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The title of A History of Borno, Trans-Saharan African Empire to Failing Nigerian State has two ambiguities. Situated in the Sahel, Borno did not span the Sahara. It was Trans-Saharan by being linked culturally and economically to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, rather than to the Atlantic. Whether the failing state is Nigeria or Borno is also unclear.
Historically, wars have always witnessed reports of ghostly sightings and visions. However, the First World War is of particular interest as such phenomena occurred in a more modern, secular environment, at a time when science and secularisation had emerged as predominant ways of thinking about the world. In addition, the number of lives being lost due to conflict was unprecedented.
Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury (1120–70) is one of the iconic figures in British history – a man who most people have not only heard of, but also have an opinion on. Yet, despite the brutality of his murder, such opinions are not always positive. In fact, this medieval archbishop is an unusually divisive figure, and always has been.
Today it seems almost customary to apologise for writing another book on the events between 1941 and 1945 that came to be known as the Holocaust, Shoah, or the Genocide of the Jews.(1) The explosion of scholarship since the late 1980s has filled entire libraries with information on the Holocaust and established a basic chronology.
As is often the case with (in)famous remarks attributed to prominent personages, there is some doubt about whether Winston Churchill ever did describe the traditions of the Royal Navy as comprising ‘nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash.’ Churchill himself reputedly denied that he had, confiding to his private secretary that ‘I never said it. I wish I had’ (p. 1).
When viewed in a long perspective, the modern history of popular music has very often been one in which new styles are adopted by the young in spite of (and indeed because of) the incomprehension and disapproval of their elders, only to enter the mainstream as those young people age.
Since the turn of the millennium it has become increasingly common for general histories of magic and witchcraft to include a section on the phenomenon of magic in the contemporary western world, but the precise relationship between contemporary manifestations of magical belief and their historical antecedents is rarely explored.
This is the eight volume of the series on the archbishops of Canterbury, which began life with Ashgate and has now passed to Routledge, and Michael Hughes’ book does not disappoint. Randall Davidson is the third of the 20th century archbishops to be so treated (the 2015 volume on Michael Ramsey was the work of this reviewer), and the book adopts a similar approach to the others.
The cover of Lindsey Earner-Byrne’s brilliant new book, Letters of the Catholic Poor: Poverty in Independent Ireland 1920–1940, features a collage of letters. One details a husband’s illness, another is a postcard of the Wellington Monument from Dublin’s Phoenix Park with ‘very urgent’ underlined on its face. A further letter pleads for assistance from Fr.
This is an extremely ambitious, thought-provoking, challenging and inspiring book.