When one is sent such an item to review one inevitably speculates why. Is one a known purveyor of hot air? Or just vulgar and unshockable?(1) Is one being set up for Max Reger’s response to a music critic? 'Ich sitze in dem kleinsten Zimmer in meinem Hause. Ich habe ihre Kritik vor mir.
Now that the dust has settled on the presidential race, it’s easier to assess Simon Schama’s ambitious project of last autumn: The American Future: A History. The book (and the accompanying television series) departs from his previous work in several ways.
Beatrice Webb wrote in her first volume of autobiography, My Apprenticeship, that the age in which she grew up was dominated by two ‘idols of the mind’, namely a belief in scientific method and ‘the consciousness of a new motive; the transference of the emotion of self-sacrificing service from God to man’ (quoted p. 249). Auguste Comte was the prophet of both of these idols.
This work of literary criticism is inevitably aimed more at people working in French departments than at social or intellectual historians. Despite the interdisciplinary potential of the subject-matter, there is little here of direct interest to the latter, hence this review is addressed primarily to the former.
This is a very interesting volume, which aims to bring together the variety of contexts and genres in which ancient history was employed and studied during the Enlightenment.
The first principle of understanding history, I was taught, is to sympathize with the historical actors, to immerse oneself in their context and perspective.(1) Otherwise, history becomes a fabricated reconstruction – more about the writer's ideology than the events of the past.
The subject of Glenn Burgess’ new book is an exciting one, and its author is well qualified to tackle it. Political thought is a lively and flourishing field within history, and Glenn Burgess has done much to promote it.
The history of the Enlightenment can sometimes appear as a male narrative, dominated by canonical male writers, with women appearing only as subjects denied an equality of rationality and relegated to a feminine domesticity.
‘We are most of us governed by epistemologies that we know to be wrong’: Gregory Bateson’s observation summarizes what motivates Keith Jenkins’s latest book.(1) In this collection of essays written and published over the last 15 years (including not only a foreword by Hayden White and an afterword by Alun Munslow, but also responses from Perez Zagorin and Michael C.
This excellent book is about some of the writers – mainly those living in Europe from the 1930s till the 1960s – whose writings were either wholly or partly about the ‘ending of British rule in Africa’. The main writer dealt with is George Padmore; the others are Jomo Kenyatta (while he lived in the UK), C. L. R. James, Peter Abrahams, Ras T.