Histories of the Cold War have often, for obvious reasons, concentrated on the grand struggle between 'East and West', 'Communism and Capitalism', the 'USSR and the United States'.
Since the thirtieth anniversary in 1998, the May 1968 events have – with the striking exception of Kristin Ross's 2002 May '68 and its Afterlives – tended to be on the back burner, so that Michael Seidman's exhaustively documented account may well revive what has been virtually from the beginning a rich source for publication and analysis.
There is an old joke that doing intellectual history is like nailing jelly to the door. The field deals with abstractions that resist clear definition. Rudimentary notions of historical causality prove difficult to establish. Selecting representative figures depends upon contested assumptions about cultural hierarchy.
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.
Common Reading complements Collini’s Absent Minds (2006).(1) Absent Minds establishes the skeleton of intellectual life in modern Britain; and, if there is more need to put flesh and blood on a 526 page skeleton, Common Reading provides it. Collini deals with the cultural function of British intellectuals in Absent Minds.
The first principle of understanding history, I was taught, is to sympathize with the historical actors, to immerse oneself in their context and perspective.(1) Otherwise, history becomes a fabricated reconstruction – more about the writer's ideology than the events of the past.
‘We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong’: Gregory Bateson’s observation summarizes what motivates Keith Jenkins’s latest book.(1) In this collection of essays written and published over the last 15 years (including not only a foreword by Hayden White and an afterword by Alun Munslow, but also responses from Perez Zagorin and Michael C.
This excellent book is about some of the writers – mainly those living in Europe from the 1930s till the 1960s – whose writings were either wholly or partly about the ‘ending of British rule in Africa’. The main writer dealt with is George Padmore; the others are Jomo Kenyatta (while he lived in the UK), C. L. R. James, Peter Abrahams, Ras T.
Confucius once remarked that rulers need three resources: weapons, food and trust. The ruler who cannot have all three should give up weapons first, then food, but should hold on to trust at all costs: 'without trust we cannot stand'.(1) Machiavelli disagreed.
Ernest Gellner, who died on 5 November 1995, was one of the great polymaths of the century. Many of his twenty books were concerned with philosophy, sociology and anthropology. Yet at the core of his work was an historical question.