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Centralisation

Peter Burke

5 March 1981
State and Society in Europe 1550-1650 
by Victor Kiernan.
Blackwell, 309 pp., £12, December 1980, 0 226 47080 6
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... article’, which packs into a few pages more ideas than many books. In the field of European history, one such article was ‘Foreign Mercenaries and Absolute Monarchy’, published in 1957 by VictorKiernan. Professor Kiernan has many historical interests, and he moved on to The Revolution of 1854 in Spanish History (1966), and The Lords of Human Kind (1969), a discussion of 19th-century ...

Knowing more

Rosalind Mitchison

14 September 1989
Poets, Polities and the People 
by V.G. Kiernan, edited by Harvey Kaye.
Verso, 239 pp., £29.95, June 1989, 0 86091 245 0
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For King and Conscience: John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee 
by Magnus Linklater and Christian Hesketh.
Weidenfeld, 244 pp., £16.95, June 1989, 0 297 79540 6
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... VictorKiernan is here presenting essays produced over the last 45 years: the texts are only occasionally given recent additions. The topics include three essays on literature but are otherwise historical: on ...

Fault-Finders

Michael Dobson

18 November 1993
‘Hamlet’ versus ‘Lear’: Cultural Politics and Shakespeare’s Art 
by R.A. Foakes.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £30, March 1993, 0 521 34292 9
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Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels 
by Brian Vickers.
Yale, 508 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 300 05415 7
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Shakespeare, Poet and Citizen 
by Victor​ Kieran.
Verso, 261 pp., £18.95, March 1993, 0 86091 392 9
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... Lear’ and Appropriating Shakespeare provide a vivid record of what an older generation of Shakespeareans has been making of the critical upsets of the Eighties and Nineties. Alongside them VictorKiernan’s Shakespeare, Poet and Citizen – first drafted in the early Fifties, by a historian who has remained a non-combatant in the debates to which Foakes and Vickers appoint themselves as ...

Booze and Fags

Christopher Hitchens

12 March 1992
Tobacco: A History 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Radius, 249 pp., £18.99, December 1991, 0 09 174216 1
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The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking 
edited by Simon Rae.
Faber, 554 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 571 16229 0
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... of shame, or a few of them. Both of these books oscillate between praise and admonition, and come dangerously close at times to suggesting that drinking and smoking are all right in moderation. VictorKiernan would be incapable of saying anything so trite. But his book is the record of a long farewell to a much-loved addiction, and he has not permitted his change of heart to make him into a ...

Uses for Horsehair

David Blackbourn

9 February 1995
Duelling: The Cult of Honour in Fin-de-Siècle Germany 
by Kevin McAleer.
Princeton, 268 pp., £19.95, January 1995, 0 691 03462 1
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... Schnitzler did it. In 19th-century Europe practically everyone was doing it, except the English. We are talking about fighting duels. The subject has recently attracted some fine historians. In 1988, VictorKiernan published The Duel in European History, a thoughtful account that drew mainly on British and French evidence from the Early Modern period and presented the modern duel as an aristocratic ...
1 September 1988
The Duel in European History: Honour and the Reign of Aristocracy 
by V.G. Kiernan.
Oxford, 360 pp., £25, March 1988, 0 19 822566 0
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History, Classes and Nation-States: Selected Writings of Victor​ Kiernan 
edited by Harvey Kaye.
Blackwell, 284 pp., £27.50, June 1988, 0 7456 0424 2
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... members of Britain’s élite, or show rather that they were comparative newcomers to that status? Can we, in short, really see duelling as a by-product of aristocratic dominance, as a mark of caste? VictorKiernan’s answer in this intriguing and invariably well-written book is an emphatic and unsurprising yes. Kiernan is both a Marxist and a student of Antonio Gramsci. Like the majority of British ...

