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The intellectual historian Martin Jay once championed the cause of ‘ocular-eccentricity’ as an alternative mode of visual engagement.(1) The term, of course, was a play on ‘ocularcentricity’, the concept that the rational power of the eye had come to dominate the nature and scope of our interactions.
In Thomas Cannon’s 1749 pamphlet Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d, the author recounts a chance meeting with a ‘too polish’d Pederast’ who, ‘attack’d upon the Head, that his Desire was unnatural, thus wrestled in Argument; Unnatural Desire is a Contradiction in Terms; downright Nonsense.
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones’s volume makes an important, accessible and timely contribution to the literature and historiography of the FBI. Among its many positives, two stand out.
The campaign for the ‘People’s Charter’, a democratic movement which thrived in the decade after 1838, was probably the most important mass movement in British history. Chartism captivated contemporaries and has had a magnetic attraction for historians, generating over 100 books and articles in the last decade alone.
After two substantial volumes of biography, and numerous shorter and related studies, Richard Shannon has again returned to the life of William Ewart Gladstone. This new work is not apparently intended as a simple distillation of his Gladstone: Peel’s Inheritor (1982) and Gladstone: Heroic Minister (1999).
In the course of a single generation, the British empire was transformed from being a network of self-governing Atlantic communities into a cluster of largely Asian territories acquired, for the most part, through conquest. As countless historians note, the second half of the eighteenth century saw an ‘epochal shift in world power’.
This is an excellent book which does everything it proclaims and more. Anthony Milton is to be congratulated for his hard work, brilliant synthesis, and excellent and accessible presentation. This book is not a biography of Peter Heylyn, but we obviously learn a lot about the man as well as the writer. Nor is it an arid history of ideas divorced from context.
The request to review Professor James Vernon’s book brings to mind John Betjeman’s verses in the style of George R. Sims:
This study has several claims for attention, not least on account of its focus on Van Diemen’s Land from the time of its colonial beginnings as a place of secondary punishment from New South Wales in 1803 to the conclusion of direct transportation in 1853: the fifty years covered by the work offer a substantial analysis of the whole period of its existence as a penal colony from its inception u
For various reasons housing is important to everyone and thus it has rarely been far from the centre of political debate in Britain. As the main urban land use, housing is a valuable and scarce resource, and if politics are about command over resources then housing is inescapably a political issue.