The sesquicentenary period of the Great Irish Famine has seen a great outpouring of books, articles, newspaper features, TV and radio programmes.
Many writers attribute Ireland's problems to colonialism. Most, however, make only limited reference to literature on colonialism elsewhere, and debate is hampered by the intimacy of the Irish academic and intellectual scene, which means criticism is muffled by tact or excessively personalised.
It is a pleasure to welcome back into print Toby Barnard's detailed study of what the back-cover blurb refers to as 'the constructive side of English policy in Ireland during a formative period'. First published in 1975 and widely praised at the time, it had long been out of print.
At first sight the idea of another scrutiny of the official mind hardly seems likely to add much to the debate on the end of empire.
Recent studies in Latin American history have increasingly rejected the periodisation inherited in the traditional historiography. In other words, the notion that the Wars of Independence (c. 1810 - c. 1825) represented a clear break with the colonial past has become both questioned and contested.
The cover of C. A. Bayly's new book is stunning. A handsome black man stands poised, next to the bust of a European philosopher. Blazoned across the corner of the cover is 'A Masterpiece', the judgement of Niall Ferguson, current favourite historian of the US media, on Bayly's book.
Forty years after his death, much of Nehru’s world has been lost, its certainties eroded, its structures demolished. The European empires which Nehru challenged have long since disappeared.
Barbara Ramusack bases her study of indirect rule under British imperialism mainly on research, including her own, which has been done since the 1960s. As she reiterates throughout the book, the topic of the ‘Native States’ is not one which has attracted widespread scholarly attention.
Aidan Clarke is a formidable and influential scholar of early modern Ireland. His scholarship has always set a high standard: firmly grounded empirically, challenging of received 'truths' and, in its faithfulness to chronology, sensitive to how contemporaries may have perceived events.
Sir Henry Docwra, first baron Docwra of Culmore (in the Irish peerage), personified those who rose thanks to the opportunities offered by Ireland in the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Docwra shows how minor gentlemen of obscure but solid backgrounds prospered thanks particularly to soldiering.