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For an outsider contemplating historiography on the early middle ages, it is a tribute to the subject’s vitality that a book of over nine-hundred pages of text should claim to be less than a definitive statement and aims ‘only to provide the raw material for a better synthesis to do so in the future’. The rather appealing modesty is misplaced.
The work under review here owes its genesis to the Open University course of the same title, for which it is the core text. As such, it consists of ten interlinked essays, specially commissioned, on the broad theme of the dynamics of difference within and between world religious traditions.
I find this an extremely difficult book to review fairly. McLaren has an enormous and infectious enthusiasm for her texts. And her work is important; she takes the discussion of a widespread form of historical writing well beyond the point at which it was left by a fine scholar, C. L. Kingsford.
This impressively erudite, well researched, and eloquently written book by Joan Pau Rubiés analyses the development of Iberian and Italian travellers' accounts of south India over three hundred years.
How should we read the Crusades? The question begs a host of others, not least how do we read them, in the light of how we have read them in the past. Beginning as a historian of how the Crusades were regarded in their own high mediaeval time, Elizabeth Siberry has more recently constituted herself the historian of how they have since been regarded in our own.
Bronislaw Geremek needs no introduction to the international community of historians. In 1995, at the last congress of the International Association of Historians, in Montreal the first plenary session was opened by an hour long video recorded with him, how he sees history being both its expert analyst and also a prominent actor in the past decades.
Paul Hair, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Liverpool, is best known as one of the pioneers of the academic study of the history of sub-Saharan (or in Hair’s own preferred terminology, Black) Africa from the 1950s onwards.
We have never been less interested in the details of history than we are today, and we have never been more committed to a weak and often reductive view of a romanticized past.