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As even the most casual observer of the British historical scene must know, the 'agricultural revolution' has proved both elusive and highly contentious. French 'immobilism', on the other hand, has become something of a commonplace, although explanations for this supposed failure are less consensual. Philip Hoffman's very welcome new book has two overriding merits.
The only appropriate beginning to this review is to salute a tremendous collective achievement: as a publishing project the book is stupendous and this must owe much to the picture researcher Gill Metcalfe, the OUP production team and the editor; as a parade of high scholarship the book does great credit to its eighteen contributors.
This is, by my count, the third collection of articles by Giles Constable published by Variorum; and it is a very welcome addition to the first two. Reprinted here are twelve essays, produced between 1982 and 1994. Several are easily available from other sources, but some would be harder to track down.
The study of the Black Death has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. A flurry of articles (including J. Hatcher, 'England in the aftermath of the Black Death', Past and Present 144 (1994)), a selection of sources (R. Horrox, The Black Death (1994)) and two syntheses (this one and M. Ormrod and P.
The dust-jacket of this book defines Diane Purkiss as a Lecturer in English; within its pages she prefers to describe herself as a feminist literary critic. It is a potent combination, and has resulted in a thoroughly individual and very important book.
Professor Fryde's new study represents a substantive - and substantial - contribution to the history of land tenure, economic change and social development in later medieval England.
"Woman manacled before giving birth" and "Battery hen cells being built for women" are only two of the various horror stories about everyday life in British prisons which have recently hit the headlines. Hardly a week seems to go by without new revelations about dire conditions in prisons both here and across the Atlantic.
After leaving Balliol, Sir Richard Southern had the compensation of daily contact with the early seventeenth- century collection of medieval scholastic writings which William Laud had built up at St. Johns. Presumably Laud was concerned to recover religious and intellectual values with which he felt in sympathy, although he could not he could not wholly share them.
This new study of the agricultural revolution is clearly the product of many years of study and research. It is closely argued, liberally illustrated with figures and tables, and tersely written and remarkably compressed. Intended primarily for students, it will repay careful reading, and re-reading, by teachers as well as students of the subject.
By any standards. Ehrman's Pitt is a major achievement. The third volume, covering the years 1797 until Pitt's death in 1806, is no exhausted sequel, no plodding postscript. Pitt died in office, commanding and interesting until the end. Ehrman conclude s in full command of his biographical skills: searching in analysis, judicious in judgement and apposite in style.