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Now that the dust has settled on the presidential race, it’s easier to assess Simon Schama’s ambitious project of last autumn: The American Future: A History. The book (and the accompanying television series) departs from his previous work in several ways.
Companions and handbooks to various periods or problems of history are currently all the rage. This one is the 37th in its own publisher’s series, which ranges from the whole sweep of a continent’s or a nation’s history (such as Latin America, or Japan) to much more restricted periods or problems of current scholarly interest.
“Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great robberies?” – Augustine, City of God, IV.4.
Anglo-Jewish history is a growing and arguably important field within the mainstream of British history, although probably much more for what never happened than for what did. The Jews were present in numbers in Medieval England, as money-lenders and tax collectors. The violent and tragic history of this community, and their expulsion in 1290, are well-known.
On the occasion of his famous address commemorating the abolition of slavery in the British West Indies, delivered in Concord on August 1, 1844, Ralph Waldo Emerson highlighted America’s avoidance of slavery’s implications.
Fighting for the Cross introduces the subject of crusading by exploring the experiences and ideas of individual crusaders travelling to the Holy Land between 1095 and 1291.
Like most practitioners in global history, Pamela Kyle Crossley, in What is Global History, engages this simple yet profoundly provocative question: ‘how to tell a story without a centre?’ In a smallish, 120-page treat of the question, Crossley provides a gripping overview of the field, along with its genealogy, trends and possibilities.
Georgine Clarsen has produced a fascinating account of women motorists in the first three decades of the automobile age. Her crisp and elegant prose takes the reader on a speedy trip over a wide range of terrain, indicating the importance of the car in the cultural politics of the early 20th century.
The first question which may spring to the mind of any reader of this collection is: is it necessary or useful? Given the appearance in the not too distant past of the Oxford History of the British Empire, together with its themed volumes, can another edited collection on the empire contribute anything new or revealing?