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Much has been written about the UK’s National Health Service but as Martin Gorsky pointed out in a detailed review of its historiography published to coincide with its 60th anniversary in 2008, accounts of its past have tended to privilege traditional political narratives focused on national politics and the workings of the civil service.(1) In the case of Charles Webs
John Dee is a name that often conjures up images of shady spells muttered in dark rooms with bubbling potions, but the exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians, titled Scholar, Courtier, Magician: the Lost Library of John Dee seeks to offer a view of Dee as an articulate, extremely well-read, educated man.
Between school and university I worked for a year as a lab technician in Dulwich Hospital in south London. After some months, I had developed sufficient expertise to be asked to make extra blood tests on a patient whose illness had proved impossible to diagnose.
In a letter of March 1693, the German polymath Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz confessed to the ineffectiveness of his note-taking, sketching out a situation perhaps too familiar to many modern academics:
Dr Chris A Williams undertakes an ambitious project in attempting to analytically discuss aspects of the development of a public institution over a 200-year period, within a publication limited to 242 pages.
The London Zoological Society was founded in 1826 by Sir Stamford Raffles and Sir Humphrey Davy, emerging at a time when interest in collecting and displaying human and nonhuman fragments of the natural world was intensifying.
The modern state is defined by its capacity to classify and order its peoples, argues James Scott in his seminal Seeing Like a State. To do so, officials needed to count the population and estimate its future growth. Karl Ittmann explores the rise, fall, and frustrations of colonial demography in the 20th-century British Empire.
Psychoactive drug restrictions and prohibitions have typically followed a reactionary pattern. From tobacco to LSD, the introduction of novel drugs has prompted therapeutic experimentation. Officials showed little concern until these substances also became popular recreational intoxicants.
During the 19th century print became an industrial product. In 1800 the speed at which text could be put to paper remained governed by the rhythmic operations of the hand press, an invention very little changed since moveable type printing appeared in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century. At the very best, two skilled operators working together could print 250 single-sided sheets per hour.
In this interesting and readable book, Jo Guldi explores the origins and rise of the ‘infrastructure state’ (1) through an historical analysis of centralised road planning, investment and regulation in Britain.