The parliamentary papers of the UK are one of the most important sources for the history of the UK and its former colonies in the 18th and 19th centuries, in their original form a series of thousands of printed reports.
Eli Rubin has written a wonderful book that does not just tell a fascinating story about an important but much neglected subject, but also manages to link this story to much broader historiographical, and indeed ontological, questions about the intersections between space, on one hand, and power, time and lived experience on the other.
So often, intellectual history is about inheritances. Historians study what is passed down from one age to the next. This has often led to the problem that we tend to focus on what is more familiar, engaging, or at least recognisable, and leads us to ask: why study that which has not left an inheritance?
Sean Wilentz has become our generation’s foremost historian as public intellectual, positioning himself as a blend of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and Richard Hofstadter, the historical giants of the mid-20th-century era of consensus. Wilentz, however, lives in what another thoughtful historian, Daniel T. Rodgers, has called an ‘age of fracture’.
In the West, it can be easy to forget just how closely China and the USSR were once bound in political imaginations. Today, the USSR is a land to which there is no return: a figment of past dreams and nightmares – whereas China is on everyone’s mind, a growing economic power that has shed its socialist past to move to the forefront of the new capitalist order.
There are two approaches to writing a significant history book. One is ‘going big’ and covering the broadest range of historical phenomena within a large geographical space during a wide time span. This approach makes use of vast and variegated historical bibliographies and well-selected primary sources.
A popular exhibition at the Wellcome Trust in London, running for three months from October 2016, Bedlam: the Asylum and Beyond promised to ‘reimagine the institution, informed by the experiences of the patients, doctors, artists and reformers who inhabited the asylum or created alternatives to it’.
As Brian Lewis writes in his introduction to Wolfenden's Witnesses: Homosexuality in Postwar Britain, although the Wolfenden Report is one of the most well known documents pertaining to the history of homosexuality in Britain, the rich material gathered from which to prepare the report has often been overlooked.
Despite the back cover declaring Lloyd Gardner’s The War on Leakers ‘the essential backstory to understand the Snowden case, NSA eavesdropping, and the future of privacy’, and its subtitle promising a study ‘from Eugene V. Debs to Edward Snowden,’ it would be inaccurate to describe this book as a historical work.
From a comparative perspective the health system of the United States has a history that is both representative and idiosyncratic.