We start this week with Commons Democracy: Reading the Politics of Participation in the Early United States by Dana Nelson, as Mark Boonshoft and the author discuss a book which offers a coherent paradigm for understanding an important part of the early American democratic tradition (no. 2012, with response here).
Next up is Medieval Merchants and Money: Essays in Honour of James L. Bolton, edited by Matthew Davies and Martin Allen. Chris Dyer recommends a volume which is a tribute to the ingenuity of historians (no. 2011).
Then we turn to Ashley Wright’s Opium and Empire in Southeast Asia: Regulating Consumption in British Burma, which Jim Mills believes to be another significant contribution to the revisionist movement in the history of narcotics in modern Asia (no. 2010).
Finally we have Franklin D. Roosevelt: The War Years, 1939-1945 by Roger Daniels, and Alan Dobson is disappointed by a biography focusing on Roosevelt’s spoken words (no. 2009).
We start this week with The Ministry of Nostalgia by Owen Hatherley, as Charlotte Riley recommends a compelling exploration of one way in which the British political establishment and the British public (mis)interpret, (mis)remember, and (fail to) engage with history (no. 2008).
Next up is Matthew Strickland’s Henry the Young King 1155-1183 by Matthew Strickland. David Crouch praises a book whose study of the Young King is carried off with thoroughness and an enviable mastery of the chronicle and literary sources (no. 2007).
Then we turn to what I am sure the reviewer won’t mind me gently saying is a slightly overdue review (the sequel is already out!) – Twilight of the Belle Epoque: The Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends by Mary Sperling McAuliffe. Charles Sowerwine praises a great read for professional historians and the educated lay reader alike (no. 2006).
Finally we have a review article covering The New Deal: A Global History by Kiran Klaus Patel and Great Exception: The New Deal & The Limits of American Politics by Jefferson Cowie. Gabriel Winant believes that in the distance between these two books, a range of new questions to debate for years ahead emerges (no. 2005).
We start this week with The Radical Right in Late Imperial Russia: Dreams of a True Fatherland? by George Gilbert, as Geoffrey Hosking and the author discuss a good general guide (no. 2004, with response here).
Next we turn to Jonathan Hogg’s British Nuclear Culture: Official and Unofficial Narratives in the Long 20th Century. Richard Brown recommends the first major contribution to what promises to be a significant sub-field of British nuclear history (no. 2003).
Then we have John Owen and English Puritanism: Experiences of Defeat by Crawford Gribben, as Elliot Vernon praises a fluent biography of a difficult historical figure (no. 2002).
Finally Ronan Fanning’s Eamon de Valera: A Will to Power is reviewed by Brian Girvin, who believes this book sets the bar high for any future assessments of de Valera (no. 2001).
You might remember that I started an internship a couple of weeks ago. I’d just like to comment on a couple of things.
Bad things that could happen on an internship:
Having to get there in rush hour
An awful boss who makes you do all their dirty work
Ending up having nothing to put on your CV
Just making tea all the time
Thankfully, absolutely none of these things happened to me while working for IHR (Institute of Historical Research). I worked hours that fitted around my commute, everybody was lovely, I did a huge range of things, and I actually got brought tea. Which was just as well as I found out that my tiny arms were too weak to lift their massive red teapot with one hand.
The work I did while I was there was varied. I proof read, put things online, wrote abstracts, and ended up doing some work for my dissertation. I also did some company tweeting, which gave me a disproportionate sense of power. So a lot of things to put on the CV then.
Also, it was just a nice place to work. Everybody was lovely, there were always biscuits, I had access to a fantastic library, and there was always somewhere interesting to wander to in my lunch hour.
I’m not saying it was all sunshine and roses. I forgot the codes to the doors a couple of times, and after having about 15 cups of tea a day brought to me I’ve started waking up craving the stuff. Damage has been done.
Genuinely, this is a great experience, which gives you a lot of skills to take home. A couple of interns are taken every year from the pool of History students at Leicester, so I’d definitely recommend applying next year. On a related note, I also wrote a post for them on using one of their online resources, Connected Histories, which was immensely helpful. Stick around if you need a hand finding sources.
To mark our 2000th review we have a special Somme centenary piece, centred around a reappraisal of Martin Middlebrook’s classic The First Day on the Somme.
How is that that a Lincolnshire poultry farmer changed the course of Somme historiography with his first book? In the first of a two-part centenary article on the bibliography of the 1916 Battle of the Somme, Ross Davies shows how Martin Middlebrook ‘prised open a window’ upon a battle that for a century has haunted the British and their Commonwealth allies. Himself haunted by the close-packed Somme military cemeteries, Middlebrook turned to the survivors with the-then novel idea of interviewing them rather than relying solely upon the accounts of the politicians and the generals, and the Somme veterans depicted an ‘almost indecipherable chaos’ on the opening day of the vast British infantry assault. This review explains the significance of this book and its approach in terms of the evolving historiography of the battle, and will be followed by a detailed overview of Somme centenary publications.
We start this week with Brian Copenhaver’s Magic in Western Culture: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment, as Francis Young hails a towering achievement in the field of intellectual history (no. 1999).
Then we turn to Confederate Cities: The Urban South During the Civil War Era, edited by Andrew Slap and Frank Towers. David Silkenat believes this book provides a balanced and diverse exploration of how the Civil War era transformed urban spaces in the American South (no. 1998, with response here).
Next up is Constructing Kingship; The Capetian Monarchs of France and the Early Crusades by James Naus. Niall Ó Súilleabháin is frustrated by an over-brief book which fails to live up to its potential (no. 1997).
Finally we have Thomas Ahnert’s The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment. Tim Stuart-Buttle tackles a work which uses the Scottish Enlightenment as a case study to understand the wider intellectual history of the eighteenth century (no. 1996).
