In his new book Steven Pinker, psychologist at Harvard University, sets out to fundamentally alter our understanding of the trajectory of violence from pre-historic times to the present. He takes issue with the widely held perception that the most recent past, the 20th century, was an age of large-scale bloodshed and genocidal slaughter.
Hitherto, the historiography of ‘city-states’ has in general not been comparative, preferring to focus on one city, or one region, rather than taking a European perspective.
The Origins of Nationalism: An Alternative History from Ancient Rome to Early Modern Germany / Caspar Hirschi
The study of nationality (a term used to designate historically and constitutively diverse nations) poses a number of acute methodological, historical, and philosophical problems.
Recently, Sir Keith Thomas, after chairing the judging panel for the annual Wolfson History Prize, signalled his misgivings over the tendency for young historians to eschew conventional academic publishing (the scholarly monograph) and instead to ‘hire an agent, cut out the footnotes, jazz it all up a bit and try to produce a historical bestseller from what would have otherwise been a perfectl
It is a brave man who would take on the job of writing a history of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire between 1493 and 1806. Many historians would maintain that neither Germany nor even German national consciousness (certainly not German nationalism) existed during this period; as for the Holy Roman Empire, there is a long-running dispute over what it actually amounted to.
This is a monumental book, covering 91 noble families and 311 individual noblemen in 17 chapters of 482 pages of text and 89 pages of endnotes. The supporting material includes 19 plates, ten maps, 31 tables, ten figures and six appendices.
Town and Countryside in the Age of the Black Death: Essays in Honour of John Hatcher / eds. Mark Bailey, S. H. Rigby
This collection of essays forms an excellent Festschrift for Professor John Hatcher, whose eclectic range of research is displayed by the volume’s division into three parts: the first explores the medieval demographic system; the second charts the changing relationship between lords and peasants; and the third highlights the fortunes of trade and industry after the Black Death.
The Ottoman Empire, over the course of its existence, evolved a cultural synthesis of strands coming from its Arab, Persian and Byzantine antecedents, as well as the folk culture of its constituent populations. Culinary traditions were part of this legacy, and the taste for sweets an ever popular and refined element, constituting a repertoire extending into modern Turkey and the Middle East.
Animal Encounters: Human and Animal Interaction in Britain from the Norman Conquest to World War I / Arthur MacGregor
I must preface this review by saying that I feel the discussion of human-animal interactions has been lacking a book like this for some time. From the outset, this book is fundamentally more than historical in its impact. The topics discussed, and so vividly illustrated, are anthropological assessments for the modern world, using history as base data.
Over 40 years ago, Robert Darnton proposed to evaluate the Enlightenment from its authors’ perspectives. After all, he observed, they were ‘men of flesh and blood, who wanted to fill their bellies, house their families, and make their way in the world’.(1) But with what did they fill their bellies, and when, and how much?