery and Agricultural Workers’ Union – Pat Chambers – but he listened carefully to the workers and planned the strike meticulously. The Grapes of Wrath is richer in detail, more humane, less philosophically arid and generally more interesting than ...

Catastrophic Playground

Stephen​ Kotkin: Chechnya

18 October 2001
A Dirty War: A Russian Reporter in Chechnya 
by Anna Politkovskaya, translated by John Crowfoot.
Harvill, 336 pp., £12, June 2001, 1 86046 897 7
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Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus 
by Svante Cornell.
Curzon, 480 pp., £57.88, January 2001, 0 7007 1162 7
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... much of her Russian readership, Politkovskaya brands a wretched Chechen refugee settlement in Ingushetia ‘a concentration camp’: ‘all they need now,’ she adds, ‘is to start designing gas chambers.’ Outrage provokes this kind of hyperbole: outrage at colleagues obsessed with finding new and dramatic angles on ‘the story’ but unwilling to help alleviate the suffering; at Western human ...

On a par with Nixon

Stephen​ Alford: Bad Queen Bess?

17 November 2016
Bad Queen Bess? Libels, Secret Histories, and the Politics of Publicity in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I 
by Peter Lake.
Oxford, 497 pp., £35, January 2016, 978 0 19 875399 5
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Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years 
by John Guy.
Viking, 494 pp., £25, May 2016, 978 0 670 92225 3
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... she suffered from debilitating migraines, insomnia, depression and at times disconcerting swings of mood. She detested getting older, and lashed out at the young and pretty gentlewomen of her private chambers. For the first time we have an accurate and critical account of the audiences between Elizabeth and the French ambassador de Maisse in 1597. Although once, through mistranslation and ...

Was it because of the war?

Rogers Brubaker: Building Europe

15 October 1998
Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe 
by Thomas Ertman.
Cambridge, 379 pp., £45, April 1997, 0 521 48222 4
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... prevented the development of absolutism. In the former Carolingian heartlands of European feudalism, by contrast, they were organised along status group rather than territorial lines, with separate chambers for each order or ‘estate’. Such assemblies were structurally much weaker and unable to prevent absolutism. The second factor I have already mentioned: the timing of states’ initial encounters ...

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