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Reviews in History

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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Latest reviews – magic, conversation pieces, Black Panthers and digital humanities


We start this week with Magic as a Political Crime in Medieval and Early Modern England: A History of Sorcery and Treason by Francis Young. Coral Casey-Stoakes thinks this book makes an important contribution to both the historiography of political culture in medieval and early modern England and that of magic (no. 2219).

Then we turn to Kate Retford’s The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in 18th-Century Britain. Alexandra MacDonald praises a valuable resource that promises to shift scholarship on the conversation piece by inviting a new generation of scholars to ask innovative questions (no. 2218).

Next up is Out of Oakland: Black Panther Party Internationalism During the Cold War by Sean L. Malloy. Kerry Pimblott enjoys a well-researched and engaging study that successfully conveys the significance of internationalism to the BPP’s evolution (no. 2217).

Finally we have Julianne Nyhan and Andrew Flynn’s Computation and the Humanities: towards an Oral History of Digital Humanities. Christina Kamposiori believes that this book will help us understand not only the history of the field but also aspects of the early era of computing (no. 2216).


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Latest reviews – C19 consumption, medieval religion, modern magic and 10 commandments revisited


Happy New Year to all Reviews in History readers! We start 2018 with the latest in our occasional podcast series, a fascinating interview with Joanna Cohen discussing among other things her new book, Luxurious Citizens: The Politics of Consumption in Nineteenth-Century America, and her future research plans (no. 2212).

Then we return to The Reformation of the Decalogue: Religious Identity and the Ten Commandments in England, c. 1485-1625  by Jonathan Willis, with a response by the author to last month’s review (response to no. 2208).

Next up is Medieval Religion and its Anxieties: History and Mystery in the Other Middle Ages by Thomas A. Fudgé. Kieran Creedon praises a fascinating study from a writer that engages, energises and uses sources to put the very idea of the historical Middle Ages on trial (no. 2211).

Finally Francis Young reviews a valuable contribution to the interdisciplinary study of magic, Edward Bever and Randall Styers’ edited collection Magic in the Modern World: Strategies of Repression and Legitimization (no. 2210).

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Latest reviews – secret files, Decalogue, Anschluss and more WW1 trauma


We start this week with Secret Files from World War to Cold War: British Government and Secret Intelligence and Foreign Policy files. Dan Lomas believes the sheer size and usability of the digital records makes this a worthwhile aid for anyone interested in early 20th-century international, political, military and intelligence history (no. 2209).

Then we turn to The Reformation of the Decalogue: Religious Identity and the Ten Commandments in England, c. 1485-1625  by Jonathan Willis. John Reeks praises a book which puts The Ten Commandments firmly at the centre of post-Reformation scholarship (no. 2208).

Next up is Imagining a Greater Germany: Republican Nationalism and the Idea of Anschluss by Erin R. Hochman. Timothy Schmalz enjoys a book which provides new template for examining Austria and Germany during the inter-war period (no. 2207).

Finally we have a response by editors Jason Crouthamel and Peter Leese to Ryan Ross’s review last week of Psychological Trauma and the Legacies of the First World War and Traumatic Memories of the Second World War and After (response to no. 2205).


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Latest Reviews – War, psychological trauma and early modern social history


We start this week with A. C. Grayling’s War: An Enquiry. In his review of this penetrating and provocative book, James Cronin focuses on its assertion that war is synonymous with the ascent of civilisation (no. 2206).

Next up is a review of two new collections on the history of trauma, Psychological Trauma and the Legacies of the First World War and Traumatic Memories of the Second World War and After, both edited by Jason Crouthamel and Peter Leese. Ryan Ross believes these reflect the extent and speed of the growth of the trauma industry (no. 2205).

Then we turn to Narratives and Representations: a Collection to Honour Paul Slack, edited by Michael Braddick and Joanna Innes. Naomi Pullin praises a fine scholarly collection that represents the rich and vibrant discussions taking place within early modern history (no. 2204).

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Latest Reviews – Ukrainian famine, Louis VIII and Archbishop Randall Davidson


We start this week with Anne Applebaum’s Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine. Christopher Gilley finds the treatment of the famine here to be largely convincing – the book’s weakness is its historical framework (no. 2203).

Next up is Louis: The French Prince Who Invaded England by Catherine Hanley. Tom Horler-Underwood enjoys a book highlighting the exploits in this country of this most fascinating of French princes (no. 2202).

Then we turn to Michael Hughes’s Archbishop Randall Davidson. Peter Webster believes this fresh and convincing rendering of an important figure deserves a wide readership (no. 2201).

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Latest Reviews – Bank of England, shell-shock, Tudor houses and C17 women writers


We start this week with David Kynaston’s Till Time’s Last Sand: A History of the Bank of England 1694-2013. Geoffrey Wood reviews a gallant attempt at a history of the Bank for the general reader, but one which misses its target (no. 2200).

Next up is Shell-Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain by Tracey Loughran. Stefanie Linden largely enjoys a fascinating account of medical discourse in Britain throughout the First World War (no. 2199).

Then we turn to Simon Thurley’s Houses of Power: The Places the Shaped the Tudor World. Audrey Thorstad recommends a refreshing new view into the Tudor dynasty (no. 2198).

Finally we have Women Writing the English Republic 1625-1681 by Katharine Gillespie. Gaby Mahlberg believes this bold and innovative book is an important milestone in challenging the male-dominated republican canon (no. 2197).

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Latest Reviews – Labour Party, medieval peacemaking, Irish poverty & crusaders


We kick off this week with John Gaffney’s Leadership and the Labour Party: Narrative and Performance. Christopher Massey believes this book provides vital reading for all interested in Ed Miliband’s leadership of the Labour Party and the development of political narrative and performance (no. 2196, with response here).

Next up is The Benefits of Peace: Private Peacemaking in Late Medieval Italy by Glenn Kumhera. Alexandra Lee and the author discuss a book which provides a deeper insight into the complicated practices of private peacemaking in medieval Italy (no. 2195, with response here).

Then we turn to Lindsey Earner-Byrne’s Letters of the Catholic Poor: Poverty in Independent Ireland, 1920-1940. David Kilgannon praises a book which challenges other historians of 20th-century Ireland to ‘people their pasts’ (no. 2194).

Finally we have The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources, edited by Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton. Stephen Spencer recommends a book which adds substantially to our understanding of the sources and the intellectual milieu of their authors (no. 2193).

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