You can also search and browse all 1999 reviews here – do please let me know if you have any problem navigating the site or finding what you’re interested in.
This post has kindly been written for us by IHR Digital intern Jaipreet Deo.
In an effort to pull in works relevant to my dissertation topic, the Connected Histories site provides an easy to navigate search function which looks through many databases and archives. Helpfully, this is infinitely quicker than searching through each one in turn.
My dissertation is a comparative essay on the treatment of mixed race children in colonial India and Australia, so I typed in ‘half caste mixed race’ into the keywords box. Using the advanced search function, I set the dates from 1700-1900, and the place as ‘Australia India’. However I then realised it was searching for ‘half’, ‘caste’, ‘mixed’, and ‘race’ individually, so I went back and changed the keyword search to the phrases “half caste” “half cast” “half-caste” “mixed race” “mixed-race”, and the place search to ‘Australia OR India’.
Admittedly this is something I had to do by hand as there is no function on the advanced search to input Boolean logic, so specifying things like this may be tricky for people who do not know how to do search in this way. However, there is a video guide to aid smart searching, and nine research guides on the site.
I had a look through these guides, and as they are categorised by subject, looked at the Imperial and Colonial History page. It outlined on which sites I might find relevant papers if I was looking at the governmental aspect of the empire (such as the 46 volume Calendars of State Papers Colonial through British History Online, or the Parliamentary Papers) and what these papers contained. The page also guided me to non-governmental sources, in British Newspapers and Pamphlets, and several collections examining the stories, lives, and communities of immigrants to Britain from the colonies. There were also outlines of how to look into slavery and the slave trade, sources examining the impacts, strengths, and weaknesses of the empire itself, and helpful sections for further reading and related websites.
The results for my search were grouped into the databases they were in, which was helpful as it prevented the whole page becoming bogged down in search results. These databases included British History Online, History of Parliament, British Newspaper Archive, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, and 19th Century British Pamphlets. I went through each at a time, and although the results were numerous they were also relevant, each one explicitly mentioned mixed race peoples in a colonial setting. I found the results very useful. I explored sources on a variety of issues, such as fears of mixed race revolution in Sri Lanka, and the appointment of British-Indian judges. Admittedly, Connected Histories does not search through every historical database available, but resources are frequently added and it is still extremely useful.
Another slight improvement would be to extend the date series. Anyone studying a topic which falls outside of the years 1500-1900 would not find this site as useful as I have. Unfortunately I cannot use it for my module on British popular culture 1945-85, and will have to revert to slightly less effective search methods for sources on this topic.
Minor issues aside, I found this search engine very user friendly. I did not need to, but it was simple to refine the search through filtering by types of source (for example journals, parliamentary papers, or local records). Additionally, being able to specify the place, source type, dates, keywords, and full, given, and surnames is extremely helpful when searching through archives. I was linked to reliable, easy to use sites, so the whole process was quick and simple. Even if I had had no subscription to the service, I could have selected only those results which were free to use. Also, the layout of the search page is easier to use and more fitting for its purpose than most that I’ve seen.
This is an intelligent search engine, engineered for its users, which really pays off when you’re looking for quick and simple results instead of searching through every database you can think of in turn. Instead, this site takes you straight to the relevant sources.
We commence this week with Goals and Means: Anarchism, Syndicalism, and Internationalism in the Origins of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica by Jason Garner. Vlad Solomon and the author debate an engagingly-written account of a neglected yet important topic in the history of the Spanish labour movement (no. 1995, with response here).
Next up is Eighty-Eight Years: The Long Death of Slavery in the United States, 1777-1865 by Patrick Rael. John Craig Hammond and the author discuss a book which goes a long way to reforging the history of slavery (no. 1994, with response here).
Then we turn to Lars Magnusson’s The Political Economy of Mercantilism, and Andrew McDiarmid reviews a book which makes a valiant attempt at clarifying a widely used but problematic term (no. 1993).
Finally we have Death and Survival in Urban Britain: Disease, Pollution and Environment 1800-1950 by Bill Luckin. Jim Clifford tackles this collection from one of the most important urban environmental historians of London (no. 1992).
We start this week with Manisha Sinha’s The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition. Beverly Tomek and the author discuss a book which will be a valuable go-to reference work for years to come (no. 1991, with response here).
Next, we turn to Nationalism, Myth, and the State in Russia and Serbia: Russian and East European Government Politics and Policy by Veljko Vujačić, which Jasna Dragovic-Soso praises as a book whose arguments are nuanced, compelling and well-supported throughout (no. 1990).
We also have two new podcast reviews. In the first, Jordan Landes talks to Arthur Burns and Paul Readman about their new edited collection, Walking Histories, 1800-1914 (no. 1989).
Then, in the second, we have an interview conducted just after the Brexit vote, with Daniel Snowman talking to Lord Peter Hennessy about (very) contemporary history (no. 1988).
We start this week with Katrina Navickas’s Protest and the Politics of Space and Place, 1789-1848, as Mike Sanders and the author discuss a pioneering response to the ‘spatial turn’ in History (no. 1987, with response here).
We then turn to Damn Yankees: Demonization & Defiance in the Confederate South by George C. Rable. Patrick Doyle enjoys an insightful analysis of the way Southerners reacted and related to the American Civil War (no. 1986).
Next up is Sabyasachi Bhattacharya’s The Defining Moments in Bengal: 1920–1947, and Dharitri Bhattacharjee reviews a comprehensive book on the provincial history of one of colonial India’s most significant regions (no. 1985).
Finally we turn to Religious Refugees in the Early Modern World: An Alternative History of the Reformation by Nicholas Terpstra. Jameson Tucker tackles a thought-provoking introduction to the field, raising new debates about the early modern period and our own (no. 1984).