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This new study of the agricultural revolution is clearly the product of many years of study and research. It is closely argued, liberally illustrated with figures and tables, and tersely written and remarkably compressed. Intended primarily for students, it will repay careful reading, and re-reading, by teachers as well as students of the subject.
When confronted with the term 'Illustrated' in a book title, how many historians, I wonder, would not be tempted to inwardly scoff and mentally store the book on the coffee table of their departmental common room? This review begins with a warning against such sentiments.
Simon Szreter's remarkable and very important book argues, in effect, that coincidence has deceived the historians of family sexuality in the period 1860 - 1960. The birth-rate per family in England and Wales declined ever more steeply in this hundred yea r period, and it declined with roughly the same timing and speed in most other European countries.
'Much nonsense has been written on this subject', wrote Keith Thomas in a famous and influential footnote to his own pioneering chapter on English witchcraft in Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971).
The title was inspired by the birth, during the writing of this volume, of a child named after the author. A second volume will bring the survey to the present and to some glimpses of that young woman's prospects. The prospect presented here is that of the sleepy young knitter of the 18th century pictured on the cover and of generations before her.