In the popular imagination, early medieval England was a wild place populated by packs of ravenous wolves, devouring people and livestock. The image is at odds with modern research into wolf biology and wolves were extinct in England by the time of Henry VII. With a programme of wolf reintroduction proposed for the UK, it is time to look back at the history of attitudes to wolves from when written accounts began, in the Anglo-Saxon period.
Of the millions of enslaved Africans in the Americas, only those in Hispaniola and Guiana mounted rebellions that brought freedom. Elsewhere, uprisings were brutally suppressed. These books chronicle two rare exceptions. Runaway Maroons in British Jamaica and Dominica gained dominion over substantial hinterlands on their islands. Both established viable communities in mountainous terrain adverse to British troops, were abetted by kindred plantation slaves and menaced the plantation system, aiding slavery’s ultimate demise. Jean Besson relates how Africans who fled Spanish servitude won autonomy after Britain captured Jamaica in 1655. As slave-worked lowland sugar plantations expanded, so did marronage in the...Read more »
The explosion in the study of both Mediterranean and Atlantic history, not to mention the history of other seas and oceans, has left one important issue unresolved. What is the relationship between the bodies of water that flow into one another? The links between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic have been largely neglected. Barry Cunliffe’s latest addition to his beautiful collection of volumes about early Europe and the seas around it is, therefore, very welcome. Even if it reprises themes from earlier books, notably his Facing the Ocean , the extension of his argument into the Mediterranean enables him to...Read more »
The flapper continues to exert a powerful hold on our collective imagination. A symbol of decadence, ebullience and cynicism, she signifies at once the character of a decade – the 1920s – and the rebellion of a gender. Her genesis is often assumed to be the material deprivations and emotional disruptions of the First World War. Yet, as Linda Simon argues in this deftly written and meticulously researched cultural and experiential history, the flapper had a longer, complex and far more troubled evolution. For Simon, the flapper’s story begins in 1890s Britain and America. This is justified both etymologically –...Read more »
Everyone has heard of the Rosetta Stone. Not so familiar, but equally compelling, is a purely Greek artefact of the same period found in a first-century BC shipwreck chanced upon by sponge divers off the coast of Antikythera, an island between Crete and the Peloponnese. It triggered the first underwater archaeological excavation in 1901. The Antikythera Mechanism comprises more than 30 precisely cut bronze gear wheels, dials and pointers held in a wooden box the size of a phone book, with a damaged inscription indicating that they formed a model of the ‘cosmos’ (the Greek word appears in the inscription)...Read more »
When the Scottish explorer John Dundas Cochrane visited the town of Tobolsk in the early 1820s, he found ‘very good society … and the strongest features of content … in this hitherto supposed metropolis of barbarism and cruelty’. But few others walking through Siberia in the 19th century would have shared this view, since the majority of them were convicts shackled and poorly fed and more likely to agree with Dostoevsky that they were in ‘The House of the Dead’. In this welcome book, Daniel Beer follows in the path of others but brings to the subject a new view...Read more »
Volume 67 Issue 6 June 2017