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Volume 59 Issue 12 December 2009

The last of the Manchu emperors received a formal pardon on December 4th, 1959.

The writer and director Stephen Poliakoff talks to Charlotte Crow about how his view of the recent past has informed his new film, Glorious 39, a historical thriller.

David Loyn, the only reporter with the Taliban when they took Kabul in 1996, takes issue with military historian Thomas Tulenko’s analysis of Britain’s 19th-century invasions of Afghanistan, first published in June 1980.

A selection of your correspondence 

Mark Bryant on the lesser-known caricature work of the German-born Gerard Hoffnung, one of postwar Britain’s best-loved cartoonists.

For centuries, Africans were shipped to the Indian subcontinent and sold as slaves to regional rulers. Rosie Llewellyn-Jones tells the story of those who went to Lucknow to serve the Nawab of Oudh and who joined the Indian Mutiny when he was deposed by the British. For this allegiance their descendants, whom she has traced, still pay a price.

For 400 years the delivery of letters has been integral to British life. As Royal Mail confronts an uncertain future, Susan Whyman charts the Post Office’s development and discovers, through the correspondence of ordinary people, just how much letter writing meant to them.

In 1759, Admiral Hawke secured a daring victory over the French fleet at Quiberon Bay. It surpasses Nelson’s triumph at Trafalgar in its significance, claims Brian James.

Kevin Haddick Flynn looks at the attempt of the Grand Old Man of Liberalism to solve the Irish question and his conversion to Home Rule in the mid-1880s.

The Antarctic Treaty, signed 50 years ago, kept the cold continent out ofthe Cold War and fostered collaboration on scientific research. The world now faces a different challenge as climate change affects this vast region, writes Peter J. Beck.

The legendary ruler of Pontus and creator of a formidable Black Sea empire was, until recently, one of the most celebrated figures of the Classical world, a hero of opera, drama and poetry. 

The Emperor divorced his first wife on December 14th, 1809.

Did the first Christian Roman emperor appropriate the pagan festival of Saturnalia to celebrate the birth of Christ? Matt Salusbury weighs the evidence.

As bankers gain pariah status, William D. Rubinstein discusses Britain’s changing attitudes towards the wealthy.

Wallowing in misery over this admittedly awful year betrays a lack of historical perspective, argues Derek Wilson.

Editor Paul Lay introduces the last issue in our 59th Volume