In 1977 – fifteen years after his death – a spat about the merits of the work of R. H. Tawney broke out in the letters pages of the Times Literary Supplement. The catalyst was a feature called ‘Reputations revisited’, in which contributors were asked to nominate their most overrated and underrated books and/or authors of the past 75 years.
The dissemination of cultural improvement was written into the ethos of the BBC under John Reith, the first director-general from 1927. Until 1945 the BBC broadcast a single national service and therefore constructed programming that attempted to offer a culturally unified ‘voice of the nation’.
If Jeanne d’Arc had stuck to embroidery under her mother’s petticoats, then Charles VII would have been overthrown and the war would have ended. The Plantagenets would have reigned over England and France, which would have formed one territory, as it did in prehistoric times before the Channel existed, populated by one race.(1)
Jan Machielsen’s book is ostensibly the first modern biography of the Jesuit scholar Martin Delrio (1551–1608), a man best known today as the author of the treatise on witchcraft Disquisitiones magicae (‘Investigations into magic’). However, to call this important book a biography does it an injustice, since it is so much more than this.
Ephemeral City. Cheap Print and Urban Culture in Renaissance Venice is surely one of the most significant and impressive works on early modern European print culture to have been published in recent years. Its author, Rosa Salzberg, is an Assistant Professor of Italian Renaissance History at the University of Warwick.
This is a useful contribution to the growing body of research on 19th-century Irish print media (it begins with a survey of academic literature on the subject).
'Big’ technologies like the railways, the electric telegraph and the steamer seem to attract ‘big’ narratives of change. Many scholars have described their effects on the fabric of society and on everyday life as ‘revolutionary’.
Serge Gruzinski compares Cortés’s actions in Mexico with suggestions for the invasion of China, adumbrated by Portuguese captives in Canton in 1522–3.
This well-crafted volume of ten essays is an important contribution to the growing body of research on women and law in England the pre-modern period. Each essay examines a different aspect of women’s interactions with the law (broadly defined and encompassing both secular and ecclesiastical courts) and, as suggested in the title, foregrounds their agency.
Strategy: A History has to be the magnum opus of the academic life of Sir Lawrence Freedman. Rich in detail and deeply contextualising, this book is not only the longest but also the most diverse work in recent years on the evolution of strategy. The book is based on a life of scholarship as well as the most recent overviews on the topic.