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.
In recent years, the debate on the role of science and its many guises in nineteenth century medical practice, has been reinvigorated by new studies which have shown the dense complexity of the interweavings between science and medicine.
Interest in Jack the Ripper continues to be insatiable. New books, articles and webpages on the subject appear almost weekly - a Google search on 'Jack the Ripper' yields nearly 197,000 online references with varying degrees of accuracy and seriousness, the front-runner being www.casebook.org.
This substantial volume is about more and less than the title indicates. Jill Harsin, known to specialists of nineteenth-century France for her earlier book, Policing Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century France (Princeton University Press; Princeton, 1985) has here produced a detailed narrative of the role of Paris artisans in revolution and popular unrest between 1830 and 1848.
Ronald Hutton begins his account of the Restoration, The Restoration: a Political and Religious History of England and Wales (Clarendon; Oxford, 1985) by contrasting the attention historians had paid to the English Civil War with the relatively few monographs devoted to the subsequent phase of history: in his words, 'the history of the English Revolution now reads like a marvellous sto