Bloody

Michael Church

9 October 1986
The Children of the Souls: A Tragedy of the First World War 
by Jeanne Mackenzie.
Chatto, 276 pp., £14.95, June 1986, 9780701128470
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Voices from the Spanish Civil War: Personal Recollections of Scottish Volunteers in Republican Spain 1936-39 
edited by Ian MacDougall, by Victor Kiernan.
Polygon, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1986, 0 948275 19 7
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The Shallow Grave: A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War 
by Walter Gregory, edited by David Morris and Anthony Peters.
Gollancz, 183 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 575 03790 3
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Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War 
edited by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 388 pp., £15, July 1986, 0 19 212258 4
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The Spanish Cockpit 
by Franz Borkenau.
Pluto, 303 pp., £4.95, July 1986, 0 7453 0188 6
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The Spanish Civil War 1936-39 
by Paul Preston.
Weidenfeld, 184 pp., £10.95, June 1986, 0 297 78891 4
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Images of the Spanish Civil War 
by Raymond Carr.
Allen and Unwin, 192 pp., £14.95, July 1986, 0 04 940089 4
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... I adore war,’ Julian Grenfell reported to his mother from the Flemish trenches in 1914, in a letter which she proudly sent on for anonymous publication in the Times. Stalking Germans through the mud was not very different from stalking partridges, as he noted in his game book: ‘November 16th; 1 Pomeranian. November 17th; 2 Pomeranians.’ Two decades later in Spain, Julian Bell informed his ...
23 June 1988
The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery 1776-1848 
by Robin Blackburn.
Verso, 560 pp., £27.95, April 1988, 0 86091 188 8
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Pro-Slavery: A History of the Defence of Slavery in America, 1701-1840 
by Larry Tise.
Georgia, 501 pp., $40, March 1988, 0 8203 0927 3
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Haiti’s Influence on Antebellum America: Slumbering Volcano in the Caribbean 
by Alfred Hunt.
Louisiana State, 196 pp., £23.75, March 1988, 9780807113288
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Thomas Paine 
by A.J. Ayer.
Secker, 195 pp., £12.95, March 1988, 0 436 02820 4
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Paine and Cobbett: The Transatlantic Connection 
by David Wilson.
McGill-Queen’s University Press, 218 pp., $27.95, April 1988, 0 7735 1013 3
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... Anti-slavery might harmonise with some strands of capitalist thinking, but ‘it appealed to an idealistic minority rather than to the mass of capitalists.’ A good example of an idealist is Victor Schloecher, son of a rich porcelain manufacturer, whom we hear of in the later stages of France’s move towards emancipation. Capitalism could make use of, or could do without, ‘colonialism ...

Rolodex Man

Mark Kishlansky

31 October 1996
Liberty against the Law: Some 17th-Century Controversies 
by Christopher Hill.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £25, April 1996, 0 7139 9119 4
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The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary England: An Essay on the Fabrication of 17th-Century History 
by Alastair MacLaclan.
Macmillan, 431 pp., £13.99, April 1996, 0 333 62009 7
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... our century. Because of his own ideological motivations he regards the work of others as deriving from the same impulse. MacLachlan recounts an incident from the days of the Historian’s Group when Victor Kieman challenged the proposition, set forth in a paper by Hill, that Early Modern England was a feudal society. At the next meeting, after a carefully orchestrated counter-attack, Kiernan recanted ...
24 November 1994
... the most unequal industrial society in the world, trying to awaken voters to anger at the unbearable injustices around them. But often people don’t want to be reminded too much of their own misery. VictorKiernan once wisely remarked that if class consciousness has historically always been weaker among the exploited than the exploiters, one reason is simply that it is too depressing to live with the ...

Vietnam’s Wars

V.G. Kiernan

3 December 1981
Vietnam: The Revolutionary Path 
by Thomas Hodgkin.
Macmillan, 433 pp., £25, July 1981, 0 333 28110 1
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Death in the Ricefields: Thirty Years of War in Indochina 
by Peter Scholl-Latour, translated by Faye Carney.
Orbis, 383 pp., £6.95, September 1981, 0 85613 342 6
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Hollywood’s Vietnam 
by Gilbert Adair.
Proteus, 192 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 906071 86 0
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... as there was in 16th-century Japan, but never so extensively in China. More anomalous still are the novel sects that sprang up out of Western intercourse, hybrid faiths, one of them with Victor Hugo ensconced in its pantheon. Possibly the same receptivity, of a people perpetually forced by necessity to innovate and borrow, helped to make Vietnam in our century so open to Marxism. But the ...
24 September 1992
Language, Self and Society: A Social History of Language 
edited by Peter Burke and Roy Porter.
Polity, 358 pp., £45, December 1991, 0 7456 0765 9
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Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language 
by Richard Bailey.
Cambridge, 329 pp., £16.95, March 1992, 0 521 41572 1
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The Oxford Companion to the English Language 
edited by Tom McArthur and Feri McArthur.
Oxford, 1184 pp., £25, September 1992, 9780192141835
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The History of the English Language: A Source Book 
by David Burnley.
Longman, 373 pp., £25, January 1992, 0 582 02522 2
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The Cambridge History of the English Language. Vol. I: Beginnings to 1066 
edited by Richard Hogg and Norman Blake.
Cambridge, 609 pp., £60, August 1992, 9780521264747
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... The uses of Hebrew in the English Revolution’ and Peter Burke’s little sketch of post-Medieval uses of Latin is wide-ranging and excellent. Other chapters suffer from being wide-ranging and bad. VictorKiernan’s ‘Languages and Conquerors’ should have stuck to the subcontinent which he knows well instead of skipping round the world and across three millennia. It may be this diachronic range ...

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