Volume 60 Issue 4 April 2010

The first Pony Express riders set off on April 3rd, 1860.

The life and career of the Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, who died on April 11th, 1985.

We often think of France as a country that is preoccupied by the past and one of the most influential works on French history of recent years has been the collection of essays, edited by Pierre Nora, on French ‘Realms of Memory.’ Roxanne Panchasi points out that there has been an equally important French preoccupation with the future. She investigates this preoccupation during the inter-war period with studies of subjects such as urban planning, war plans and the curious enthusiasm, on the part of some French people, for making Esperanto the international language of the future.
Glamour has always been about women not knowing their place. From the late 19th century, when the word first gained currency with its undertones of sorcery, it has had an edge of opprobrium and envy. It is about allure, about wanting and yearning, about transformation and the democratisation of desire.
The Story of Madeleine Smith Eleanor Gordon & Gwyneth Nair Manchester University Press 204pp £16.99 ISBN 978 07190 8069 2

Lucy Worsley reveals the strange stories of the cast of characters on the King’s Grand Staircase at Kensington Palace, painted by William Kent for George I in the 1720s.

Juliet Gardiner explains why her new book examines a short period of the 20th century and how she attempts to achieve a panorama of experiential history that gives readers a real feel for a slice of time.

The decision by Sussex University to drop research-led teaching and implement a post-1900 curriculum will produce scholars lacking in historical perspective, says Martin Evans.

Paul Lay introduces the April 2010 issue of History Today

Richard Cavendish marks the anniversary of the founding of Switzerland's first university, at Basel, on April 4th, 1460.

Daniel Snowman reviews a work on the relationship between British historians and those on the continent.

Miri Rubin explores the medieval galleries at the V&A and the British Museum.

Elizabeth Archibald reviews a work on the legendary wizard of British folklore.

Digital technology is rapidly changing the nature and scope of historical enquiry for both academics and enthusiasts. Nick Poyntz introduces a new series that examines these revolutionary developments.

Giles MacDonogh visits the History Today archive to examine Nancy Mitford’s 1968 article on one of the ‘oddest’ biographies ever written, Thomas Carlyle’s massive study of Frederick the Great.

A selection of your correspondence

For most of Britain’s population, the Restoration had little effect. Life under Charles II was much the same as it was under Cromwell, argues Derek Wilson.

Switzerland’s recent vote to ban the building of minarets drew widespread criticism. A look at the historical background to that decision, the result of a typically Swiss mixture of conservatism and democracy.

Devastating earthquakes have been chronicled on the island of Hispaniola for the past 500 years, writes Jean-François Mouhot.

In the mid-18th century – at the height of the power struggle between France and England and the political ferment of both nations – a French spy with a peculiar personal agenda came to prominence in London. Jonathan Conlin tells his story.

Richard Hayman traces the changing significance of the Green Man, a term coined in the 1930s for a medieval image of a face sprouting foliage, the meaning of which has transformed itself across the centuries.

Mihir Bose tells the little-known story of the Indian secret agent codenamed ‘Silver’ who served both the Axis and the Allied forces during the Second World War.

Jad Adams goes in search of the sometimes elusive legacy of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the 'Father of the Nation'.

A mysterious child from northern Germany, portrayed by William Kent on the King’s Grand Staircase, became one of the sensations of the Georgian age, as Roger Moorhouse explains.

Michael Haneke’s austere drama is set in a small village in northern Germany just before the outbreak of the First World War. Authority figures such as the main landowner, the doctor and the pastor (a brilliant performance by Burghart Klaussner) stir grievance and resentment among the villagers against a backdrop of ‘accidents’, abductions and abuse. As the village threatens to tear itself apart, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and its promise of war comes almost as a relief.
Trying to shed some pounds for spring? Has your doctor recently told you to cut back on alcohol and red meat? Or is your spouse gently prodding you to lay off the stodge? Well, if you’re consuming less than 2lb of bread, 2lb of meat, and six pints of beer a day, then you’re doing better than our Tudor ancestors, according to Mark Dawson’s new study of the food habits of a wealthy Midlands gentry family in the 16th century.
Genocide Before the Holocaust Cathie Carmichael Yale University Press 230pp £25 ISBN 978 0300121179 The Final Solution: A Genocide Donald Bloxham Oxford University Press 396pp £16.99 ISBN 978 0199550340