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Latest reviews – outlawing war, Victorian surgery and Lincoln’s jokes


We begin this week with The Internationalists and Their Plan to Outlaw War, edited by Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro. Peter Yearwood believes this book fails as a work of history, bound up as it is with a deeply flawed and greatly overstated thesis (no. 2257).

Next up is Lindsey Fitzharris’s The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine. Agnes Arnold-Forster has issues with a commercial and critical success which ignores much of the recent research on late-19th-century science, medicine, and surgery (no. 2256).

Finally we have Lincoln’s Sense of Humor by Richard Carwardine. Graham Peck highly recommends a reminder of how gifted historians stitch together the remnants of a lost past to deepen our understanding of the human condition (no. 2255).

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Latest reviews – 1860 election, anti-slavery, American Revolution and Catholic queens


We begin this week with Susan Dunn-Hensley’s Anna of Denmark and Henrietta Maria: Virgins, Witches, and Catholic Queens. Aidan Norrie and the author discuss an interesting, if sometimes simplistic, reconsideration of these two queens (no. 2253, with response here).

Next up is Experiencing Empire: Power, People, and Revolution in Early America, edited by Patrick Griffin. Hunter Harris praises an insightful collection of essays, covering consumerism and the American Revolution, with the central theme of the collection being the experience of empire itself (no. 2252).

Then we have Graham Peck’s Making an Antislavery Nation: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Battle over Freedom. John Hammond believes this book elucidates overlooked or underemphasized dimensions of the shifting set of beliefs about freedom and slavery that cohered into Lincoln’s ideological vision of an anti-slavery nation (no. 2251).

Finally we have The Election of 1860: “A Campaign Fraught with Consequences” by Michael F. Holt. Aaron Astor enjoys a slender, nuanced and highly readable account of a grand democratic exercise unlike anything witnessed on that scale in the world (no. 2250).

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Latest reviews – medieval prophets, British Atlantic Jacobitism and Indian railways


We begin this week with Railways and The Raj: How the Age of Steam Transformed India by Christian Wolmar. Aparajita Mukhopadhyay and Christian Wolmar discuss a history of Indian railways which attempts to straddle the world of academic monographs and popular history (no. 2249, with response here).

Then we turn to David Parrish’s Jacobitism and Anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1727. Simon Lewis recommends a valuable and original contribution to the growing literature on the exiled Stuarts and their supporters (no. 2248).

Finally we have Brian Fitzgerald’s Inspiration and Authority in the Middle Ages: Prophets and their Critics from Scholasticism to Humanism. Lesley Coote believes this work gives the reader an idea of prophecy’s importance for the Church herself, her texts, her unity and her place in history (no. 2247).

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Latest reviews – British C17 Empire, nuclear armageddon, C18 Italian anatomy & Herbert Gladstone


We begin this week with Advancing Empire: English Interests and Overseas Expansion, 1613-1688 by L. H. Roper.

David Hope and the author discuss an accomplished book that has much to offer those interested in state formation, political economy, overseas trade, and the development of the English/British Empire (no. 2246, with response here).

Then we turn to Rodger Braithwaite’s Armageddon and Paranoia: The Nuclear Confrontation. 

Despite some lapses in detail, Mattias Eken believes this is still a very good work which provides a clear and accessible analysis of the key themes concerning nuclear weapons (no. 2245).

Next up is Malleable Anatomies: Models, Makers and Material Culture in Eighteenth-Century Italy by Lucia Dacome.

Kathryn Woods enjoys a wonderfully illustrated and intricate history of the ‘diversified’ world of mid-18th century Italian anatomy (no. 2244).

Finally we have Kenneth D. Brown’s The Unknown Gladstone: The Political Life of Herbert Gladstone, 1854-1930.

Iain Sharpe finds this to be a missed opportunity to make a greater contribution to the historiography of Liberal politics (no. 2243).

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Latest reviews – William of Malmesbury, Civil War, Nostradamus and New England


We start today with Discovering William of Malmesbury, edited by Emily Dolmans, Rodney M. Tomson and Emily A. Winkler. Charlie Rozier assesses a wide-ranging re-examination of a leading contributor to the 12th-century Anglo-Norman historiographical turn (no. 2239, with response here).

Then we turn to Robert J. Cook’s Civil War Memories: Contesting the Past in the United States Since 1865. Jack Noe welcomes a book which demonstrates the shifting yet persistent current of war memory (no. 2238).

