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Reviews in History


New reviews: working class travel, material culture, the Alexiad and the Crusades

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parisWe start this week with Michele M. Strong’s Education, Travel and the ‘Civilisation’ of the Victorian Working Classes. Susan Barton recommends an interesting and significant work covering the under-researched topic of educational tourism (no. 1674).

Then we turn to Craft, Community and the Material Culture of Place and Politics, 19th-20th Century,  edited by Janice Helland, Beverly Lemire and Alena Buis. Heidi Egginton praises a worthy addition to the global history of material culture (no. 1673).

Next up is Penelope Buckley’s The Alexiad of Anna Komnene: Artistic Strategy in the Making of a Myth. Elisabeth Mincin and the author discuss an immensely valuable addition to the scholarship on this 12th-century epic (no. 1672, with response here).

Finally we have Travellers, Merchants and Settlers in the Eastern Mediterranean, 11th-14th Centuries by David Jacoby. Wei-sheng Lin believes that this book helps to open up room for more nuanced understandings of the Eastern Mediterranean between the 11th century and the 14th century (no. 1671).

New reviews: Racisms, Homicide, Beau Monde and Marco Polo

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OrteliusWorldMap1570This week we start with Francisco Bethencourt’s Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century. Panikos Panayi and the author discuss a book which moves the genesis of modern racial biologically determined ideology away from the ‘modern’ period (no. 1670, with response here).

Next up is Homicide in Pre-Famine and Famine Ireland by Richard McMahon. Conor Reidy reviews a book which activates a much-needed and more inclusive discussion in a clear and confident manner (no. 1669).

Then we turn to Hannah Greig’s The Beau Monde: Fashionable Society in Georgian London, which Susie Steinbach enjoys as a masterful integration of gender, politics, space, and material culture (no. 1668).

Finally we have Marco Polo Was in China: New Evidence from Currencies, Salts and Revenues by Hans Ulrich Vogel. Na Chang believes this excellent book offers a wonderful resource for anyone wishing to study Marco Polo and Chinese economic history (no. 1667).

New reviews: police control, British wildlife, communism, and child emigration

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policeIt’s all change at the moment at the IHR, with a new Director, Professor Lawrence Goldman, starting yesterday, our Events Officer Manjeet leaving (she’s only going across the corridor to the Institute of English Studies – as our receptionist Beresford brilliantly described it, she’s ‘leaving for pastures new. Well, pastures, anyway’), and a new venue being selected last night for departmental drinks.

On with the reviews, anyway, and we begin with Police Control Systems in Britain, 1775–1975: From Parish Constable to National Computer by Chris A. Williams. Kevin Rigg and the author discuss a book which helps fill a clear gap in the historiography of policing (no. 1666, with response here).

Then we turn to Tom Williamson’s An Environmental History of Wildlife in England 1650-1950. Terry O’Connor praises an engaging read, written with clarity and care, and with only the minimum use of specialized vocabulary (no. 1665).

Next up is The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism, edited by S. A. Smith. Jennifer Cowe believes this excellent book gives the reader the opportunity to see the global nuances of Communism (no. 1664).

Finally Christopher Bischof reviews Empire’s Children Child Emigration, Welfare, and the Decline of the British World, 1869–1967 by Ellen Boucher, an ambitious book of wide-ranging research and powerful analysis, which firmly establishes the importance of child emigration to modern British history (no. 1663).

New reviews: Childbirth, Melbourne’s youth, Justinian social conflict and early modern landscapes

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michaels2Your deputy editor is working at home today, while builders, tasked as far as I can see with knocking an ever-bigger hole in the wall of our flat, toil around me. In the office, tapping away with other desk-based types, it’s possible to think that we’re actually doing real work. Next to someone with a sledgehammer, I just feel a bit silly…

Anyway, back to the pretence. First up this week is Paula A. Michaels’ Lamaze: An International History, and Salim Al-Gailani and the author debate a book which deserves a wide readership (no. 1662, with response here).

Then we have Young People and the Shaping of Public Space in Melbourne, 1870–1914 by Simon Sleight. Andrew May believes this book is important because it reminds us to constantly ask who and what the city is for (no. 1661).

