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The age of the historian as public moralist is not quite past. To be sure, most of us today are content to write for each other on matters of no particular current concern and harbour little ambition to reach a lay audience, let alone convert it.
Until the early 1990s - the insistent writings of John Terraine notwithstanding - the campaign in Palestine in 1917 and 1918 was, more often than not, portrayed by historians and military commentators as perhaps the most attractive, significant and viable alternative to the carnage of the Western Front.
'The Oratory of Triumph'
A scholarly history of the Great Exhibition these days is both a welcome and a brave undertaking. Welcome, because despite the fact that the event has been a commonplace of school history teaching and a recognisable landmark for historians of the nineteenth century, it has not been appreciated in a three-dimensional manner.
The study of life insurance as a cultural practice has been moving in from the margins of social historical enquiry for some time now. As early as 1979 Viviana Zelizer took an important step beyond the confines of institutional business history with her study of public debates about the moral implications of life-insurance practices in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America.
Academics and the general public alike have an understandable fascination regarding the Spanish Armada. The naval confrontation in the Channel in 1588 and the subsequent disastrous Spanish circumnavigation of the storm-lashed British coastline, helped shape world history from the end of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth.
Ask most people, including Russians, who have a modest familiarity with European history what they know about medieval Russia and their answer will probably be brief, but will include something about the Mongols, perhaps even 'the Tatar yoke' (for a succinct statement of the difference between Mongols and Tatars see Ostrowski's preface, p. xiii).
Although by far the oldest and most numerous ethnic minority in Britain, the Irish have received relatively little attention within British social history or indeed the sociology of migration, race and ethnicity.
Paul Kliber Monod has written an ambitious and very welcome book, which seeks to investigate the relationship between Christianity and kingship across the whole of Christian Europe in the 'long' seventeenth century from 1589 to 1715. This is certa inly a brave enterprise, calling as it does for a working knowledge of several languages and the strikingly diverse histories of many countries.
This is a timely and necessary book after nearly a quarter of a century during which a steady stream of specialist monographs and articles on Irish communities in individual British towns and cities has appeared.