Both these books have their origins in excellent PhD research theses, which have then been adapted into book form. Both books are highly original, well-written and well-organised.
In 1990 Robert Gellately completed a major study which investigated the role of the secret police in Nazi Germany. His book, The Gestapo and German Society: Enforcing Racial Policy 1933-1945 (Oxford University Press; Oxford, 1995) demonstrated conclusively that the much feared and allegedly omnipresent Gestapo in fact relied on widespread public support to function effectively.
The literature on the role of the French as ‘other’ in the formation of a British national identity in the eighteenth century is probably not as rich as many readers might think.(1) Indeed, the literature on French Anglophobia seems a little more sustained.(2) Semmel’s work, which looks at the impact of Napoleon on British politi
The First World War is Russia’s ‘forgotten war’. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in October 1917, the memory of the war was subsumed into the history of the revolutionary process.
For many years, just two simple narratives dominated the history of the Soviet Union. The first story was the regime's account of itself. In this account, socialism had been established from 1917 onwards. The decisiveness of the Bolshevik Party in arguing for the October Revolution had created the possibility of the Communist system.
Consider two of the most intriguing facts contained in this book: while around one in six East Germans disliked their country so much that they left it permanently, one in five adults were prepared to become a member of its ruling party, the SED (Socialist Unity Party). The first fact will come as a surprise to nobody.
War, State and Society in England and the Netherlands, 1477-1559 / Steven Gunn, David Grummitt, Hans Cools
This book is the result of a bold and innovative research project funded between 1999 and 2002 by the then Arts and Humanities Research Board, with further funds provided subsequently by a number of scholarly institutions. The preface further acknowledges the support of a glittering array of scholars, not least Geoffrey Parker who read through the entire draft.
The Sounds of Silence: Nineteenth-Century Portugal and the Abolition of the Slave Trade / João Pedro Marques
Unequivocally, until today the vast majority of the academic works on the history of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade have focused on the British side of the story.
It has often been observed that the greatest legacy of the Paris Commune of 1871 was its myth. In its short duration the Commune failed to transform Paris in any lasting way – even its supreme gesture of repudiation of the military traditions of the French past, the toppling of the Vendôme column, was to be reversed.
Whether or not Michael Maas is right that ‘many excellent studies of Justinian and his age’ exist (p.