Volume 56 Issue 12 December 2006

The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy Adam Tooze Allen Lane 832 pp £30 ISBN 0713995661

December 18th, 1856

The premiere of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto at the Vienna opera house on December 23rd, 1806, was not a success.

Fidel Castro's first, unsuccessful attempt at overthrowing the Cuban regime began on December 2nd, 1956.

By George Bernard Shaw. First published December 5th, 1936, in the Evening Standard.

Thoughts from our readers at the end of the year.

Martin Evans looks at the events of 1956 and the French war on terror, both at home and elsewhere, and how this was a turning point for French fortunes in the Algerian War of Independence.

A recent government initiative suggests Britain is failing in its policies towards children in care. Jad Adams explains how similar concerns a hundred years ago lay behind the development of the first children’s ‘village homes’.

George Bernard Shaw influenced the Abdication Crisis with a short play that has been forgotten in the last seventy years. 

While Hezbollah again hit the headlines during the summer, its historical roots are less familiar. Andrew Arsan traces the political emergence of the Shi’a community in Lebanon.

Sebastian Wormell introduces the Polish city that survived the worst of the Second World War.

Nick Barratt, presenter of television programmes that take people back to the archives, explains how he found his own way into the dusty vaults.

Charlotte Crow steps inside the V&A Museum of Childhood in London’s East End, where the second phase of a £4.7 million development has just reached completion.

Cartoon historian Mark Bryant looks at the origins of some of Dickens’ best-loved characters, and finds clues in the work of cartoonists of the novelist’s youth.

As  the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross is celebrated, Richard Vinen looks beyond the individual acts of heroism that have merited the honour, to the wider social, cultural and historical significance of  the medal.

Forget Tony Blair or Margaret Thatcher, says Klaus Larres; Winston Churchill was the supreme prevaricator when it came to giving up power.

Alysa Levene explores the ideas of William Cadogan whose enlightened ideas on raising healthy and happy babies in the mid-18th century pre-dated those of Rousseau and contributed to a more permissive and relaxed attitude to child-rearing.

Geza Vermes looks at the Christmas stories in the Bible with a historian’s eye.

York Membery sings the praises of the great wartime leader on the ninetieth anniversary of his coming to power.

Alison Barnes sets the record straight on who was really responsible for introducing this popular custom to Britain.

It is rumoured that George W. Bush’s preferred reading recently has been Andrew Roberts’ updating for the twentieth century of Winston Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples.