Reviews

The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China

Exuberant celebrations took place across China in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Of particular national pride were the ‘Ten Great Buildings’ in the capital of Beijing, newly constructed to set in stone...

A Fiery & Furious People: A History of Violence in England

Rarely an evening goes by without a television detective solving a horrific killing; more often than not the victim is an attractive young woman and the killer some kind of paranoid serial murderer.
The popular press delights in showing...

Gone to the Continent: The British in Calais 1760-1860

Martin Brayne’s and Renaud Morieux’s books provide us with a welcome reminder that, ‘rather than a natural frontier between natural enemies’, the English Channel was and still is a shared space of contact and exchange. 

In Gone to the...

The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Was there ever before such an enterprise? It is certainly safe to say that when the ‘Committee to collect unregistered words in English’ met under the auspices of the Philological Society in 1857, no one could have guessed exactly what would be...

French Wine: A History

Many histories of wine are written in a lyrical style, but Rod Phillips’ new book is not one of them. For Phillips, two and a half millennia of French winemaking is not an excuse for Bacchic celebration, but a warts-and-all exposé of chaos and...

Frederick Barbarossa:  The Prince and the Myth

The long reign of Frederick Barbarossa, who ruled Germany from 1152 to 1190 and for most of this time was also Holy Roman Emperor, has not been well served by historians. The German historian Heinrich Simonsfeld published a book of nearly 800...

Front cover of book

This is a splendid and voluminous anthology, compiled from over 120 memoirs of a wide range of children of the Raj, including those of senior Indian Civil Service officers and army officers, businessmen, railwaymen, missionaries and Anglo-Indians...

Most books on the machinery of government tend to be dull, but this book is an exception because Anthony Seldon has long experience as an educator as well as being an authority on modern British government. The introduction, moreover, places the...

FOR WHITEHALL’S hottest reading matter, it must be hard to beat ‘Old Stripey’. This is the nickname for the blue and red striped box in which the Cabinet secretary collects the day’s most secret intelligence material for the prime minister to...

Front cover by India Conquered

Another history of the Raj invites comparison with its two most distinguished predecessors, Penderel Moon’s The British Conquest & Dominion of India (1989) and Lawrence James’ Raj: The Making & Unmaking of British India...

Front cover of Inglorious Empire

In 1700, India, then ruled by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, an autocratic religious zealot, boasted 24.4 per cent of global GDP: a share almost equal to that of Europe’s 25 per cent. By 1950, as India became a secular democracy, its share had...

Blood and Land

I admire the chutzpah of this book. At a time when discussion of Native American history is hotly contested as never before, J.C.H. King has produced an explicitly western, door-stopping, piecemeal, post-contact panoramic outline of Native...

Royal Renegades

Linda Porter’s lively and engaging study begins with the first meeting between Charles I and his Bourbon bride Henrietta Maria, youngest daughter of the formidable Marie de Medici. 

After a year of marriage, the queen still spoke no...

Front cover of Scurvy

This is a clever and important book, but it is not an easy read. Scurvy provides an intellectual and cultural history of a condition that is estimated to have first ravaged and then killed about two million mariners during the so-called...

Front cover of The Irish Enlightenment

An illuminating and scholarly study seeks to re-evaluate the intellectual and cultural history of an enlightened Ireland.

Were the inhabitants of 18th-century Ireland trapped by history in a peculiarly sectarian polity, economically and...

A meticulously researched oral history of migrant women workers in Britain over the last 70 years.

If you have recently eaten out,  gone to hospital or shopped at a supermarket, the chances are that your life intersected with that of a...