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The field of food studies has gained significant traction over the previous two decades. Across a range of disciplines, from religious studies to anthropology to history, among others, a growing body of books, articles, and conference papers has explored the history of particular foods.
At the beginning of the 18th century, Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, maréchal de France, sent a letter to Louis XIV, as part of his efforts to persuade the King to help his poverty-stricken subjects.
In the conclusion to Alcohol in World History, Gina Hames observes that the influence of alcohol has been ‘omnipresent in human history’ (p. 134). It is undoubtedly the case that, while not the dominant psychoactive substance in all human cultures, alcohol has played a more pervasive and significant role in the history of human thought, ritual and economy than any other drug.
At first sight this looks like another of those increasingly common commodity books, some of which are intended to be global in scope, and which include studies of chocolate, sugar, cod, salt and many others (digestible or not!). As Riello points out, commodities are a good way to tell a global story since many of them have been traded throughout the world for centuries.
Being the fruit of 20 years of research on the part of its authors, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism reflects an awareness of the need to see the contemporary upsurge in evangelical religion both in a worldwide comparative perspective and in a long-term historical one.
If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
David Hempton’s latest book is the best, most authoritative, and most imaginative overview of the history of the world-wide Christian Church in the period between the late 17th and early 19th centuries we have to date.
In 1872 the Reverend T. DeWitt Talmage composed an essay entitled ‘After midnight’ in which he put forward the notion that night-time in the city passes through four distinct phases or ‘watches’ (pp. 55–6). Night was not one entity that lasted from dusk until dawn, instead it moved in three hour periods commencing at 6pm.
Firing off ideas and arguments in all directions, Jussi Parikka’s What is Media Archaeology? is an exciting and excitable contribution to cultural theory. The book begins by outlining the strands of historical and cultural enquiry, as well as the artistic practices, that currently constitute what he terms ‘media archaeology’.
In this study of energy policy, looking primarily at the period since the Gulf War, and in particular the first decade of the 21st century, Daniel Yergin continues to focus on the subject matter of his Pulitzer prize winning book The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power.(1) Since the publication of that book, and the success of the accompanying TV se