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Longman-History Today Book Prize 2018: The Shortlist

We are pleased to announce the shortlist for the Longman-History Today Book Prize for 2018.

Listed alphabetically by author name, the books are:

  • James DelbourgoCollecting the World: The Life and Curiosity of Hans Sloane (Allen Lane)
  • Tera W. Hunter, Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the Nineteenth Century (Belknap Harvard)
  • Emily Jones, Edmund Burke & the Invention of Modern Conservatism, 1830-1914: An Intellectual History (Oxford University Press)
  • Tom Lambert, Law & Order in Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford University Press)
  • Chris Renwick, Bread for All: The Origins of the Welfare State (Allen Lane)
  • Zoë Waxman, Women in the Holocaust: A Feminist History (Oxford University Press)

The winner will be announced at the Longman-History Today awards evening in summer 2018.

Find out more about the Longman-History Today Awards

History Today | Published in
History Today | Published 10 May 2018
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Who Lost Czechoslovakia?

It is often taken for granted that all European nations involved in the early Cold War, save Germany, fell naturally onto one side of the Iron Curtain or the other. Yet Czechoslovakia was not pre-ordained to become part of the Soviet sphere. There were multiple opportunities for the United States to influence its position on the political map of Europe.

Benn Steil | Published 09 May 2018

The Times They Were A Changin’

Joe Street | Published 04 May 2018
‘Has this country gone mad?’, declaimed the Democratic politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the Saturday Evening Post during May 1968. To find the answer, all he needed to do was turn on the television, tune into the news and drop into a frenzy of political assassinations (including Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King), violent and nonviolent protests, an overseas war that was turning sour and a generation of young Americans seemingly hell-bent on summoning the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Fifty years later, historians still wonder about the meaning of this tortured year. Separated into three sections, Reframing 1968 cleverly...Read more »
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Across the Great Divide

In an age of renewed faction, a reminder of the power of friendship over politics. 

Friend to all: Sir Kenelm Digby. Studio of Anthony van Dyck, 17th century.
Friend to all: Sir Kenelm Digby. Studio of Anthony van Dyck, 17th century.

Sir Kenelm Digby lived through one of the most turbulent periods of British history. His father was hung, drawn and quartered for his role in the Gunpowder plot of 1605, when Kenelm was just two  years old. His devoutly Catholic wife, the society beauty Venetia Stanley, died suddenly in 1633 – and was portrayed on her death bed by Anthony van Dyck. His brother and his eldest son died fighting in the Civil Wars, while Digby was imprisoned by Parliament for his prominence among the ‘popish faction’, though he was allowed to keep a laboratory in captivity – which doubled up as a kitchen – where he continued to pursue his experiments in alchemy and natural science against a backdrop of intellectual ferment that would climax with the establishment of the Royal Society.

Name of Thrones

The lives of the kings and queens of England are among the best documented of the medieval period. Yet though we might be familiar with the objective details of a monarch’s reign – the battles they fought, the alliances they forged, even the intrigues of their courts – insights into what mattered to them personally are often elusive.

Rachel Tod | Published 02 May 2018

The Suffragette Songstress

Ethel Smyth took on the forces of inequality, in both politics and culture, producing highly acclaimed works of music that are now all but forgotten.

Skanderbeg: a Man for Our Times?

In charge: Skanderbeg fights  the Ottomans. Detail from the Memorial Wall of the National Skanderbeg Museum in Krujë.
In charge: Skanderbeg fights the Ottomans. Detail from the Memorial Wall of the National Skanderbeg Museum in Krujë.

You could be forgiven for missing the announcement that 2018 is the ‘Year of Skanderbeg’. The Albanian government made the decision late last year, as 2018 marks 550 years since his death, in 1468. Now an obscure figure outside Albania, for centuries Skanderbeg was lauded throughout Europe. ‘Land of Albania! Where Iskander rose; Theme of the young, and beacon of the wise,’ wrote Byron in 1812. Who was this forgotten hero – sometimes called ‘The Albanian Braveheart’ – and what relevance, if any, does he have today?

Karen Murdarasi | Published 30 April 2018
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Volume 68 Issue 5 May 2018

The Life and Death of North Africa's First Superstar

‘Never before in Tunisia’, noted the worried French Protectorate’s Director of Public Security, ‘has such a funeral taken place’. The cause of his concern was the funeral of North Africa’s first superstar, held in Tunis on 23 February 1930. By half past twelve, thousands of people had gathered on the Avenue de Londres, the main artery leading to Tunis’ Jewish quarters. They had come to mourn the singer Habiba Messika, who, aged 27, had been brutally murdered two days earlier.

Chris Silver | Published 24 April 2018

Poland and the Holocaust

Bitter memories: a German guard on the streets of Gdynia, occupied Poland, September 1939.
Bitter memories: a German guard on the streets of Gdynia, occupied Poland, September 1939.

Poland’s memory law, passed in February 2018, threatens to imprison anyone who falsely attributes German war crimes to the Polish state or nation. It exemplifies, albeit in extreme form, the manner in which individual countries’ forms of Holocaust remembrance are dictated more by national context than they are by any universal understanding of the Holocaust.

Daniel Tilles | Published 24 April 2018
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Volume 68 Issue 5 May 2018

The Ascension

A master of the early Renaissance depicts the moment that Christians regard as the confirmation of Jesus’ divinity.

Forty days after his resurrection, Christ, shrouded in clouds, ascends to Heaven. The climactic event of his time on Earth is witnessed by 11 of his 12 Disciples: Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver, had hanged himself in shame. Various accounts claim that St Paul the Apostle was also present, as well as the Virgin Mary, depicted by Giotto in blue, an expensive pigment worthy of the Mother of God. Christ is accompanied on his ascent by two angels who, according to the New Testament Book of Acts, promise that: ‘This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into Heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into Heaven.’

In an extraordinarily concise passage, St Mark’s Gospel summarises the Ascension in two sentences: ‘So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into Heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached elsewhere.’ Christ’s return to Heaven was the ultimate symbol of his divinity.

Giotto’s delicate fresco, part of a cycle, in the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua portrays Christ in profile, as if climbing. The painter, arguably the most significant artist of the early Renaissance, may have been influenced by a verse in medieval Ascension liturgies: ‘The Lord leads captivity captive, climbing on high to his holy place on Sinai.’ Christ’s hands pierce the frame of the image, a device employed for centuries in iconography. Artists within the orbit of Venice were often influenced by such Byzantine traditions.