Browse all Reviews
The Irish rebellion of 1798 and, more particularly, the act of Union two years later, were significant events in British as well as Irish history and yet their bi-centenaries passed almost without notice in mainland Britain.
The cover is a view from Stirling Castle: in the foreground a carved lion rampant, in the background the Wallace Tower, the Scottish national monument, raised by public subscription in 1859; in the valley below, Stirling Bridge somewhere near the site of William Wallace's victory over the forces of Edward I in 1297; just out of the picture, the field of Bannockburn.
In spite of its intellectual, literary and comic brilliance, this book contains a dark and disturbing, but revealing, message. In some ways, my melancholy reading of Bodies Politic has inevitably been shaped by Roy's recent untimely death. Roy Porter was without doubt the finest social historian of medicine this country, or indeed the world, has produced.
The relationship between slavery, colonialism, capital accumulation and economic development has long been an issue that has exercised political economists and economic historians, though it is perhaps fair to say that it tends to be neglected in standard university courses for undergraduates.
Several decades ago, during my teenage years in the 1970s, I attended a grammar school near Reigate in Surrey. Every weekday morning for seven years, I would take an early train from Horley to Redhill, before walking or catching a bus from there to the school.
Samuel Johnson once remarked that Edward Cave, founder and first editor of the Gentleman's Magazine in 1731, 'never looked out of the window but with a view to the Gentleman's Magazine.' (1) This view encompassed the diversity of Georgian life, politics and culture.
It would seem that this weighty collection is part of an even larger project. Much of the preparatory work was carried out by Peter Kitson and his colleagues in the recent Romanticism and Colonialism.
This volume seeks to display mid-nineteenth century views on modernity as well as to investigate aspects of modernisation in Victorian London. Observers then and now could not and cannot help but note the piecemeal re-development of London in this period, compared, for instance, with Paris.
This book seems to have been a long time coming. Its precursors were a slim volume in the popular Macmillan Studies in Economic and Social History series in 1992, and more recently the Atlas of Victorian Mortality (with Nicola Shelton), published in 1997.
Despite a certain academic heaviness, with no fewer than fifty-seven pages of notes, bibliography and index, and despite an occasionally disagreeable academic vocabulary, of which more anon, this book has a pleasantly simple knock-down argument, that Christianity in Britain enjoyed a long nineteenth century of prosperity, between 1800 and 1960, and only began to go into terminal decline in the