Professor Spence is described on the dust-cover of this book as 'perhaps now the leading historian of China in the English-speaking world'. Without doubt he is the most imaginative and the most versatile scholar working in that field. The Gate of Heavenly Peace, first published in 1981, was a history of modern China as seen through the lives of Chinese writers and intellectuals.
Much of the shape of modern Europe was determined by changes which took place in the time of Gregory VII, who as 'Hildebrand' was a powerful influence in the papacy from 1046 and was himself pope from 1073 to his death 1085.
The appearance of a paperback version of an important book first published in 1995 is most welcome as it will make it more readily available. Equally, it is not easy to review such a work. The scholarly reviews that appeared noting its contents do not require emendation, because the book has not been rewritten.
How does one define widowhood? In spite of its widespread acceptance, the classic definition of widowhood as the phase of marriage following the death of one of the partners is never entirely satisfactory.
The lack of synthetical treatments of the reign of Charlemagne is both striking and surprising. In spite of the ever-growing volume of academic monographs and articles on the Carolingian period, there is no even vaguely adequate introduction in English, French or German.
The figure of the devadasi, or ‘temple-woman’, who entertained Hindu gods at festivals, hardly needs an introduction. Because of her supposed sexual availability, the devadasi became a potent and notorious symbol of the corruption of Hindu society.
First published in 1961, Holt's Modern History of the Sudan deservedly established itself as the standard introduction to the subject. Holt revised the work in 1963; since 1979 he has collaborated with Martin Daly on further - slightly retitled - editions, of which this is the most recent.
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.
The Renaissance in Europe is an ambitious enterprise. It includes five volumes, at least five disciplines (history, art history, history of science, music and literature, in French and Spanish as well as in English), and a team of twenty-three people, from the course manager to the picture researchers and of course the thirteen authors.
In early twelfth-century Durham the body of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne was still enshrined in its seventh-century coffin with its iconic images of the Virgin and Child, saints and archangels. Associated with the shrine were two magnificent manuscripts from early eighth-century Northumbria, the Lindisfarne and Stonyhurst Gospels.