In 1775, Samuel Johnson had already identified the central paradox of United States history. He notoriously challenged British readers to explain why ‘we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes’. Generations of historians have tried to answer that question. How could a movement espousing belief in liberty include so many slaveholders?
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the emergence of an independent Russia, much scholarship, both in Russia and the West, has been concerned with the pre-revolutionary monarchist and nationalist parties which had attracted relatively little attention earlier.
Jason Garner's monograph on the origins of the Federación Anarquista Ibérica (FAI) is an illuminating and much-welcomed addition to the inchoate body of English-language scholarship dealing specifically with pre-Civil War Spanish anarchism.
John Dee is a name that often conjures up images of shady spells muttered in dark rooms with bubbling potions, but the exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians, titled Scholar, Courtier, Magician: the Lost Library of John Dee seeks to offer a view of Dee as an articulate, extremely well-read, educated man.
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’, is how Charles Dickens began his stirring evocation of the French Revolution in A Tale of Two Cities. He had it about right. The first ten years of the French Revolution was a time of limitless hope and shattering violence.
Frances Yates’ seminal book Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964), which established a longstanding scholarly orthodoxy that Renaissance magic derived from interpretations of the Hermetic Corpus, has been challenged in its details by Bruno scholars and others.
It is surprising how frequently books appear on the subject of Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden. The already extensive bibliography in this volume could easily be doubled or trebled (1), but it has to be said that this is a fascinating, original and impressive contribution to what we might term protoplastic studies.
This is a book about two well-known dynastic verse histories commissioned by Henry II, the Roman de Rou by Wace and the Chronique des ducs de Normandie by Benoît de Sainte-Maure.
Dominic Erdozain is a scholar with a mission: to convince sceptics that religious doubt arises from faith, and more specifically from the religious conscience. It is when faith does not live up to what it promises, argues Erdozain, causing conflict and injustice, that it leads to doubt.
Thomas Ahnert’s The Moral Culture of the Scottish Enlightenment is an unusual work. Little more than an extended essay, its brevity and lucidity belie the complexity and force of its central thesis. Whilst there is no doubt that the book represents an important historiographical intervention, it is rather harder to explain why or where it does so.