Another year, another failure by the IHR’s Team Certain Victory to live up to its billing in the University of London annual quiz, though we did at least secure full marks in the history round, so some honour was maintained. I’m not sure the loud declamations from our table that the only reason we were losing is that the questions were ‘insufficiently academic’ won us any friends across the rest of the University mind…
These questions are beneath us…
Anyway, on with our reviews, and we start with another in our occasional series covering historical exhibitions. Simon Trafford finds the British Museum’s Vikings: Life and Legend to be a spectacular and unmissable exposition of Scandinavian early medieval culture, but one constantly troubled by an uncertainty about its audience and purpose (no. 1578).
Next up is Sacred Scripture, Sacred War: The Bible and the American Revolution by James P. Byrd, which Benjamin Guyer believes will be foundational for all future studies of the Bible and the American Revolution (no. 1577).
Then we turn to Anne C. Nagel’s Hitlers Bildungsreformer: Das Reichsministerium für Wissenschaft, Erziehung und Volksbildung 1934-1945. Helen Roche recommends an enlightening and extremely well-written book, as well as a ground-breaking study of one of the Third Reich’s key institutions (no. 1576).
Finally, we have The Politics of Wine in Britain by Charles Ludington, and David Gutzke reviews an interesting, thought-provoking book, with a thesis that often goes beyond its quite thin evidence (no. 1575).
I’m always receptive to feedback (this is the sort of foolish statement that unleashes a barrage of abuse and ends with me weeping in a corner), and as a sharp-eyed reader had pointed out a couple of weeks ago that all the reviews we’d published that week had (co-incidentally) been on British history, I just wondered whether anyone else had suggestions for areas we don’t cover as much as we ought? Don’t think I won’t notice if it turns out that the gaps in our coverage can only really be filled by reviews of your own forthcoming masterpieces…
Then we turn to Jean-Christian Vinel’s The Employee: A Political History, which Jefferson Cowie believes invigorates the stale paradigms of labor history and brings new perspectives and intellectual energy to the subject (no. 1573).
We’re a little bit rushed in the IHR Digital office today, as me and my esteemed colleague Jonathan Blaney of BHO fame are giving talks this afternoon to visiting students from Northwestern University. It’s always an intimidating experience being on the same bill as Jonathan, but more than ever this week, as after a triumphant appearance at the Research Libraries and Research Open Day his twitter-stream was deluged with ‘Agree with Blaney’ comments. He’s now had this inscribed on a sign above his desk, and the rest of us are starting to worry…
‘I agree with Blaney’
Anyway, on to the reviews, and we begin with The Anglo-American Paper War: Debates about the New Republic, 1800–1825 by Joseph Eaton. Thomas Rodgers and the author discuss a study which firmly locates the development of the United States in its international context (no. 1570, with response here).
Then we turn to Top Down: the Ford Foundation, Black Power and the Reinvention of Racial Liberalism by Karen Ferguson. Fabio Rojas recommends an account that clearly situates the Ford Foundation’s position in mid 20th-century social politics (no. 1569).
Next up is Jack P. Greene’s Evaluating Empire and Confronting Colonialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain, as Daniel Clinkman assesses a book that probes an important question about the relationship between the imperial centre and peripheries (no. 1568).
Finally Megan Armstrong believes that Ignacio de Loyola by Enrique García Hernán proves that Loyola is one of those historic figures that bears repeated examination (no. 1567).
‘Never been to Oxford?! Where have you been living your life?’
Safely back from my trip to the dreaming spires, where I had a very receptive / indulgent audience at the Oxford e-Research Centre. Maybe I’ve already bored regular readers with this before, but wandering round the colleges afterwards I was reminded of my first visit there, a few years back, to interview a very eminent historian. When we met, I told him I’d arrived early to have a look round, as I’d never been before. His astonished response was: ‘Never been to Oxford?! Where have you been living your life?’
Anyway, enough of such reminiscences, and on with serious matters. Our featured review this week is of The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys, 1685 to the Present by Tony Kushner. Laurence Brown and the author discuss a book which poses a profound challenge to not only historians, but also contemporary policy-makers and museum practitioners (no. 1566, with response here).
