Latest History Books
Magellan, schizophrenia, conspiracies and Europe’s indigenous Muslims: a roundup of some of the latest history books.
The Winston Churchill we meet in Tariq Ali’s new book is not the same person we know from Britain’s tabloid press. Quite the opposite. What we have here is a character assassination of a racist, snobbish, vain, villainous, bibulous Colonel Blimp.
Then there are what Ali calls ‘Churchill’s war orgasms’, schoolboyish fantasies of guts and glory. Some of these make disturbing reading.
Europe’s Indigenous Muslims
In Muslims and the Making of Modern Europe Emily Greble embarks on an ambitious journey to repopulate an absence of narrative with more than 500 years of history.
The salient strength of this book is Greble’s foregrounding of Muslim voices and insistence on defining them as European.
Losing the Plot
On the evening of 23 February 1820 around 25 men gathered in the hayloft of a stable on Cato Street, off Edgware Road in London. Led by Arthur Thistlewood, they had met to formulate a plan to murder the prime minister. In his gripping account of the Cato Street Conspiracy, Vic Gatrell examines the lives and circumstances of the individuals involved.
The Other 300
The Gododdin is a fascinating, but frustratingly elusive, piece of literature. Contained in an incomplete late 13th-century Welsh manuscript, yet attributed to the sixth-century north-British poet Aneirin, it is a collection of verses written in medieval Welsh concerning otherwise unrecorded people and events.
Schizophrenia: An Unfinished History blends Ophir’s experience as a clinician and psychoanalyst with a chronological history to tease out a range of vexed questions about what it means to be ill and the role of both patients and medical professionals in the definition and treatment of madness.
London’s Noisy Neighbour
Even in our age of statue iconoclasm, Ferdinand Magellan has been spared the opprobrium that afflicts most of his contemporaries. And yet, he was duplicitous, disloyal, callous and cruel.
Straits: Beyond the Myth of Magellan
is as approachable and enjoyable as the very best after-dinner conversation. The book is a brilliant triumph.
In this lively and brisk volume, reform is constant, zeal, turbulence, division and ‘major’ or ‘striking’ change are round every corner.
This is the case for all histories of course, but ecclesiastical history even more so.