Next up is Nostradamus: a Healer of Souls in the Renaissance by Denis Crouzet. Jan Machielsen and translator Mark Greengrass have very different takes on Denis Crouzet’s study of the famous astrologer (no. 2237, with response here).

Finally we turn to New England Federalists: Widening the Sectional Divide in Jeffersonian America by Dinah Mayo-Bobee. Stephen Symchych believes this work offers a fresh perspective on a somewhat under-followed area (no. 2236).

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Latest reviews – crusades, workhouses, bishops and Richard the Lionheart


We start today with Reconfiguring the Fifteenth-Century Crusade, edited by Norman Housley. James Doherty reviews an exploration of the interplay of established crusading ideals and practices with the issues that occupied the attention of 15th-century Christendom (no. 2235).

Then we turn to Jacques Carré’s La prison des pauvres: l’expérience des workhouses en Angleterre. Pierre Botcherby tackles a fine example of foreign-language scholarship on British society and history (no. 2234).

Next up is Episcopal Power and Local Society in Medieval Europe, 900-1400, edited by Peter Coss, Chris Dennis, Melissa Julian-Jones and Angelo Silvestri. Philippa Byrne praises a well-judged and timely volume which highlights the excellent work being done on the bishop and his diocese (no. 2233).

Finally Emily Winkler enjoys the Richard the Lionheart Exhibition at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer, where pageantry, stateliness and effective design help create a compelling narrative (no. 2232).

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Latest reviews – Ottomans, Nazi administrators, Godfrey of Bouillon and reproduction response


We start today with Michael Provence’s The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Ramazan Hakkı Öztan and the author debate an exemplary reinterpretation of the history of the inter-war Middle East (no. 2231, with response here).

Then we turn to Female Administrators of the Third Reich by Rachel Century. Kate Docking praises an eye-opening, analytical and highly nuanced book that sheds light on ‘ordinary women’ (no. 2230).

Next up is Simon John’s Godfrey of Bouillon: Duke of Lower Lotharingia, Ruler of Latin Jerusalem, c.1060-1100. Andrew Buck and the author discuss a book which will be read and enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the political world of 11th-century Europe (no. 2229, with response here).

Finally we have a response from author Katherine Paugh to Trevor Burnard’s earlier review of The Politics of Reproduction: Race, Medicine and Fertility in the Age of Abolition (no. 2214, with response here).

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Latest reviews – Punjab, American sectionalism, Angevin England and Muslim conspiracy


We start with Mark Condos’ The Insecurity State: Punjab and the Making of Colonial Power in British India. Michael Brunner and the author discuss a thought-provoking and profound analysis of colonial insecurities, violence and legislation (no. 2228, with response here).

Then we turn to American Sectionalism in the British Mind, 1832-1863 by Peter O’Connor. David Tiedemann recommends a book which does an excellent job linking intellectual history with politics and culture (no. 2227).

Next up is Michael Staunton’s The Historians of Angevin England. Colin Veach believes this book will influence the way we approach medieval English historiography (no. 2226).

Finally we have A Muslim Conspiracy in British India? Politics and Paranoia in the Early Nineteenth-Century Deccan by Chandra Mallampalli. Zak Leonard praises an elucidating and gripping account which will appeal to students of both British and South Asian history (no. 2225).

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India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire – Reviews in History round table special


This week in Reviews in History  we are focussing on a single book, Jon Wilson’s India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire.

We invited five reviewers to contribute to a round table discussion and take up different aspects of the book, with the author then responding to each in turn.

Do let us know what you think, and make sure to send any suggestions for future roundtables to

Read all five reviews here (no. 2224) and Jon Wilson’s response here.

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Latest reviews – Summer Palace, WW2 BBC, early modern memory and climate change


We start this week with Collecting and Displaying China’s “Summer Palace” in the West, edited by Louise Tythacott. Andrew Hillier believes that though its essays are stimulating, this book represents a missed opportunity to explore the wider issues implicit within them and to have brought Chinese scholars into the debate (no. 2223).

Then we turn to Edward Stourton’s Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War by Edward Stourton. Ross Davies finds this paean to ‘Auntie’ as even-handed as can be expected from a BBC veteran (no. 2222).

Next up is Memory in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800 by Judith Pollmann. Sarah Ward praises a book which refutes a number of fairly entrenched historiographical views, and in doing so carves out a thesis of continuity as well as change (no. 2221).

Finally we have Joshua Howe’s Making Climate Change History: Documents from Global Warming’s Past. Katrin Kleemann enjoys a book which aims to be ‘a series of starting points, wormholes into historical worlds both familiar and strange’ (no. 2220)

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