In many ways Russia is the touchstone of the twentieth century. Most of the main features of our troubled age have impinged on it more heavily than any other single country.
Consider a counter-factual or two. Would this book have been different had its author not have been immersed in the history of banking over the last few years? Would it have looked different had the author not been an active member of the Conservative party in the Thatcher years?
On the cusp of the new millenium, historians of Europe are already having trouble with the twentieth century.
In 1992, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., sponsored a special exhibition to mark 1492, the five hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America. Reflecting the times in the 1990s, the exhibition tried to show the essential equality of all cultures around the globe at the end of the fifteenth century.
In the last two decades the history of modern British politics has been the subject of fierce debate as its long cherished narratives and explanatory models have been questioned from a variety of 'revisionist' perspectives.
Russian historiography has been richly endowed with numerous topics of enduring interest such as the founding of the Kievan Russian State in the ninth century and its later demise, the Mongol conquest in 1236-40 and its consequences, the rise of the Muscovite state between 1300 and 1514, serfdom, Ivan the Terrible and his Oprichnina, Peter the Great and Westernization, the revolutions of 1
The war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia remains a subject of great fascination. The campaign clearly had a vital effect on the outcome of the Second World War as a whole. It was an historical drama with unpredictable turning points. And it was fought on an vast scale and with a correspondingly vast scale of casualties.
Diana Spencer has a lot to answer for: suddenly, women of the landowning classes are back in vogue, possibly for the first time since the 1920s, when everyone from Virginia Woolf to Ramsay MacDonald seemed to love a lady. In academic circles, where Diana carries comparatively little weight, a more plausible trend-setter might be Stella Tillyard's Aristocrats (1994).
James M. Rosenheim is the author of The Townshends of Raynham (1989) and a number of other studies of landownership and county government, with particular reference to the county of Norfolk. In this new book he draws on a wide variety of printed primary and secondary sources in the hundred years after 1650.
There has, in recent years, been a proliferation of work on popular culture in early modern England. Barry Reay’s Popular Cultures in England 1550-1750 (London and New York: Longman 1998. Pp. ix + 235) is a perceptive and engaging synthesis, rooted in a thorough knowledge of recent work.