How should we read the Crusades? The question begs a host of others, not least how do we read them, in the light of how we have read them in the past.
Julian Jackson’s monumental history of Vichy is a powerful contribution to the historiography. No one knows more about this subject than he: every book, article, memoir and dissertation on it seems to have been located, analysed and woven into this account.
This book can be viewed in several ways. Each of its ten chapters by a different author deals with a discrete topic (women, gender, public opinion, photography and food supply) without any pretence of thematic unity.
Agatha Christie’s 1970 novel Passenger to Frankfurt might seem like an unusual place to start a history of the Children’s Crusade in 1212. To capture the radical youth-culture of the 1960s lying at the heart of her plot, Christie invoked the Children’s Crusade as a familiar symbol of misguided and ultimately dangerous youthful folly.
As the title of the first volume under consideration asserts, France is currently in the grip of a divisive and destabilising phenomenon. Guerres de Mémoires, or wars of memories, are currently wracking the land, calling into question national identity and even challenging the hallowed Republican model.
This is a monster of a book. It must be the most detailed assessment of the fall of Constantinople in 1453 that there has ever been. It subjects the scholarly literature devoted to the subject over the last century-and-a-half to a searching scrutiny.
The writing of history – any history – is shaped by the intellectual environment in which it is written, and by the preoccupations of its writers. As Christopher Tyerman acknowledges in his prefatory remarks, ‘writing history is not a neutral revelation but a malleable, personal, contingent, cultural activity’ (p. xi).
In Remembering the Road to World War Two Patrick Finney (a student of 20th-century international history, history and theory, and collective memory) writes an impressive and informative account, not of the origins of the Second World War, but of the way historians and others have remembered those origins.
The liberal enlightenment idea of progress has promised many benefits over the past 300 years. Liberal progress, we have been told, would provide cures for diseases, remedies for ignorance, alternatives to superstition, and antidotes to poverty. Nothing however has raised higher expectations than liberalism’s claim that it could put an end to war.
Paul Preston is a renowned historian, and is considered one of the world’s leading experts on 20th-century Spanish history. His book on the genocidal actions taken against Spanish civilians between 1936 and 1945 is an important resource that has changed historiography on the period.