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Eric Hobsbawm

Karl Miller, 25 October 2012

... I am not an economic historian, which did not prevent me from being friends with Eric Hobsbawm for many years. It keeps me from opinionating here about his work as a historian, a more than economic historian, in fact, who wrote for a wide public. But it doesn’t stop me from writing about him in a personal way, with recourse to memories ...

Praeludium of a Grunt

Tom Crewe: Charles Lamb’s Lives, 19 October 2023

Dream-Child: A Life of Charles Lamb 
by Eric G. Wilson.
Yale, 521 pp., £25, January 2022, 978 0 300 23080 2
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... and fireside conversations, and innocent vanities, and jests, and irony itself – do these things go out with life?Faced with the ‘inevitable spoiler’, Lamb lived as many lives as he could. In the theatre: ‘the escape from life, the oblivion of consequences, the holiday … those Saturnalia of two or three brief hours, well won from the world’. In his ...

Don’t talk to pigeons

Ben Jackson: MI5 in WW1, 22 January 2015

MI5 in the Great War 
edited by Nigel West.
Biteback, 434 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 84954 670 6
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... would be responsible for intelligence abroad and Kell for counter-intelligence at home. Kell would go on to become the longest serving director of any government department (before Churchill sacked him early in the Second World War, blaming him for MI5’s chronic lack of preparedness), but to begin with his actions were dominated by a sense of the ...
by Richard Ingrams.
Private Eye/Deutsch, 144 pp., £4.25
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... and then demoted to a knight by the Scrutiny Committee, in what is bitterly remembered as the Wilson Honours List. Was there a connection between Sir James’s elevation and his year-long battle to punish Private Eye and jail its editor, Richard Ingrams – an effort which was supported by Wilson and Lady ...


E.S. Turner: Kiss me, Eric, 17 April 2003

Dean Farrar and ‘Eric’: A Study of ‘Eric, or Little by Little’, together with the Complete Text of the Book 
by Ian Anstruther.
Haggerston, 237 pp., £19.95, January 2003, 1 869812 19 0
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... From the 11th century to the 19th not a single Eric was to be found in England, according to the Harrap Book of Boys’ and Girls’ Names. Then in 1858 the schoolmaster Frederic Farrar, not yet a dean, published that passionately morbid tale Eric, or Little by Little. This was the book which, in the face of much mockery, put the wind up two generations of youth ...

What difference did she make?

Eric Hobsbawm, 23 May 1991

A Question of Leadership: Gladstone to Thatcher 
by Peter Clarke.
Hamish Hamilton, 334 pp., £17.99, April 1991, 0 241 13005 0
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The Quiet Rise of John Major 
by Edward Pearce.
Weidenfeld, 177 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 297 81208 4
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... the man on the bridge was Andrew Johnson and not Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and not McKinley, Mrs Wilson and not Woodrow Wilson, Truman and not Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and not Kennedy, Ford and not Nixon, or even that there was nobody in the White House at all – as under Reagan. In short, a strong economy and great ...

I don’t know what it looks like

Madeleine Schwartz: Brutalist Paris, 14 December 2023

Brutalist Paris 
by Nigel Green and Robin Wilson.
Blue Crow, 192 pp., £24, February, 978 1 912018 73 4
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Chêne Pointu, Clichy-sous-Bois 
by Éric Reinhardt.
EXB, 319 pp., €39, November, 978 2 36511 387 8
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... of an architect’s model, not designed for real life. In Brutalist Paris, Nigel Green and Robin Wilson praise the ‘important architectural interventions’ that resulted in ‘an often radical departure from the familiar, historical Paris, towards the establishment of multiple satellite centres’. But few of the buildings have weathered well. In ...

In the Library

Inigo Thomas, 25 April 2013

... in London, many of whom arrive by cab. But I can’t because I’m already busy. Q, with whom I go to a Japanese restaurant on not-far-off Chalton St, rings to say he is with his children near where I live; I tell him I’m at the library. There are faces I recognise from dust jacket photos, but overwhelmingly I know no one at the British Library, and ...

The Lie that Empire Tells Itself

Eric Foner: America’s bad wars, 19 May 2005

The Dominion of War: Empire and conflict in North America 1500-2000 
by Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton.
Atlantic, 520 pp., £19.99, July 2005, 1 903809 73 8
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... and the Philippines ought not to be compared to the despotic actions of European powers. Woodrow Wilson insisted that only the US possessed the combination of military power and moral righteousness to make the world safe for democracy. Like Ferguson, Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton begin with the premise that the US has always been an empire. But in contrast ...


R.W. Johnson: Kinnock must go, 10 December 1987

... For some years now, the most impressive intellectual input to the Kinnock camp has been that of Eric Hobsbawm, who is actually a member of quite another party, a fact which is surely comment enough in itself. But Labour still exists, which the Alliance no longer does. In their different ways all the members of the old Gang of Four have effectively admitted ...

Hope in the Desert

Eric Foner: Democratic Party Blues, 12 May 2022

What It Took to Win: A History of the Democratic Party 
by Michael Kazin.
Farrar, Straus, 396 pp., $35, March, 978 0 374 20023 7
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... mankind upon a cross of gold’.) His next two campaigns also ended in defeat. Woodrow Wilson, who strengthened antitrust legislation, instituted an income tax on wealthy Americans, subjected banks to regulation and expanded the rights of labour, carried the party forward in the direction Bryan had laid out. However, neither Bryan nor ...

Labour and the Bouncers

Paul Foot, 4 June 1987

Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... it represented were not the only enemies of the elected government. Like Joe Haines, Harold Wilson’s adviser in the first part of the 1974-1979 Labour Government, Bernard Donoughue finds plenty of important people lurking in the background to defend the existing order from any levelling which the Labour Government might threaten. He reveals that in ...


David Goldie: Morecambe and Wise, 15 April 1999

Morecambe and Wise 
by Graham McCann.
Fourth Estate, 416 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 1 85702 735 3
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... as they were – and, as Morecambe would winningly say, ‘there’s no answer to that.’ Eric was once asked what Ernie and he might have become had they not been comedians. His reply: Mike and Bernie Winters. Eric and Ernie were a double act, and so were Mike and Bernie. But that’s where the similarities ...

Feuds and Law and Order

William Doyle, 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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... 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 became a ...

The British Dimension

Rosalind Mitchison, 16 October 1980

The Life of David Hume 
by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Oxford, 736 pp., £20, March 1980, 0 19 824381 2
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‘The People Above’: Politics and Adminsitration in Mid-18th-Century Scotland 
by Alexander Murdoch.
John Donald, 199 pp., £12, March 1980, 0 85976 053 7
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The Laird of Abbotsford 
by A.N. Wilson.
Oxford, 197 pp., £8.95, June 1980, 0 19 211756 4
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The Strange Death of Scottish History 
by Marinell Ash.
Ramsay Head Press, 166 pp., £6.50, March 1980, 0 902859 57 9
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... the Dundas men were moderate in what they extracted and generous in the service they gave. A.N. Wilson’s book on Scott has an infectious enthusiasm. It reads, not like a systematic analysis of Scott’s writings, still less like a biography, but like good, if rambling talk. His achievement is to appreciate Scott’s remarkable historic sense. In the ...

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