Reviews

In May 1991, just a few months after German reunification, I took a train from Berlin to Magdeburg in the heart of the old GDR or East Germany. I shared the carriage with two old codgers dressed in military caps, who discussed the pros and cons...

Between the 630s and 740s armies originating in the Arabian Peninsula achieved a remarkable series of conquests over territory from the Atlantic Ocean to Central Asia. Their leaders established a new empire replacing the two superpowers of...

Physicians recommended aphrodisiacs to assist fertility during the 17th century, with foods such as oysters, sweetbreads and caviar considered good for inducing lust. These ideas were found not only in medical texts but in home recipes, erotica...

‘There are graves that are alive’, the President of the Belgian League of Remembrance pronounced at Gabrielle Petit’s state funeral in 1919, three years after her execution. Petit, a young shop-girl, served her country not just in life and death...

The grand narrative may have fractured, the longue durée appear bloodless, but interest in the sweep of history seems undiminished: Robert Tombs’ recent and acclaimed The English and Their History brought a fresh intelligence to...

As any enchanted visitor knows, the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford is a Victorian cavern stuffed with intriguing objects, hand-written labels and unending surprises. Surprising, too – though less well-known – is its history, as the current director...

Groundbreaking works of history are not often a bare 200 pages in length and generously adorned with illustrations. Peter Brown’s The World of Late Antiquity...

Few figures in classical antiquity can be the subject of a detailed biography. Cicero and St Augustine each provide a lot of autobiographical material and the emperors, particularly, have attracted the attention of ancient historical writers. For...

Every year enough raw cotton is produced for each person in the world to consume 20 T-shirts. Cotton is one of the most common commodities; even our banknotes are partly made of cotton. Sven Beckert explains that the story of cotton starts not...

The early years of photography saw pioneering practitioners explore every facet of photography, pushing at the boundaries of communication and perceptions of reality. Street Life in London: Context and Commentary by Emily Kathryn Morgan...

‘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...

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