In late 1909, a suffragette attacked the Asquith government’s youthful President of the Board of Trade, slashing his face with a whip as he prepared to give a speech in Bristol station. Briefly stunned, he fell toward the station’s tracks at the same moment a train pulled out of the station.
For more than 75 years the historiographical debate surrounding the appeasement policy of the 1930s has centred upon the notorious 1940 publication Guilty Men, in which a trio of left-leaning British journalists unleashed a vitriolic polemic castigating those men responsible for leading a hopelessly ill-prepared Britain into a catastrophic war.
As Antoinette Burton points out in the introduction to her newest work, The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism, there has been no shortage of blockbusters about the British Empire to be found on the shelves of local booksellers. Many of these take for granted the rise and fall narrative of Empire.
In the middle of the First World War during Easter week 1916, Irish separatists staged an armed insurrection against the British government, an event which is popularly recognised as the foundation date of independent Ireland.
Historians of pretty well every field and period have long acknowledged that historical enquiry cannot (indeed, must not) be limited to describing the actions and experiences of elites.
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.
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.
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).