Things Fall Apart

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

To get revved up for reviewing Imperial Island, I reread some classic Peter Hennessy. For non-British readers, Hennessy’s histories must seem as peculiarly English as driving on the left or having separate hot and cold taps. They present what might be called the Goldilocks and the Three Bears version of Britain’s postwar past, describing how, […]

Ticket to Ride but No Trains

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

How can one measure the spirit of an age? Writing in 1963, the historian Harry Hopkins suggested that although the English still consumed much more suet pudding than apple strudel, for students of society like himself, ‘apfelstrudel may embody the zeitgeist in a way that roly-poly may not’. In other words, the growing popularity of […]

Dates with Destiny

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In the good old days, dates were for foreigners. France, to take the obvious example, had repeatedly been turned upside down by war, revolution and changes of regime. But the English tourist in Paris rarely bothered to find out which of these distasteful events might be commemorated by, say, the rue du Quatre Septembre. The […]

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RLF - March