I do not know whether the Italian title of this book (Vita di casa) is an allusion to Mario Praz and his autobiography La casa della vita (Milan, 1958), but it would be fitting. In that book Mario Praz guides the reader through his Roman house and tells his life during the tour.
This is an ambitious and in many respects singularly brave book which adds a further dimension to the growing understanding of middle-class life that has prompted the research of increasing numbers of historians in the last decade or so.
s the deft pun in the title reminds us, one of the ways in which nations were both imagined and institutionalised in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was through the conscripting of young men into the army. The ways in which they were called up, selected, trained and led, and the arrangements made for their families left behind deeply affected the nature of nationhood.
In 1852 the African-American physician and writer James McCune Smith described the ‘negro’ as ‘not an actual physical being of flesh and bones and blood, but a hideous monster of the mind’.(quoted on p. 247, McCune Smith’s italics) Yet in Bruce Dain’s detailed, subtle, and fascinating book, race theory appears more like a virus.
I suppose a slight confession is in order before I begin. This is a book that I had hoped to write, but for a variety of reasons it never transpired. To me, it seemed to be a glaring omission in the literature on Stalin. Bookshops were awash with biographies of Stalin. Appraisals of the Stalinist system were as numerous as medals on Brezhnev's chest.
Tavern-going was as an important a part of the social fabric of early America as churchgoing. Even in the most obscure communities Americans visited a tavern regularly if not daily.
Philip Salmon took on an ambitious project when he began his study of parliamentary reform and the electoral system. He looked at how the Reform Act of 1832 affected 'the business of obtaining the vote' (p.
Not so long ago, Peter the Great was commonly portrayed by historians on both sides of the Iron Curtain as a proto-Homo Sovieticus: an icon of muscular masculinity, giant in both frame and achievement. According to this tradition, it was Peter's distinctive genius to drag a backward and xenophobic Muscovy, kicking and screaming, into the rational modern world.
The genesis of this fine monograph occurred in a moment of confounding cultural confrontation when Christopher Ely first viewed Russian landscape painting of the nineteenth century. Perplexed, he jotted down a question for himself. Why, he asked, were these works so 'consciously unbeautiful'? Gazing at one dreary canvas after another, he wondered, 'What was this fascination with mud?' (p.