Academics and the general public alike have an understandable fascination regarding the Spanish Armada. The naval confrontation in the Channel in 1588 and the subsequent disastrous Spanish circumnavigation of the storm-lashed British coastline, helped shape world history from the end of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth.
The study of life insurance as a cultural practice has been moving in from the margins of social historical enquiry for some time now. As early as 1979 Viviana Zelizer took an important step beyond the confines of institutional business history with her study of public debates about the moral implications of life-insurance practices in nineteenth- and twentieth-century America.
A scholarly history of the Great Exhibition these days is both a welcome and a brave undertaking. Welcome, because despite the fact that the event has been a commonplace of school history teaching and a recognisable landmark for historians of the nineteenth century, it has not been appreciated in a three-dimensional manner.
'The Oratory of Triumph'
Until the early 1990s - the insistent writings of John Terraine notwithstanding - the campaign in Palestine in 1917 and 1918 was, more often than not, portrayed by historians and military commentators as perhaps the most attractive, significant and viable alternative to the carnage of the Western Front.
The age of the historian as public moralist is not quite past. To be sure, most of us today are content to write for each other on matters of no particular current concern and harbour little ambition to reach a lay audience, let alone convert it.