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Secret intelligence, to borrow the often used cliché by Sir Alexander Cadogan, has been regarded as the ‘missing dimension’ of Britain’s diplomatic and political history. This phrase certainly describes the near absence of the subject from academia even into the 1990s when the first batches of intelligence-related material made it into the public domain.
Roaring flames, thousands of uniformed men, political speeches demanding a union of Germany and Austria, and an enthusiastic and cheering crowd of Germans and Austrians assembled together listening to the words ‘For us Germans in Austria, a powerful impulse prevails to return once again to the Reich’ is how Erin Hochman evocatively introduces readers to her book (p. 1).
During the horrific famine of 1932–3, did Ukrainian peasants die because they were Ukrainians or because they were peasants?
This is the eight volume of the series on the archbishops of Canterbury, which began life with Ashgate and has now passed to Routledge, and Michael Hughes’ book does not disappoint. Randall Davidson is the third of the 20th century archbishops to be so treated (the 2015 volume on Michael Ramsey was the work of this reviewer), and the book adopts a similar approach to the others.
This book was commissioned by the Bank of England, when Mervyn (now Lord) King was Governor. The aim was to produce a popular history of the Bank, an institution important in Britain since its inception. If it was intended to be a popular volume, the kind that flies off the shelves in bookshops, I hope that I’m right when I say it will not.
John Gaffney’s study of Ed Miliband’s narrative and performance in Leadership and the Labour Party is a welcome addition to the limited academic research undertaken on Labour post-Blair. Gaffney skilfully manages to engage with both the theory and practice of leadership, whilst maintaining academic rigour and, impressively, readability.
In Thinking the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder proposes to his friend Tony Judt that the historian’s task is ‘like making paths’ through a forest by leaving signs. Judt qualifies this. ‘The first thing’, he argues, ‘is to teach people about trees. Then you teach them that lots of trees together constitute a forest.
The reforms to Britain’s electoral system between 1867 and 1885 significantly changed how elections were fought. By the end of the process the House of Commons was elected from constituencies of roughly equal size, with larger cities and counties subdivided.
Andrew Tompkins’ book, Better Active than Radioactive!, sets out to examine anti-nuclear protest in the 1970s in a comparative framework. His focus on anti-nuclear activists in France and West Germany leads him to argue that transnational cooperation and interconnection in the anti-nuclear movement was much more marked that we traditionally assume.
Tom Crook has written a big book – big in scope, range, and thought. It is both an overview of the institutionalization of public health in England and an interpretation of that event as paradigmatic of the systems and practices of pervasive governance that constitute modernity.