Pareto & Co.

On an edition of University Challenge in 2013 there was a question on elite theory. I was pleased and relieved that the student competitors had heard of Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca and Robert Michels, even if they mixed them up a bit. All of this intellectual triumvirate were born in the mid-nineteenth century and they […]

Son of . . .

Lincoln Allison, essayist and retired academic. I normally have lots of books on the go, but the pick of the current crop is Mick Channon Jnr., How’s Your Dad? Embracing Failure in the Shadow of Success (Racing Post, 2016). Reasons for reading it: “Here, Dad, you’ll like this” plus I once included Mick Channon Snr., […]

The Play’s the Thing

Brenda James and William D. Rubinstein, The Truth Will Out: Unmasking the Real Shakespeare, Pearson Longman, 2005 (2006 pb), pp. 360. On more than one occasion at a conference I have been buttonholed by someone who has insisted on informing me, with a glint in their eye, that the plays attributed to William Shakespeare were […]

The Chairman of Surrey CCC (also Prime Minister)

John Major, More than a Game: the story of cricket’s early years, Harper, 2007, pp. 433. I overheard a remark on Radio 4 recently to the effect that Wagner was like Marmite and cricket: you either “got it” or you didn’t. The implication for those administering or producing these goods was that they really didn’t […]

Risky Shores

George K. Behlmer, Risky Shores: savagery and colonialism in the Western Pacific, Stanford University Press, 2018, pp. xiv + 338. In the common rooms and waiting rooms of my youth Punch was ubiquitous. One rarely read the articles, but always looked at the cartoons; a distinct genre of these showed missionaries in cooking pots. The […]

Game Changer

Rayvon Fouché, Game Changer: the techno-scientific revolution in sports, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2017, pp. 262 A starting claim of Game Changer is that the impact of technology on sport in the last thirty years is on a different scale from anything previously. A great deal of the book covers the familiar issues of […]

Knowing the Score

David Papineau, Knowing the Score, How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport), Constable, 2017, pp. 328 The sub-title to David Papineau’s book suggests a pair of objectives. They are, of course, open to interpretation. For example, it is eminently clear that the author is not concerning himself with the question of what […]

Mountains of the Mind

Lincoln Allison, emeritus reader in politics, University of Warwick, is reading Robert Macfarlane’s Mountains of the Mind (Granta, 2003) Mountains were: forbidden and forbidding, an odious nuisance, God-forsaken and ugly, an “other” to be avoided. Mountains are: sublime and beautiful, a challenge and a sustenance for the human spirit, God’s finest creation and an “other” […]

Power, Pleasure and Profit

David Wootton, Power, Pleasure and Profit: Insatiable Appetites from Machiavelli to Madison, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, pp. 386. This is a book on the (very large) subject of “the Enlightenment” and its moral consequences. That it is a traditional scholarly work can be judged by the fact that of its 386 […]

Imperial Tea Party

Frances Welch, Imperial Tea Party, family, politics and betrayal: the ill-fated British and Russian royal alliance, Short Books, 2018, pp. 282. Although rather amateurishly presented in several respects this is a fascinating and well-researched slice of history. It covers the three meetings of the British royal family with their Romanov cousins in the years before […]

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