As uncomfortable as it is for historians to admit, we cannot deny the veracity of the old adage, ‘history is written by the victors’. Before the advent of gender and feminist histories in the latter part of the last century, victors were almost all invariably men.
The election of Donald Trump, the vote on Brexit and the political success of anti-establishment populist parties have led some commentators to draw comparisons with the challenges to democracy during the inter-war period. It is not necessary to be alarmist to recognise that inter-war politics in Europe and the United States can provide insights into contemporary instabilities.
For almost 30 years David Edgerton has produced a series of well-researched and ground-breaking revisionist accounts of this country's recent past, which have exposed the inadequacies and weaknesses of 'declinism' as an explanation of Britain's changing domestic and international experience since 1900.
Jim Tomlinson’s latest book distils ideas evident in his work for over three decades to present an account of how ‘in seeking to manage the economy’ British governments have ‘sought simultaneously to manage popular understanding of economic issues’ (p. 1).
Until recently, Britain’s first referendum on its membership of the European Community (EC), the forerunner of today’s European Union (EU), had not exactly featured prominently in the nation’s collective memory: few people seem to have known that such a vote had ever taken place at all.
Chinese history for English readers is a quietly contested field: quiet because discussion and developments take place in the margins of the English-speaking world; and contested both because the market for trade books is growing and, more importantly, because new publications are offering ever more diverse and complex ways of seeing China. Two seminal events, the Opium War (1839-42) and the Cu
Rum, Sodomy, Prayers, and the Lash Revisited: Winston Churchill and Social Reform in the Royal Navy, 1900-1915 / Matthew Seligmann
As is often the case with (in)famous remarks attributed to prominent personages, there is some doubt about whether Winston Churchill ever did describe the traditions of the Royal Navy as comprising ‘nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash.’ Churchill himself reputedly denied that he had, confiding to his private secretary that ‘I never said it. I wish I had’ (p. 1).
Splendours of the Subcontinent: Four centuries of South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts / ed. Emily Hannam
Some 70 years after the British left India it is timely to look back at how the kings and queens of the United Kingdom came to amass one of the largest private collections of South Asian art in the world. Two conjoined exhibitions currently showing at the Queen’s Gallery do just that.
The consular official has often been a derided figure in the historiography of foreign services, often seen as uneducated, involved in commerce, and corrupt, perhaps personified in the figure of ‘Charles Fortnum’ in Graham Greene’s spy novel The Honorary Consul.(1) Such criticisms were often levelled at consuls.
With her latest book, Jordanna Bailkin makes a singularly impressive contribution to 20th-century British history. Her focus is on the various sites that were built or, more commonly, re-purposed to hold refugees who reached Britain at various stages in the 20th century.