Next we turn to Peter Bell’s Social Conflict in the Age of Justinian: Its Nature, Management, and Mediation. Douglas Whalin and the author discuss a study which self-consciously embraces a unique paradigm for the understanding of the age of Justinian (no. 1660, with response here).

Finally, James Mawdesley hopes that Earls Colne’s Early Modern Landscapes by Dolly MacKinnon will encourage other scholars to visit the rich treasure trove of evidence of early modern England’s rural landscapes (no. 1659).

New reviews: Robert the Bruce, Wellington, pain and the Niger

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penman2As I’m sure you all know, it’s referendum day, and as well as marking the occasion with a relevant review (see below) I hoped to bring you breaking news from the polls, have texted my BBC correspondent pal earlier to ask how it was going. Just got his reply a few minutes ago – ‘Been up Arthur’s Seat. Sweaty’. I don’t think that really counts as a scoop…

Anyway, thanks to a super-quick turnaround from reviewer Fiona Watson and the author, we’ve got a discussion for you of Michael Penman’s new book Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots, an excellent work that shines a light on some extremely murky corners of history (no. 1658, with response here).

To a quintessentially British figure now, with Rory Muir’s Wellington: The Path to Victory, 1769-1814. Kevin Linch and the author discuss an outstanding achievement – the definitive biography of Wellington (no. 1657, with response here).

Then we turn to The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers by Joanna Bourke. Jennifer Crane enjoys a detailed, thought-provoking and fascinating piece of historical scholarship (no. 1656).

Finally we have David Lambert’s Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography & the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery, and James Poskett hails an accomplished and creative account of the troubling connections between Atlantic slavery and geographical knowledge in the 19th century (no. 1655).

New Reviews: Edinburgh sanitation, Conservative Party, London Zoo, medieval revolution and reform

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Henry-Littlejohn

Henry Littlejohn, a great man to have at any party

This week, along with the rest of the country’s media, Reviews is focussing on Edinburgh – but rather than referenda, it’s the sewers we’re interested in, as Tom Crook and authors Paul Laxton and Richard Rodger discuss Insanitary City: Henry Littlejohn and the Condition of Edinburgh (no. 1654, with response here).

David Cameron was up there too, and one wonders what his predecessors in the Conservative and Unionist Party would have made of the prospect of a break-up of the union. Many of these feature in Stuart Ball’s Portrait of a Party: The Conservative Party in Britain 1918-1945. Andrew Thorpe finds this to be as much a major contribution to historical method as it is to the history of 20th-century Britain (no. 1652).

Then we turn to London Zoo and the Victorians, 1828-1859 by Takashi Ito, which Andrew Flack believes sets the agenda for future research in this area (no. 1653, with response here).

Finally Shami Ghosh reviews two works of medieval history which will stimulate many questions for future scholars and students, as he compares and contrasts Reframing the Feudal Revolution: Political and Social Transformation Between Marne and Moselle, c.800-c.1100 by Charles West and Episcopal Power and Ecclesiastical Reform in the German Empire Tithes, Lordship, and Community, 950-1150 by John Eldevik (no. 1651).

New Reviews: Middle Ages, Mexican conservatism, smell and prohibition

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wood2

Our featured piece this week is on The Modern Origins of the Early Middle Ages by Ian Wood. Paul Fouracre and the author discuss a thoroughly researched and written tour de force (no. 1650, with response here).

Next up is Benjamin Smith’s The Roots of Conservatism in Mexico: Catholicism, Society, and Politics in the Mixteca Baja, 1750–1962 , and Thomas Rath recommends a book which is necessary reading for historians of modern Mexico, and makes a lasting contribution to Latin America’s agrarian, political, and religious history (no. 1649).

Then we have Past Scents: Historical Perspectives on Smell by Jonathan Reinarz. William Tullett finds this book neatly summarizes many current historical perspectives on smell (no. 1648).

