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By Any Means or None

Thomas Nagel: Does Terrorism Work?, 8 September 2016

Does Terrorism Work? A History 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 367 pp., £25, July 2016, 978 0 19 960785 3
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... terrorist attack, I often wonder what these people hope to achieve. In a depressingly timely book, Richard English tries to answer that question for a number of important cases, in order to address the broader question of his title. First, he has to specify what would count as ‘working’, and then he has to look at the historical facts to determine ...

Incriminating English

Randolph Quirk, 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 EnglishA 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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... Among various worries I have about the degree subject English, the most serious is the decline (to near vanishing point in many universities) of historical language study. One accepts, of course, that there is an awful lot else to claim the attention of teachers and taught; that the literature of the past two hundred years alone is more than enough challenge for the three short years of undergraduate life ...

His Socks, His Silences

Adam Mars-Jones, 3 October 1996

The Story of the Night 
by Colm Tóibín.
Picador, 312 pp., £15.99, September 1996, 0 330 34017 4
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... Colm Tóibín’s frustrating new novel starts from a pleasingly skewed perspective: its narrator Richard Garay (less often, Ricardo) was brought up in Buenos Aires, child of an Argentinian businessman and an English woman who never adjusted to her new surroundings and clung in imagination to a country she had left in the early Twenties ...

The Adventures of Richard Holmes

Michael Holroyd, 1 August 1985

Footsteps: Adventures of a Romantic Biographer 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 288 pp., £12.95, July 1985, 0 340 28337 8
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... a Wordsworth and Coleridge pilgrimage in Somerset. One of the chief attractions was a rumour that Richard Holmes, currently working on a Life of Coleridge, would appear. For a day and a half there was much talk of Mr Holmes. How would he appear? Over what hill? Across what pond? From time to time messages would arrive which we carefully decoded. Then suddenly ...

Let’s Learn from the English

Richard J. Evans: The Nazi Empire, 25 September 2008

Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe 
by Mark Mazower.
Allen Lane, 726 pp., £30, June 2008, 978 0 7139 9681 4
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... As a young man, Adolf Hitler became a devotee of the music-dramas of Richard Wagner, and spent much of his meagre income on tickets for performances of Lohengrin and other pseudo-medieval fantasies. Historians have spent a good deal of energy trying to trace the effects of this youthful passion on the later dictator’s ideas and beliefs ...

The Late Richard Dadd, 1817-1886

Michael Hofmann, 4 December 1986

... the scene of his crime. The first photo-journalist: fairy-painter, father-slayer, poor, bad, mad Richard Dadd. His extended Grand Tour took in the Holy Land and ended in Bethlem Hospital, with its long panoptical galleries, spider-plants, whippets and double-gaslights. He had outlived himself at twenty-six ... There was one day he seemed to catch ...

The Rise of Richard Adams

Graham Hough, 4 December 1980

The Girl in a Swing 
by Richard Adams.
Allen Lane, 397 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 0 7139 1407 6
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... The remarkable literary career of Richard Adams began only eight years ago, but it has already reached substantial dimensions. Watership Down in 1972 was followed by two other works of mystery and imagination, relying more or less heavily on the animal world, and now by The Girl in a Swing, which is ostensibly about human beings ...

English Protestantism

J.B. Trapp, 4 September 1980

Studies in the Reformation: Luther to Hooker 
by W.D.J. Cargill Thompson.
Athlone, 259 pp., £18, July 1980, 9780485111873
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... who was also his bishop, had begun to read and to refute the ‘pestilent books’ of Luther’s English sect. Some of these Tunstal had already caused to be confiscated and publicly burned in an attempt to stem the flood-tide of the Reformation in England. (Erasmus was more of a realist: you could burn books, he said, but you could not pluck what they had ...

