The jacket cover of Peter Hennessy’s new work describes the author as ‘the UK’s leading contemporary historian’, a reputation soundly based on a string of highly regarded books such as Cabinet, The Hidden Wiring, Whitehall and The Secret State, as well as on his high profile as a media presenter and commentator.
It is 50 years since Thomas Kuhn published the million-selling Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and the work reviewed here rightly acknowledges Kuhn’s to be ‘by far’ the most cited and discussed 20th-century book about science (pp. 415–16). What has the history of science come to in the intervening half century?
Cricket and Community in England: 1800 to the Present Day is an ambitious text. Its six substantive chapters cover cricket’s emergence in a context of ‘early’ or ‘pre-modern’ sports forms, the origins of clubs, changes to organised competitions, the impact of two world wars on cricket clubs, post-war ‘decline and renewal’, and the current state of the grassroots game.
Being the fruit of 20 years of research on the part of its authors, A Short History of Global Evangelicalism reflects an awareness of the need to see the contemporary upsurge in evangelical religion both in a worldwide comparative perspective and in a long-term historical one.
David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition is an impressive scholarly accomplishment that matches a dauntingly large subject matter with a vast vault of personal knowledge. At 474 pages and 13 chapters covering more than 3000 years, it is thorough without being exhaustive.
This is a useful book, a troubling book, and a book tells us something about the strange state of contemporary publishing. I’ll try and deal with each of these in turn.
The title of this book, Antarctica: a Biography, might cause some initial confusion but this is rectified by the publisher’s puff on the front inside flap of the dust jacket where it is described as ‘the first major international history of this forbidding continent’.
The historical literature on Afghanistan and the various armed conflicts fought on its soil has greatly increased in recent years, due to the tragic events following the American-led invasion of the country in October 2001.
Psychoactive drug restrictions and prohibitions have typically followed a reactionary pattern. From tobacco to LSD, the introduction of novel drugs has prompted therapeutic experimentation. Officials showed little concern until these substances also became popular recreational intoxicants.