The Current Issue

June 2020, Issue 487 Michael White on The Spectator * Francis Wilson on Dickens's last work * Alexander Watson on 1918 * Fergus Fleming on Antarctica * James Blitz on David Lammy and Nick Timothy * Andrew Lambirth on Arthur Jeffress * Daisy Dunn on Dora Maar * Jane Ridley on Edwardian architecture  * Philip Parker on the year 1000 * David Wheatley on Walt Whitman * Rupert Christiansen on Francis Poulenc * Mathew Lyons on 18th-century seamen * Piers Brendon on Hugh Trevor-Roper's China journals * Laurence Kilpatrick on Silicon Valley whistleblowers * Lucian Robinson on Heinrich von Kleist * Anthony Cummins on Michael Frayn *  and much, much more…

Alexander Watson

Aflame with Anarchy

The year 1918 was an extraordinary historical moment. As the Great War roared to an end after four long years of blood and horror, it appeared briefly that the future of the world lay wide open. The old order was overthrown. States were collapsing. Monarchs, the sons of dynasties that had ruled eastern and central Europe for centuries, abdicated and fled. Noisy, violent crowds of hungry civilians and grim, weary soldiers flooded grey city streets, demanding peace and a better life. In the countryside, peasants chased away the lords who had ruled over them and seized their land. Mad, bad and dangerous revolutionaries pushing radical ideals and preaching utopia saw that their hour had struck. The German theologian Ernst Troeltsch aptly named this time, when no one had a firm grip on power and anything appeared possible, ‘the dreamland of the armistice period’. These excellent books by Jonathan Schneer and Robert Gerwarth both show just how much was at stake and... read more

More Articles from this Issue

Mathew Lyons

Sons of the Waves: The Common Seaman in the Heroic Age of Sail 1740–1840

By Stephen Taylor

Early in the 19th century, there were some 260,000 of them across Britain’s naval and merchant fleets. People called them Jacks, but they are mostly nameless – or nameless to history. Even on surviving muster lists, seamen’s identities can be hidden behind pseudonyms. Some of these – George Million or Jacob Blackbeard, say – express a degree of wish fulfilment. Others are more... read more

Frances Wilson

Murder, He Wrote

I’ve been marooned in Normandy for the last nine weeks, in an isolated, semi-built house in the middle of nowhere, scanning the horizon for any sign of ferries shunting into the port at Caen. My fellow inmate compares us to Robinson Crusoe and Friday, but I feel closer to Tony Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, who is trapped for eternity in the Brazilian jungle reading the complete works of Charles Dickens to his captor, Mr Todd. This is because I too am reading the complete works of Charles Dickens. I feel yoked to Dickens in... read more

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