During the second half of the 20th century, scandals arising from abuses suffered by some children in residential care in the UK encouraged the uncovering of the experiences of looked-after children in the past.
‘When did the West first seek reconciliation with Communist China?’, asks the blurb on the dust jacket of Patrick Wright’s latest book, Passport to Peking.
Whatever the medievalists might say when they think you’re not listening, 20th-century European history is hard, and post-1945 history can be the trickiest bit. The decades after 1945 are much less precisely understood, in historical terms, than the decades before. They are more subject to unchallenged platitudes and uninformed controversy: they are surrounded by white noise.
It is interesting that well into the 21st century two books written by Turkish authors belonging to the historiography of the Armenian Genocide should be so vastly different in argument.
Dynastic marriages were of crucial importance in early modern Europe. Looking at the international scenario, the consequences of a marriage agreement between European ruling houses could be compared to those generated by the outbreak of a war or the signing of a peace treaty.
The last century and a half of Ottoman history was marked by forced displacement into the empire on a huge scale. Between the Russian conquest of the Crimea in 1783 and the second Balkan war in 1913, five to seven million Muslims entered the Ottoman domains. Some were already subjects of the Sultan, leaving – or expelled from – areas that had broken away from the empire under Christian rule.
The transformation of Germany after the Second World War from Nazism into a prosperous and peaceful state has long exerted a particular fascination upon historians. In the last four decades, legions of scholars have sought to explain the presumably miraculous ‘success story’ of the Federal Republic by a range of factors.
Until about 15 years ago the complex history of the links between the north of Ireland and colonial America was something of a brackish backwater in 18th-century Atlantic studies. Admittedly, the internal history of Ulster Presbyterianism had already come alive, thanks to the work of David Hayton on the early 18th century, and of David Miller and Ian McBride on the final decades.
Hosking’s book was widely anticipated. I had hoped that it would be a worthy successor to Adam Seligman’s The Problem of Trust.(1) However, it is largely a rambling discourse on concepts that are often barely connected to trust. There is no clear idea of what varieties of trust are. Many of Hosking’s claims are at variance with the evidence we have on trust.