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New reviews: Shakespeare, Irish women’s magazines, Chamberlain and empire


We start this week with Jennifer Young’s review of the almost finished Shakespeare in Ten Acts exhibition, and its associated online resource Discovering Literature: Shakespeare, discussed here with the British Library’s lead curator Zoe Wilcox (no. 1983, with response here).

shakespeares-textual-bodies-cropThen we turn to Women’s Voices in Ireland: Women’s Magazines in the 1950s and 60s by Catríona Clear. Catriona Beaumont praises a rich and detailed account of popular women’s magazines in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s (no. 1982).

Next up is Joseph Chamberlain: International Statesman, National Leader, Local Icon, edited by Ian Cawood and Chris Upton. Iain Sharpe praises an excellent and most welcome addition to the study of Joseph Chamberlain and of British politics (no. 1981).

Finally we have Antoinette Burton’s The Trouble With Empire. Denise Gonyo believes this book opens up fascinating potential new areas for scholarship to further explore colonial subjects’ perspectives (no. 1980).

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New reviews:


24Grinspan-web-master768We start this week with The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century by Jon Grinspan, as Mark Power Smith and the author discuss a gripping, fascinating and provocative book (no. 1979, with response here).

Then we turn to Isabella Lazzarini’s Communication and Conflict: Italian Diplomacy in the Early Renaissance, 1350-1520. Catherine Fletcher believes this book makes a substantial contribution to the lively new history of communication, archives and letters (no. 1978).

Next Stan Nadel reviews two major contributions to the historiography of Europe in the first half of the 20th century, as he takes on Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949 and Enzo Traverso’s Fire and Blood: the European Civil War 1914-1945 (no. 1977).

Finally we have Going to the Palais: A Social and Cultural History of Dancing and Dance Halls in Britain, 1918-1960 by James Nott. Claire Langhamer enjoys a book which beautifully explains why dancing was so loved across this mid-century moment (no. 1976).

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New reviews: French Revolution, Henry II, Weimar Germany, US elections


mcphee2We start this week with Liberty or Death: The French Revolution by Peter McPhee, as Marisa Linton and the author discuss a book set to become a standard work on the subject (no. 1975, with response here).

Then we turn to Charity Urbanski’s Writing History for the King: Henry II and the Politics of Vernacular Historiography. John Gillingham remains unconvinced by a book which stays too long on narrow and well-trodden paths (no. 1974).

Next up is The German Right in the Weimar Republic by Larry Jones. Colin Storer surveys a collection that does much to enhance our understanding of the diverse nature of right-wing politics in the Weimar Republic (no. 1973).

Finally Sean Ledwith reviews Ballot Battles: The History of Disputed Elections in the United States by Edward Foley, a study of exhaustive scholarship and powerful argumentation (no. 1972).

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New reviews: medieval societies, early modern menstruation, Zimbabwean migrants and Southern plantations


1525795_ArticoloWe start this week with Making Early Medieval Societies: Conflict and Belonging in the Latin West, 300-1200, edited by Kate Cooper and Conrad Leyser. Edward Roberts and the editors debate a lustrous collection which promises to be of immense value to specialists and students of early medieval social and cultural history (no. 1971, with response here).

Next up is Cathy McClive’s Menstruation and Procreation in Early Modern France, as Sarah Fox praises a book which offers a novel insight into the way in which gender and procreation were understood historically (no. 1970).

Then we turn to Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms : the Roots of Impermanence by Maxim Bolt. Richard Daglish and the author discuss a very welcome addition to the field of migrant culture and African social hierarchies (no. 1969, with response here).

Finally we have Natalie Zacek’s review of a varied collection of essays edited by Julia Brock and Daniel Vivian, Leisure, Plantations, the Making of a New South: The Sporting Plantations of the South Carolina Lowcountry (no. 1968).

Oh, and before I forget, please check out a belated but welcome response by Fred Anscombe to Alex Drace-Francis’ review of his State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands.


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New reviews: London crime, religious wars, US Reconstruction and the UK far-right


hogarth-gin-lane-smWe start this week with London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690–1800 by Tim Hitchcock and Robert B. Shoemaker. Heather Shore and the authors discuss a book which shows us how hard life was for poor or even less well-off Londoners in the 18th century (no. 1967, with response here).

Then we turn to Wolfgang Palaver, Harriet Rudolph and Dietmar Regensburger’s edited collection The European Wars of Religion: An Interdisciplinary Reassessment of Sources, Interpretations, and Myths. Dave Papendorf thinks the editors should be praised for contributing an original volume so in touch with modern debates in early modern history (no. 1966).

Next up is Gold and Freedom: The Political Economy of Reconstruction by Nicolas Barreyre, as Charlie Thompson recommends a book which cleverly uses a growing and interesting area of historical research to richly contextualise and shed new light on the high politics of Reconstruction (no. 1965).

