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The Great War: A Conflict From Another World

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has raised a number of questions, many of them seeking the answer of who should bear ultimate responsibility for the carnage that followed. But another kind of question arose at one of the first of a number of public Great War debates I have attended this year, held in February at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall.

Paul Lay is the editor of History Today. He is the author of a book on the late Protectorate.

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Published in History Today

Britain, France, and their Roads from Empire

In October 1959 General Charles de Gaulle told his Minister of Information Alain Peyrefitte: ‘We have premised our colonisation since the beginning on the principle of assimilation. We pretended to turn negroes into good Frenchmen. We had them recite, “The Gauls were our ancestors” … [That] was not very bright. That is why our decolonisation is so much more difficult than that of the English. They always admitted that there were differences between races and cultures.’

Mihir Bose is the blah blah blah blah

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Plans to remake the landmark BBC TV series raise challenging questions about contemporary pieties.

A vision in tweed: Kenneth Clark filming an episode of Civilisation in the Lake DistrictHow often has Lord Hall paused to regret announcing that the BBC intends to remake Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation? The notion becomes more fraught with difficulty at every turn. Set aside the question as to whether a modern Civilisation is a good idea and still Hall’s problems, or rather those of his commissioning editors, multiply.

First shown in 1969 in 12 episodes, Civilisation focused exclusively on western Europe. It is inconceivable that today’s BBC could make a series that excluded the cultures of the Far East, India, Africa and Central and South America. So is one that paid little attention to women. Or indeed one that started, as Clark’s did, with the disarming statement: ‘What is civilisation? I don’t know … but I think I can recognise it when I see it.’ 

A History of the Center of the Ancient World

Concealed within the folds of the Parnassian Mountains, Delphi is well positioned to maintain its secrets. In the ancient world, however, the location of the holy sanctuary proved vital to establishing the flow of networks through Greece’s mainland and beyond. Michael Scott’s excellent history of Delphi as the ‘navel’ of a society ‘constantly humming with interaction between the human and divine worlds’ clarifies what, for Anna Collar in her book on religious networks in the Roman Empire, is a ‘wireless hum’ of travelling ideas.Read more »
More articles by Daisy Dunn

How the Killing of One Man Changed the Fate of the Promised Land

The Stern Gang is perhaps best known to modern audiences for its brutal murder of UN special envoy Count Folke Bernadotte in Jerusalem in 1948. However the wider story of the group’s transition from fanatical splinter group to the status of primary martyrs in the cause of Israeli independence is a fascinating one and well told in this book.Read more »
More articles by Roger Moorhouse

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