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Make me work if you can

T.H. Breen, 18 February 1988

Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718-1775 
by Roger Ekirch.
Oxford, 277 pp., £25, November 1987, 0 19 820092 7
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... become servants, who freely chose to come to America in the hope of improving their lives. But, as Roger Ekirch now explains in his splendid new book, a very large number of migrants did not want to leave 18th-century Britain at all. These were the convicts. Historians once thought that no more than thirty thousand felons were transported to the New ...

Devils Everywhere

David Wootton: The Terrors of the Night, 9 March 2006

At Day’s Close: A History of Nighttime 
by Roger Ekirch.
Weidenfeld, 447 pp., £20, June 2005, 0 297 82992 0
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Saving the Daylight: Why We Put the Clocks Forward 
by David Prerau.
Granta, 256 pp., £14.99, October 2005, 1 86207 796 7
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... from it. Or at least I had no idea of what it would be like to live in darkness until I read Roger Ekirch’s history of nighttime, which draws on accounts of the dark in early modern Europe. In a recent LRB John Demos pondered the perils of popular history, in which events constantly drive the story onwards, in which interpretations receive short ...

Lights On and Away We Go

Keith Thomas: Happy Thoughts, 20 May 2021

The Enlightenment: The Pursuit of Happiness, 1680-1790 
by Ritchie Robertson.
Allen Lane, 984 pp., £40, November 2020, 978 0 241 00482 1
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... towns in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Robertson devotes only a paragraph to it but as Roger Ekirch, a historian of the night, has observed, street lighting transformed the texture of urban life. It opened up the evening as a time for both labour and leisure, and provided a new and enduring metaphor. The coming of the light symbolised the ...

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