Finally we have Nick Toczek’s Haters, Baiters and Would-Be Dictators: Anti-Semitism and the UK Far Right. Paul Blanchard believes this book provides a useful and timely study of some overlooked elements of the British far right (no. 1964).

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New reviews: James I, French mercenaries, Welsh missionaries and Greek crises


James_I_EnglandWe start today with Alastair Bellany and Thomas Cogswell’s The Murder of King James I. David Coast and the authors discuss a book which adds much to our understanding of early Stuart politics (no. 1963, with response here).

Next up is a review article by Helen Roche of Mussolini’s Greek Island: Fascism and the Italian Occupation of Syros in World War II by Sheila Lecoeur and History, Time, and Economic Crisis in Central Greece by Daniel M. Knight, two books which leave our understanding of current Greek attitudes to the past inestimably the richer (no. 1962).

Then we turn to Routiers et mercenaires pendant la guerre de Cent ans, edited by Guilhem Pépin, Françoise Lainé and Frédéric Boutoulle. Christopher Allmand recommends a valuable contribution to our understanding of the weaknesses of the French crown in this period (no. 1961).

Finally we have Andrew May’s Welsh Missionaries and British Imperialism: The Empire of Clouds in North-east India, and Andrew Avery believes this work deepens our understanding of British colonial experience in 19th-century northeast India (no. 1960)­.

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New reviews: women appeasers, Islamic views of the West, childhood and travel in Russia


Nancy-Astor-001We start this week with Julie Gottlieb’s ‘Guilty Women’, Foreign Policy, and Appeasement in Inter-War Britain, as Daniel Hucker and the author broadly agree over the first gendered history of British foreign policy in the age of appeasement (no. 1959, with response here).

Next up is Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West: Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe by Daniel G. König. Harry Munt and the author debate a key resource for future scholars interested in medieval Muslims’ views of their non-Muslim neighbours (no. 1958, with response here).

Then we turn to Shirleene Robinson and Simon Sleight’s edited collection Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Rosie Kennedy and the editors discuss a collection which enhances our knowledge and understanding of the histories of childhood and youth (no. 1957, with response here).

Finally we have Exploring Russia in the Elizabethan commonwealth: The Muscovy Company and Giles Fletcher, the elder by Felicity Stout. Tatyana Zhukova recommends a book which will appeal to students and researchers of Elizabethan political culture (no. 1956).


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New reviews: C19 refugees, Elizabeth I, Kissinger and the Ottoman Empire


shaw2We start this week with a semi-Brexit-appropriate book, Caroline Shaw’s Britannia’s Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief. Tehila Sasson and the author discuss a book which traces the 19th-century history of refuge in Britain (no. 1955, with response here).

Then we turn to Elizabeth I and her Circle by Susan Doran, as Valerie Schutte praises a book which is refreshing in its scope and methodology (no. 1954).

Next up is Greg Grandin’s Kissinger’s Shadow: The Long Reach of America’s Most Controversial Statesman. James Cameron recommends a highly ambitious, very stimulating and extremely readable work (no. 1953).

Finally we have State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands by Fred Anscombe, and Alex Drace-Francis believes this book will be of interest to anyone researching or teaching Ottoman or comparative imperial history (no. 1952).

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Medieval Merchants and Money


boltonLaunching later this month, the IHR is delighted to announce the publication of Medieval Merchants and Money, a volume of selected essays celebrating the contribution to scholarship of the medieval historian Professor James L. Bolton. Expanding on a 2013 conference on the same theme, these 16 essays address different questions in medieval economic and social history, focussing on merchant activity, trade and identity. What did medieval merchants read, for example? How did mercantile and military activity interact with one another? And what did it mean to identify with one mercantile company over another? Looking at both rural and urban economies, this volume offers a small cross-section into the ongoing research that connects to James L. Bolton’s pivotal and diverse work in economic history.

The book launches on 30 June, and is available for pre-order at


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New reviews: rational action, Russian religious toleration, royal touch and US left


thomas_0First up this week is Rational Action: The Sciences of Policy in Britain and America, 1940–1960 by William Thomas. Tom Kelsey and the author discuss a book which deserves serious attention from historians of science (no. 1951, with response here).

Then we turn to The Crisis of Religious Toleration in Imperial Russia: Bibikov’s System for the Old Believers, 1841-1855 by Thomas Marsden. J. Eugene Clay believes this book to be a major contribution to understanding the history of Russian state policy toward religion (no. 1950).

Next up is Stephen Brogan’s The Royal Touch in Early Modern England. Benjamin Guyer praises a book which offers a compelling revision of popular religious belief and practice in early modern England (no. 1949).

Finally we have The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: US Protest and Central American Revolution by Nick Witham. Evan McCormick reviews a deftly and concisely written book which confirms the enduring importance of US interventions in Central America (no. 1948).

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