How can you know about somewhere you’ve never been? This predicament is at the heart of David Lambert’s superb new book, Mastering the Niger: James MacQueen’s African Geography and the Struggle over Atlantic Slavery. In 1841 the Scottish geographer and proslavery propagandist James MacQueen published A New Map of Africa. MacQueen had never visited the continent.
This book is an important and timely reflection on the questions raised by the global turn in historiography. The contributor Duncan Bell describes this ‘spatial reorientation’ in the human sciences as a ‘threshold moment’ in the study of human imagination (p. 254).
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.
Simon Potter’s second major effort to map out the history of the flow of information within the British world follows many of the same lines of analysis presented in his first book. While News and the British World: The Emergence of an Imperial Press System (1) charted the advent of imperial media discourses and the organizations that sustained them from the
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
Popular references to Calcutta (now Kolkata) – once the gleaming capital of British India – in Anglo-American contexts often conjure images of poverty, crowded city streets, unbearable traffic, smog, and residents that require a savior.
The Making of the Middle Class: Toward a Transnational History grew out of two panels on the middle class at the American Historical Association meetings in 2004 and a related conference at the University of Maryland in 2006. Taken together, the 16 papers and three commentaries included in this book have the feel of a big academic meeting.
Two decades ago Francis Fukuyama gained widespread attention, and some notoriety, with the argument that the modern world had reached the end of history. Of course, he did not mean that history as a flow of events would cease. What he did mean was that history as successive stages of society had reached its final level. There is no future regime beyond modern democracy and capitalism.
A brief survey of the recent academic literature on global history reveals an academy that is still trying to define a historiographical movement.
The way we evaluate Western civilization is deeply influenced by our political views.