Finally William Haydock reviews two very different approaches to the history of alcohol consumption and control, Pubs and Patriots: The Drink Crisis During World War One by Robert Duncan and Try to Control Yourself: The Regulation of Public Drinking in Post-Prohibition Ontario, 1927-44 by Dan Malleck (no. 1647).

New reviews: Britain and Hollywood, early modern women, early modern heresy, early modern authority

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glancy2Just back from the other side – no, not a near death experience, but a quick visit to the almost finished new look IHR! There’s a smell of fresh paint, the books are in place, and the librarians have the thousand-yard stares that come with weeks of twelve-hour days spent calculating shelf yardage. For more on the move see David’s blog post here: http://blog.history.ac.uk/2014/08/library-move-under-way/ – and we’re due to reopen on Monday…

Anyway, life continues all the same for us on the mezzanine floor, and we start our reviews this week with Mark Glancy’s Hollywood and the Americanization of Britain: From the 1920s to the Present. Jonathan Stubbs and the author discuss a book which is likely to be enjoyed and admired by a wide readership (no. 1646, with response here).

We then have a nice cluster of early modern reviews for you to enjoy, starting with The Ashgate Research Companion to Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe, edited by Allyson M. Poska, Jane Couchman and Katherine A. McIver. Alice Ferron finds this book provides a truly inter-disciplinary review of historiography pertaining to the study of early modern women in Western Europe (no. 1645).

Next we turn to David Loewenstein’s Treacherous Faith: The Spector of Heresy in Early Modern English Literature and Culture. David Manning believes this book highlights some of the perils of both cultural history and interdisciplinary scholarship between literary and historical studies (no. 1644).

Finally Sara Wolfson reviews Reading Authority and Representing Rule in Early Modern England by Kevin Sharpe, a volume which is an essential read for scholars working on the history of political culture, and a fitting representation of a distinguished career (no. 1643).

New reviews: Archbishop Pole, post-war children, scholastic thought and Charles Darwin

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edwards2First up this week we have Archbishop Pole by John Edwards, as Francis Young and the author discuss a magnificent example of first-rate historical scholarship (no. 1642, with response here).

Next we turn to Lost Freedom: The Landscape of the Child and the British Post-War Settlement by Mathew Thomson. Laura King praises a fascinating, well-researched and insightful contribution to the literature (no. 1641).

Malin Dahlstrom then covers two works on Darwin by distinguished historians of biology, as she reviews Was Hitler a Darwinian? Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory by Robert J. Richards and Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World Without Darwin by Peter J. Bowler (no. 1640).

Finally Emily Corran reviews Le désir dicté: Histoire du vœu religieux dans l’Occident médiéval by Alain Boureau, which she finds a learned and significant contribution to the history of scholastic thought and medieval institutions (no. 1639).

New reviews: Edward I, empire and race, Weimar and polio

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spencerOff to Edinburgh this weekend, just as things are hotting up in the independence campaign. However, as all those who know him will vouch, your deputy editor shies away from political controversy at all times, and my visit is solely a cultural one to take in a little bit of the Festival. Any tips on what to see and what to avoid would be much appreciated…

Anyhow. First up this week we have Nobility and Kingship in Medieval England: The Earls and Edward I, 1272-1307 by Andrew Spencer. James Bothwell and the author discuss a well-crafted and thoughtful book offering a balanced new interpretation (no. 1638, with response here).

Then we turn to A Problem of Great Importance: Population, Race, and Power by Karl Ittmann, as Scott Spencer reviews a fine book on the ins and outs of policy formation (no. 1637).

Next up is Anthony McElligott’s Rethinking the Weimar Republic: Authority and Authoritarianism, 1916-1936, which Colin Storer recommends as being an excellent and insightful book that challenges the reader to look anew at a familiar subject (no. 1636).

Lastly there is Paralysed with Fear: the Story of Polio by Gareth Williams, which Wendy Gagen praises as a book which gives an insight into the reality of medical research (no. 1635).

Oh, and we also have the bonus of an additional response, from Matthew Hendley to the review of his book Organized Patriotism and the Crucible of War: Popular Imperialism in Britain, 1914-1932 (no. 1623, with response here).

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