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The study of war and memory has been popular amongst cultural historians for over two decades, yet scholarly interest in the subject shows no sign of abating. Indeed, as this collection demonstrates, memory remains a fruitful area of research, particularly if approached from a comparative perspective.
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Claire Tomalin about her work as a historical biographer.
Claire Tomalin (born Claire Delavenay on 20 June 1933) is an English author and journalist, known for her biographies on Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Pepys, Jane Austen, and Mary Wollstonecraft.
At a time when billboards have been driven around London urging illegal immigrants to ‘go home’, when photographs of the arrests of those suspected of breaching their visas were being tweeted by the Home Office (with the hashtag #immigrationoffenders), and when 39,000 texts stating ‘go home’ have been sent to suspected overstayers, the publication of Tony Kushner's The Battle of Britishness
History is never the final word; we are too empirically sensitive these days to think otherwise. It would be fair to say that since the days of Karl Popper historians have been acutely aware that what they write or utter is never the final statement concerning the historical record. Their assertions are provisional, liable to a degree of tinkering.
The origin of the imperial college of electors has remained an enigma, despite a lengthy procession of monographs devoted to it. This set collects the majority of Armin Wolf’s large-scale contributions to the solution of the enigma, along with various short papers and book reviews, and several new studies are included.
The most entirely satisfactory volume in this batch of books about President Kennedy is Peter J. Ling’s biography (John F. Kennedy). The author could perhaps have done with more space, but it remains astonishing how much information he gives us, and his command of the sources is equally impressive. He is scholarly, lucid, fair-minded and up-to-date.
In Malay Kingship in Kedah: Religion, Trade, and Society, Maziar Mozaffari Falarti offers a fascinating contribution to the study of local history and political models in Southeast Asia.
Officially, the designated revolution that took place in historical theory since the Second World War is that of the so-called ‘linguistic turn’. But as the postmodernist era in historical theory begins to fade, one begins to wonder if the real revolution in post-war historical theory actually consisted of the rise of memory studies.
David Cannadine’s title, with its reference to ‘the undivided past’, may seem to suggest some Platonic idea of a Rankean straw man who aspires to a consensual and ‘definitive’ history of a unitary past; but what we have here is something very different – something that might indeed be construed as a quite revolutionary gesture.
With the government in the midst of yet another shake-up of the national curriculum, the teaching of history in schools has become perhaps the most contentious of proposed reforms.