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The parliamentary papers of the UK are one of the most important sources for the history of the UK and its former colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries, in their original form a series of thousands of printed reports.
The Indo-Persian state secretary has occupied center stage in the emerging discourse on bureaucracy, administration and the political formation of the Mughal state. The status and role of the munshī (the Indo-Persian state secretary) within the Mughal bureaucratic structure in 17th and 18th century have formed the basis of recent historical analysis.
Andrew Thorpe’s fourth edition of A History of the British Labour Party provides a much needed update to what has become one of the leading volumes on the Labour Party since its first edition in 1997. The book, spanning 412 pages, provides an engaging read into the history of the Labour Party.
This is a most welcome volume for a number of reasons. For a start, it is the most nuanced and comprehensive study of the practice of intercession in the earlier Middle Ages, focusing on the ninth and tenth centuries. More to the point, perhaps, it constitutes the first (and to date only) sustained engagement with the diplomas of the Ottonian and Salian rulers available in English.
Historians can only feel ambivalent about bureaucracy. ‘Admin’ tends to get in the way of those two core activities that define a university, research and teaching. Some of it might be necessary and benign: seminars require registers, after all.
As medieval English kings go, William I has been well-served by his modern English biographers. D.C.
Rayne Allinson’s new book, A Monarchy in Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I, highlights some of the gaps missing in the historiography of the queen’s own involvement in foreign affairs. The author acknowledges that there is a curious void here; what about the queen’s own words?
In Joseph Heller’s 1979 novel Good As Gold, the hapless protagonist, college professor and would-be public intellectual Bruce Gold, writes a light-hearted magazine article entitled ‘Nothing Succeeds As Planned’. He sends a copy to his contact at the White House, the ineffable Ralph Newsome, who is delighted with it. ‘I can’t tell you how you’re boggling our minds’, Newsome tells Gold.
This dense, lengthy and – by the author’s own admission – ‘very difficult’ book (p. xi) tackles complex questions of power in one of the most contested and formative periods of Frankish history, between the death of Louis the Pious and the formal accession of the Capetians as kings of West Francia.
Historians have great cause to be grateful to the precocious bureaucrats of medieval England, whose records they have exploited to shed light on so many aspects of the past. They should be equally thankful for the generations of scholars who have produced printed calendars of such records since the foundation of the Record Commission in 1800.