Then we turn to Chaplains in Early Modern England: Patronage, Literature and Religion, edited by Hugh Adlington, Tom Lockwood and Gillian Wright. Nicholas Cranfield enjoys ten thought-provoking essays, which suggest the need to further research the ministry of the Church of England (no. 1565).
Next up is Paul Kleber Monod’s Solomon’s Secret Arts: the Occult in the Age of Enlightenment, which Peter Elmer believes lays impressive foundations for anyone wishing to engage with the broad appeal of occult thinking in England between 1650 and 1800 (no. 1564).
Finally, Jamie Stoops reviews a dense and well-researched investigation of the ‘moral economy’ of Britain’s wartime and post-war white, grey, and black markets, Black Market: Britain 1939-1955 by Mark Roodhouse (no. 1563).
On a much more trivial note, I have been invited to take part in the Future of Editing seminar, and will be in Oxford tomorrow at lunchtime talking about Reviews if anyone of you are free and interested. Full details are here (http://bdlssblog.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/), but please don’t look at the poster too closely, except as a warning against taking selfies in the dark…
Ok, finally, back to what you actually signed up for, and this week we’ve got a nice varied crop for you. First up is James Corbett David’s Dunmore’s New World: The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America, as Stephen Conway reviews a book which seeks to introduce us to a Dunmore who was more than a controversial governor of Virginia (no. 1562, with response here).
Then Erika Dyck hails a welcome addition to the growing field of literature on the history of eugenics, as she takes on Framing the Moron: the Social Construction of Feeble-Mindedness in the American Eugenic Era by Gerald V. O’Brien (no. 1561, with response here).
Next up is God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720 by Brodie Waddell. Jennifer Bishop believes that by eloquently challenging older assumptions, and arguing for a more nuanced approach, this book stands as a useful introduction to the vibrancy of economic life in early modern England (no. 1560).
Finally we have Leonie Hicks and Elma Brenner’s edited collection Society and Culture in Medieval Rouen, 911-1300 which Benjamin Pohl praises as being a well-structured volume which is both informative and innovative in its approach (no. 1559).
All manner of excitement last week at the IHR, with the prestigious Gerald Aylmer Seminar receiving a number of uninvited guests, as student protestors were diverted from their occupation of the Vice-Chancellor’s offices by the lure of the post-seminar sandwiches. The stern intervention of our events officer saw them off, but I think there’s a lesson here for any university seeking to deal with unwelcome demonstrations – no matter how righteous the cause, students will always prioritise free food…
Back to more serious matters, and this week’s reviews. We begin with Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg, which Christopher Smith believes represents a scholarly feat few writers could hope to match, engagingly tracking the history of how influential thinkers negatively interpreted Judaism to better understand their own religions and society (no. 1558).
Then we turn to Annette Aubert’s The German Roots of Nineteenth-Century American Theology. Daniel Ritchie and the author discuss a work which should be eagerly read by all modern religious historians with an interest in the development of Reformed theology in the United States (no. 1557, with response here).
Next up is Sovereignty Transformed: U.S.-Habsburg Relations from 1815 to the Paris Peace Conference by Nicole M. Phelps, found by Stephen Tuffnell to be a highly calibrated examination worthy of a place on the shelves of European and American historians alike (no. 1556).
Finally Peter Gurney reviews Hard Sell: Advertising, Affluence and Transatlantic Relations, c1951-69 by Sean Nixon. His view is that despite its valuable insights in the end this book, like many of the commodities it considers, promises more than it delivers (no. 1555).
With each week seeing a new series of claims and counter-claims about the viability of an independent Scotland, now seems an appropriate time for us to review a new book by Michael Fry, a self-declared former Scottish Conservative now supporting the nationalist position. Ian Donnachie believes A New Race of Men: Scotland 1815-1914 is in the tradition of scholarly, thoughtful, popular history and seems likely to command a wide audience (no. 1552).
