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'He probably knows more naval history than any English speaking man living. Pity he don't produce a great work instead of piddling about in the byways of naval history'. So wrote Alfred Thayer Mahan to Stephen Luce in 1890 about John Knox Laughton.
Nearly one hundred years after the death of Queen Victoria, Victorian history is, on the face of it, in remarkably good shape. Alongside Hitler, the period remains the staple fare of the English and Welsh sixth-form syllabus. In the universities - old and new - British nineteenth-century historians outnumber their eighteenth-century counterparts by about two to one.
Bronislaw Geremek needs no introduction to the international community of historians. In 1995, at the last congress of the International Association of Historians, in Montreal the first plenary session was opened by an hour long video recorded with him, how he sees history being both its expert analyst and also a prominent actor in the past decades.
Eric Hobsbawm has recently raised the question ‘Can wewrite the history of the Russian revolution?’. Coming from someone who has written a history of the twentieth century, of which the Russian revolution comprises a rather distant component, the question is somewhat unexpected.
Edward Hallett Carr's contribution to the study of Soviet history is widely regarded as highly distinguished. In all probability very few would argue against this assessment of his multi-volume history of Soviet Russia. For the majority of historians he pretty much got the story straight.
Paul Hair, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Liverpool, is best known as one of the pioneers of the academic study of the history of sub-Saharan (or in Hair’s own preferred terminology, Black) Africa from the 1950s onwards.
We have never been less interested in the details of history than we are today, and we have never been more committed to a weak and often reductive view of a romanticized past.
The dust-jacket of this book defines Diane Purkiss as a Lecturer in English; within its pages she prefers to describe herself as a feminist literary critic. It is a potent combination, and has resulted in a thoroughly individual and very important book.
This is a wonderful book. It invites a range of responses: from engaged discussion, heated argument to personal reminiscences.