What is a ‘Companion’ for?
Wasteland with Words is a very welcome addition to the small number of academic books about Iceland’s modern history available in English. The few other works on modern Icelandic history are largely written in Icelandic for local consumption.
Penelope Fitzgerald’s historical novel The Beginning of Spring, set in Moscow in 1913 but written at the height of perestroika, conveys an ambivalence familiar to those of us who spent time there during the Gorbachev years.
‘He was one of the best National Socialists, one of the strongest defenders of the German Reich, one of the greatest opponents of all enemies of the Empire.
A number of scholars have recently examined the ways in which Italians participated in, supported and/or resisted the Fascist project of radically transforming politics, society, and the citizens’ private sphere, including the transformation of the boundaries between private life and the public arena.
In the Soviet Union, and to this day in its former member states, ‘1937’ functions as a ‘code word for one of the greatest historical catastrophes of the twentieth century’ (p. 1); indeed, in the years that followed, contemporaries did not speak of a ‘Great Terror’ – the term we use now – but often just of ‘1937’.
There were times during the resurgence of the economic crisis in 2015 when it seemed as if ‘Greek-bashing’ had become a pan-European pastime.
Early in his study of radio in the USSR, Stephen Lovell quotes Rick Altman: ‘new technologies are always born nameless’ (p. 2). New technologies, that is to say, do not arrive with a self-evident purpose, and are understood initially relative to what already exists.
From the moment it was first published in 1997, Maria Todorova’s Imagining the Balkans became an instant must-read, in particular but not only, for readers interested in the history of the ‘Balkans’. Concerns about the situation in Southeast Europe at the time, in the aftermath of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, guaranteed that its impact reached beyond the specialist public.
Eli Rubin has written a wonderful book that does not just tell a fascinating story about an important but much neglected subject, but also manages to link this story to much broader historiographical, and indeed ontological, questions about the intersections between space, on one hand, and power, time and lived experience on the other.