For every large historical topic – and the transatlantic slave trade is certainly a large one – there is a need for good small books to introduce the academic understanding of the topic to students and the general public. The writing of a good small book on a large topic, however, can be no small challenge.
Military men, as histories of the Royal Navy in particular have shown, tend to be interested in controlling sanitary conditions. Among seamen, maintaining health was always essential otherwise ships could not remain at sea. The main theme of Dr. Katherine Foxhall’s interesting book is voyages to Australia.
In this interesting and readable book, Jo Guldi explores the origins and rise of the ‘infrastructure state’ (1) through an historical analysis of centralised road planning, investment and regulation in Britain.
In Ocean Under Steam Frances Steel explores the impact of the 19th-century sea transport revolution in one of the extremities of the British Empire, the South Pacific Ocean. Published as part of the Manchester University Press ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series, under the general editorship of John MacKenzie, this is a self-consciously ‘de-centred’ imperial history.
A landmark moment in Holocaust history and memory occurred in 1989 when about 1,000 Kindertransport survivors attended their 50-year reunion in London. The event commemorated the transport of 10,000 children from Central Europe to safety in Britain. Launched on November 9, 1938, the transport continued for a year until the Nazis ended it when war was declared in September 1939.
There are many ways to write about the history of Italian cycling. John Foot explains that his book ‘tells the story moving between biographies of individual cyclists, tales of races and an analysis of Italian society’ and that ‘space will be dedicated to the role of bicycle in everyday Italian life’ (p. 4).
Richard White is a prolific historian whose earlier works have changed our understanding of several periods of American history. His 1991 book on the relations of white empires and Native polities in the Great Lakes region reshaped views of First Nations history throughout the continent.
We know that London Transport was a pioneer in advertising public transport. Their posters from the inter-war period and the 1950s are a familiar sight and they are frequently used as historical sources not only by academics but students as well.
The proliferation of computer databases and the digitization of sources online are transforming the profession. Scholars can now do substantial original research without needing to travel to distant archives. Massive collections of documents are at our fingertips. Online databases are encouraging the democratization of historical research.
Cars for Comrades is a kind of ‘total history’ of the automobile and ‘car culture’ in the Soviet Union, one that is exhaustively researched and engagingly written.