What is a ‘Companion’ for?
This large edited volume on the history of post-1945 Europe is one of the latest additions to the extensive and steadily growing series of Blackwell Companions to History, whose volumes cover a wide range of fields in British, European, American, and World history.
In The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884), Friedrich Engels posited a fundamental relationship between women’s property rights, on the one hand, and changes in the social and political spheres, on the other.
The title of this volume is something of a misnomer or, at least, there is a crucial word missing from it.
This festschrift pays tribute to one of our most distinguished medievalists, who has helped shape the subject through his teaching and writing, and through his active support for societies and individuals.
To write a general history of two neighbouring countries spanning 100 years is no easy task. Furthermore, in 1905 Norway became independent of Sweden, meaning that there was no natural linkage between the two, geography apart.
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.
Whatever the medievalists might say when they think you’re not listening, 20th-century European history is hard, and post-1945 history can be the trickiest bit. The decades after 1945 are much less precisely understood, in historical terms, than the decades before. They are more subject to unchallenged platitudes and uninformed controversy: they are surrounded by white noise.
Neil Davidson’s substantial and erudite book is a concerted defence of the concept of ‘Bourgeois revolution’.(1) It is composed on a heroic scale. Numerous theorists, both historical and contemporary, are laid-out, discussed and critiqued with unflagging intellectual energy.
What a great idea! The only wonder is why no publishing house thought of commissioning a book on the topic before. The reader’s delight starts straight from looking at the cover illustration – a ‘translation’ of Harry Beck’s celebrated London Tube Map, in which Waterloo Station becomes Gare de Napoléon.