The Price of the Poor’s Words: Social Relations and the Economics of Deposing for One’s “Betters” in Early Modern England

The Long Run

by Hillary Taylor (Jesus College, Cambridge)

This article is published by The Economic History Review, and it is available on the EHS website

File:William Powell Frith - Poverty and Wealth.JPG Poverty and Wealth. Available at Wikimedia Commons

Late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century England was one of the most litigious societies on record. If much of this litigation was occasioned by debt disputes, a sizeable proportion involved gentlemen suing each other in an effort to secure claims to landed property. In this genre of suits, gentlemen not infrequently enlisted their social inferiors and subordinates to testify on their behalf.[1] These labouring witnesses were usually qualified to comment on the matter at hand a result of their employment histories. When they deposed, they might recount their knowledge of the boundaries of some land, of a deed or the like. In the course of doing so, they might also comment on all sorts of quotidian affairs. Because testifying…

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Review of “First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton” by David Maraniss

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

David Maraniss’s “First in His Class: A Biography of Bill Clinton” was published in 1995 and remains one of the most popular biographies of Clinton. Maraniss is an author and journalist who won the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1993; he was a Pulitzer finalist in 1996, 2002 and 2004. Among his other books are biographies of Barack Obama, Roberto Clemente and Vince Lombardi.

Written during the early years of the Clinton presidency, this 464-page biography covers his first forty-five years (to his announcement he was running for president). Coverage is generally vivid and thorough, but Maraniss warns readers to expect relatively little coverage of the Whitewater controversy and Clinton’s personal indiscretions. Nevertheless, one need not look very hard to see the shadows of his numerous former girlfriends and casual flings scattered throughout the narrative.

Much of the book is based on Maraniss’s reporting during…

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