May 04, 2012
The start to the Roger Clemens trial last week was a sleepy affair. Clemens is charged with lying to Congress during a 2008 hearing on steroids, when he testified that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs in his storied pitching career. He faces up to 30 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts. But, despite the high stakes and some melodramatic rhetoric from the lead prosecutor—who built his opening statement around a quote from Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion—the courtroom lacked much buzz. At one pre-trial deliberation, I had several pews to myself.
Homage to Caledonia
December 03, 2008
The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History By Hugh Trevor-Roper (Yale University Press, 282 pp., $30) Hugh Trevor-Roper seemed to be an Oxford don supplied by central casting. An erect Northumbrian with a distinctly patrician air, he commanded a grandee position impregnably within the Establishment.
October 11, 2007
James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years By Wayne Franklin (Yale University Press, 705 pp., $40) Click here to purchase the book. Like Poe, Stowe, and Longfellow, James Fenimore Cooper--"Fenimore" to his friends--is a giant of world literature with a sharply diminished stature at home.
February 06, 2006
THE MIND OF THE MASTER CLASS: HISTORY AND FAITH IN THE SOUTHERN SLAVEHOLDERS’ WORLDVIEW By Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese (Cambridge University Press, 828 pp., $70) DWELLING PLACE: A PLANTATION EPIC By Erskine Clarke (Yale University Press, 601 pp., $35) I. FOR ALL THE INK THAT HAS been spilled, for all the quarrels and the debates that have erupted over the past century and a half, popular and scholarly understandings of the Civil War almost universally share one view in common: that the war was a great tragedy in American history and American life.
April 21, 2003
The Victorians By A.N.Wilson (W.W. Norton, 544 pp., $35) A.N. Wilson is a clever and versatile man. He is the author of a dozen novels, variable in quality, the best of which are amusing and skillfully constructed, but with an undertone of moral seriousness, lightly camp but oddly touching. He is a prolific newspaper columnist in Britain.
Signs of the Times
July 30, 2001
John Ruskin: The Later Years by Tim Hilton (Yale University Press, 656 pp., $35) In the second volume of John Ruskin's three-volume study The Stones of Venice, which appeared in 1853, there is a chapter titled "The Nature of Gothic." It opens conventionally enough, with Ruskin promising to describe the "characteristic or moral elements" of the Gothic; but readers who were familiar with Ruskin's earlier works, Modern Painters and The Seven Lamps of Architecture, and who had been dazzled by his word-pictures of works of art and scenes of nature, could not possibly have expected a straightforwar