Reviews

Here is is a many-sided tale of Alexander the Great and of arsenic sulphide, of Bavarian limestone and of metaphorical black tigers, of Charlemagne and of the mythical city of Crocodilopolis, not to mention of zhu bo (bamboo and silk)...

Winston Churchill had a long association with Ireland, from his infancy in Dublin in the 1870s to his second premiership in the 1950s. During his life he adopted various stances on Ireland’s political relationship with Britain. As a young...

Oxford is full of history, dating back to its settlement in Saxon times. Yet it is rarely associated with prehistory, especially the Neolithic period beginning just before 4000 BC. In the long hot summer of 1976, that picture changed, at least...

The Mediterranean world loomed large in English culture in the 16th century. What is made strikingly clear in Jerry Brotton’s new book, This Orient Isle, is the extent to which the Muslim inhabitants of North Africa and the Middle East...

Legal history can be the dullest of subjects. Stories of the development of court rules and practices necessarily involve explanations of complex intellectual juggling, plodding attention to precedent and to the mental calisthenics of lawyers who...

In 1988, Oxford University Press published Margaret Aston’s England’s Iconoclasts. Vol.1: Laws Against Images, a book which developed Aston’s long engagement with the Lollards and their allergy to images and projected it forward...

The Vietnam War has long been represented through the ‘authenticity’ of the GI experience. Those who ‘were there’ and related their experiences of a chaotic, brutally violent war have served as a cultural conduit for the conflict in ways which...

I have written self-indulgently, as I myself like to read about the past. I do not like the proper names of nonentities, numbered dates of unknown years or refutations of other men’s views … I am bored by institutions and I do not believe in...

This is an engaging history of the capitalist world in the 1850s, which stitches together vivid stories of entrepreneurs and adventurers from the United States to New Zealand. ...

The female Lawrence of Arabia, the woman who made Iraq, the uncrowned queen of the desert: there have been many attempts to encapsulate the complex essence of Gertrude Lowthian Bell since her death in 1926 in Baghdad. Born to a wealthy industrial...

Few leaders have published as much and eliminated more people than Enver Hoxha, Albania’s dictator from 1944 to 1985. Hoxha published on a Churchillian scale: 7,000 pages in 13 volumes of memoirs. Simultaneously, during his rule, of Albania’s...

Stephanie Barczewski ponders the paradox that, in history, it seems that the worse a failure is, the more the British like it.

Major-General Wolfe and Vice-Admiral Nelson died in victory and this was applauded, but it was sacrifice for no...

The catchy subtitle of Daisy Dunn’s biography of Catullus does not do justice to its scope. Catullus’ short life (84-54 BC) covers the period when Rome stood on the brink of a civil war that would result in the Republic being swept away to bring...

Richard Alston traces the transformation of the Roman state, from the tribunate of Tiberius Gracchus in 133 BC to the accession of Tiberius in AD 14. The years in between witnessed the collapse of the old Republican political system, the...

Professor Khilnani is an academic historian, but this book is a more populist take on 2,500 years of India’s history. As a collection of miniature biographies, ranging from the Buddha in the fifth century BC to business tycoon Dhirubha Ambani in...

High in the Himalayas there is a parasitic fungus that grows out of the body of small caterpillars and is worth more than its weight in gold. Today, harvesting these mushrooms is bringing much needed cash into Nepal and is part of the country’s...