Volume 61 Issue 12 December 2011

King George V and Kaiser Wilhelm II pose together in 1912. However, the Kaiser had mixed feelings towards Britain and the First World War broke out two years later.

Robert Service reconsiders Norman Pereira's revisionist account of Stalin's pursuit of power in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, first published in History Today in 1992.

Jad Adams looks back to a time when, wracked by industrial decline, a nation embraced the world’s first supersonic airliner.

A selection of readers' correspondence with the editor, Paul Lay.

Goa fell to Indian troops on December 19th 1961.

The Duke of Marlborough was dismissed from the office of captain-general on December 31st 1711.

After he was formally condemned to death in Moscow, the Mexican government offered Trotsky refuge and protection, on December 6th 1936.

Todd Thompson describes how the relationship between a Christian missionary, nicknamed ‘Anderson of Arabia’, and a Muslim religious leader from the Italian-controlled region of Cyrenaica played a major role in the creation of modern Libya after 1945.

Richard Challoner unearths a letter, written in support of a widow and her children, which is revealing of a humanitarian aspect of Lord Nelson.

Anne Ammundsen laments the lack of public access to a revelatory account of a young English officer who crossed swords – and words – with George Washington.

Gordon Marsden, a former editor of History Today, reflects on the advertisements that helped to fund the first 20 years of this magazine’s publication and explores the wider messages they reveal about sexism, empire and swinging Britain during the 1950s and 1960s.

Greg Carleton explains how disastrous defeats for the Soviet Union and the US in 1941 were transformed into positive national narratives by the two emerging superpowers.

At the Coronation Durbar of 1911 George V announced that the capital of British India was to be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi. But the move to the new model city was a troubled one, as Rosie Llewellyn-Jones explains.

Alfred Nobel’s Peace Prize has become something other than its founder intended, claims Fredrik S. Heffermehl.

It is the responsibility of parents and politicians to define and pass on a nation's values and identity, argues Tim Stanley. Historians and teachers of history should be left alone to get on with their work.

Since the end of the Cold War there has been a marked increase in accounts of the past made by those considered to have been on the ‘losing side’ of history. But, warns Jeremy Black, we should all be wary of the forces such histories can unleash.

‘Some of our people have never had it so good’ is the phrase for which Harold Macmillan will always be remembered. In the lexicon of British politics it stands next to Churchill’s ‘Finest Hour’ as shorthand for a collective national experience – in Macmillan’s case the engineering of mass affluence in the 1950s and a consequent transformation of British life that now envelops us, for better and worse.

Not heaven but women and eunuchs
Bring misfortunes to mankind.
Wives and those without balls
Bleat with similar voices.

Why do we collect things? It remains a strange compulsion. Is it driven by love of art and antiquities, the desire to appear cultivated or just the thrill of the chase? Certainly there is a delicious pleasure in finding a long sought after object in a junk shop (run, with any luck, by someone who does not appreciate its value).

Three quarters of the way through her new biography of Charles Dickens Claire Tomalin warns her readers that ‘you might want to avert your eyes’ from a good deal of what happened during the year 1858. Of course, the instruction is impossible to heed and one reads on with increasing fascination as the tragic story of Dickens’ final years unfolds.