The experience of grief is one of history’s most universal yet elusive themes, ever present even in peacetime but generated with almost intolerable intensity and frequency by wars. The practice of mourning, both public and private, provided essential consolation for those bereaved as a result of the Great War.
Re-reading some of the earlier essays in this fine collection was to re-visit the site of previous excitements. Age, in this case, has not withered them. They retain a freshness and originality, and are wonderfully complemented by some of the more recent essays published here for the first time.
Given the efflorescence in the history of psychiatry over the course of the last quarter century, it is surprising that so few of the new generation of psychiatric historians have ventured into biography.
Eric Hobsbawm has written a book which has been rightly acclaimed as setting the standard for accounts of the Twentieth Century. We can expect such books to proliferate as we approach the end of the millennium. Few will be able to match the powerful analysis and broad sweep of this book.
Harold Perkin has been hailed as 'the Marx of the Salariat'.(1) The author of this sobriquet is thanked for his 'infallible intellectual and moral support', so it must be true.(2) Now it seems he is to be its Lenin too, for his latest book ends with a reprise of that foundation text, ' What is to be done?