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Beowulf is an anonymous Old English poem about a hero from Geatland (in modern Sweden) who travels to Denmark where he kills man-eating monsters, and who, in later life, back home in Sweden, confronts and kills a fire-breathing dragon, but dies in the effort.
This is the latest in a distinguished series of volumes resulting from international colloquia sponsored by the German Historical Institute in London. This one took place in 2002, and the printed proceedings bring together fifteen contributors addressing the theme for Germany, Great Britain, France, and Russia.
Reading this book is a little like reading something in a foreign language one has not completely mastered. There is little pleasure in the experience and one is often unsure of the meaning, although one suspects that it would be wrong simply to assume that there is no meaning at all. But it is hard work.
To historians, the intrinsic value of history is self-evident. However, the study of history as an intellectual activity extends beyond the careful reconstruction and critical analysis of the past. For the past seeps into the present: it shapes the identities, perceptions, and attitudes of individuals and institutions.
Katie Stevenson, in her Chivalry and Knighthood in Scotland, 1424–1513, presents a thorough, scholarly, and informative research monograph. The years 1424 to 1513 carry one from the return to his kingdom of James I, after the long detention in England following his capture as a boy of twelve in 1406, to the death of James IV at Flodden.
Melissa R. Klapper’s Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860–1920 explores the identity of middle-class Jewish girls through use of a wide range of sources, including letters and diaries. This important contribution to the history of American Jews builds on previous work that has emphasized immigrants and working class families, the east coast, and urban centres.
This study by Callum Brown, Professor of Religious and Cultural History at the University of Dundee, forms part of a larger series of general survey volumes entitled ‘Religion, Politics and Society in Britain’ under the general editorship of Keith Robbins.
Like many another Roundhead, George Downing had a problem when Charles II returned in 1660, not least because he had been inconveniently prominent in urging Oliver Cromwell to become king. Luckily there was a way out. In 1638 the Downing family had decamped to Massachusetts, where young George had become the second person to graduate from Harvard.
Some historical and related scholarly fields appear—not always for any very obvious reason—to generate considerably more introductory, overview, and student-oriented books than do others. This has certainly seemed to be the case for both the territories that Barbara Bush seeks, with considerable success, to bring together here.
The first nine studies in this notable book relate directly to monastic patronage, in England, France, Denmark, and the Empire.