Can the Greens change their colours?

Greens often make conservatives and populists see red – or Reds. In 2004, Australian politician John Anderson called his country’s Greens ‘watermelons…green on the outside, and very, very, very red on the inside’. His fruity metaphor has become something of a conservative cliché. It is easy to see why. Green policies are frequently further to… Continue reading

Emperor of imagination

King and Emperor – A New Life of Charlemagne Janet L. Nelson, London: Allen Lane, 2019, 659 pages, £25 Charles the Great looms out of the swirling obscurity of post-Roman Europe like the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria, signalling simultaneously radical renewal and an alteration of everything that came before. As Janet Nelson illuminates in her… Continue reading

Unending journeys

The Unsettling of Europe – The Great Migration, 1945 to the Present Peter Gatrell, Allen Lane, 2019, 548 pages, £30 Few subjects arouse such atavistic emotions as migration – whether the arrivals come as conquerors or as kin, fleeing ordeals or seeking opportunities. For incomers, migration can represent a dream, a rational choice, an urgent… Continue reading

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St. Clair

COLOURFUL TALES The Secret Lives of Colour Kassia St. Clair, John Murray: London, 2016, hb., 320pps. History can be refracted through countless prisms – cultural, economic, environmental, ideological, moral, national, racial, religious – but one has been oddly unexplored, despite being not just obvious, but ubiquitous. That prism is colour, an element that suffuses every… Continue reading

New light on the Lakes

NEW LIGHT ON THE LAKES We’d been dreaming about Andalusia. But plans sometimes must be altered, and so one August evening we found ourselves instead entering into Ulverston, thirteen hundred miles from Andalusia, and even more distant climatically, culturally, and historically. The Lake District – “England’s Switzerland”, Manchester’s playground, stamping-grounds of Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter,… Continue reading

Time’s terpsichorean – review of Anthony Powell by Hilary Spurling

TIME’S TERPSICHORIAN Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time Hilary Spurling, London: Hamish Hamilton, 2016, hb., 510pps Anthony Powell’s million word, twelve-volume novel sequence Dance to the Music of Time is one of the great achievements of postwar English literature, attracting near-universal praise for its subtle and textured evocation of England between the First… Continue reading

Upcoming Chronicles reviews

My review of Kassia St. Clair’s engrossing Secret Lives of Colour will be in the July 2018 issue of Chronicles I have also just sent them my review of David Cannadine’s Victorious Century (no idea yet when that will be published)

The Camelot-Chequers axis

THE CAMELOT-CHEQUERS AXIS Union Jack: John F. Kennedy’s Special Relationship with Great Britain Christopher Sandford, Lebanon, N.H.: ForeEdge, 2017, hb. 300pps Cultural historian Christopher Sandford’s enquiring eyes range widely, playing over everything from cricket to Kurt Cobain, the Great War to The Great Escape, Conan Doyle to Eric Clapton, and countless other late nineteenth and… Continue reading

First Lady: The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill, by Sonia Purnell, and No More Champagne – Churchill and His Money, by David Lough

CHURCHILL’S HOME FRONT First Lady – The Life and Wars of Clementine Churchill Sonia Purnell, London: Aurum Press, 2016, pb., 392pps., £9.99 No More Champagne – Churchill and His Money David Lough, London: Head of Zeus, 2016, hb., 532pps., £25 Winston Churchill is one of the most closely-examined (and lionised) of all politicians, and it… Continue reading