On the cusp of the new millenium, historians of Europe are already having trouble with the twentieth century.
In 1992, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., sponsored a special exhibition to mark 1492, the five hundredth anniversary of the Discovery of America. Reflecting the times in the 1990s, the exhibition tried to show the essential equality of all cultures around the globe at the end of the fifteenth century.
In the last two decades the history of modern British politics has been the subject of fierce debate as its long cherished narratives and explanatory models have been questioned from a variety of 'revisionist' perspectives.
In many ways Russia is the touchstone of the twentieth century. Most of the main features of our troubled age have impinged on it more heavily than any other single country.
Consider a counter-factual or two. Would this book have been different had its author not have been immersed in the history of banking over the last few years? Would it have looked different had the author not been an active member of the Conservative party in the Thatcher years?
Japan's experience of defeat and occupation at the end of the Second World War has most commonly been examined from the point of view of the conquerors. It has rarely been tackled as a Japanese experience.
Callum Browns excellent book on the historical origins and contemporary significance of Up-helly-aa, Shetlands winter fire festival, has recently won The Frank Watson Prize awarded by the University of Guelph, Canada, for being the best book of its year on Scottish history and no comment here will detract in any way from that impressive achievement; superlatives come to the
Historians of Soviet foreign policy and the Second World War will welcome the arrival of Garbriel Gorodetskys Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia, the first study of Soviet decision-making between the Nazi-Soviet pact and the outbreak of the German-Soviet war to be based upon thorough research in Soviet as well as western archives.
A few weeks before Peter W. Williams, ed., Perspectives on American Religion and Culture, (Blackwells, Oxford 1999) arrived, I met a Chinese-American professor whose dress, accent and confidence suggested a long-established American family. In fact she was of Chinese-Vietnamese parents, brought up in Cambodia and had spent two years as a boat refugee.
It is to the credit of the editors that there are no dud contributions in this volume of essays. They hang together well, considering how varied in quality and miscellaneous in content these arranged collections or published proceedings of conferences, often are.