To say that the lives of prominent political leaders are symbolic of the political culture of their time is, of course, a truism. Nelson Mandela is one of the handful of 20th-century leaders for whom this statement holds true in global terms, illustrated by the recent unveiling of his statue in London's Parliament Square.
The central thesis of T. G. Otte's meticulously researched new study of British foreign policy is that the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5 produced the 'China Question' and with it, the problem of Great Britain's 'international isolation'.
Tony Hopkins, whose magnum opus, co-authored with Peter Cain, occupies the commanding heights for the interpretation of British Imperialism 1688-2000, has become evangelical for the reform of curricula in higher education to encourage historians and their students to engage seriously with globalisation - the leitmotif of our times.
In Spying on Science, Paul Maddrell has provided an excellent account of the early and very difficult period of the Cold War, when tensions between East and West had emerged and relations between the 'big three' (the USSR, the USA and Britain) were deteriorating rapidly, finally reaching the critical point signified by the Berlin blockade.
This book is the result of a bold and innovative research project funded between 1999 and 2002 by the then Arts and Humanities Research Board, with further funds provided subsequently by a number of scholarly institutions. The preface further acknowledges the support of a glittering array of scholars, not least Geoffrey Parker who read through the entire draft.
Discussing The Psychology of Nationalism and Internationalism, the American academic Walter Pillsbury estimated that:
Like many another Roundhead, George Downing had a problem when Charles II returned in 1660, not least because he had been inconveniently prominent in urging Oliver Cromwell to become king. Luckily there was a way out. In 1638 the Downing family had decamped to Massachusetts, where young George had become the second person to graduate from Harvard.
On 18 September 1938, British policymakers, shocked by Hitler’s evident readiness to go to war over the Sudetenland, the German-speaking fringe of territory around the western half of Czechoslovakia, offered to guarantee what remained of Czechoslovakia once it renounced its alliances with France and the Soviet Union and agreed to transfer the territory in question to Germany.
Cross Currents and Community Networks is an important contribution to a growing literature on the Indian Ocean world. Edited by historians Himanshu Prabha Ray and Edward A. Alpers, it brings together leading figures to discuss the cultural landscape of the Indian Ocean world and the communities that crossed it.
Alison Bashford's latest edited collection, Medicine at the Border: Disease, Globalization, and Security, 1850 to the Present, brings together papers from a 2004 conference on the same broad topic.