History

Study & Theory of History

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    Much of Peter Ackroyd's work has been concerned with the life and past of London but here, as a culmination, is his definitive account of the city. For him it is a living organism, with its own laws of growth and change, so London is a biography rather than a history. It differs from other histories, too, in the range and diversity of its contents. Ackroyd portrays London from the time of the Druids to the beginning of the twenty-first century, noting magnificence in both epochs, but this is not a simple chronological record. There are chapters on the history of silence and the history of light, the history of childhood and the history of suicide, the history of Cockney speech and the history of drink. London is perhaps the most important study of the city ever written, and confirms Ackroyd's status as what one critic has called 'our age's greatest London imagination.'
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    Hugh Trevor-Roper was one of the most gifted historians of the twentieth century. His scholarly interests ranged widely - from the Puritan Revolution to the Scottish Enlightenment. Yet he was also fascinated by the events of his own lifetime and wrote widely on issues of espionage and intelligence, as well as maintaining a fascination with the workings - and personalities - of Nazi Germany. In this volume, a variety of contributors - many of whom knew Trevor-Roper personally - engage with his scholarship and analyse his greatest achievements as an historian. Covering the full range of Trevor-Roper's interests, this volume will be essential for anyone who wishes to better understand this great historian and his work.
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    The Bin Ladens are shrouded in secrecy, living in one of the most closed, unaccountable countries on earth. Little has been known about the world that created Osama - until now. In this gripping account prizewinning journalist Steve Coll has interviewed those closest to the family who rose from Yemeni peasants to jetsetting millionaires in two generations. In doing so, he reveals a Saudi Arabia torn between religious purity and the temptations of the West, telling a story of oil, money, power, patronage and dangerous cultural extremes.
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    A comprehensive history of the Nazi persecution and murder of European Jews, paying detailed attention to an unrivalled range sources. Focusing clearly on the perpetrators and exploring closely the process of decision making, Longerich argues that anti-Semitism was not a mere by-product of the Nazis' political mobilization or an attempt to deflect the attention of the masses, but that anti-Jewish policy was a central tenet of the Nazi movement's attempts to implement, disseminate, and secure National Socialist rule - and one which crucially shaped Nazi policy decisions, from their earliest days in power through to the invasion of the Soviet Union and the Final Solution. As Longerich shows, the 'disappearance' of Jews was designed as a first step towards a racially homogeneous society - first within the 'Reich', later in the whole of a German-dominated Europe.
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    A masterly exploration of the strange twists and turns of history, "The World That Never Was" follows the interweaving lives of several key anarchists, and of the secret police who tracked them. Framed by the Paris Commune of 1871 and the 1905 revolution in St Petersburg, and spread across five continents, theirs is the story of a generation that saw the dream of Utopia crumble, to be replaced by a dangerous desperation. Here is a revelatory portrait of an era with uncanny echoes of our own.
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    Those who survived the Second World War stared out onto a devastated, morally ruined world. Much of Europe and Asia had been so ravaged that it was unclear whether any form of normal life could ever be established again. Everywhere the 'Atlantic' world (the USA, Britain and a handful of allies) was on the defensive and its enemies on the move. For every Atlantic success there seemed to be a dozen Communist or 'Third World' successes, as the USSR and its proxies crushed dissent and humiliated the United States on both military and cultural grounds. For all the astonishing productivity of the American, Japanese and mainland western European economies (setting aside the fiasco of Britain's implosion), most of the world was either under Communist rule or lost in a violent stagnancy that seemed doomed to permanence. Then, suddenly, the Atlantic won - economically, ideologically, militarily - with astonishing speed and completeness.
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    Robert Irwin's history of Orientalism leads from Ancient Greece to the present. He shows that, whether making philological comparisons between Arabic and Hebrew, cataloguing the coins of Fatimid Egypt or establishing the basic chronology of Harun al-Rashid's military campaigns against Byzantium, scholars have been unified not by politics or ideology but by their shared obsession. For Lust of Knowing is an extraordinary, passionate book, both a sustained argument and a brilliant work of original scholarship.
