Historians can only feel ambivalent about bureaucracy. ‘Admin’ tends to get in the way of those two core activities that define a university, research and teaching. Some of it might be necessary and benign: seminars require registers, after all.
Chris Pearson’s Mobilizing Nature: The Environmental History of War and Militarization in Modern France is a recent offering from the ever-growing subfield of environmental history that is focusing on the relationship between militaries, war and environment.
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.
The sub-title says it all. This is a book about the elites of Belle Epoque Paris, primarily about the cultural elites, but also about their patrons, high society, industrialists and fashion designers, and all those who made the headline contributions to that Paris which sticks in the popular imagination.
The sprawling geographic, linguistic, and ethnic polyglot of Habsburg Europe makes an unexpected point of comparison with the United States. Bordering, at its western extremity, the Untersee and Lithuanian-Swiss border; and, at its eastern limits, reaching Kronstadt on the Transylvanian-Romanian border, the Habsburg Empire was the economic and cultural dynamo at the heart of Central Europe.
The beginnings of Europe is not a very complicated historical subject. After the end of Roman domination in the fifth century CE, so-called ‘successor states’ grew up in the territories and around the margins of what had been the Western Roman Empire, and out of those states grew France, Spain, Italy and (with greater complications) England and Germany.
In a new development for Reviews in History, Daniel Snowman talks to Miranda Seymour about her new book, Noble Endeavours: Stories from England; Stories from Germany, her career as a historian, historical novelist and biographer, and the issues surrounding collective biography and prosopography.
In The Brothers Karamazov, the great novelist Fedor Dostoevsky has the defence counsel Fetiukovich assert in court the perceived essential characteristic – and superiority – of Russian justice: ‘Let other nations think of retribution and the letter of the law, we will cling to the spirit and the meaning – the salvation and reformation of the lost’ (quoted on p.134).