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If it is hard to write a book review, then it is much harder to make a book. Anthony Grafton's latest monograph, Inky Fingers, puts the difficulties of labour at the centre of this engaging study of book production in early modern Europe and North America (the latter included despite the expected limitations of the subtitle).
Late June 2020 was an extraordinary time to be reading Animal City. COVID-19, a zoonotic disease, had already killed around 130,000 people in the United States, with urban areas suffering the highest death rates. In New York City alone, 30,000 people had died.
Covid-19 has fuelled widespread panic across the world. Every day there are new cases of infected people and deaths. We became accustomed to seeing crowds of people emptying stores from all necessary provisions. In most discussions, there are constant references to various forms of panic surrounding Covid-19.
The case of Mary Toft—the woman who gave birth to rabbits in 1726—has an enduring appeal. I remember the first time I encountered her as a final year undergraduate, both fascinated and appalled by the details of the case.
Jonathan Scott, Professor of History at the University of Auckland, in his recent book, How the Old World Ended (2019), has provided an intellectual bridge between the early modern period and the modern world, which was born out of the Industrial Revolution.
This volume arrives with high praise. The book ‘[d]eserves to become another classic’, opines Peter Burke at the top of the front cover. It ‘[c]ompletely overhauls our view’, observes Ronald Hutton somewhat further down. The work itself is not shy of ambition either. Both the title—The Decline of Magic—and the subtitle—Britain in the Enlightenment—promise sweeping panoramas.
Francis Bacon’s unfinished utopian novel The New Atlantis is often invoked in scholarship about early modern scientific projects.
Last year’s prestigious AMC fictional drama The Terror traced the fate of John Franklin’s crew from the moment the famous expedition in search of the Northwest Passage grinded to a halt in the Arctic ice near King William Island, in 1846, to the disappearance of second-in-command Francis Crozier, years later.
Joseph Lister is perhaps the most famous man in the history of British medicine. Born in April 1827, he was a surgeon and pioneer of antiseptic operative practice. President of the Royal Society between 1895 and 1900, he was raised to the peerage in 1897.
The greatest indictment of the hard-driving slave system in the 18th-century British Caribbean was that the enslaved population never achieved natural population increase (except briefly in Barbados but only by 1810). Abolitionists seized on the failure of slave populations to thrive as a sign that slavery was immoral.