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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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... Ever since the 18th century it has been universally accepted that one of the main foundations of a civilised society is the rule of law. The Enlightenment taught that Nature itself worked by clear and invariable laws, and saw no reason why human society should not do the same. Much that was wrong with existing institutions could be explained in these terms, and when the French Revolutionaries set out to build a new order from its foundations, they proclaimed the rule of law as the most basic of all their guiding principles ...

Prussian Officers

William Doyle

23 January 1986
Frederick the Great: A Military Life 
by Christopher Duffy.
Routledge, 407 pp., £17.95, September 1985, 0 7100 9649 6
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Society, Government and the Enlightenment: The Experiences of 18th-Century France and Prussia 
by C.B.A. Behrens.
Thames and Hudson, 248 pp., £16, August 1985, 0 500 25090 1
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Religious Toleration and Social Change in Hamburg 1529-1819 
by Joachim Whaley.
Cambridge, 248 pp., £25, August 1985, 0 521 26189 9
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... privileges, indifferent to public opinion and determined never to borrow money, Frederick William I and Frederick the Great were able to maintain and support a vast army that was the terror and admiration of Europe. They were able to foster some economic growth, too. These conclusions are framed after wider and deeper reading than those relating to ...

Despots

William Doyle

19 May 1988
Joseph II. Vol. I: In the Shadow of Maria Theresa 1741-1780 
by Derek Beales.
Cambridge, 520 pp., £35, December 1986, 0 521 24240 1
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Finance and Government under Maria Theresia 1740-1780 
by P.G.M. Dickson.
Oxford, 491 pp., £45, August 1987, 0 19 822570 9
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... The very title of one of these two massive works represents a minor act of courage, and, I suspect, authorial obstinacy in the face of editorial conservatism. It is high time that English-speaking authors began to call Maria Theresia by the name she was given at the font. Only a decade ago, Oxford University Press refused to allow authors to do so; and Cambridge, apparently, still does if we are to judge from Professor Beales’s subtitle ...

Revolutionary Yoke

William Doyle: Le Nationalisme

27 June 2002
The Cult of the Nation in France: Inventing Nationalism 1680-1800 
by David A. Bell.
Harvard, 304 pp., £30.95, November 2001, 0 674 00447 7
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... Recording the moment Samuel Johnson startled his friends in 1775 by declaring patriotism to be the ‘last refuge of a scoundrel’, Boswell felt that the definition needed to be glossed. Johnson ‘did not mean’, he assured readers, ‘a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak for self-interest ...

What is progress?

William Doyle

6 March 1986
What is history? 
by E.H. Carr, edited by R.W. Davies.
Macmillan, 154 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 333 38956 5
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... I never knew E.H. Carr. I never heard him lecture, even on the radio. But I once saw him in Cambridge, and that was memorable enough. The History of Soviet Russia, begun when he was in his fifties and finished in his eighties, would have been enough to make him a legend, and no doubt he would regard it as his monument. But those 14 forbidding volumes, whatever the importance of their subject, seem destined always to be more talked about than read ...

Last Farewells

Linda Colley

22 June 1989
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution 
by Simon Schama.
Viking, 948 pp., £20, May 1989, 0 670 81012 6
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The Oxford History of the French Revolution 
by William Doyle.
Oxford, 466 pp., £17.50, May 1989, 0 19 822781 7
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The Shadow of the Guillotine: Britain and the French Revolution 
by David Bindman.
British Museum, 232 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 7141 1637 8
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... caused by a rising bourgeoisie, and had led to the triumph of capitalism. Now, in these books by William Doyle and Simon Schama, we have two further reappraisals of this event written by British-born scholars. Both see the Revolution as a tragedy. Both argue that the initial impetus was not social or economic change. And both are very much historians of ...
20 August 1981
Origins of the French Revolution 
by William Doyle.
Oxford, 247 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 19 873020 9
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... on stony ground. Yet the next decade was to show that his ideas had taken the citadel by sap. William Doyle’s meticulous and thought-provoking account of how recent research has changed or modified the simple and satisfying beliefs of an earlier generation of historians takes Cobban as its point of departure. He then examines a number of ...
4 May 1989
The Blackwell Dictionary of Historians 
edited by John Cannon, R.H.C. Davis, William Doyle and Jack Greene.
Blackwell, 480 pp., £39.95, September 1988, 9780631147084
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Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian, 1772-1794 
by Patricia Craddock.
Johns Hopkins, 432 pp., £19, February 1989, 0 8018 3720 0
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Gibbon: Making History 
by Roy Porter.
Palgrave, 187 pp., £14.95, February 1989, 0 312 02728 1
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Macaulay 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Trafalgar Square, 160 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 9780297794684
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Acton 
by Hugh Tulloch.
Trafalgar Square, 144 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 297 79470 1
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... families of the Holy Roman Empire, before becoming an Irish MP, a baron, and the confidant of William Gladstone. Possessing social credentials of this kind helped to make these men the historians they were. They did not only write about power: they also directly experienced it. They not only visited the archives and libraries of the great: they were ...
9 November 1989
Burke and the Fall of Language: The French Revolution as Linguistic Event 
by Steven Blakemore.
University Press of New England, 115 pp., £10, April 1989, 0 87451 452 5
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The Impact of the French Revolution on European Consciousness 
edited by H.T. Mason and William Doyle.
Sutton, 205 pp., £17.95, June 1989, 0 86299 483 7
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The French Revolution and the Enlightenment in England 1789-1832 
by Seamus Deane.
Harvard, 212 pp., £19.95, November 1988, 0 674 32240 1
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... human nature to Dickens’s surprisingly thoughtful reflections on 1789, 1830 and 1848, and from William Doyle’s opening attempt to divine the ruling principles of the Revolution at one end of the book to Norman Hampson’s engagingly self-mocking attempt to draw out its lessons at the other. But a good many of the essays are sustainedly ...