Elsewhere, Eloise Moss and Lucy Bland discuss Modern Women on Trial: Sexual Transgression in the Age of the Flapper which shows how the historiography on women’s sexuality in inter-war Britain has progressed during the last two decades (no. 1554, with response here).
Then we turn to Crossings: Africa, the Americas and the Atlantic Slave Trade by James Walvin, which Matthew Mitchell finds a highly coherent account that nevertheless manages to convey a satisfyingly complex view of its subject (no. 1553).
Finally Estelle Paranque thinks that the strength of The Name of a Queen: William Fleetwood’s Itinerarium ad Windsor by Charles Beem and Dennis Moore is that it highlights and encapsulates the concerns and hopes that represented the power of a queen during the early modern period (no. 1551).
Your deputy editor has returned this week from an ill-fated long weekend in Dorset, where apocalyptic weather conditions turned the drive from London into an eight-hour odyssey, and filled (we saw at least two) the fields with dead cows. And I didn’t get my promised Dorset Knobs and Vinney…
Still, my suffering pales into comparison with that endured by the subjects of our featured book, Banishment in the Early Atlantic World: Convicts, Rebels and Slaves, by Gwenda Morgan, Peter Rushton. Aaron Fogleman and the authors discuss a book full of highlights, and which raises a number of valuable questions for future study (no. 1550, with response here).
Next up, we have Simon Potter’s Broadcasting Empire: The BBC and the British World, 1922-1970, as Brett Bebber reviews a staggering achievement, worthy of attention by scholars of popular culture and British imperialism, in addition to those interested in the business of radio and television (no. 1549).
Then we turn to China’s War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival by Rana Mitter. For Aaron Moore, this book provides a powerful, readable, and accessible account of the conflict in China (no. 1548).
Finally Julia McClure believes that Global Intellectual History (edited by Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori) contributes to the development of global history by deepening our awareness of the politics, epistemologies, and pluralities of global concepts (no. 1547).
A real treat for medievalists this week, as eminent academics Pete Biller and R. I. Moore engage in a full and frank discussion of the latter’s The War on Heresy: Faith and Power in Medieval Europe – a must-read! (no. 1546, with response here).
Next up, we have Revisionist Histories by Marnie Hughes-Warrington, which Jamie Melrose believes contains a wealth of examples of history’s plasticity, without outlining any means to establish the rules of these morphing games (no. 1545, with response here).
Then we turn to David Kynaston’s Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-1959. Malin Dahlstrom thinks that while readable, this volume fails to justify the author’s claim that the period in question marked a turning point in post-war British history (no. 1544).
Finally Ian Miller praises a meticulously researched, well-written and thoughtfully crafted account of infanticide in late 19th-century Ireland, as he reviews ‘A most diabolical deed’: Infanticide and Irish society, 1850–1900 by Elaine Farrell (no. 1543).
Much discussion today of the trustworthiness, of lack thereof, of different names. In the interest of not alienating sections of our readership, I will have to redact our conclusions, but I would be interested to find out if readers share our irrational prejudices…
Anyway, enough of these witterings, and on with some reviews written by people with very sensible names.
First up, The Roar of the Lion: The Untold Story of Churchill’s World War II Speeches by Richard Toye. Kevin Matthews and the author discuss a valuable addition to the study of Churchill’s wartime premiership (no. 1542).
Then we have Tamson Pietsch’s Empire of Scholars: Universities, Networks and the British Academic World, 1850-1939. Barbara Bush finds this book succeeds in its aim of writing settler universities into the history of British academia (no. 1541).
Next up is Baal’s Priests: The Loyalist Clergy and the English Revolution, by Fiona McCall, and James Mawdesley believes that while the author has done a great service to historians of the 17th century in highlighting the treasures of the Walker archive, this book is not the final word (no. 1540).
Finally, we have Claire Langhamer’s The English in Love: The Intimate Story of an Emotional Revolution. Sally Holloway reviews a hotly anticipated new book, part of a new wave of scholarship on romantic love (no. 1539).