We’re close enough to Christmas for everyone to be aware of the subtle status games and power struggles involved in the ostensibly altruistic process of present-giving. Reassuringly, Ilana Krausman Ben-Amos’s new book The Culture of Giving: Informal Support and Gift-Exchange in Early Modern England reveals that this is nothing new, and that gifts and their bestowal have always been laden with subtexts and hidden meanings. Read Jonathan Healey’s review here.