One Chapter More

Leah Price: Ectoplasm

6 July 2000
Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle 
by Daniel Stashower.
Penguin, 472 pp., £18.99, February 2000, 0 7139 9373 1
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... Since Arthur Conan Doyle’s own lifetime, every mystery novelist applying to join the Detection Club in London has been required to forswear ‘Feminine Intuition, Mumbo-Jumbo and Jiggery-Pokery’ along with ‘Ghosts, Hypnotism, Trap-Doors and Chinamen’. Conan Doyle himself never did ...

Clues

J.I.M. Stewart

5 May 1983
A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £7.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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The Agatha Christie Hour 
by Agatha Christie.
Collins, 190 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 00 231331 6
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The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes 
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Allen Lane, 1122 pp., £7.95, August 1981, 0 7139 1444 0
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The Quest for Sherlock Holmes 
by Owen Dudley Edwards.
Mainstream, 380 pp., £12.50, November 1982, 0 906391 15 6
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The Unknown Conan DoyleEssays on Photography 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 128 pp., £8.50, November 1982, 0 436 13302 4
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The Unknown Conan DoyleUncollected Stories 
by John Michael Gibson and Richard Lancelyn Green.
Secker, 456 pp., £8.95, November 1982, 0 436 13301 6
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The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie 
by Charles Osborne.
Collins, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1982, 0 00 216462 0
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... manner in which the Marine held his head and swung his cane. As the Holmes saga developed, Conan Doyle came to see that it would be to the advantage of the stories that his readers should be afforded a clear glimpse of the clues as they turn up. But he sets no great emphasis on his. In the main, we simply follow Holmes around and admire in due season. There ...

Gaslight and Fog

John Pemble: Sherlock Holmes

26 January 2012
The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England 
by Haia Shpayer-Makov.
Oxford, 429 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 19 957740 8
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... in the novella A Study in Scarlet in 1887, no one took much notice. But when Arthur Conan Doyle repackaged Holmes and Watson in short stories for the Strand Magazine, the trifle improvised for pin money by a struggling young doctor soon turned into an apotheosis that bemused, enriched and finally exasperated him. He tried to exorcise the incubus by ...

Let us breakfast in splendour

Charles Nicholl: Francis Barber

15 July 2015
The Fortunes of Francis Barber: The True Story of the Jamaican Slave Who Became Samuel Johnson’s Heir 
by Michael Bundock.
Yale, 282 pp., £20, May 2015, 978 0 300 20710 1
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... luminaries. In fact the picture is Victorian, painted in about 1845, but the artist – James William Doyle, an uncle of Arthur Conan Doyle – was known as a meticulous historian, and the figures are vividly and accurately presented, using known 18th-century likenesses. Dr Johnson is holding forth, with the ...

Behind the Veil

Richard Altick

6 March 1986
The Other World: Spiritualism and Psychical Research in England 1850-1914 
by Janet Oppenheim.
Cambridge, 503 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 521 26505 3
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... examination. Among its officers and members were Tennyson, Gladstone, Ruskin, Lewis Carroll, William James, Henri Bergson, and scores of other persons with unimpeachable intellectual and social credentials. In the 18th century, the foundations of received Christian faith, undermined by deism, had been shored up for some time by the physico-theology of ...

Entails

Christopher Driver

19 May 1983
Fools of Fortune 
by William Trevor.
Bodley Head, 239 pp., £7.50, April 1983, 0 370 30953 7
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What a beautiful Sunday! 
by Jorge Semprun, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Secker, 429 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 9780436446603
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An Innocent Millionaire 
by Stephen Vizinczey.
Hamish Hamilton, 388 pp., £8.95, March 1983, 0 241 10929 9
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The Papers of Tony Veitch 
by William McIlvanney.
Hodder, 254 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 340 22907 1
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In the Shadow of the Paradise Tree 
by Sasha Moorsom.
Routledge, 247 pp., £6.95, April 1983, 0 7100 9408 6
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The Bride 
by Bapsi Sidhwa.
Cape, 248 pp., £7.95, February 1983, 0 224 02047 1
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... The theme of William Trevor’s new novel – his ninth, and that leaves short-story collections out of account – is the murderous entail of Anglo-Irish history, in which, as a Cork man, he may fairly be considered expert. But unlike most experts, above all most specialists in Ireland’s past, he knows how little has to be told and how much is best left to the reader’s own memory and imagination ...

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