In the autumn of 2011 the near-simultaneous publication of a number of books on the British Empire promised to add fresh momentum to the debate, if debate is the word, on the memories – or lack of them – that the British people currently carry for their empire.(1) Jeremy Paxman, with Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British, promised a robust, ‘clear-e
In his new book Steven Pinker, psychologist at Harvard University, sets out to fundamentally alter our understanding of the trajectory of violence from pre-historic times to the present. He takes issue with the widely held perception that the most recent past, the 20th century, was an age of large-scale bloodshed and genocidal slaughter.
The liberal enlightenment idea of progress has promised many benefits over the past 300 years. Liberal progress, we have been told, would provide cures for diseases, remedies for ignorance, alternatives to superstition, and antidotes to poverty. Nothing however has raised higher expectations than liberalism’s claim that it could put an end to war.
Charles Carlton’s lively and readable book is an attempt to discern ‘how war … affected the history of early modern Britain’ (p. xx) between the battles of Bosworth (1485) and Culloden (1746).
Despite the flurry of works over the past 20 years or so which have explored the course and consequences of colonial rule in India, and increasingly the impact that such rule had upon British society, the period before the Battle of Plassey has remained for the most part insulated from questions about the ideologies and operations of territorial governance.
Compared with the Civil War centennial of 1961–5, the sesquicentennial celebration of the American Civil War has been a muted affair. President Barack Obama, mindful of the political trouble the Centennial Commission caused another Democrat, President John F. Kennedy, has steadfastly refused to appoint a successor to preside over the 150th anniversary.
This is an updated version (December 2014) of a piece originally published in 2013, which extends the coverage of the review to include some more recent works on 1812.
The historical literature on Afghanistan and the various armed conflicts fought on its soil has greatly increased in recent years, due to the tragic events following the American-led invasion of the country in October 2001.
The quest for saltpeter, the ‘inestimable treasure’ of Tudor and Stuart monarchs, crucial for the production of gunpowder, is the subject of David Cressy’s work, which spans the reign of the first Tudor, Henry VII, to the industrialised warfare of the 20th century.
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.