The cover to the hardback edition of Edward Vallance’s A Radical History of Britain shows a Union Jack superimposed on a montage (King John signing the Magna Carta, the German Peasants’ War of 1525 (1), the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Jarrow Crusade and the Battle of Cable Street) designed to illustrate the book’s subtitle: Visionaries, Rebels and Revol
In Britain today, alcohol is a topic of concern to the government, media, and academics alike. The papers tell of ‘Binge Britain’, and academics inform us that there is a new kind of drinking and intoxication that attracts young people to our city centres.
In February 2005 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded over £3 million to the Victoria County History (VCH) – the high priest of England’s local history – to establish an ambitious new local history project, England’s Past for Everyone (EPE).
Large encyclopaedias linked to online subscription websites which are continually updated seem fashionable today, whether in the high powered form of the Dictionary of National Biography in the UK or more commercialised enterprises like Wiley-Blackwell’s International Encyclopaedia of Revolution and Protest.
I received the invitation to review this book during the same week – 16-20 November 2009 – that over 1,000 emails to and from climate scientists in the Climatic Research Unit at my university found their way into the public domain.
Most of us who have tried to write of time and place on a large scale resort to a broad framework of ideas, punctuated by an example or two from the literature or even from our own experience. As in his first edition, Donald Hughes does it differently: a series of footprints rather than a superhighway, as he puts it.
For readers like this reviewer, who do not read Germany fluently, the translation of Joachim Radkau’s Nature and Power: A Global History of the Environment is a major event. This is probably the best available overview of the changing human relationship with the biosphere: a subject whose historiographical and political significance is becoming more and more evident.
The history of nakedness deserves a serious history. For organised nudism or ‘naturism’ was a conscious movement initiated by Europeans at the end of the 19th century that has exerted a significant influence over society and politics in the wider world. This book is not that serious academic history. In one respect its aim is much more ambitious.
In 2001, Frederick Cooper wrote that ‘globalization talk is influential – and deeply misleading – for assuming coherence and direction instead of probing causes and processes’.(1) Burbank and Cooper heed this warning and focus very clearly and ably on the causes and processes of global empire building in this new book.
History at the Crossroads. Australians and the Past is the latest work from Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton, founding editors of Public History Review and the co-directors of the Australian Centre for Public History based at the University of Technology in Sydney.