The emergence of racial classification in conjunction with the Enlightenment Science of Man in the 18th century is a well-known chapter in the history of European ideas. Far less understood are the ways in which this scientific project carried into the 19th and 20th centuries, the investigation of which is Richard McMahon’s purpose in The Races of Europe.
Samantha Shave’s new book assesses how policies under the old and new poor laws were conceived, implemented, and the effect that they had on poor relief. The book is an excellent addition to the historiography. It is well written and researched and contains important new findings on several key topics that have largely been ignored by historians.
There is selectivity in many of the narratives of how animals’ lives have been shaped by warfare in the 20th century, which often focuses on their bravery and loyalty as they are used and abused on battlefields.
The cover of Lindsey Earner-Byrne’s brilliant new book, Letters of the Catholic Poor: Poverty in Independent Ireland 1920–1940, features a collage of letters. One details a husband’s illness, another is a postcard of the Wellington Monument from Dublin’s Phoenix Park with ‘very urgent’ underlined on its face. A further letter pleads for assistance from Fr.
This book traces trajectories of medical understanding of mind, brain and nerves from pre- to post-war Britain and analyses the impact of the First World War with its shell shock ‘epidemic’ on established medical ideas and practices.
Edited volumes serve an important purpose: when executed correctly, they help consolidate a body of scholarship, encourage dialogue between the volume’s contributors and set an agenda for future research. The historical study of trauma has been well-catered for in this respect by Traumatic Pasts, edited by Mark S.
Paul Slack has made an important contribution to the history of early modern England. From his early research into plague victims, poverty and urban society, to his more recent discussions on ‘improvement’, consumption and material progress, Slack’s ideas and arguments permeate the 11 essays that make up this volume, which offers a diverse and eclectic history of England from 1550 to 1850.
John Tosh's book is a signal event. It celebrates the full coming of age of the history of masculinity as a recognised academic sub-discipline. If Davidoff and Hall laid the foundations in this respect, Tosh finally establishes and opens up the field.
The concept of ‘separate spheres’, or the organisation of society into a private, domestic, female world and an active, public, male domain, is closely associated with Victorian society and, arguably, has had a pervasive influence upon gender relations since. Women’s sphere was that of the home, or activities closely connected with it.
The homes of the British middle class in the third quarter of the 19th century, as depicted in contemporary photographs, were cluttered with furniture, soft furnishings and objects. Walking across a room required careful negotiation of lightweight tables that might easily topple over and spill the numerous items that decorated their surface.