Hugh Thomas tells us that he began writing this book over three decades ago, following an encounter with Eric Williams, then Prime Minister of Trinidad. Williams gave him a copy of his classic work Capitalism and Slavery, first published in 1944, which argued that profits from slavery had fertilised every sector of the British economy and made possible the Industrial Revolution. The literary and intellectual power of this work was such that it moved Thomas to embark on an area of study which other British historians were abandoning. However central colonial slavery and the Atlantic slave trade may have been to national enterprise in the eighteenth century, the attention paid to it by British historians has dwindled over recent decades to the point where it is no longer taught in schools or in most universities.
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'Thirkell was a product of her time and her class. For her there are no sacred cows, barring those that win ribbons at the Barchester Agricultural.'
The novelist Angela Thirkell is due a revival, says Patricia T O'Conner (£).
'Only in Britain, perhaps, could spy chiefs – conventionally viewed as masters of subterfuge – be so highly regarded as ethical guides.'
In this month's Bookends, @AdamCSDouglas looks at the curious life of Henry Labouchere: a friend of Bram Stoker, 'loose cannon', and architect of the law that outlawed homosexual activity in Britain.