I was all set to try and tie things in with the World Cup this week, but what with England already having disembarked at Luton there really doesn’t seem much point. Oh, and none of the books are football-related in any way…
So away from the ignominies of our sub-standard national team, and let us turn for reassurance instead to high-standard historical scholarship, beginning with Print and Public Politics in the English Revolution by Jason Peacey. David Magliocco and the author discuss an outstanding work combining archival mastery, theoretical sophistication, methodological innovation and lucid exposition (no. 1614, with response here).
Then we have Peter Watson’s The Age of Nothing: How We Have Sought to Live Since The Death of God. Beverley Southgate praises an extraordinarily successful wide-angled personal snapshot of the story of our efforts to live without God (no. 1613).
Next up is Canada and the End of the Imperial Dream by Neville Thompson, and Simon Potter believes this book offers a lively and readable illustration of how the British world perspective can enrich both British and Canadian histories (no. 1612).
Finally there is The Great Game, 1856-1907: Russo-British Relations in Central and East Asia by Evgeny Sergeev, which R. Charles Weller uses as the starting point for a lengthy review of Great Game historiography (no. 1611).
Mrs Thatcher and the Queen pretending to get on at the 1979 Commonwealth Heads of Government summit.
Welcome back to Reviews in History, your weekly digest of reviews of books and digital resources from across the subject.
Thanks for all your birthday present suggestions last week! As many of you pointed out, there are few tight domestic situations that high-quality chocolates can’t improve, and any potential crisis was averted. I also learnt a new acronym via a Twitter response – TMI … so I’ll get straight on with the reviews…
We begin with Philip Murphy’s Monarchy and the End of Empire: The House of Windsor, the British Government, and the Postwar Commonwealth. Ruth Craggs and the author discuss a carefully researched and beautifully presented book that chronicles the relationship between the monarchy, the UK government, and the decolonisation of the British Empire (no. 1610, with response here).
Then we turn to Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court by Anna Whitelock. Nadia van Pelt believes this captivating book will appeal to a wide range of readers, from specialist academics, to a non-specialist public interested in Tudor history (no. 1609).
Next up is Steven M. Schroeder’s To Forget It All and Begin Anew: Reconciliation in Occupied Germany, 1944-1954. Camilo Erlichman thinks this book successfully introduces into the historiography the work of a number of hitherto neglected post-war institutions (no. 1608).
Finally, we have Gender, Nation and Conquest in the High Middle Ages: Nest of Deheubarth by Susan M. Johns, which Hanna Kilpi finds to be a useful addition to the scholarship, with its strengths outweighing its weaknesses (no. 1607).
Apologies for the absence of reviews last week – I was back up north on business (he said mysteriously) – and for the late arrival of this email today, for which my excuse is my sudden recollection that tomorrow is your deputy editor’s partner’s birthday, for which I am woefully unprepared. Given that her mum usually turns up with presents clearly bought from the 24-hour garage (mars bars, milk, petrol…) the bar is set mercifully low. And I’m confident that she’s not a subscriber to Reviews in History either…
To which we say – more fool her! She’s missing out this week on another great interview, as Anthony McFarlane talks to Felipe Fernandez-Armesto about his new book, Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States (no. 1606).
Then we turn to The Cooke Sisters: Education, Piety and Politics in Early Modern England by Gemma Allen, as Nicola Clark reviews a book which not only adds to our knowledge of early modern women’s experience, but brings together the adjacent historiographies of female education, piety, and political roles (no. 1605).
Next up is Camilo José Vergara’s Harlem: the Unmaking of a Ghetto. Daniel Matlin and photographer discuss a monumental, invaluable achievement, the product of an intensely felt and passionately described relationship with a neighbourhood and its people (no. 1604, with response here).
Finally, we have a review article by Nick Hubble encompassing James Hinton’s The Mass Observers: A History, 1937-1949 as well as Mass Observation III, the resource produced by Adam Matthew Digital (no. 1603, with authors’ responses here).
I’ve just finished reading, and would heartily recommend, Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life by Nina Stibbe – which features various characters from the 1980s London literary scene, including by chance none other than this week’s Reviews interviewee, Claire Tomalin. She comes across well in the book, and well in Daniel Snowman’s interview – please do have a listen, and do let us know what you think (no. 1602).
Back to our conventional reviews, and first up is Memory and Commemoration in Medieval Culture, edited by Elma Brenner, Meredith Cohen and Mary Franklin-Brown. Emily Guerry and the editors discuss a multi-disciplinary volume greatly enhances our comprehension of medieval cultural history in France (no. 1601, with response here).
Then we turn to Michal Shapira’s The War Inside: Psychoanalysis, Total War and the Making of the Democratic Self in Post-War Britain. Helen McCarthy finds that this absorbing book is a valuable contribution to the literature (no. 1600).
Finally, there is Attending to Early Modern Women: Conflict and Concord, edited by Karen Nelson, which Dustin Neighbours believes is a valuable collection to read and own as well as employ in future studies of the lives of early modern women (no. 1599).
Many apologies for bragging about having overcome our technical problems, then not being able to send the email, then sending two emails…as Julian Cope used to say halfway through some shambolic concert: ‘My inner soundtrack is telling me – be more professional!’
So, without further ado, and with an air of calm competency – here are the reviews.
We begin with Elena Woodacre’s The Queens Regnant of Navarre: Succession, Politics and Partnership 1274-1512. Michelle Armstrong-Partida and the author discuss a survey of five queens and their strategies for ruling which offers much to the study of queenship (no. 1598, with response here).
Then we turn to Empire, Migration and Identity in the British World, edited by Kent Fedorowich and Andrew S. Thompson. Esme Cleall finds plenty of rich and exciting material in a collection which is a useful addition to the existing scholarship (no. 1597).
