It is refreshing to be told by William Hagen that 'refractoriness and insubordination proved to be Prussian virtues'.(p. 645) This statement would not be surprising about nineteenth-century Prussian working-class culture, but it is about early modern nobles and peasants.
Europe at Home. Family and Material Culture, 1500-1800[Originally published under the title Vita di casa. Abitare, mangiare, vestire nell’Europa moderna (Laterza; Rome/Bari, 1999); translated by Allan Cameron] / Raffaella Sarti
I do not know whether the Italian title of this book (Vita di casa) is an allusion to Mario Praz and his autobiography La casa della vita (Milan, 1958), but it would be fitting. In that book Mario Praz guides the reader through his Roman house and tells his life during the tour.
This book aims to explore manifestations of messianic ideas in Russian intellectual thought and to consider their impact on state policies and their popular resonance. Peter Duncan defines messianism as 'the proposition or belief that a given group is in some way chosen for a purpose.
Sex, Sin and Suffering. Venereal Disease and European Society since 1870 / eds. Roger Davidson, Lesley Hall
Research on the history of venereal diseases (VD), syphilis, gonorrhoea, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs in more recent parlance), has flourished in recent years. Both the editors of the current volume have recently published books on the topic, Davidson on VD policy and practice in Scotland, Hall a more general synthetic work.
Revolutionary Women in Russia 1870-1917: A Study in Collective Biography / Anna Hillyar, Jane McDermid
This is the third book on Russian women of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century collectively authored by Jane McDermid and Anna Hillyar of Southampton University.
A European Experience of the Mughal Orient: The I'jaz-i Arsalani (Persian Letters, 1773-1779) of Antoine-Louis-Henri Polier / Muzaffar Alam, Seema Alavi
Antoine-Louis-Henri Polier was a Swiss Protestant of French descent who served in the army of the British East India Company. The major part of his service was in northern India, beyond the area under formal British control.
History on this scale is a daunting task, not just for the breadth of scholarship it requires but also because it lays before the author the powerful temptations of platitude and over-generalization. Geoffrey Hosking, as he has amply shown elsewhere, is a historian who can draw a big picture without losing his curiosity, his feel for detail, or his capacity for concise but penetrating summary.
Luxury in the Eighteenth Century: Debates, Desires and Delectable Goods / eds. Maxine Berg, Elizabeth Eger
Luxury in the Eighteenth Century is a welcome collection of essays on a very important topic.
The book I have before me feels rather expensive, well-made, a hardback with a striking dust jacket bearing an enlarged portion of an historic print. Inside, the paper is silky smooth, the ink dark and clean, the layout elegant with generous outer margins. The illustrations too are clean and clear, dropped into the text.
On the cover of Gerald MacLean’s engaging new study, The Rise of Oriental Travel: English Visitors to the Ottoman Empire, 1580-1720 is a ‘Portrait of a European Man’ by the Ottoman Artist Abdelcelil Celebi, known as Levni, and painted c.1720. MacLean does not discuss this portrait, but its selection as a cover image is calculated and significant.