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Russell, Conrad Sebastian Robert, Fifth Earl Russell (1937–2004)
Gwenda Morgan's The Debate on the American Revolution adds a valuable volume to Manchester University Press's series on Issues in History. Stretching the American Revolution forward to the construction and ratification of the American federal constitution, she surveys and sifts through a vast literature that has grown exponentially over the last several decades.
The subject of ‘film and history’ has come a long way since the publication of the pioneering The Historian and Film in 1976. In the 1970s historians were preoccupied with the value of film as a primary source for the study of contemporary history, for which reason much of the early work focused on newsreels and documentary films.
To historians, the intrinsic value of history is self-evident. However, the study of history as an intellectual activity extends beyond the careful reconstruction and critical analysis of the past. For the past seeps into the present: it shapes the identities, perceptions, and attitudes of individuals and institutions.
The use of the past in previous eras has become a growth area of historical enquiry in recent times, exemplified by the enormous Cambridge University project, ‘Past Versus Present: Abandoning the Past in an Age of Progress’, on the Victorians’ relationship to the past.
Is biography still a legitimate activity for professional historians in the twenty-first century? In contrast to many of the newer approaches towards the past, biography smacks of a very traditional top-down, mostly man-centred, approach. Medieval biographers face the particular problem of relatively restricted source material which led K. B.
Most of us become medievalists by accident. We fall under the spell of a charismatic teacher at school or university, or, having been introduced to the subject—sometimes as pressed men and women, by the dictates of our chosen university’s curriculum—we find that the study of the middle ages speaks to our inner psyche.
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.
'It is not necessary to be dull to write about history', Ged Martin remarks (p. 8). One suspects that many historians would add, 'but it helps'. This book is a wonderful antidote to that excessive seriousness. The style is crisp, paradox and aphorism abound – 'historians love paradoxes', Martin says (p.
This book can be viewed in several ways. Each of its ten chapters by a different author deals with a discrete topic (women, gender, public opinion, photography and food supply) without any pretence of thematic unity.