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.
Martin Johnes is an industrious historian of 20th–century Wales, and has published extensively on topics such as sport, national identity, the 1966 Aberfan disaster and the civic history of Cardiff.(1) Wales since 1939 is a fusion of several of these endeavours (and more), and one which has produced an integrated and fresh perspective on modern Wales.
The jacket cover of Peter Hennessy’s new work describes the author as ‘the UK’s leading contemporary historian’, a reputation soundly based on a string of highly regarded books such as Cabinet, The Hidden Wiring, Whitehall and The Secret State, as well as on his high profile as a media presenter and commentator.
At first sight this looks like another of those increasingly common commodity books, some of which are intended to be global in scope, and which include studies of chocolate, sugar, cod, salt and many others (digestible or not!). As Riello points out, commodities are a good way to tell a global story since many of them have been traded throughout the world for centuries.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.
The legal act of defining the ‘employee’ is about drawing lines. Those boundaries are often artificial, legally structured, and forged in an array of contests over power, ideology, and economics. They may be artificial, but they are powerful, demarcating who is in and who is out, who is us and who is them.
A stitch up is a devious act that someone does to someone else. It may involve putting a person or organization, perhaps, in a position where they will be blamed for something they did not do or it might mean manipulating a situation, in unseen ways, to one’s own advantage.
Over the past five years, government employee unions have emerged as a fault line in American politics. Following the onset of the Great Recession, elected officials, political pundits, and editorial boards seized on unionized government workers as overpaid and underworked parasites feeding on strained public budgets.
Few cultural commentators would feel brave enough to identify a particular month and year when human character underwent a significant transformation- the novelist Virginia Woolf had no such reservations. According to her, December 1910 marked one of these distinctive turning points.
Contemporary punditocracy suggests that the Left has never grasped the joy of shopping, its late 20th–century political katabasis being no clearer indication.