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ISSN 1749-8155


The author cannot complain about a positive review, which raises issues of ‘best practice’ and ‘best presentation/exposition’.

Review Date: 
26 Nov 2015

In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Daniel Snowman talks to Peter Burke about his background, career, influences and forthcoming book.

Peter Burke is is Professor Emeritus of Cultural History at the University of Cambridge.

Daniel Snowman is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster on social and cultural history.

In responding to such a charitable review of my work, one which begins with the claim that my book ‘is, above all, a well-researched and enjoyable book’, one is tempted to invoke the principles of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and leave well enough alone. But a few brief comments are in order.

I could not be happier with Shami Ghosh's review. It is a most lucid, thorough, and generous reading of all aspects of my book. As a piece of writing, it is in itself a type of response which I hope to elicit in writing the book.

I am happy to accept this review and thank the editors for commissioning it as well as for the opportunity to respond. I am particularly grateful to Robert Ledger of the European Stability Initiative for his thoughtful and very thorough review.

I would like to offer a reply to Maurice Finocchiaro’s harsh and misleading review, couched in tones that are especially unfortunate given the circumstances in which the book was written. I challenge the view that it is ‘a deeply flawed book’, with only ‘tiny merits’, ‘such that laypersons and scholars can ignore the book, if they are trying to learn about Galileo’s trial’.

Mr. Stephen Cushion’s review of my book is uncommon on many grounds. It does not follow the norms of the genre in neither content, nor professionalism, nor temperament.

I am delighted that Martin Hewitt found The Demographic Imagination to be ‘a book to enjoy’, and ‘rich and rewarding’, even if it was not the volume he wanted it to be.

I was gratified to read Martin Crawford’s review of my book, The Cause of All Nations, obviously because he offers generous praise for my effort to tell a new story about the US Civil War, but also because his astute historiographical sketch made me think more about why that story has remained neglected by so many historians for so long.

I want to thank Nicole Longprè for her careful reading of my book, Unemployment, Welfare, and Masculine Citizenship. In my response, I will address Longprè’s questions about how historians ‘come to choose the methods that they do’, the case study approach, and why I selected the Black Country as my case study.