Reviews

Few lives provide a more appropriate subject for biographical decoding than the brilliant mathematician, cryptanalyst and father of artificial intelligence, Alan Turing, yet few men were so wrongly judged by their countries. Dermot Turing is well...

Whenever a new study of John F. Kennedy appears, one is tempted to ask whether we really need yet another assessment of a 1,000-day presidency that was short on substantive achievement. The answer here is an affirmative one. That said, anyone...

I am naturally suspicious of any book that sells itself by claiming to tell the story of a secret unit ‘that changed the course of the First World War’. One wonders, however, why the stories told here – in racy, journalistic tone by Wyllie and...

I begin this review with a confession. I am an inveterate weeper. I cry in the cinema, at television programmes and at the news. Music can leave me sobbing, as can school assemblies. I have also, shockingly, been known to bite back a tear in the...

Written in swashbuckling style by honorary Sevillian Robert Goodwin, Spain: the Centre of the World 1519-1682 is the story of the rise and fall of Spain’s Habsburg rulers from the early glories of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, to its...

I have been studying Stuart history for 50 years without encountering George Eglisham. He was a Scottish Catholic with a dodgy reputation as a physician and man of letters, whose long struggle for recognition and wealth came crashing down when...

PARIS! OUTRAGED PARIS!
Broken Paris! Martyred Paris, but liberated Paris, Liberated by the people of Paris with help from the armies of France, with the help and support of the whole of France, of France which is
...

In 1902 the Reverend Henry Smith went to Aurangabad in the princely state of Hyderabad on behalf of the Church Missionary Society of Birmingham and the souls of Aurangabad’s Muslims. In five years of street preaching and distributing Urdu...

The Mediterranean, as a world in itself or as a gateway to other worlds, old and new, has been much studied. For the period covered by the book under review, the 16th century, the ‘classic’ study was contributed by Fernand Braudel. This was...

Why are ruins so attractive? Vandals destroy beautiful buildings, yet aesthetes haunt the remains with sighs of pleasure.  In the 18th century some romantics put up purpose-built ruins in the grounds of their country houses, even artfully...

‘France’, said Charles de Gaulle, ‘cannot be France without grandeur.’ The country’s recent history suggests the great man was nearer the mark when he moaned how impossible it was to manage a country ‘of 246 different kinds of cheese’. André...

Historical reputations rise and fall, but King John has had more of a rollercoaster ride than most across the centuries. Reviled in his own day and throughout the rest of the Middle Ages, he was unexpectedly rehabilitated during the Tudor period...

One of the most resilient clichés in the historiography on medieval Italy is the one according to which, when it comes to urban history, Rome cannot be studied alongside, let alone compared with, any other city of the peninsula. This is because,...

How can we understand contemporary Italy? A country where Silvio Berlusconi held sway for some 20 years or so has had some serious image problems in recent years and has struggled to get itself taken seriously abroad. Yet Italy is crucial to an...

Histories of Russia’s involvement in the First World War have long turned on the question of whether 1914 caused, hastened or even delayed the Russian Revolution. Dominic Lieven’s masterly ...

After 19th-century scholarship had placed the origins of civilisation in the ‘fertile crescent’ from Iran to the Levant, it was tempting to look to these places for the origins of faith, race and mystical knowledge.

In this scholarly...