This book is one of a series entitled The Making of Europe, which aims 'to address crucial aspects of European history in every field - political, economic, social, religious, and cultural' (p. xii).
The genesis of this fine monograph occurred in a moment of confounding cultural confrontation when Christopher Ely first viewed Russian landscape painting of the nineteenth century. Perplexed, he jotted down a question for himself. Why, he asked, were these works so 'consciously unbeautiful'? Gazing at one dreary canvas after another, he wondered, 'What was this fascination with mud?' (p.
This is not the usual kind of book review that I usually write. Instead, in the spirit of the IHR’s intention to create a forum for serious, collaborative engagement, please consider me an agent provocateur who will try to stir things up for the sake (I hope) of our mutual edification. Ellen Arnold sets her sights on a number of very ambitious goals in her fine new book, based on her
Chris Pearson’s Mobilizing Nature: The Environmental History of War and Militarization in Modern France is a recent offering from the ever-growing subfield of environmental history that is focusing on the relationship between militaries, war and environment.
John Aberth is fascinated by plagues as disasters, as evidenced by his series of books with titles like From the Brink of the Apocalypse (2001), The Black Death (2005), and Plagues in World History (2011).(1) His latest book An Environmental History of the Middle Ages is likewise centered on the Black Death of 1348–1350 as a turning
Visitors to a new city, faced with a host of new sensations and sights, may find themselves wondering ‘How did this all get here?’ Pondering the origins of an established, yet amorphous entity like a city may overwhelm the average tourist, though it is an exercise familiar to historians.
With Making Climate Change History Joshua P. Howe chooses a very clever title. Not only does it convey that he intends to write a history of climate change but it also alludes to making climate change a thing of the past, admittedly against high odds. Howe argues, ‘[…] when we look at problems related to climate change, thinking historically matters’ (p. 3).
Englishmen have always travelled. According to French Abbé Le Blanc, they travelled more than other people of Europe because `they look upon their isle as a sort of prison; and the first use they make of their liberty is to get out of it'.(1) For young elite males who travelled to France and Italy for up to five years, the Grand Tour was, most historians agree, ‘intended to provide the final ed