The IHR’s Reviews in History publishes weekly commentaries on new books. Our reviews are longer than those in many academic journals and focus on titles published in the last 6-12 months. Many reviews also include responses from the book’s author.

Reviews in History began in 1996 and now includes reviews on over 2400 books, searchable by theme. We’ve also recently introduced a new angle to the service: inviting short notes from readers on a recent book, article or essay that’s impressed and which you recommend to others.

Below you’ll find a selection of the most recent Reviews in History, published over the past couple of months. Titles range from medieval marriage to early modern medicine and the modern media, published by — among others — OUP, Yale, Penguin, North Carolina, University of London Press, Princeton and Boydell & Brewer.

New reviews are posted each Friday and are sent by email: signing up for next week’s is easy.

Edmund Burke and the British Empire in the West Indies: Wealth, Power, and Slavery / P. J. Marshall

Natalie Zacek’s review challenges aspects of an illuminating study of Burke’s place in the politics of Britain and its West Indian colonies in the 18th century. P.J. Marshall responds


That Most Precious Merchandise: The Mediterranean Trade in Black Sea Slaves, 1260-1500 / Hannah Barker

Janel Fontaine explores “a case study of great importance”, on late medieval slave trading practices in the Mediterranean.


On Middle Ground: A History of the Jews of Baltimore / Eric L. Goldstein, Deborah R. Weiner

Toni Pitock explores a history of the Jewish community in Baltimore, a ‘middle ground’ of contradictions and ambiguities. 


The Family Firm: Monarchy, Mass Media and the British Public, 1932-53 / Edward Owens

Arianne Chernock reviews this perceptive analysis of the way the monarchy harnessed mass media to forge stronger ties with the British public from 1932 to 1953. 


The Decline of Magic: Britain in the Enlightenment / Michael Hunter

Jan Machielsen reviews Hunter’s work, which questions the received wisdom that science displaced magic in Enlightenment Britain. Michael Hunter responds. 


Married Life in the Middle Ages 900-1300 / Elisabeth van Houts

Amy Livingstone reviews this important study, “rich in novel ideas” about the roles of women, the clergy, and emotions in medieval marriage. 


India and the Cold War / ed. Manu Bhagavan

Marc A. Reyes enjoys this work on India’s pivotal role in the Cold War, appreciating its challenge to established arguments and its broad view of an understudied area.


Roguery in Print: Crime and Culture in Early Modern London / Lena Liapi

Jonah Miller reviews a compelling and challenging look at what pamphlets on the early modern rogue were really about. 


Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics in America / Matthew Fox-Amato

Earnestine Jenkins reviews a well-researched, significant contribution to visual studies and the relationship between race, representation, and photography.


Appeasing Hitler: Chamberlain, Churchill and the Road to War / Tim Bouverie

Adam Timmins reviews a highly-readable account of the appeasement policy, and questions whether it uncovers new views of this well-tilled ground. 


Studio Lives: Architect, Art and Artist in 20th-Century Britain / Louise Campbell

Lynne Walker reviews Campbell’s beautifully illustrated, fresh perspective on life inside the modernist British studio, and the work which emerged from it.


Rotten Bodies: Class and Contagion in 18th-Century Britain / Kevin Siena

Michelle Webb reviews this look at how the memory of the plague held the poor responsible for epidemic disease in 18th-century Britain.


The Birth of Modern Belief: Faith and Judgment from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment / Ethan H. Shagan

David Manning reviews this “erudite, intellectually electrifying” look at how a distinctively modern category of belief came into being.


If you could recommend one recent History book to others, what would it be – and why? We’re looking to start something new at the IHR: inviting you to submit short pieces on a book or article that’s really impressed you — and which others should know about. Find out more