SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Patrick West

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March 05, 2020
In Defence of Democracy By Roslyn Fuller Polity, 257pp, £15.99/$22.50 The Brexit vote to leave the European Union and the ascent of Donald Trump to the presidency, both in 2016, are often seen in context of each other. Both are deemed to represent a populist revolt of the ordinary man against the “liberal elite”. And
December 12, 2019
How the West Was Lost By Ben Ryan Hurst & Company, 192pp, £20/$19.50 The decline of Western civilisation has been a persistent topic of discussion and rumination ever since the First World War. It was this global upheaval which proved such a profound shock to Europe and America’s collective mindset, shattering the peaceful and prosperous
September 05, 2019
Under Every Leaf By William Beaver Biteback, 340pp, £9.99/$14.95 Most students of history will be familiar with the enormous extension of European empires in the second half of the 19th century, in which the likes of Russia, France and Britain seized swathes of territory in Asia and Africa. Less well known is the role played
July 18, 2019
Anglo Nostalgia By Edoardo Campanella and Marta Dassù Hurst Publications, 234pp, £25/$32.95 There has for some time been a popular theory that a majority of the British population want to leave the European Union because they have never got used to the UK becoming an ordinary country, and that in their hearts they are nostalgic
May 30, 2019
Generation Left By Keir Milburn Polity Press, 140pp, £9.99/$15 Young people don’t get a good press these days. Sure, “the youth of today” is a grumble as old as mankind, but the millennials of the early 21st century are mocked and denounced to an unprecedented degree. If not demonised as hypersensitive “snowflakes” who seek to
March 07, 2019
Diderot and the Art of Free Thinking By Andrew Curran, Other Press, 320pp, £22/$29 The late, great, arch-reactionary Fr Jean-Marie Charles-Roux often began his sermons at St Etheldreda’s Church in Holborn, London, with a denunciation of that atheist figurehead of the Enlightenment, Denis Diderot, best known as the editor of the landmark Encyclopédie. Diderot was
August 02, 2018
The Will of the People by Albert Weale, Polity Press, 121pp, £9.99 “This book was written in a hurry” are the opening lines here; they hardly inspire confidence. When the preface then refers entirely, and in negative terms, to Brexit, railing against anti-parliamentarian populism and the Daily Mail, the heart sinks even further. Do we
March 08, 2018
Truth: A User’s Guide by Hector Macdonald, Bantam, 352pp, £20 Don’t be put off by the title of this book. At first glance, you could be forgiven for assuming that it was about “fake news” or our “post-truth” society – fashionable tropes that have come to dominate political discourse. Nor is this book concerned with
April 20, 2017
What Are They Teaching The Children? Edited by Lynda Rose, Wilberforce, £12 Not a day seems to pass these days without a story in the newspapers about students or universities banning books or speakers for being “offensive”. Invariably, the offending text or person has said something taboo about someone’s gender or ethnicity, something which contemporary
October 20, 2016
Against Elections by David Van Reybrouck, Bodley Head, £9.99 Democracy today is in crisis. Never in modern history has there been more discontent with the democratic system in the West, with voter participation at the ballot box and party membership falling, and mistrust of politicians growing. Cynicism and apathy seem to abound. Yet the appetite
June 02, 2016
1916: Ireland’s Revolutionary Tradition by Kieran Allen Pluto Press, £12.99 Perspectives on the Easter Rising tend to assume two forms these days. On the one hand, they depict and revere the 1916 insurrection as a foundation myth of the modern Irish state. On the other, they regard it as a bloody betrayal of constitutionalism which left
April 28, 2016
According to recent research by the University of San Diego, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as atheists doubled to 22 per cent between 1984 and 2014, while the proportion of the populace who believe in or regularly pray to God has reached an all-time low. No surprise there, you might say. It’s a