The cover of C. A. Bayly's new book is stunning. A handsome black man stands poised, next to the bust of a European philosopher. Blazoned across the corner of the cover is 'A Masterpiece', the judgement of Niall Ferguson, current favourite historian of the US media, on Bayly's book.
Opinions have long been divided about the subject under review, the Comintern's Third Period, which lasted roughly from 1928 to 1935. One cannot be more precise about these dates, because, as Matthew Worley points out, the transitions at both ends of the period were gradual in nature.
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.
Scandals are titillating phenomena, intriguing and enjoyable for almost everyone except their victims. They often carry two highly attractive features: first sex, and second the opportunity of watching high and mighty people being revealed to have feet of clay and thus brought low.
Both these books have their origins in excellent PhD research theses, which have then been adapted into book form. Both books are highly original, well-written and well-organised.
In 1990 Robert Gellately completed a major study which investigated the role of the secret police in Nazi Germany. His book, The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy 1933-1945 (Oxford University Press; Oxford, 1995) demonstrated conclusively that the much feared and allegedly omnipresent Gestapo in fact relied on widespread public support to function effectively.
The First World War is Russia’s ‘forgotten war’. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, the memory of the war was subsumed into the history of the revolutionary process.
In July 2004 Tony Blair attacked the 'liberal consensus' of the 1960s, claiming that it had helped to undermine respect for law and order in Britain. It was hardly the first time that Blair had borrowed an argument from the right wing of the Conservative Party, but this speech set new standards of audacity.
For many years, just two simple narratives dominated the history of the Soviet Union. The first story was the regime's account of itself. In this account, socialism had been established from 1917 onwards. The decisiveness of the Bolshevik Party in arguing for the October Revolution had created the possibility of the Communist system.
This is an ambitious and original book that brings to light a good deal of new material on nationalist politics in the Irish midlands between 1910 and 1916.