This Month's Magazine


April 2017 front cover

How did the most influential of all ancient Iranian empires fall to Islamic armies from the Arabian desert? The survey of the Islamification of Iran is this month’s cover. 

Buy Issue | Subscribe | Digital Edition

Also in this issue

  • America's First Nation
  • Magic, Medicine and the Viking Way of War
  • The New World of Tobacco
  • Who Martyred the Tolpuddle Labourers?
  • The Search for the Soul
  • Plus: The Invention of Individual Freedom, Yukio Mishima, the political memoir and more

You can buy this issue from our website or at newsagents across the United Kingdom (find your nearest stockist) from March 23rd. You can also subscribe or get it as a digital edition via the History Today App.

We've also created a Spotify playlist to go with this month's edition, featuring songs inspired by the issue's contents. You can listen to it below.

Selected articles from this issue

A soul parting reluctantly with life: engraving for Wiliam Blake’s ‘The Grave, a Poem’, by Luigi Schiavonetti, 1808. Ⓒ Bridgeman Images

By Richard Sugg

What is the soul, where does it come from and where does it go when we die? Such questions have continued to fascinate since the early modern period. The answers that were produced were never decisive, but were often surprisingly creative, as Richard Sugg demonstrates.

Way of the samurai: Mishima on the day of his suicide. Ⓒ AFP/Getty Images.

By Alexander Lee

Angered by his native country’s rush towards western-style modernisation, the acclaimed Japanese author committed a shocking act of protest. Alexander Lee reveals the journey that led to such an extreme conclusion.

A man taking snuff, c.1790. Ⓒ V&A images.

By Angela McShane

As Britain got hooked on tobacco, smoking paraphernalia became ubiquitous. Items such as tobacco boxes provide an insight into the anxieties and aspirations of the early modern psyche, says Angela McShane.

Edward Hyde,  Earl of Clarendon as Lord High Chancellor, by Peter Lely, c.1666. Ⓒ Middle Temple London / Bridgeman Images.

By Paul Seaward

Despite its popularity in France, the political memoir took a while to get going in Britain. It was Lord Clarendon’s epic attempt to make sense of the turbulent 17th century that slowly set the ball rolling, according to Paul Seaward.

Volume 55 Issue 3 May 2005. Read the original piece

By Laura Spinney

Perhaps the greatest disaster to ever befall humanity, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 is strangely overlooked. Laura Spinney examines our shared memory of that and earlier tragedies.  

Leaders from the Iroquois Five nations in an engraving by Joseph-Francois Lafitau, 1724. Print by John Nixon, published London 1784. Ⓒ Alamy

By C. K. Ballatore

In the absence of a European democratic model, the Founding Fathers turned to the apparently perfect state of the Iroquois Five Nations as a template for a federal United States, combining the best of both worlds, writes C.K. Ballatore.

Vesuvius, 1832 Ⓒ Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin

By Kate Wiles

Kate Wiles on Auldjo’s artistic map of Vesuvius across 200 year of major eruptions.

The ninth-century grave marker found at Lindisfarne, known as the Viking Domesday stone. Ⓒ Ancient Art and Architecture/Bridgeman Images.

By Brian Burfield

Viking sagas tell of conflict and heroic voyages but are prone to fantasy and exaggeration. How accurate are their scant accounts of the treatment of those injured in battle? Brian Burfield examines the elusive practice of Viking medicine.

The Tolpuddle labourers on  their return to Britain, an illustration from Cleave’s Penny Gazette,  May 15th, 1838. Ⓒ TUC Library Collections, London Metropolitcan University.

By Roland Quinault

Few episodes in the history of the British Labour movement have been as mythologised as that in which six Dorset farm labourers were shipped to Australia for their trade union activities. But, as Roland Quinault shows, their story is more complex and revealing than the myths allow.

Khosraw II on a relief in Taq-e-Bodstan, Iran. Ⓒ akg-images.

By Khodadad Rezakhani

Iran, despite its conquest by the armies of Islam, retained its own Persian language and much of its culture. Khodadad Rezakhani examines the process by which a Zoroastrian empire became part of the Islamic world.