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The Politics of the Atlantic Slave Trade

With the UK release of the film Twelve Years a Slave , the subject of Britain’s involvement in both slavery and abolition has once again entered mainstream public debate. It is timely then that we have two new editions to the scholarship. While Pettigrew examines the early years of British involvement in the slave trade, Carey takes on the origins of Quaker antislavery rhetoric. Despite coming from different ends of the spectrum, there are interesting links between the two texts.Read more »
More articles by Kate Donnington

The Long War Between France and Its Arabs

The French ideal is that immigrants to the nation should embrace French culture, language and mores and so mutate into French citizens, all equal in the eyes of the Republic, all invested with the same stake in the best of all possible societies, where uniformity and consensus are celebrated. As ideals go it is doubtless noble and lofty – it is also fantastical. It doggedly pretends to ‘colour blindness’. The state refuses to acknowledge racial, religious and cultural disparities.Read more »
More articles by Jonathan Meades

Britain and the Heritage of Empire

My heart sank a little on receiving this book for review, first because it looked initially as if it was going to be another of those ‘postcolonial’ enterprises attributing everything it covers – in this case ‘heritage’ preservation, mainly abroad – to European ‘imperialism’ (boo!); and second because it is multi-authored and, usually, multi-authored books are uneven. In the event I am glad I persevered with it.Read more »
More articles by Bernard Porter

Africans in Georgian England

In this episode of the podcast, Onyeka joins us to introduce a number of aspiring Africans who made an impact on Georgian society during the 18th century.

You can read Onyeka's article on the subject, Black Equestrians, in the July 2014 issue of History Today.

Listen to the podcast on this page using the player above. Alternatively, you can download it from iTunes, download it as an MP3 or subscribe via RSS.

The struggle between certainty and doubt is at the heart of history, says Mathew Lyons. It should be relished for what it reveals about a past where facts are sometimes in short supply.

Mythical voyage: Brutus sets sail for Britain, a 15th-century illustration from Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'History of the Kings of Britain'. Bridgeman/Bibliotheque Nationale ParisIn May Brighton College, an independent fee-paying school, announced its intention to make the study of history compulsory for all pupils through to 18. Whatever one’s view of the decision, the fact that it was considered unusual and innovative enough to make the national newspapers should give us – and anyone interested in the practice and pleasures of history – pause for thought.

Should it not be obvious why the past is worth studying all the way through school? And, if it is not obvious, do we make the case for our subject’s virtues with sufficient force? What, indeed, are its virtues?