Martial law does not have a good reputation. William Blackstone set the tone of modern attitudes in the 18th century. Martial law is ‘built upon no settled principles ... entirely arbitrary in its decisions ... no law, but something indulged, rather than allowed as a law’ (quoted at p. 251).
Padraig Lenihan, The Last Cavalier: Richard Talbot (1631-91), Dublin, UCD Press, 2014, 268 pages, €40, ISBN 9781906359836.
One might be forgiven for thinking that British defence policy between the Napoleonic era and the outbreak of the First World War was always geared towards a large, continental commitment.
Secret intelligence, to borrow the often used cliché by Sir Alexander Cadogan, has been regarded as the ‘missing dimension’ of Britain’s diplomatic and political history. This phrase certainly describes the near absence of the subject from academia even into the 1990s when the first batches of intelligence-related material made it into the public domain.
Next year will mark the centenary of one of the most extreme and brutal displays of colonial power and violence, the so called Amritsar Massacre of 1919. The massacre took place in a public park called Jallianwala Bagh in the city of Amritsar where British Indian army’s Colonel Reginald Dyer on 13 April 1919 ordered his troops to fire on unarmed protestors gathered there.
Of all former government officials who have turned to the pen, Sir Rodric Braithwaite should arguably be considered one of the more welcome additions. Following three previous books focusing on the Soviet Union and Russia, he has recently turned his attention to the issue of nuclear weapons and the precarious deterrence which has kept them from being used in warfare since 1945.
The BBC began broadcasting television programmes from its own studios in 1932 and launched a regular TV service in 1936, only to shut it down when, three years later, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Edward Stourton’s Auntie’s War: The BBC during the Second World War is therefore about radio, and in particular the tug of war within the corporation between 1939 and 1945.
The exhibition honouring the legacy of Richard the Lionheart (d. 1199) - king of England, knight and crusading leader - at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer, Germany, offers a royal tribute to the legacy of this famous medieval ruler. Pageantry, stateliness and effective design create a compelling narrative, supported by displays of the most important treasures of Richard’s reign.
Chinese history for English readers is a quietly contested field: quiet because discussion and developments take place in the margins of the English-speaking world; and contested both because the market for trade books is growing and, more importantly, because new publications are offering ever more diverse and complex ways of seeing China. Two seminal events, the Opium War (1839-42) and the Cu
As is often the case with (in)famous remarks attributed to prominent personages, there is some doubt about whether Winston Churchill ever did describe the traditions of the Royal Navy as comprising ‘nothing but rum, sodomy, prayers and the lash.’ Churchill himself reputedly denied that he had, confiding to his private secretary that ‘I never said it. I wish I had’ (p. 1).