Reviews

‘Who knows? Perhaps the true truth will never be known’, an Italian in a deckchair says to a girl on the beach who has asked him, ‘What is the time?’. This cartoon from an Italian newspaper is quoted by John Hooper as an example of the multiple...

The Brothers Grimm began collecting their tales at the start of the 19th century, taking them from existing books and manuscripts, transcribed them from living storytellers in Hesse and Westphalia and correspondents who sent tales from all over...

Asa Briggs says he likes to think in threes. In the three years following his 90th birthday, the author of Victorian People, Victorian Cities and Victorian Things published three books of memoirs: one on his time at...

Knees up, knees up…head the ball
Nervous energy makes him tick. He’s a health fanatic ... he makes you sick

Despite his cutting stanzas, John Cooper Clarke’s 1978 poem, Health...

Few developments signal the sunset on a ‘Golden Age’ like the creep of nostalgia: when the combined Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened in New York in 1943, performers wore turn-of-the-century costumes to music from the 1890s. The...

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...

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