For a long time after 1945, as Basil Fawlty famously discovered, it was almost impossible to avoid mentioning the war.
Few figures in British history have such storied reputations as Elizabeth I or James VI & I. The three books reviewed here represent recent contributions to changing and evolving approaches to these rulers. While none of the authors offers a bold new interpretation, Pauline Croft most successfully draws together twenty years of revisionist scholarship to present a new composite portrait.
The reign of Edward IV, as Jonathan Hughes points out, is unique in English history; it was the first – and last – time a king of England lost his throne, went into exile, invaded his own kingdom and regained his crown, enabling him to destroy his rivals and to reign in relative peace and tranquillity for another thirteen years.
The Victorians is the second volume to appear in The Oxford English Literary History, a series commissioned by the late Kim Scott Walwyn to replace the fifteen-volume Oxford History of English Literature (the last part of which was published as recently as 1997).
I do not know whether the Italian title of this book (Vita di casa) is an allusion to Mario Praz and his autobiography La casa della vita (Milan, 1958), but it would be fitting. In that book Mario Praz guides the reader through his Roman house and tells his life during the tour.
This is an ambitious and in many respects singularly brave book which adds a further dimension to the growing understanding of middle-class life that has prompted the research of increasing numbers of historians in the last decade or so.
s the deft pun in the title reminds us, one of the ways in which nations were both imagined and institutionalised in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was through the conscripting of young men into the army. The ways in which they were called up, selected, trained and led, and the arrangements made for their families left behind deeply affected the nature of nationhood.
In 1852 the African-American physician and writer James McCune Smith described the ‘negro’ as ‘not an actual physical being of flesh and bones and blood, but a hideous monster of the mind’.(quoted on p. 247, McCune Smith’s italics) Yet in Bruce Dain’s detailed, subtle, and fascinating book, race theory appears more like a virus.
I suppose a slight confession is in order before I begin. This is a book that I had hoped to write, but for a variety of reasons it never transpired. To me, it seemed to be a glaring omission in the literature on Stalin. Bookshops were awash with biographies of Stalin. Appraisals of the Stalinist system were as numerous as medals on Brezhnev's chest.