Reviews

The history of post-Risorgimento, post-Unification Italy has been much discussed, but relatively rarely has the history of the states that once made up a disunited country been explored. This Bosworth seeks to address in the case of a...

‘In wartime’, Churchill remarked to Stalin during the Tehran conference of November 1943, ‘truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.’ This is a story about stories – about...

The publishers call this elegantly designed collection of medical illustrations before the advent of colour photography, ‘beautifully gruesome’. It is certainly that: many of the images – such as the head of a 13-year-old boy utterly disfigured...

In this engrossing book, Mark Hailwood opens the doors on one of the least understood institutions in the history of British drinking. Charting the period 1550-1700, Hailwood describes how the alehouse became one of the most important social...

The emperor Commodus was immortalised in the film Gladiator as an unstable and insecure ruler who fought in the arena to win the adulation of the crowd. While the film is fictional, Jerry Toner’s excellent new book provides the...

Have you ever experienced a pain that felt like a ‘toothache about six inches long in the hip’? Or one that tortured you ‘like a demand from Her Majesty’s Inspector of Taxes’? From these two descriptions of pain, expressed in 1909 and 1910...

Mo Moulton’s survey of the political and social aftermath of the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21 asks challenging questions about how this conflict continued to resonate in subsequent decades. The ‘Irish Question’ represented a powerful accumulation...

Paul Ginsborg is well known as a political activist in, and historian of, modern Italy. Now he has essayed a massive comparative exploration of the fate of families under five interventionist and non-liberal democratic regimes. He begins with the...

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124- 1204) has stood in the spotlight for eight centuries, but paradoxically the real Eleanor remains a shadowy figure. Duchess of Aquitaine, Queen of France and England, mother of two English kings, her achievements have...

Diaries can be a holy grail for the historian: written with the immediacy of the moment, capturing the authentic atmosphere of an event, idiosyncratic almost by definition, a singular viewpoint that wriggles through official versions of the past...

It is ironic that one consequence of the failed Scottish referendum on independence is that the English, who have dominated the British Isles for centuries, are demanding greater devolution. Building nations and national identities demands...

Mathematics and numbers are not really part of what we think about when we think about the past, by and large. So it is nice to see Amir Alexander’s new book, in which he continues his mission to fill a significant gap by writing the history of...

The stresses and strains of the British home front during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars are the subject of Jenny Uglow’s new book. Fascination with the French Revolution and Napoleon remains to this day, but the enormous pressures upon,...

In 1871 Paris revolted against the French state. Many Parisians did not accept France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. Nor did they trust the head of the recently proclaimed Republic, Adolphe Thiers, to defend democracy. When Thiers tried to...

We think we know all about pirates. As a group their ambiguous status is perfectly encapsulated by the phrase ‘one person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter’ and pirates wear ridiculous clothes, sport a swearing parrot on the shoulder and...

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