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    In Reappraisals award-winning historian Tony Judt argues that we have entered an 'age of forgetting' where we have set aside our immediate past even before we could make sense of it. We have lost touch with generations of international policy debate, social thought and public spirited social activism - and no longer even know how to discuss such concepts - and have forgotten the role once played by intellectuals in debating, transmitting and defending the ideas that shaped their time. Reappraisals is a masterful collection of essays, examinging the tragedy of twentieth-century Europe by way of thought-provoking pieces on Hannah Arendt, Edward Said, Albert Camus and Henry Kissinger, amongst others. It is a road map back to the historical sense we urgently need and it is essential reading.
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    No English king is more famous-or infamous! than Henry VIII, popularly celebrated as the formidable and arrogant figure portrayed by Hans Holbein the Younger, the early Tudor stud who clocked up no fewer than six wives and the proto-nationalist/imperialist ruler who sent the pope packing and inaugurated the English Reformation. As befits such a colossus, masses has been written about the king, not only by contemporary and near-contemporary commentators, even William Shakespeare, but also professional and amateur historians ever since. Hence this richly illustrated survey of the evolution of Henry VIII's reputation over half a millennium.
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    Two explorers set out on a journey from which only one of them will return. Their unknown land is that often fearsome continent we call the 20th Century. Their route is through their own minds and memories. Both travellers are professional historians still tormented by their own unanswered questions. They needed to talk to one another, and the time was short. This is a book about the past, but it is also an argument for the kind of future we should strive for. "Thinking the Twentieth Century" is about the life of the mind - and the mindful life.
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    Interest in local history just continues to grow. For the professional and amateur alike, in the context of the local experience the past becomes real and immediate, as the stories of individuals, families and communities emerge from our research. And now more than ever, a wealth of primary and secondary source material is within everyone's reach. This invaluable book, written by one of our most eminent and experienced local historians, and now completely updated, provides clear, wise and always practical advice about the process of research and writing. It gives essential guidance on a wide range of key topics, including finding sources; transcribing, analysing and interpreting evidence; writing; historical perspectives and methods; and ways to present and publish the finished product. Using examples and exercises the author guides the reader through the whole process. Written with humour and understanding, and attractively illustrated, this book is an enjoyable and fascinating introduction to the subject, especially useful to those who enjoy local history but wish to write and possibly publish, and to students on local history courses who want authoritative guidance on the preparation of dissertations and theses.
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    With the rendering of first-hand information from extraordinary historians in the East who are completely unknown to West and the juxtaposition of their insight and the events that are unfolding in today's all-controversial flashpoints around the globe - Britain, Europe, Russia, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, the Arabian peninsula/Middle East, North Africa, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Indian-sub continent, South East Asia, China, Korea, the United States and Japan, or rather in one word, Eurasia - Tony Kosuge demonstrates through - his incredible analysis that the on-going global crisis we are facing today can be perceived as a visible historical movement spanning from the beginning of two world civilizations - the old East and the new West - and in light of the historical implication, how today's deteriorating diplomatic movements could eventually end up. Kosuge's intuition will no doubt surprise readers in that both the problem and the solution must come at a high price for the countries of the remaining East, in particular Japan, at the epicentre of this unprecedented turmoil.In facing the rapidly spreading crisis on a world-wide scale in this age of globalisation, Kosuge reveals why the West must be much more proactive in the process of restructuring diplomatic relations from an informed and truly global viewpoint, with the understanding of what sort of intellectual creation of a New World Order is required for the modernisation of the East and for the birth of a genuine international community to evade the ultimate catastrophe for our precious earth.
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    This unprecedented book, by one of Britain's leading intellectual historians, describes the intellectual impact that the study and consideration of the past has had in the western world over the past 2500 years, treating the practise of history not as an isolated pursuit but as an aspect of human society and an essential part of the cultural history of Europe and America. It magnificently brings to life the work of historians from the Greeks to the present, explaining their distinctive qualities and allowing the modern reader to appreciate and enjoy them. But is also examines subjects as diverse as the new perspectives brought about by the rise of Rome, the interests of medieval chroniclers, the effects of Romanticism and the emergence towards the end of the nineteenth century of an historical profession.It sets out to be not the history of an academic discipline, but a history of choice: the choice of pasts, and the ways they have been demarcated, investigated, presented and even sometimes learned from as they have changed according to political, religious, cultural and (often most importantly) patriotic circumstances.
