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New acquisitions in the IHR library

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Bronze_statue_of_Alfred_Russel_WallaceAnyone wanting to keep up to date with new acquisitions in the IHR Library can do so in several ways. Firstly there are the New Books shelves, located next to room 321, where all new works start off regardless of their eventual location. For more of a snapshot you can check out the book covers displayed in the central corridor, which are swapped over monthly. Finally on the website we also add selected titles to our recent acquisitions page: http://www.history.ac.uk/library/collections/recenthighlights.

To tie in with the New Books display we will be posting a list of selected acquisitions each month on the blog, and pulling out themes and important events connected to them. This month we have some interesting examples of collected correspondence from a range of historical figures, including Alfred Russell Wallace and General Sir George Erskine.

Alfred Russell Wallace (1823 – 1913) has received a lot of attention surrounding the centenary of his death (one big fan is comedian Bill Bailey), reflecting his historical significance as the man who independently developed a theory of evolution through natural selection at the same time as Darwin. Indeed in the foreword to the newly published Letters from the Malay Archipelago he is described by modern great David Attenborough as ‘one of the greatest of nineteenth-century naturalists, at one of the most crucial periods in the history of biology.’

This is a carefully reproduced set of correspondence, with several letters published for the first time, which offers a fascinating insight into a crucial period in Wallace’s scientific career and sheds new light on the ongoing debate around the extent to which Darwin was influenced by Wallace, and vice-versa. As well as historians of natural science this work could also be of interest to those studying travel and transportation in the nineteenth century.

The Mau Mau Uprising (or Kenya Emergency) remains a controversial period in history, as has been seen with the ongoing court battle between former Mau Mau members and the British Government, with the former suing the latter for the acknowledged atrocities that took place in the 1950s. The Kenya papers of General Sir George Erskine 1953-1955, shows us the official and personal experiences of the man who was appointed as Commander-in-Chief in East Africa in May 1953, and ‘charged with the conduct of all military measures required to restore law and order in Kenya.’

The editors have made good use of several archives, including documents from the Hanslope Archive, which were released for the first time in 2012 because of the aforementioned High Court case.  Again this is a well prepared set of correspondence and documents, and is an important addition of sources for the debate around this dark period in Britain’s colonial past, which has arguably been under examined up until very recently.

As well as that of Wallace and Erskine, other new examples of collected correspondence include Willy Brandt und Günter Grass : der Briefwechsel  - letters between the former German Chancellor and famous author, and also The letters of C. Vann Woodward, the influential American historian.

Below you can find the full list of new books which feature on the current display:

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