Reviews

When the Scottish explorer John Dundas Cochrane visited the town of Tobolsk in the early 1820s, he found ‘very good society … and the strongest features of content … in this hitherto supposed metropolis of barbarism and cruelty’. But few others...

‘The menace is the woman who thinks she ought to be flying in a high-speed bomber when she really has not the intelligence to scrub the floor of a hospital properly’, C.G. Grey, editor of Aeroplane magazine, wrote in 1941. Clearly, he...

Biography is something we associate with ‘great figures’ of history: generals, politicians, writers, artists and reformers. Rarely is the form used for an institution, particularly one which housed many people on the edge of society. Mansions...

Bradford’s hardest-working pensioner, David Hockney, has teamed up with the critic and author Martin Gayford and their collaboration is presented in the form of dialogues about sets of images. These may be cave paintings, Hollywood stills or,...

John Rees’ new work on the Levellers is a different beast from the average academic monograph. While the core argument of Rees’ 2014 doctoral thesis, that the Levellers represented an ‘organised group of political activists’, remains in place, ...

What is most striking about these two histories is the commonality of gay and lesbian experiences across notional divides of time and place and the way in which the challenges facing homosexual men and women have recurred with remarkable...

The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China

Exuberant celebrations took place across China in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Of particular national pride were the ‘Ten Great Buildings’ in the capital of Beijing, newly constructed to set in stone...

A Fiery & Furious People: A History of Violence in England

Rarely an evening goes by without a television detective solving a horrific killing; more often than not the victim is an attractive young woman and the killer some kind of paranoid serial murderer. The popular press delights in showing graphic...

Gone to the Continent: The British in Calais 1760-1860

Martin Brayne’s and Renaud Morieux’s books provide us with a welcome reminder that, ‘rather than a natural frontier between natural enemies’, the English Channel was and still is a shared space of contact and exchange. 

In Gone to the...

The Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

Was there ever before such an enterprise? It is certainly safe to say that when the ‘Committee to collect unregistered words in English’ met under the auspices of the Philological Society in 1857, no one could have guessed exactly what would be...

French Wine: A History

Many histories of wine are written in a lyrical style, but Rod Phillips’ new book is not one of them. For Phillips, two and a half millennia of French winemaking is not an excuse for Bacchic celebration, but a warts-and-all exposé of chaos and...

Frederick Barbarossa:  The Prince and the Myth

The long reign of Frederick Barbarossa, who ruled Germany from 1152 to 1190 and for most of this time was also Holy Roman Emperor, has not been well served by historians. The German historian Heinrich Simonsfeld published a book of nearly 800...

Front cover of book

This is a splendid and voluminous anthology, compiled from over 120 memoirs of a wide range of children of the Raj, including those of senior Indian Civil Service officers and army officers, businessmen, railwaymen, missionaries and Anglo-Indians...

Most books on the machinery of government tend to be dull, but this book is an exception because Anthony Seldon has long experience as an educator as well as being an authority on modern British government. The introduction, moreover, places the...

FOR WHITEHALL’S hottest reading matter, it must be hard to beat ‘Old Stripey’. This is the nickname for the blue and red striped box in which the Cabinet secretary collects the day’s most secret intelligence material for the prime minister to...

Front cover by India Conquered

Another history of the Raj invites comparison with its two most distinguished predecessors, Penderel Moon’s The British Conquest & Dominion of India (1989) and Lawrence James’ Raj: The Making & Unmaking of British India...