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    'An extraordinary book ...exceptionally fascinating, always readable and penetratingly intelligent' David Abulafia 'As rich, funny and teemingly peopled as Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time ...Dinshaw writes with wit and elegance, and the most elegiac passages of Outlandish Knight evoke a lost society London and way of life' Ben Judah, Financial Times 'This dazzling young writer is a mine of fascinating, memorable and totally useless information...I have been riveted by this book from start to finish, and leave the reader with one word of advice. Watch Minoo Dinshaw. He will go far' John Julius Norwich, Sunday Telegraph The biography of one of the greatest British historians - but also of a uniquely strange and various man In his enormously long life, Steven Runciman managed not just to be a great historian of the Crusades and Byzantium, but Grand Orator of the Orthodox Church, a member of the Order of Whirling Dervishes, Greek Astronomer Royal and Laird of Eigg. His friendships, curiosities and intrigues entangled him in a huge array of different artistic movements, civil wars, Cold War betrayals and, above all, the rediscovery of the history of the Eastern Mediterranean. He was as happy living in a remote part of the Inner Hebrides as in the heart of Istanbul. He was obsessed with historical truth, but also with tarot, second sight, ghosts and the uncanny. Outlandish Knight is a dazzling debut by a writer who has prodigious gifts, but who also has had the ability to spot one of the great biographical subjects. This is an extremely funny book about a man who attracted the strangest experiences, but also a very serious one. It is about the rigours of a life spent in the distant past, but also about the turbulent world of the twentieth century, where so much that Runciman studied and cherished would be destroyed.
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    Some days change the world. Monday, July 25, 1698 was one of them. In London, an anonymous clerk at the Great Seal Patent Office granted patent number 356, 'A new Invention for Raiseing of Water and occasioning Motion to all Sorts of Mill Work by the Impellent Force of Fire'. Steam power was born, and with it the Industrial Revolution. But why did steam power happen when it did? And why was it Great Britain and her onetime North American colonies that staked out a technical and commercial lead over the rest of the world which they would never really relinquish? With "The Most Powerful Idea in the World", Bill Rosen combines narrative history with cutting-edge scientific theory to offer a simple, controversial answer: Britain's unique patent laws were the vital catalyst. In this remarkable book, we discover that only in Britain did the law enshrine the notion that people should profit from their ideas, and so was born the first generation in human history in which the desire to invent was prompted not simply by the quest for knowledge but by a drive for financial glory. Rosen takes us on a journey from the factories of the Black Country to Pennsylvanian iron foundries and Peruvian silver mines, as he tracks the incredible acceleration of the Revolution. He introduces us to thinkers like John Locke and Edmund Burke who provided the philosophical framework for these great advances; inventive geniuses like Thomas Newcomen, James Watt, William Murdoch and George Stephenson; and the keen entrepreneurs, like Matthew Boulton, who transformed these technological leaps into pure profit. Rich in extraordinary detail, "The Most Powerful Idea in the World" is popular history at its absolute best: a compelling, authoritative and completely new perspective on one of humanity's most important eras.
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    Drawing on his four decades as a professional historian, Shlomo Sand interrogates the academic discipline of history, whose origin lay in the need for a national ideology. In the last few decades, traditional history has begun to fragment, yet only to give rise to a new role of historians as priests of official memory. Working in Israel has sharpened Sand's perspective, since the role of history as national myth is particularly salient in a country where the Bible is treated as a history book. He asks such questions as: Is every historical narrative ideologically marked? Do political requirements and state power weigh down inordinately on historical research and teaching? And, in such conditions, can there be a morally neutral and 'scientific' truth? Despite his trenchant criticism of academic history, Sand would still like to believe that the past can be understood without myth, and sees pointers for this in the work of Weber and Sorel.
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    The classic explanation of the craft of history and the vital worth of historians to civilizationIn this volume, English historian Richard Evans offers a defence of the importance of his craft. At a time when fact and historical truth are under unprecedented assault, Evans shows us why history is necessary. Taking us into the historians' workshop to show us just how good history gets written, he demolishes the wilder claims of postmodern historians, who deny the possibility of any realistic grasp of history, and explains the deadly political dangers of losing a historical perspective on the way we live our lives.
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    An Irish Independent book of the year. Did the Versailles Peace Treaty cause World War II? The Versailles Peace Treaty - the pact that ended World War I between the German empire and the Allies - has long been regarded as one of the key causes of World War II. Its requirements for massive reparation payments, it is argued, crippled Germany's economy, de-stabilised the country's political life, and paved the way for Hitler. Here, Jurgen Tampke disputes this commonplace view, suggesting that Germany got away with its responsibility for World War I, that the treaty was nowhere near as punitive as people think, and that the German hyper-inflation of the 1920s was a deliberate policy to minimise the cost of paying reparations. This is a controversial and important work of revisionist history, which challenges one of the greatest misconceptions of our times.
