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Sam Leith

Irate men

‘No English monarch until Victoria — that is, long after monarchy had become the “dignified”, rather than the “efficient” part of the constitution — remained free from challenge, and three lost their thrones to rebellions.’ David Horspool’s new book is a detailed survey of the English men, women and mobs who have been prepared to

The human element

Writing in 1792, in the aftermath of the French revolution, Jeremy Bentham famously dismissed all talk of the rights of man as mere rhetoric. Justice, he said, was concerned with rights and duties, and they were the creatures of law. There could be no rights without law to express them, he said, no justice without

Lost in the fog

Thomas Pynchon’s reputation has risen and fallen over the past five decades; one of his conspiracy-chasing characters might note a pattern of inverse relation to rises and falls in the world’s financial markets. Gravity’s Rain- bow, 36 years ago, confirmed Pynchon as America’s new great reclusive genius; since then battalions of academics have made careers