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Sean Wilentz has become our generation’s foremost historian as public intellectual, positioning himself as a blend of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Richard Hofstadter, the historical giants of the mid-20th-century era of consensus. Wilentz, however, lives in what another thoughtful historian, Daniel T. Rodgers, has called an ‘age of fracture’.
I recall the moment when I first encountered the existence of the so-called Corwin amendment of 1861. It happened by chance in an undergraduate political science class on constitutional law. The textbook contained a brief synopsis of the rediscovery and revival of the 27th amendment, ratified in 1992 some two centuries after its congressional adoption.
As Martin Heale states at the very beginning of The Abbots and Priors of Late Medieval and Reformation England, ‘the importance of the late medieval abbot needs no particular emphasis’. This was a group of men with responsibility for the spiritual and material wellbeing of thousands of monks and canons.
Eli Rubin has written a wonderful book that does not just tell a fascinating story about an important but much neglected subject, but also manages to link this story to much broader historiographical, and indeed ontological, questions about the intersections between space, on one hand, and power, time and lived experience on the other.
Padraig Lenihan, The Last Cavalier: Richard Talbot (1631-91), Dublin, UCD Press, 2014, 268 pages, €40, ISBN 9781906359836.
This timely biography depicts a persistent moderate who deplored North-South sectional polarization and feared that jousting between anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces endangered the Union. Edward Everett worked instead to keep the divisive slavery issue out of national politics.
In Disability and the Welfare State in Britain. Changes in Perception and Policy 1948–1979, Jameel Hampton provides a scholarly account of the development of disability policy after the Second World War.
Algeria was colonised and departmentalised by the French in the 19th century, and by 1954 around a million Algerians of European origin lived in the settler colony. Following a seven-and-a-half-year war against France, Algeria officially became independent in 1962.
In 1850 Abraham Lincoln’s most celebrated rival, Stephen Douglas of Illinois, delivered an impassioned speech in the United States Senate.
Surveying the latter half of the 20th century in Britain, Professor James Hinton highlights the popular tendency to consider this period in terms of its characteristic decades. There is ‘the boring 1950s, the exciting 1960s, the crisis-ridden 1970s, [and] Mrs. Thatcher’s 1980s’ (p. 23).