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.
Triumph in the West is the triumphant conclusion of J. G. A. Pocock’s series on Edward Gibbon and the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–89).
This book is concerned with the paradoxes and oxymora (p. 80) inherent in a longue-durée of Western thought, rooted in Christian theology, about political and religious violence: liberty and coercion; violence and peace; cruelty and mercy; shedding blood to achieve peace; violence and martyrdom, election and universalism, old and new, and even, in a sense, the state and the church.
'I am a physicist, not a historian' (p. ix). This is how Steven Weinberg, one of the most eminent scientists of our time, has chosen to begin his effort to encapsulate the historical development of the scientific method.
Over 40 years ago, in the preface to his The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492, Alfred Crosby, a key figure among the first generation of environmental historians, emphasized that `Man is a biological entity before he is a Roman Catholic or a capitalist or anything else’ (p. xiii).
This is a very welcome addition to the study of dress in antiquity. While studies of clothing, bodily adornment and the body language of antiquity are becoming more frequent, a volume that considers the role of religious dress and the religious meanings of dress among Jews and Christians takes this research in new directions.
Strategy: A History has to be the magnum opus of the academic life of Sir Lawrence Freedman. Rich in detail and deeply contextualising, this book is not only the longest but also the most diverse work in recent years on the evolution of strategy. The book is based on a life of scholarship as well as the most recent overviews on the topic.
As Ferngren explains in the opening pages: ‘My purpose in this volume is to provide a concise but comprehensive survey that traces the history of the intersection of medicine and healing with religious traditions in the Western world from the earliest civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt to our own era’; a sizeable task to say the least.
The monumental importance of the exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum lies not least in the staggering number of people it has reached.
When you walk in to the Propaganda: Power and Persuasion Exhibition at the British Library you are told that ‘propaganda is used to fight wars and combat disease, build unity and create division’. You then walk through a guard of honour of black mannequins that offer different definitions of the word ‘propaganda’.