In 1987 Michael Marrus completed The Holocaust in History.(1) A succinct, cogent, yet apparently comprehensive study, it appeared to cover the gamut of the subject, with state-of-the-art research and exposition of the critical disputes closely entwined.
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.
The work under review here owes its genesis to the Open University course of the same title, for which it is the core text. As such, it consists of ten interlinked essays, specially commissioned, on the broad theme of the dynamics of difference within and between world religious traditions.
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.
'It is not necessary to be dull to write about history', Ged Martin remarks (p. 8). One suspects that many historians would add, 'but it helps'. This book is a wonderful antidote to that excessive seriousness. The style is crisp, paradox and aphorism abound – 'historians love paradoxes', Martin says (p.
The First World War is a seminal historical event; an historical caesura whose aftershocks still resonate.
Gwenda Morgan's The Debate on the American Revolution adds a valuable volume to Manchester University Press's series on Issues in History. Stretching the American Revolution forward to the construction and ratification of the American federal constitution, she surveys and sifts through a vast literature that has grown exponentially over the last several decades.
The use of the past in previous eras has become a growth area of historical enquiry in recent times, exemplified by the enormous Cambridge University project, ‘Past Versus Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress’, on the Victorians’ relationship to the past.
To historians, the intrinsic value of history is self-evident. However, the study of history as an intellectual activity extends beyond the careful reconstruction and critical analysis of the past. For the past seeps into the present: it shapes the identities, perceptions, and attitudes of individuals and institutions.
The Blackwell Companions to American History series tackles major themes, periods and regions of US history. Karen Halttunen, Professor of History and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, is the editor of the latest book in the sequence, this time concerning American cultural history.