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    Encyclopedias have traditionally claimed to provide absolute knowledge, yet with information now among the world's most valuable commodities, this Brief History is a timely consideration of how accurate that claim can ever be. While the omissions and distortions of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia may seem easy enough to spot, what are those of, for example, the Britannica, the Universalis and the Brockhaus? And, moreover, is the encyclopedic project fundamentally flawed? Since the Middle Ages, rapid advancements in science have made all encyclopedias effectively obsolete virtually immediately they are published. Has the age of online encyclopedias done away with this problem, or introduced new ones all of its own? A Brief History of Encyclopedias is a fascinating account of an unjustly neglected area of cultural history.
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    'A poem should not mean,/ But be,' or so the twentieth century literati would have had us believe. Yet from the earliest of classical narratives to modern-day e-zines, literary works have been turned to political, didactic and symbolic ends. In this groundbreaking work, Lee Rourke traces the long history of a form currently enjoying a resurgence online and in the works of some of the most talented young authors in print. As we begin to emerge from modernism and its aftermath, fables - the briefest of narratives given the most expansive of significations - have gained in popularity. Author and literary critic Rourke here considers the permutations of the form, from Aesop's tortoise and hare, via Plato's socio-political works and the later ribald medieval tales, to Kafka's anthropomorphism and present-day authors including Blake Butler, Joseph Young, Shane Jones and Jonathan Lethem. A Brief History of Fables offers a bold take on the new face of literature.
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    The past is capricious enough to support every stance - no matter how questionable. In 2002, the Bush administration decided that dealing with Saddam Hussein was like appeasing Hitler or Mussolini, and promptly invaded Iraq. Were they wrong to look to history for guidance? No; their mistake was to exaggerate one of its lessons while suppressing others of equal importance. History is often hijacked through suppression, manipulation, and, sometimes, even outright deception. MacMillan's book is packed full of examples of the abuses of history. In response, she urges us to treat the past with care and respect.
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    John Kirk was the only companion of explorer David Livingstone to emerge untainted from the disastrous, tragic expedition up the Zambezi river between 1859 and 1863. Three years later, Kirk returned to Africa, to the notorious island of Zanzibar, ancient post of the slave trade between Africa and the Middle East. Half a century after the abolition of slavery in Britain, slave trafficking persisted on Africa's east coast, apparently tolerated and even connived with by parts of the British Empire in the Indian Ocean. Kirk, appointed as medical officer to the British Consulate in Zanzibar, could do nothing. This extraordinary and controversial book brings Kirk's years in Zanzibar to life. The horrors of the overland passage from the interior, and the Zanzibar slave market itself, are vividly described, together with Kirk's final, bitter conflict with Livingstone, who blamed Kirk for his own failings. But it was Kirk's success in closing down the slave trade on the island which made him famous across the world. Using private diaries and papers, a long forgotten Victorian hero and an extraordinary chapter in British history are revived in detail.
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    Who is to say how things really were? In formulating a modern answer to the question 'What is History?' Professor Carr shows that the 'facts' of history are simply those which historians have selected for scrutiny. Millions have crossed the Rubicon, but the historians tell us that only Caesar's crossing was significant. All historical facts come to us as a result of interpretative choices by historians influenced by the standards of their age. Yet if absolute objectivity is impossible, the role of the historian need in no way suffer; nor does history lose its fascination. This edition includes new material which presents the major conclusions of Professor Carr's notes for the second edition and a new preface by the author, in which he calls for 'a saner and more balanced outlook on the future'.
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    In this illuminating and thoughtful book, Will and Ariel Durant have succeeded in distilling for the reader the accumulated store of knowledge and experience from their five decades of work on the eleven monumental volumes of The Story of Civilization. The result is a survey of human history, full of dazzling insights into the nature of human experience, the evolution of civilization, and the culture of man. With the completion of their life's work, they look back and ask what history has to say about the nature, the conduct and the prospects of man, seeking in the great lives, the great ideas, the great events of the past for the meaning of man's long journey through war, conquest and creation - and for the great themes that can help us to understand our own era.