Much has been written about the UK’s National Health Service but as Martin Gorsky pointed out in a detailed review of its historiography published to coincide with its 60th anniversary in 2008, accounts of its past have tended to privilege traditional political narratives focused on national politics and the workings of the civil service.(1) In the case of Charles Webs
The name Medici is almost inextricably interlinked with the city of Florence and the idea of the Renaissance in both popular and scholarly imagination. The family dominated the Florentine republic politically for the better part of the 15th century and became, first, dukes of Florence and, then, grand dukes of Tuscany in the 16th.
Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.
Gary Gerstle’s Liberty and Coercion is a tour de force account of American governance that manages to survey the chronological and geographical breadth of US history with a judicious depth of precise detail and example.
For the past five years, American historians have been knee-deep in the American Civil War. The 150th anniversary of this historical moment has brought on a deluge of writing on the subject; an exhilarating, exhausting experience. A mountain of work on the war now strains already groaning library shelves. The result, however, has yielded some surprises.
Julie-Marie Strange’s study of Victorian and Edwardian fatherhood begins with a question. In her 1908 collection of essays, M. E. Loane, a district nurse, asked, ‘Is the working-class father as black as he is painted?’ (p. 1). It is this question that animates the exploration of the problematic narratives and stereotypes of fatherhood in the 19th and early 20th centuries that follows.
A dimension that has been either obscured or silenced in discussions of the First World War is that of the networks of intellectuals and activists who protested against this global conflagration.
John Dee is a name that often conjures up images of shady spells muttered in dark rooms with bubbling potions, but the exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians, titled Scholar, Courtier, Magician: the Lost Library of John Dee seeks to offer a view of Dee as an articulate, extremely well-read, educated man.
The current trend in history publishing for a ‘one stop shop edition’ of essays on a particular subject, variously entitled ‘Handbooks’ or ‘Companions’, is a welcome addition for teachers and students of history alike.
We all now realise that fascism was a very serious business indeed, and historians have been treating it seriously for some time, even its maligned claim to be totalitarian. Historians have also moved way beyond the still lingering popular perception that Italian Fascism was somehow less radical, less totalitarian, less ‘fascist’ than German Nazism.