Sometimes, when another work on the Civil War, slavery, and emancipation lands on one’s desk, there is a natural tendency to wonder if we actually need it. What is left to say, the historian may ask, about Lincoln, Congress, and emancipation? And then a tragedy like Charlottesville in August 2017 occurs.
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.
In Thinking the Twentieth Century, Timothy Snyder proposes to his friend Tony Judt that the historian’s task is ‘like making paths’ through a forest by leaving signs. Judt qualifies this. ‘The first thing’, he argues, ‘is to teach people about trees. Then you teach them that lots of trees together constitute a forest.
In an excellent monograph, Robert Stein investigates the background and the unification of one of Later Medieval Europe’s greatest polities, The Burgundian Netherlands. This book, published in the Oxford Studies in Medieval European History is a revised translation of its Dutch version De hertog en zijn Staten in 2014.
The reforms to Britain’s electoral system between 1867 and 1885 significantly changed how elections were fought. By the end of the process the House of Commons was elected from constituencies of roughly equal size, with larger cities and counties subdivided.
Erin Peters, Commemoration and Oblivion in Royalist Print Culture, 1658-1667 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 184 pp., ISBN: 978-3-319-50474-2, £52.99
Americans cherish the ‘American dream’ – the notion that anyone can achieve financial success and happiness in the United States. This idea is based on an assumption of economic equality and freedom within the United States’ capitalist market.
There is surely no-one better placed than Professor David Bates to write this biography. His pedigree extends over four decades during which he has made enormous contributions to our understanding of the history of Normandy and England in the 11th century.
Peace. A small, but powerful word. Even today, defining it is a quandary, as it can be applied in many different ways according to a variety of contexts. Kumhera’s comprehensive book tackles the act of making peace in late medieval Italy. He highlights and analyses its diverse meanings and implications, and the impact of these various realisations of ‘pax’ for medieval society.
John Gaffney’s study of Ed Miliband’s narrative and performance in Leadership and the Labour Party is a welcome addition to the limited academic research undertaken on Labour post-Blair. Gaffney skilfully manages to engage with both the theory and practice of leadership, whilst maintaining academic rigour and, impressively, readability.