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The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age 
by Gertrude Himmelfarb.
Faber, 595 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 571 13177 8
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... his optimistic view of the future, by de-moralising political economy, and by arguing that the laws of population meant that for most people life would always be nasty, mean, brutish, short, and poor. Only in the second edition of his Essay on Population did Malthus soften his tone somewhat, and tentatively admit that Smith may have been right. But by then ...


Michael Davie, 1 November 1984

Public Scandal, Odium and Contempt: An Investigation of Recent Libel Cases 
by David Hooper.
Secker, 230 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 436 20093 7
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... But the central point of this episode still stands. It relates to the uncertainty of the libel laws. Nobody had much idea then, and nobody in a similar case would have much idea now, what the outcome of a libel action taken by Beecham would have been. The law in general is full of surprises, even to lawyers: but the libel ...

Managing the Nation

Jonathan Parry, 18 March 2021

Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 525 pp., £30, October 2020, 978 0 691 17410 5
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... it might have posed to the Conservative electoral juggernaut at the 2015 election. Nick Clegg and David Laws would have done better to reflect on the lessons of the 1880s. If free-market pro-EU Liberals had fought the 2015 election as a small but boisterous and essential entity within a Cameron-led coalition, on the model of the Liberal Unionists after ...

One Foot on the Moon

Uri Avnery: Israel’s Racist Laws, 25 June 2009

... democratic state’, and undertake to serve in the army or a civilian alternative. Its sponsor is David Rotem of Israel Is Our Home, who also happens to be chairman of the Knesset law committee. A declaration of loyalty to the state and its laws is reasonable. But loyalty to the Zionist state? Zionism is an ideology, and in ...

A Bear Armed with a Gun

David Runciman: The Widening Atlantic, 3 April 2003

Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order 
by Robert Kagan.
Atlantic, 104 pp., £10, March 2003, 1 84354 177 7
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... create in order to escape the misery of their natural condition are subject to nothing but the laws that produced that misery in the first place. ‘The Law of Nations,’ Hobbes wrote, ‘and the Law of Nature, is the same thing. And every Soveraign hath the same Right, in procuring the safety of his People, that any particular man can have, in procuring ...

When the mortar doesn’t hold

David Rose: Accidents in the construction and demolition industries, 16 March 2000

... On Saturday 29 January, I left my in-laws’ house in Wadham Road, Bootle, and headed for the Strand Precinct to buy myself a shirt. As I reached the junction with Stanley Road a building fell down in front of me. I saw a man leap from the top of it. There was a crash and bricks spilled out into the road, pulling the scaffolding down with them ...


David Bromwich: The Snowden Case, 4 July 2013

... So he took the project underground and executed it in secret. Cheney issued the orders, his lawyer David Addington drew up the rationale, and Hayden at NSA made the practical arrangements. Eventually Cheney would appoint Hayden director of the CIA. Americans caught our first glimpse of the possible scope of NSA operations in December 2005 when the New York ...

If We Leave

Francis FitzGibbon, 16 June 2016

... and sport are classed as ‘supporting competences’, and do not require the harmonisation of laws by member states. In other words, a web of EU law is superimposed on the law of member states, with some strands reaching further than others. In areas where the EU makes regulations, they have ‘direct effect’ in UK law without the need for any domestic ...

Going Supernova

David Kaiser, 17 February 2011

Cycles of Time 
by Roger Penrose.
Bodley Head, 288 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 224 08036 1
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How Old Is the Universe? 
by David Weintraub.
Princeton, 370 pp., £20.95, 0 691 14731 0
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... bars by a factor of 400 just so that the remaining uncertainties can be made visible on the page. David Weintraub’s new book, How Old Is the Universe?, captures the spirit of this post-lonely-hearts era. Weintraub, an astronomer at Vanderbilt University, offers a patient tour of the new data-rich landscape. Where Overbye had focused on the outsized ...

Act One, Scene One

David Bromwich: Don’t Resist, Oppose, 16 February 2017

... election were a response to a generalised threat, not a particular grievance; but the shock to the laws and institutions of the country could already be felt in Trump’s first three days as president. The Trans-Pacific Partnership was repudiated, and a few hours later Trump ordered the construction of the promised wall with Mexico; an absolute ban was issued ...

Disarming the English

David Wootton, 21 July 1994

To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right 
by Joyce Lee Malcolm.
Harvard, 232 pp., £23.95, March 1994, 0 674 89306 9
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... themselves. Perhaps the roots of the change lay not in the town but in the country. The Game Laws of 1671 gave every gentleman with a landed income of more than a hundred pounds a year the right (previously confined to the king’s licensees) to hunt game such as hares and partridges (deer and rabbits were presumed by then to be privately owned), and ...

Nostalgia for the Vestry

James Buchan: Thatcherism, 30 November 2006

Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts 
by Simon Jenkins.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 7139 9595 5
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... heir apparent, Gordon Brown. These men are to Jenkins Thatcher’s political ‘sons’, with David Cameron trotting along behind as a ‘grandson’. (The book was completed before Cameron’s Conservatives abandoned any formal adherence to the Thatcherite slogan of reducing the role of central government.) In the process, Jenkins says, Thatcherism lost ...


David Armstrong, 19 February 1981

The Policing of Families 
by Jacques Donzelot, translated by Robert Hurley.
Hutchinson, 242 pp., £8.95, May 1980, 0 09 140950 0
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... child with which Donzelot is concerned here, and he provides a wealth of examples of techniques, laws, institutions and so on which were created in France to manage the problem of childhood. Whether such developments also took place in Britain at the same time requires investigation, but the broad outlines of the argument can be seen here: for example, in ...

At the National Portrait Gallery

David Jackson: Russia and the Arts , 19 May 2016

... which was banned from exhibition and occasioned a change in the already draconian censorship laws concerning art exhibits. Repin’s portrait of the terminally ill Mussorgsky – painted in the composer’s hospital room shortly before his death – depicts his alcohol-fuelled degeneration without sentimentality: it’s a sensitive and frank homage to a ...

Don’t blame him

Peter Brown: Constantine, 23 April 2015

Constantine the Emperor 
by David Potter.
Oxford, 368 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 975586 8
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... of the church, the rise of intolerance, the spirit of the Crusades – blame it on Constantine. David Potter punctures this inflated image. This doesn’t mean he cuts Constantine down to size: far from it. Potter has done something far more difficult. He has examined, with gusto and an unrivalled mastery of detail, the aspects of Constantine neglected by ...

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