Volume 64 Issue 10 October 2014

Did physics make the torpedo possible? Barry Parker’s book, The Physics of War , primarily an explanation of the principles of physics behind how different weapons work, claims that it did. Yet Katherine Epstein’s book, Torpedo , a detailed, empirical history of the torpedo in Britain and the United States before the First World War, features no physicists. Instead, Epstein introduces the reader to an array of engineers and non-technical staff, whose decisions were much more than narrow technical judgments.
British academic interest in post-colonial South Asia has long lacked the rigour found in works dedicated to the region and its people prior to 1947. Essential questions around the relative influence of Britain (and later the United States) in the history and making of independent India and Pakistan remain cloudy at best. In fact, for South Asia, there is no ready comparison to the likes of John Lewis Gaddis ( The Cold War ) or David Hoffman ( The Dead Hand ). In some ways this is a curious state of affairs.
The 1971 Bangladesh genocide is little remembered, although it was almost as bad as Rwanda. It turned the Cold War story of freedom-loving US versus the oppressive Soviet Union on its head. The land of the free was in a shameful alliance with the killers, while the evil empire was on the side of the angels.
As the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests passed this year, the topic continues to be a taboo in China. Even so, former participants, eyewitnesses and others still remember what they are supposed to forget. Their memories undermine the official party line, yet they are in the minority in a country that has undergone a phenomenal economic and social transformation since the early 1990s.
‘Those who travel the seas in ships are called to witness the Lord’s work.’ This verse from Psalm 107 was quoted by the Norman captain Jacques de Vaulx at the beginning of his lavishly illustrated treatise on navigation published in Le Havre in 1583.

Stockings were an instant hit when they were first sold on October 27th 1939.

The artist died on October 26th, 1764.

Stockings were an instant hit when they were first sold on October 27th 1939.

The artist died on October 26th, 1764.

Describing the First World War as ‘an engineers’ war’, which required ‘arms more than men’, Lloyd George acted on the urgent need to employ women in the armaments industries. Henrietta Heald explains how they in turn responded to the challenges.

Alarm about moral degeneracy and ‘family values’ provoked Hollywood to instigate its own self-censorship codes in the 1920s. But much more than prudery underpinned their lasting impact, says Tim Stanley.

Alexios Alecou explains how Britain sought to police the strategically important island in the eastern Mediterranean.

During his brief lifetime, James V was a popular ruler who aimed to maintain Scotland’s independence and safeguard its place on the European stage. Linda Porter describes his reign and the fraught relationship between the young king and his English uncle, Henry VIII.

Hanna Czarnocka, an octogenarian now living in London, recalls her part in one of the most courageous resistance actions of the Second World War.

The opening battle of the First World War was won by the Bank of England before the British had so much as fired a shot.

On the Restoration, Charles II pardoned the many supporters of Cromwell’s Protectorate, with the exception of those directly involved in the execution of his father. These men now found their lives to be at great risk and several fled the country, as Charles Spencer explains.

Stephen Cooper admires an article from 1967 that sought to separate historical fact from fiction in Shakespeare’s portrayal of England’s much mythologised warrior king.

Tim Hitchcock sets out on an online archival journey, seeking high-quality, free resources for researchers, especially those working on British history.

Roger Hudson visits the Belfast shipyard in 1911, where the Titanic and her sister ships, Britannic and Olympic were constructed.

Marcella Pellegrino Sutcliffe examines the political machinations behind a visit to England in 1864 of the Italian patriot and ‘liberator’, darling of the English establishment and radicals alike.

Tata is one of the world’s wealthiest conglomerates, with an especially strong presence in Britain. Zareer Masani traces its origins among the Parsis of Bombay and charts its fortunes in an independent India.

Are historians inevitably faced with a choice between academic analysis or popular narrative, or should they aim to master both skills, asks Suzannah Lipscomb.

Scots need not look far to find a successful example of ‘devo-max’.

This is really two books. In one, a Richard III Society luminary – star of the Channel 4 TV documentary, The King in the Car Park – describes the discovery of Richard’s skeleton, while in the other an academic historian studies Richard and his reign.