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.
Introducing a 1996 translation of Alain Corbin’s now seminal work on the history of scent, The Foul and the Fragrant, Roy Porter lamented that ‘today’s history comes deodorized’.(1) As Jonathan Reinarz shows in this historical synthesis of recent work on the history of smell, Porter’s complaint has since been enthusiastically answered.
Lynn Hunt’s new book, Writing History in the Global Era, places an important question on the table: ‘Is globalization the new theory that will reinvigorate history? Or will it choke off all other possible contenders, leaving in place only the inevitability of modernization of the world on the Western model?’ (p.
We have a sense of living on in our children and their children, an endless biological chain of being. Or in our work, small or large, in our influence upon others; or in something we call spiritual attainment, some sort of religious idea or belief; or in the idea of eternal nature, which all societies symbolize in some way.
It was hardly to be expected that the sesquicentennial might come and go without the Civil War’s most preeminent historian offering his thoughts on the subject, and James McPherson has not let us down. Not that The War that Forged a Nation is in any direct sense a comment on or reaction to the sesquicentennial; it is neither.
In one of his last letters to his neighbor and confidant, Thomas Jefferson asked James Madison ‘to take care of me when dead’.(1) Jefferson, like most of the ‘founding fathers’ thought deeply about his legacy and place in history. He spent hours arranging his papers for posterity and composed a memoir of sorts, the ‘Anas’, in an effort to set the record straight.
The commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in the Republic of Ireland have thrown the issue of nationalism and independence into sharp relief once again.
Ron Paul’s The Revolution is adamant on one point: to solve the problems in modern America, Americans need to return to Constitutional values. ‘In times like these, we need a return to fundamentals’ (p. 168). The specific fundamentals to which Paul refers are as often the values of Austrian School economists as they are the Founding Fathers.
How does one define empire? What are the characteristics of a successful empire? These two questions arise foremost after reading John Darwin’s monumental masterpiece After Tamerlane. In nine succinct chapters with informative titles, Darwin encompassed 600 years of global history, supported by illustrations and maps and for those interested, suggestions for further reading.
Ten years after its publication, A History remains relevant. The epidemic continues to rage. The context of its historical and relational trajectories continues to shape both its evolution and the responses to it.