The title was inspired by the birth, during the writing of this volume, of a child named after the author. A second volume will bring the survey to the present and to some glimpses of that young woman's prospects. The prospect presented here is that of the sleepy young knitter of the 18th century pictured on the cover and of generations before her.
'Much nonsense has been written on this subject', wrote Keith Thomas in a famous and influential footnote to his own pioneering chapter on English witchcraft in Religion and the Decline of Magic (1971).
As even the most casual observer of the British historical scene must know, the 'agricultural revolution' has proved both elusive and highly contentious. French 'immobilism', on the other hand, has become something of a commonplace, although explanations for this supposed failure are less consensual. Philip Hoffman's very welcome new book has two overriding merits.
This book is impressively detailed, showing women's experience of demobilisation and the aftermath of armed conflict - an often neglected area of military study relating to women - as well as their feelings about morality, their male counterparts, uniforms, duties and a slew of other subjects.
The Economists are peculiar people. They all recognise the importance of consumption, but most seem loath to discuss the details.
The history of public health has been a flourishing field in the last three decades. Yet despite a spate of excellent monographs about various epidemic diseases and many good collections about health and disease in Africa, Asia, The Middle East, Latin America, as well as Europe and North America, the most recent textbook on the history of public health is four decades old.
Sweden, Prussia, and Russia. Three great powers were forged in the fire of the Northern Wars. The military monarchies fed on weaker neighbours where such existed. In the sixteenth century, Poland-Lithuania, Brandenburg and Sweden carved up the small Baltic empire left by the crusading knights of the Teutonic Order.
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.
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.
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.