In one of his most irritated moods, Samuel Pepys, sometime naval administrator, recorded in his diary that he and his office had just had the experience of being judged by investigators who were entirely unaware of the nature of the business of running a department of the navy. Pepys’s experience is rather common.
British industrialisation lacks clarity as a national experience because we now recognise that some regions de-industrialised even as others grew rapidly.
The central theme of this book can be summed up as ‘neither electoral sociology nor linguistic turn’. Instead, its author emphasises the micro context of politics – how local social and cultural milieux shaped the reception of political ideas, and hence the fortunes of political parties.
Simon Potter’s book is a study of ‘imperial integration’ through the analysis of what he terms ‘an imperial press system’ which emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (p. 1). It focuses on the Dominions of Britain, or what has in recent historiography been referred to as the ‘British world’, embraced by a common sense of Britishness.
In spite of its intellectual, literary and comic brilliance, this book contains a dark and disturbing, but revealing, message. In some ways, my melancholy reading of Bodies Politic has inevitably been shaped by Roy's recent untimely death. Roy Porter was without doubt the finest social historian of medicine this country, or indeed the world, has produced.
The New Penguin History of Scotland: From the Earliest Times to the Present Day / eds. R. A. Houston, W. W. J. Knox
The cover is a view from Stirling Castle: in the foreground a carved lion rampant, in the background the Wallace Tower, the Scottish national monument, raised by public subscription in 1859; in the valley below, Stirling Bridge somewhere near the site of William Wallace's victory over the forces of Edward I in 1297; just out of the picture, the field of Bannockburn.
Barbara Ramusack bases her study of indirect rule under British imperialism mainly on research, including her own, which has been done since the 1960s. As she reiterates throughout the book, the topic of the ‘Native States’ is not one which has attracted widespread scholarly attention.
Margot Finn’s book The Character of Credit: Personal Debt in English Culture, 1740–1914 is the first volume in a new series published by Cambridge University Press (Cambridge Social and Cultural Histories) which seeks to draw social and cultural history more closely together.
Now is an appropriate time to consider the role of the British Navy and its cultural significance. 2005 marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the apogee of British naval glory. Trafalgar is a story of national tragedy as well as triumph, of course, as Britain’s stunning victory over the French came at a huge cost, namely the loss of Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Whatever happened to the history of nineteenth-century British popular culture? In the 1970s and 1980s, this was an exciting field that produced a series of invigorating and pioneering works. (1) Fulfilling the promise of E. P.