Historians are good at putting objects in their place. Details about context, manufacture, use, abuse, meaning, significance, decay, and so on are layered so that an object itself becomes a carrier of its moment in history. Putting material back into the fabric of history itself enriches that history.
A Guide to the History of the Salient
Christer Petley’s book takes the life of Simon Taylor, the richest of Jamaica’s ‘planter class’ in an age of revolutions, to reveal broader truths about the British Empire. At its core, this is a biographical study based on Taylor’s extensive surviving correspondence with friends, family, and commercial allies.
Penelope Fitzgerald’s historical novel The Beginning of Spring, set in Moscow in 1913 but written at the height of perestroika, conveys an ambivalence familiar to those of us who spent time there during the Gorbachev years.