English Art and English Rubbish

Peter Campbell, 20 March 1986

C.R. Ashbee: Architect, Designer and Romantic Socialist 
by Alan Crawford.
Yale, 500 pp., £35, November 1985, 0 300 03467 9
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The Laughter and the Urn: The Life of Rex Whistler 
by Laurence Whistler.
Weidenfeld, 321 pp., £14.95, October 1985, 0 297 78603 2
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The Originality of Thomas Jones 
by Lawrence Gowing.
Thames and Hudson, 64 pp., £4.95, February 1986, 0 500 55017 4
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Art beyond the Gallery in Early 20th-century England 
by Richard Cork.
Yale, 332 pp., £40, April 1985, 0 300 03236 6
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Alfred Gilbert 
by Richard Dorment.
Yale, 350 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 300 03388 5
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... would be a little comical. Crawford sees the difference between Ruskin and Ashbee in terms of English sentimentality: ‘the stark challenge which Ruskin and Morris issued was softened by a quirk of British culture: by the fact that the country where the industrial revolution began was still half in love with other and older ways of life ... it was the ...

Hillside Men

Roy Foster: Ernie O’Malley, 16 July 1998

Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual 
by Richard English.
Oxford, 284 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 01 982059 3
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... him. Post-revolutionary Ireland was never comfortable with him, nor he with it: a central theme of Richard English’s absorbing study is O’Malley’s ambivalence towards Irish pieties, and his efforts to define the Ireland he had fought for. The country he had envisaged would have revered the writings of uncompromising Modernists like his friend Samuel ...

English Butter

David Trotter, 9 October 1986

Englishness: Politics and Culture 1880-1920 
edited by Robert Colls and Philip Dodd.
Croom Helm, 378 pp., £25, June 1986, 0 7099 0849 0
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The Character Factory: Baden-Powell and the Origins of the Boy Scout Movement 
by Michael Rosenthal.
Collins, 335 pp., £15, August 1986, 0 00 217604 1
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Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? 
by Richard Symonds.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £29.50, July 1986, 0 333 40206 5
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... This is the kind of thing that makes one gloom over the prospects of England. The deterioration of English butter is one of the worst signs of the moral state of our people.’ Eighty years on, the prospects of England continue to be gloomed over. The evidence of deterioration mounts: not just butter now, but apples, cars, furniture. As for the moral state of ...

English Proust

Christopher Prendergast, 8 July 1993

In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised by D.J. Enright.
Chatto, £15, November 1992, 0 7011 3992 7
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... and what name could be more French? – Larivière. (Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations in English are taken from D.J. Enright’s revised translation.) This passage is astonishing for a number of reasons, but principally for showing us a writer, famed for his advocacy of the aesthetic solution to the problem of living, so relaxed about the rules of ...
... is also meant to be a piece of advocacy. This creates a problem over writing a preface about Richard Long. He has too many admirers. A quarter of a century has passed since he began to gain an international reputation at about the time he left art school, and this reputation has steadily grown upwards and outwards. Mounting stacks of books, catalogues ...

All Together Now

Richard Jenkyns, 11 December 1997

Abide with Me: The World of Victorian Hymns 
by Ian Bradley.
SCM, 299 pp., £30, June 1997, 9780334026921
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The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study 
by J.R. Watson.
Oxford, 552 pp., £65, July 1997, 0 19 826762 2
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... American poems of the same period are best known in this country? Which verses by a canonical English poet do the largest number of people today know by heart? The best known Victorian poem is probably ‘Good King Wenceslas’ (by J.M. Neale), followed by ‘Once in royal David’s city’ (Mrs Alexander); ‘All things bright and beautiful’ (also Mrs ...

Topographies

W.R. Mead, 16 October 1980

The English Heartland 
by Robert Beckinsale and Monica Beckinsale.
Duckworth, 434 pp., £18, June 1980, 0 7156 1389 8
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The English Village 
by Richard Muir.
Thames and Hudson, 208 pp., £8.50, May 1980, 0 500 24106 6
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... one of the most stimulating books for the amateur has been W. G. Hoskins, The Making of the English Landscape (1951). It has directed attention to the origins and evolution of the simple but fundamental features of which the landscape is composed, and it has stirred a new interest in the sources of information that enabled them to be explained. The ...

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