There is an old joke that doing intellectual history is like nailing jelly to the door. The field deals with abstractions that resist clear definition. Rudimentary notions of historical causality prove difficult to establish. Selecting representative figures depends upon contested assumptions about cultural hierarchy.
This is a short book on what turns out to be a rather bigger subject than might have been expected from the title; not because the Dutch slave trade was so important, but because Emmer uses it as an entry to a wide range of issues concerning the Atlantic slave trade in general and its historiography.
Studies of the National Portrait Gallery have analysed its history as an institution, as an architectural space, or as instrumental in the development of portraiture (1).
Textiles and dress occupy a central position within the realm of material culture. Apart from fulfilling the basic human need for clothing and protection, textiles play important political, economic, and religious functions.
Every prime minister's reputation combines a mixture of image and reality, and that of Wilson has all too often been the image of the wily, pipe-smoking fixer.
One of the strengths of the recent historiography of the First World War has been the shift in focus away from the Western Front towards a broader understanding of the conflict as a world war.
Orne Westad, Professor of International History and Director of the Cold War Studies Centre at the London School of Economics, has hitherto been best known for his works on China and the Cold War, including Cold War and Revolution: Soviet-American Rivalry and the Origins of the Chinese Civil War, 1944–6 (New York, 1993) and Decisive Encounters:
In The Cold War: A History in Documents and Eyewitness Accounts, Jussi M. Hanhimäki and Odd Arne Westad present an impressive array of primary materials designed to examine the Cold War as a 'global conflict' (p. ix).
The crowd as a historical social phenomenon has of late been a much-neglected subject. Modern analyses of the crowd will be for ever be associated with the 'history from below' era of the 1960s, in which historians refuted the long-held position that the crowd could foster a primeval and psychological changing influence on its participants.
On a recent holiday to a country that has nothing to do with either Britain or Japan (Iran, as it happens), I took both an English and a Japanese guidebook. I often do this. As expected, the Japanese one was extraordinarily accurate in boat and bus timetables, entry fees and opening hours, all of which were correct. But next to no interpretative assistance was supplied.