Miscellanies

The Not-So-Special Relationship

The much-vaunted 'special relationship' between Britain and the United States obscures another history of rivalry and suspicion between the two allies.

Where to Dance in Victorian Britain

Do you want to dance? As the 19th century wore on, the Victorians certainly did, requiring new venues in which to mix music and movement, whether a pub or a palace.

The Other Zionism

In the late 1800s, a new church promised to reshape human bodies into a redeemed race, transcending biology and ethnicity. Inhabitants of the dirty, sick slums of the world’s recently industrialised cities were increasingly drawn to the call of Zion.  

Vikings: Warriors of No Nation

Norse travellers reached every corner of the known world, but they were not tourists. The ‘racially pure’ Vikings of stereotype were, in fact, cultural chameleons adopting local habits, languages and religions. 

The United States of Africa?

Is a united Africa, freed from the legacy of colonialism, possible? The Pan-African movement has been advocated by many different voices, underpinned by a belief in the common destiny in the peoples of Africa.

Policing the Outback

The Native Police was one of the most deadly death squads in Australian history, considered by some historians to be the single biggest killer of Aboriginal people in the colony during the late 19th century. The consequences are still playing out today. 

The Elusive Byzantine Empire

Though the beginnings of the Byzantine Empire are unclear, its demise is not. The history of the Eastern Roman Empire, from its foundation in 324 to its conquest in 1453, is one of war, plague, architectural triumphs and fear of God's wrath.

Dracula Beats the Communists

Bram Stoker’s novel was a mixed blessing for Romania. It attracted tourists, but the legend was at odds with communist ideals and made a villain of a national hero.

Sex, Violence and Hollywood

Alarm about moral degeneracy and ‘family values’ provoked Hollywood to instigate its own self-censorship codes in the 1920s. The industry's preoccupation with American morality proved to be the source of inspiration and even genius.

The Sons of Mars

The struggle for control of the straits dividing Sicily from southern Italy brought the two great empires of the Mediterranean, Carthage and Rome, head to head. It was a world in which ruthless mercenaries prospered.