A Radical History of Britain. Visionaries, Rebels and Revolutionaries: the Men and Women who Fought for Our Freedoms / Edward Vallance
The cover to the hardback edition of Edward Vallance’s A Radical History of Britain shows a Union Jack superimposed on a montage (King John signing the Magna Carta, the German Peasants’ War of 1525 (1), the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Jarrow Crusade and the Battle of Cable Street) designed to illustrate the book’s subtitle: Visionaries, Rebels and Revol
What is a ‘Companion’ for?
There can surely have been few other books in Asian Studies and certainly not in South East Asian Studies in recent years that have been as widely anticipated as James C. Scott’s The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Southeast Asia (Yale University Press, 2009).
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.
Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People, which appeared in Hebrew as Matai ve’ekh humtza ha’am hayehudi? [When and How Was the Jewish People Invented?] (1) elicited a thunderous response that has yet to abate.
How a country deals with enemy nationals within its territory during times of war is as much an issue today as it has ever been. In the western world these days such enemy nationals are most likely to be involved in the ‘war on terror’, and can be found masked behind a multiplicity of nationalities.
In 1914, as in 1882, it was still close enough to true to suggest that ‘Every boy and every gal/ That's born into the world alive/ Is either a little Liberal/ Or else a little Conservative’. 37 years later, the English political landscape was radically changed, although arguably its continuities were more remarkable than its disjunctures.
In bringing his history of Britain almost to the present, Paul Addison is the latest to tackle the problem which Macaulay identified in 1841: English history, he wrote, ‘from 1688 to the French Revolution, is even to educated people almost a terra incognita’. For Walter Bagehot in 1876: ‘the events for which one generation cares most are often those of which the next knows least.
In 1977 the American scholar Morris Dickstein wrote:
[t]he sixties are over but they remain the watershed of our recent cultural history; they continue to affect the ambiance of our lives in innumerable ways.(1)
Wasteland with Words is a very welcome addition to the small number of academic books about Iceland’s modern history available in English. The few other works on modern Icelandic history are largely written in Icelandic for local consumption.