s the deft pun in the title reminds us, one of the ways in which nations were both imagined and institutionalised in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was through the conscripting of young men into the army. The ways in which they were called up, selected, trained and led, and the arrangements made for their families left behind deeply affected the nature of nationhood.
In 1852 the African-American physician and writer James McCune Smith described the ‘negro’ as ‘not an actual physical being of flesh and bones and blood, but a hideous monster of the mind’.(quoted on p. 247, McCune Smith’s italics) Yet in Bruce Dain’s detailed, subtle, and fascinating book, race theory appears more like a virus.
In Stephen Reynolds's A Poor Man's House, first published in 1908, he gives a loving description of the 'baked dinner' that 'Mam Widger' would cook, when funds permitted, for the Sidmouth fishing family with whom he lived:
This is the recipe for baked dinner:
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.
Despite a certain academic heaviness, with no fewer than fifty-seven pages of notes, bibliography and index, and despite an occasionally disagreeable academic vocabulary, of which more anon, this book has a pleasantly simple knock-down argument, that Christianity in Britain enjoyed a long nineteenth century of prosperity, between 1800 and 1960, and only began to go into terminal decline in the
Figures in the Landscape brings together fifteen pieces of research by Margaret Spufford stretching across her distinguished career from 1962 to the present day.(1) As such, it reflects her broad range of interests, in the use of primary sources - particularly probate and taxation documents; the history of village communities; and popular consumption, literacy
In this fascinating book, Colin Clarke draws together work from a range of disciplinary traditions to produce a monograph on the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Known predominantly for its large indigenous population and its tourist industry, Clarke uses the concept of 'peasantries' to examine the processes that have shaped one of Mexico's economically-poorest states.
This book seems to have been a long time coming. Its precursors were a slim volume in the popular Macmillan Studies in Economic and Social History series in 1992, and more recently the Atlas of Victorian Mortality (with Nicola Shelton), published in 1997.
This volume seeks to display mid-nineteenth century views on modernity as well as to investigate aspects of modernisation in Victorian London. Observers then and now could not and cannot help but note the piecemeal re-development of London in this period, compared, for instance, with Paris.