Edwin Jones has produced a powerful, complex, eloquent and truly remarkable book. It is a heady blend of history and politics, past and present - committed scholarship in the best sense. It rests on the conviction that historical understanding matters.
At the Gladstone Centenary Conference, held at Chester in the summer of 1998, one speaker pointed out that at that point in time there were ten or eleven new biographies of 'WEG' under contract.
Japan's experience of defeat and occupation at the end of the Second World War has most commonly been examined from the point of view of the conquerors. It has rarely been tackled as a Japanese experience.
Nobody doubts the exceptional importance of the long reign of Louis IX (1226-70) as perceived either from modern historical perspectives, or presented in thirteenth-century (or later) views.
Historians of Soviet foreign policy and the Second World War will welcome the arrival of Garbriel Gorodetskys Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia, the first study of Soviet decision-making between the Nazi-Soviet pact and the outbreak of the German-Soviet war to be based upon thorough research in Soviet as well as western archives.
'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.
Joseph P. Huffmans Family, Commerce and Religion in London and Cologne: Anglo-German Immigrants, c.1000-c.1300: (Cambridge 1998) is the most recent contribution to a burgeoning field of historical scholarship, i.e. the study of Anglo-German relations in the Middle Ages. Over the last fifteen years a number of studies have appeared on the subject.
A few weeks before Peter W. Williams, ed., Perspectives on American Religion and Culture, (Blackwells, Oxford 1999) arrived, I met a Chinese-American professor whose dress, accent and confidence suggested a long-established American family. In fact she was of Chinese-Vietnamese parents, brought up in Cambodia and had spent two years as a boat refugee.
It is to the credit of the editors that there are no dud contributions in this volume of essays. They hang together well, considering how varied in quality and miscellaneous in content these arranged collections or published proceedings of conferences, often are.
Callum Browns excellent book on the historical origins and contemporary significance of Up-helly-aa, Shetlands winter fire festival, has recently won The Frank Watson Prize awarded by the University of Guelph, Canada, for being the best book of its year on Scottish history and no comment here will detract in any way from that impressive achievement; superlatives come to the