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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.
The BBC began broadcasting television programmes from its own studios in 1932 and launched a regular TV service in 1936, only to shut it down when, three years later, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Edward Stourton’s Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War is therefore about radio, and in particular the tug of war within the corporation between 1939 and 1945.
Writing at the dawn of the new millennium, historian Peniel Joseph lamented the scholarly neglect of Black Power. While studies of the Black liberation movement’s ‘heroic period’ from 1955-1965 abounded, research on Black Power ‘languished’ due to lack of interest, limited archival sources, and a prevailing declension narrative that cast Black Power as civil rights’ ‘evil twin’.
David Brundage’s Irish Nationalists in America employs no sleight of hand in its title. It is a short, well-crafted new survey of Irish nationalists in the United States from the late 18th century to the close of the 20th that is more than the sum of its parts.
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.