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‘This book’, writes Jeffrey A. Auerbach in his Introduction to Imperial Boredom, ‘is very much about how people felt’ [his italics]. As such, it takes its place in a growing body of scholarship that explores through individual lives the mind-set that under-pinned the empire project, both individually and on a collective level.
The election of Donald Trump, the vote on Brexit and the political success of anti-establishment populist parties have led some commentators to draw comparisons with the challenges to democracy during the inter-war period. It is not necessary to be alarmist to recognise that inter-war politics in Europe and the United States can provide insights into contemporary instabilities.
With her latest book, Jordanna Bailkin makes a singularly impressive contribution to 20th-century British history. Her focus is on the various sites that were built or, more commonly, re-purposed to hold refugees who reached Britain at various stages in the 20th century.
Jim Tomlinson’s latest book distils ideas evident in his work for over three decades to present an account of how ‘in seeking to manage the economy’ British governments have ‘sought simultaneously to manage popular understanding of economic issues’ (p. 1).
For almost 30 years David Edgerton has produced a series of well-researched and ground-breaking revisionist accounts of this country's recent past, which have exposed the inadequacies and weaknesses of 'declinism' as an explanation of Britain's changing domestic and international experience since 1900.
There are few historical events with a cultural legacy as enduring as that connected to the Second World War. The conflict occupies an important place within many personal, as well as national, narratives. Those interested in its history and heritage are confronted by an enormous range of writing, on a wide variety of themes.
Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (1120–70) is one of the iconic figures in British history – a man who most people have not only heard of, but also have an opinion on. Yet, despite the brutality of his murder, such opinions are not always positive. In fact, this medieval archbishop is an unusually divisive figure, and always has been.
Until recently, Britain’s first referendum on its membership of the European Community (EC), the forerunner of today’s European Union (EU), had not exactly featured prominently in the nation’s collective memory: few people seem to have known that such a vote had ever taken place at all.
This impressively researched and finely written study is an ambitious attempt to use the history of specific regions and localities to explore wider themes of national identity and attitudes to landscape and the environment across the long 19th century, from around 1780 to 1914.
The fate of prisoners of war (POWs) is now established within the mainstream of historical enquiry. As well as a growing literature on the subject, modules dedicated to studying the history of POWs are now a common feature on university history courses. The two books under review focus on British servicemen captured during the Second World War.