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Special issue - Reviews Special 2016

The World of the Salons: Sociability and Worldliness in Eighteenth-Century Paris / Antoine Lilti

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Review Date: 05 January 2017

The World of the Salons is an ambitious book. It shoots loads of ammunition and promises much. An abridged version of Le Monde des salons: Sociabilité et mondanité à Paris au 18e siècle (Fayard 2005), this English translation includes the substantive material of the original book, minus the suavity of the original French prose.


After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire since 1405 / John Darwin

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Review Date: 05 January 2017

How does one define empire? What are the characteristics of a successful empire? These two questions arise foremost after reading John Darwin’s monumental masterpiece After Tamerlane. In nine succinct chapters with informative titles, Darwin encompassed 600 years of global history, supported by illustrations and maps and for those interested, suggestions for further reading.


Crossing the Bay of Bengal / Sunil Amrith

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Review Date: 05 January 2017

Crossing the Bay of Bengal, came out at a time when I had just begun to explore another history of the Bay through my research into the experiences of Bengali refugees who were rehabilitated in the Andaman Islands in the years between 1949 and 1971.


The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early Modern England / Craig Muldrew

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Review Date: 05 January 2017

Starting in around 1530, Craig Muldrew argues in this important, phenomenally good book, the English economy developed rapidly. Population growth fed commercialization; markets developed and embedded; people did not just grow and make things, they bought and sold, bargained and trucked. Yet there were few actual coins. Money was scarce, and as the economy expanded faster than the supply of precious metals its scarcity increased.


Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Aftermath of World War II / John Dower

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Review Date: 15 December 2016

Embracing Defeat is a richly researched, beautifully illustrated and elegantly written account of the period of the US-led occupation of Japan from 1945–52, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the US National Book Award, among others. Throughout the book John Dower’s writing is elegant, informative and easy to follow.


The Enlightenment as Modernity: Jonathan Israel’s Interpretation Across Two Decades / Jonathan Israel

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Review Date: 15 December 2016

Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750 (Oxford, 2001); Enlightenment Contested: Philosophy, Modernity and the Emancipation of Man 1670–1752 (Oxford, 2006); Democratic Enlightenment: Philosophy, Revolution and Human Rights 1750–1790 (Oxford, 2011); Revolutionary Ideas: an Intellectual History of the French Revolution from the Rights of Man to Robespierre (Princeton, NJ, 2014); A Revolution of the Mind: Radical Enlightenment and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Democracy…


Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin / Timothy Snyder

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Review Date: 15 December 2016

Tim Snyder’s ambitious Bloodlands set out to place the murderous regimes of the Third Reich and Stalin’s Soviet Union in their overlapping European contexts.


The African AIDS epidemic: a history / John Iliffe

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Review Date: 15 December 2016

Ten years after its publication, A History remains relevant. The epidemic continues to rage. The context of its historical and relational trajectories continues to shape both its evolution and the responses to it. Iliffe was the first to describe those contexts, and to put into perspective the epidemiological, social, economic and political histories that propelled the HIV epidemic in Africa. His insights are insightful today, too.


Imagining the Balkans / Maria Todorova

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Review Date: 08 December 2016

From the moment it was first published in 1997, Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans became an instant must-read, in particular but not only, for readers interested in the history of the ‘Balkans’. Concerns about the situation in Southeast Europe at the time, in the aftermath of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, guaranteed that its impact reached beyond the specialist public.


The Making of a Tropical Disease A Short History of Malaria / Randall Packard

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Review Date: 08 December 2016

Randall Packard’s The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria, published in 2007, was a timely overview of the history of one of the most complex and ancient of all diseases. Indeed, Packard’s sub-title: ‘a short history of malaria’ is a modest one considering the depth and breadth of the range of topics relating to the history of malaria that Packard covers.


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Reviews in History  celebrated our 20th anniversary in 2016, which we marked by asking our Editorial Board to recommend some of the most influential / significant history books of the last 20 years. These were then re-reviewed, and you can check out the full set of these ‘classic’ reviews in this anniversary special. Some of them were instant classics, some have proved subsequently to be extremely influential, and some have perhaps not lived up to their initial acclaim - but as a whole they are hopefully an interesting snapshot of the field over the last 20 years.

Special issues

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