In the course of a single generation, the British empire was transformed from being a network of self-governing Atlantic communities into a cluster of largely Asian territories acquired, for the most part, through conquest. As countless historians note, the second half of the eighteenth century saw an ‘epochal shift in world power’.
After two substantial volumes of biography, and numerous shorter and related studies, Richard Shannon has again returned to the life of William Ewart Gladstone. This new work is not apparently intended as a simple distillation of his Gladstone: Peel’s Inheritor (1982) and Gladstone: Heroic Minister (1999).
The campaign for the ‘People’s Charter’, a democratic movement which thrived in the decade after 1838, was probably the most important mass movement in British history. Chartism captivated contemporaries and has had a magnetic attraction for historians, generating over 100 books and articles in the last decade alone.
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones’s volume makes an important, accessible and timely contribution to the literature and historiography of the FBI. Among its many positives, two stand out.
The 1950s is a comparatively under-researched area for gender studies. Anyone wanting to understand the constructed gender roles which underpinned not only girls' and women's lives but also those of boys and men, would do no better than to start with this excellent book.
In March 1279 King Edward I commissioned a great inquiry into landholding in England. The surviving returns were arranged by hundred, hence their name ‘the Hundred Rolls’, and give a picture of rural society which, in its level of detail, goes far beyond that found in Domesday Book. If this was intended as a second Domesday, it was a superior version of it.
Discussing The Psychology of Nationalism and Internationalism, the American academic Walter Pillsbury estimated that:
Once upon a time there was smallpox. One of the most loathsome diseases ever to afflict human kind, smallpox not only killed but maimed. Death rates were typically between 25 and 30 per cent, and survivors might not only be blinded and their skins scarred and pitted from the pocks, but they also suffered internal tissue damage that affected lung function and other life processes.
Jacob Burckhardt famously described Venice as the mysterious city of 'political secrecy'. In his wake, generations of scholars have continued to point to the remarkable degree of secrecy maintained by Venetian officials where political matters were concerned. Such secrecy, they have claimed, was central to the survival of the early modern state.
The history of single women in pre-modern Europe has begun to attract a good amount of attention in the last decade. Thanks to historians such as Judith Bennett, Kim Phillips, Ruth Mazo Karras and P. J. P.