Next up is James Thompson’s British Political Culture and the Idea of ‘Public Opinion’, 1867-1914, and Ben Weinstein believes that although some might be put off by the absence of a uniform, linear narrative, this book’s complexity is a source of great strength (no. 1596).
Finally Jonathan Waterlow reviews Moscow 1937 by Karl Schlögel, a book which skips like a stone across the water: we rarely go beneath the surface level, but the trajectory of travel is undeniably compelling (no. 1595).
To those of you who have experienced any difficulties this week accessing Reviews, many apologies – the whole of the University was affected by a network outage caused by a software bug. As you can tell, I haven’t a clue what was going on, but it certainly demonstrated how little can be done in these days in the absence of the internet. People we hadn’t seen in the flesh for years gathered pensively in our office, sipping tea and attempting to answer trivia questions without the benefit of Google…
Anyway, thank the masters of the web, we are back in action in time for our reviews, which this week start with The Aftermath of Suffrage: Women, Gender, and Politics in Britain, 1918-1945, edited by Julie Gottlieb and Richard Toye. Tehmina Goskar and the editors discuss a painstaking work which the reviewer believes shows the need to return to women’s rather than gender history (no. 1594, with response here).
Next up is Rasid Khalidi’s Brokers of Deceit: How the US has undermined peace in the Middle East, which Daniel Strieff finds a cogently argued, timely and highly readable book (no. 1593).
Then we turn to English Catholics and the Supernatural, 1553-1829 by Francis Young. Emilie Murphy recommends this book to anyone interested in the history of Catholicism, the intellectual and religious history of post-Reformation England, and early modern engagement with the supernatural (no. 1592).
Finally we have Eyal Poleg’s Approaching the Bible in Medieval England, whichRichard Marsden praises as an ambitious book which tackles a massive range of material with great assurance (no. 1591).
Just occasionally the monastic silence that prevails in the IHR Digital office is broken by the gentle chiming of hushed conversation (work-related of course). In one such interlude this morning I mentioned today’s reviews, and expressed my concern that perhaps a history of guano might be a bit specialist. Not a bit of it! My colleagues were gushing in their excitement and interest, and could ‘barely wait’ for this afternoon’s email to come out. You think you know people…
Anyway, first of all this week we have Beth Tompkins Bates’ The Making of Black Detroit in the Age of Henry. Oliver Ayers and the author discuss a deeply thought-provoking book that covers a topic of clear importance to the story of black civil rights and 20th-century American history more broadly (no. 1590, with response here).
Next up is the aforementioned Guano and the Opening of the Pacific World: A Global Ecological History by Gregory T. Cushman. Jim Clifford has been talking about this book and recommending it to others since he started reading it, and believes it to be a model for future research in global environmental history (no. 1589).
Then we turn to Leif Dixon’s Practical Predestinarians in England, c. 1590–1640. James Mawdesley thinks the author has produced a book of worth, and has clearly spent much time thinking about printed works which (to be blunt) are sometimes not the easiest for the modern mind to comprehend (no. 1588).
Finally, Practicing Stalinism: Bolsheviks, Boyars, and the Persistence of Tradition by J. Arch Getty, which Andy Willimott believes offers a fascinating and highly readable account that will challenge scholars to complicate their understanding of the Russian and Soviet political world (no. 1587).
Oh, and as an extra treat we have also received a response form the author to our recent review of Ignacio de Loyola by Enrique García Hernán, which you can find here.
With the impending European polls looming, and issues of migration topical, we have an accidentally topical featured review for you this week, of Camilla Schofield’s Enoch Powell and the Making of Postcolonial Britain. Amy Whipple believes that this is an engaging, thought-provoking book – but also a dense one (no. 1586).
Then we have a review article on slavery in the British Atlantic World by Benjamin Sacks, who enjoys two extraordinarily detailed and exacting studies will undoubtedly prove to be essential reading to any scholar seeking to delve into the dark world of colonial slavery and capitalism: The Price of Emancipation: Slave-Ownership, Compensation and British Society at the End of Slavery by Nicholas Draper, and Slavery and the Enlightenment in the British Atlantic, 1750-1807 by Justin Roberts (no. 1584, with response here).
Next up is Artisans and Travel in the Ottoman Empire by Suraiya Faroqhi, which Gemma Norman thinks should and will become essential reading for students and scholars of Ottoman history (no. 1585).
Finally Catherine O’Donnell believes An Age of Infidels: The Politics of Religious Controversy in the Early United States by Eric R. Schlereth is an insightful and worthy book which makes a useful contribution to our understanding of the early republic (no. 1583).
Apologies for the absence of reviews last week – your deputy editor was indulging his spiritual side, tramping part of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Mind you, given that I was staying in hotels and having my luggage ferried by the travel company every day, I did feel a little spiritually inferior when I got to Santiago and came across this fellow.
Anyway, on with the reviews, and we begin with Anti-Semitism and the American Far Left by Stephen H. Norwood. Stan Nadel and the author discuss a book which makes an important contribution to the history of the American left and to debates over anti-Zionism and Antisemitism (no. 1582 , with response here).
Then we have Katarzyna Cwiertka’s edited collection Food and War in Mid-Twentieth-Century East Asia. Mark Swislocki enjoys this compelling set of essays, which exemplifies the promise of food studies (no. 1581).
Next up is Disunited Kingdoms: Peoples and Politics in the British Isles: 1280-1460 by Michael Brown, which Katherine Basanti hails as a significant addition to the promising historiography encompassing late medieval and early modern European, British and Irish socio-political affairs (no. 1580).
Finally we turn to Adam Kosto’s Hostages in the Middle Ages, and Shavana Musa believes the versatility of this book means that it will be of interest to both well-established historians and those new to the field (no. 1579).
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).