Peter's Railway

Volume 60 Issue 3 March 2010

Archie Brown discusses the contributions of historians to the understanding of Communism and why it failed.

Leo Hollis visits the History Today archive to find an appreciation of Christopher Wren, written by a kindred spirit at a time when both sides of Wren’s genius – the scientist and the artist – were rarely explored.

Objects loaded with the history of the Troubles are scattered around Belfast, but sensitivity means the debate about how and where to exhibit them rumbles on, says James Morrison.

In 1959 Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba after a masterly campaign of guerrilla warfare. Drawing on this success, Castro and his followers, including Che Guevara, sought to spread their revolution, as Clive Foss explains.

In the 15th century, Cyriacus of Ancona journeyed in search of the Mediterranean’s Classical past. In so doing, he laid the groundwork for the 18th-century Grand Tour and today’s cultural holidays, as Marina Belozerskaya explains.

Susan Whyman’s impressive new book comes amid a flurry of recent publications on letterwriting during the period from the 16th to the 18th...

Holidays at home didn’t begin with the credit crunch. Armchair travel has long been an option for the imaginative. As Toby Lester recounts in this exhaustively researched story, maps and books enable as many journeys as ships and horses – but it’s a tough job to work out what they really mean.

Stuarts and Romanovs: The Rise and Fall of a Special Relationship

Paul Dukes, Graeme P. Herd, Jarmo Kotilaine

Dundee University Press 262pp £30 ISBN 978 1845860554

Diary of General Patrick Gordon of Auchleuchries:1635-1699 volume 1, 1635-1659

Edited by Dmitry Fedosov, foreword by Paul Dukes

University of Aberdeen 307pp £25 ISBN 978 1906108045

Giusto Traina
Princeton University Press 222pp £16.95
ISBN 978 0691136691

I opened Clive Emsley’s history of British policing asking myself how long it would take him to mention the BBC television series...

Reconstructing the Body: Classicism, Modernism, and the First World War

By Ana Carden-Coyne

Oxford University Press 360pp £60 ISBN 978 0199546466

This vigorous and well-written book ably captures the excitement and importance of Wolfe’s bold thrust at Quebec in 1759. It is scarcely untilled ground and, although energetic, Snow has missed some valuable manuscript accounts of the battle, but he provides an effective guide to the campaign and sets it in the multiple contexts that gave it meaning. His range is impressive, including the diet of Wolfe’s army and the nature of military discipline. In the event, British volley fire put paid to the French column advance. Richard Humphrys of the 28th Foot noted:

Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe 1807-1814

Dominic Lieven

Allen Lane 618pp £30 ISBN 978 0713996371

For the Jews of Europe more than any other group, the 20th century was a vortex of destruction. Contrary to the subtitle of Mary- Kay Wilmers’ family history, the chronicle of the Eitingons is the story of the Jews during that catastrophic period rather than anything representative of the century as such. She assumes that her family saga is universal, but had Wilmers been descended from a line of Norman peasants or Bulgarian merchants the century she could have recalled through their experiences would have looked rather different.

Selling the Tudor Monarchy: Authority and Image in 16th-century England

Kevin Sharpe, Yale University Press 588pp £30 ISBN 978 0300140989

The Flyer by Martin Francis is a compelling exploration of the culture of the RAF flyers of the...

I am delighted that we are able to draw attention to Amira K. Bennison’s wonderful book by naming it a runner-up in the 2009 Longman-History Today Prize. This book is lucidly written, based on a wide and diverse range of sources and offers a compelling yet nuanced understanding of the civilisation of the Abbasid empire. Here is a new integrated history of Islam, attuned to its rulers and its subjects, to religion and economy, to laws and conventions alongside the messy reality of life.

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