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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.
In Automobility and the City in Twentieth-Century Britain and Japan, Simon Gunn and Susan Townsend have written the equivalent of three books.
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.
In the summer of 1948 Alexander Fleming, known around the world as the discoverer of penicillin, visited Spain. Fleming had published his famous paper on the antimicrobial effect of the Penicillium notatum mould in 1929.
Historically, wars have always witnessed reports of ghostly sightings and visions. However, the First World War is of particular interest as such phenomena occurred in a more modern, secular environment, at a time when science and secularisation had emerged as predominant ways of thinking about the world. In addition, the number of lives being lost due to conflict was unprecedented.