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).
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).