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Learn about the study and theory of history with Book People's hand-picked selection of historical books.

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Study & Theory of History

  • First-Class Passengers on a Sinking Ship

    Richard Lachmann

    Product Code: CDBPI
    Hardback
    The extent and irreversibility of US decline is becoming ever more obvious as America loses war after war and as one industry after another loses its technological edge. Lachmann explains why the United States will not be able to sustain its global dominance. He contrasts America's relatively brief period of hegemony with the Netherlands' similarly short primacy and Britain's far longer era of leadership. Decline in all those cases was not inevitable and did not respond to global capitalist cycles. Rather, decline is the product of elites' success in grabbing control of resources and governmental powers. Not only are ordinary people harmed, but also capitalists become increasingly unable to coordinate their interests and adopt policies and make investments necessary to counter economic and geopolitical competitors elsewhere in the world. Conflicts among elites and challenges by non-elites determine the timing and mould the contours of decline. Lachmann traces the transformation of US politics from an era of elite consensus to present-day paralysis combined with neoliberal plunder, explains the paradox of an American military with an unprecedented technological edge unable to subdue even the weakest enemies, and the consequences of finance's cannibalisation of the US economy.
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  • Feelings Materialized

    Derek Hillard

    Product Code: CCYLZ
    Hardback
    Of the many innovative historiographical approaches to emerge during the twenty-first century, one of the most productive has been the nexus of theories and methodologies broadly defined as "the history of emotions." While this conceptual toolkit has generated significant insights into the past, it has overwhelmingly focused on emotions as linguistic and semantic phenomena. This edited volume looks instead to the material aspects of emotion in German culture, encompassing body, literature, photography, aesthetics, and a variety of other themes.
  • 97,196 Words

    Emmanuel Carrere

    Product Code: CBQWS
    Hardback
    From the bestselling author of The Adversary and 'France's greatest writer of nonfiction' (New York Times), the first collection of Carrere's essays in English. Over the course of his career, Emmanuel Carrere has reinvented non-fiction writing. In a search for truth in all its guises, he dispenses with the rules of genre. For him, no form is out of reach: theology, historiography, reportage and memoir - among many others - are fused under the pressure of an inimitable combination of passion, curiosity and intellect that has made Carrere one of our most distinctive and important literary voices today. 97,196 Words introduces Carrere's shorter work to an English-language audience. Featuring more than thirty extraordinary texts written over an illustrious twenty-five-year period of Carrere's creative life, the book shows a remarkable mind at work. Spanning continents, histories, and personal relationships, 97,196 Words considers the divides between truth, reality and our shared humanity, exploring remarkable events and eccentric lives, including Carrere's own.
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  • War & Peace

    Pierre Hazan

    Product Code: CBIKL
    Paperback
    Mankind has never ceased to think about, justify, prepare for, conduct and glorify war. Alongside this, there has always been a parallel endeavour to limit war's worst abuses, condemn it for its ravages, and imagine and work towards building a more just and peaceful world. The Martin Bodmer Foundation, a Swiss institution in UNESCO's 'Memory of the World' register, in partnership with the Red Cross and the United Nations Organization, is staging a show devoted to the contemporary realities of war and peace. The exhibition invites the public to reflect on how we think about war, and how peace can be built. Under the direction of Pierre Hazan - a former war reporter and diplomatic correspondent, now an advisor in the mediation of armed conflicts - the exhibition and its catalogue are structured in three parts: the rise of conflict, war and the law, and the construction of peace. War & Peace brings together insights from literature, fine arts, anthropology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, law, and politics. Literary works, propaganda posters, photography, paintings, engravings, and archival documents illuminate the dialogue between humankind's warlike nature and the desire for peace.
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  • Fighting Sleep

    Franny Nudelman

    Product Code: CAYKX
    Hardback
    On April 21, 1971, hundreds of Vietnam veterans fell asleep on the National Mall, wondering whether they would be arrested by daybreak. Veterans had fought the courts for the right to sleep in public while demonstrating against the war. When the Supreme Court denied their petition, they decided to break the law and turned sleep into a form of direct action. During and after the Second World War, military psychiatrists used sleep therapies to treat an epidemic of "combat fatigue." Inducing deep and twilight sleep in clinical settings, they studied the effects of war violence on the mind and developed the techniques of brainwashing that would weaponize both memory and sleep. In the Vietnam War era, radical veterans reclaimed the authority to interpret their own traumatic symptoms-nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia-and pioneered new methods of protest. In Fighting Sleep, Franny Nudelman recounts the struggle over sleep in the postwar world, revealing that sleep was instrumental to the development of military science, professional psychiatry, and antiwar activism. Traversing the fields of military and mainstream psychiatry, popular and institutional film, documentary sound technology, brain warfare, and postwar social movements, she demonstrates that sleep-far from being passive, empty, or null-is a site of contention and a source of political agency.
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  • Making Mongol History

    Stefan Kamola

    Product Code: BZIJD
    Hardback
    This book examines the life and work of Rashid al-Din Tabib (d. 1318), the most powerful statesman working for the Mongol Ilkhans in the Middle East. It begins with an overview of administrative history and historiography in the early Ilkhanate, culminating with Rashid al-Din's Blessed History of Ghazan, the indispensable source for Mongol and Ilkhanid history. Later chapters lay out the results of the most comprehensive study to date of the manuscripts of Rashid al-Din's historical writing. The complicated relationship between Rashid al-Din's historical and theological writings is also explored, as well as his appropriation of the work of his contemporary historian, `Abd Allah Qashani.
  • Conceptual History in the European Space

    Willibald Steinmetz

    Product Code: BZPXY
    Paperback
    The result of extensive collaboration among leading scholars from across Europe, Conceptual History in the European Space represents a landmark intervention in the historiography of concepts. It brings together ambitious thematic studies that combine the pioneering methods of historian Reinhart Koselleck with contemporary insights and debates, each one illuminating a key feature of the European conceptual landscape. With clarifying overviews of such contested theoretical terrain as translatability, spatiality, and center-periphery dynamics, it also provides indispensable contextualization for an era of widespread disenchantment with and misunderstanding of the European project.
  • The Library, Books 16-20

    Diodorus Siculus

    Product Code: BYKKG
    Paperback
    Starting with the most meagre resources, Philip made his kingdom the greatest power in Europe The Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily is one of our most valuable sources from ancient times. His history, in forty volumes, was intended to range from mythological times to 60 BCE, and fifteen of The Library's forty books survive. This new translation by Robin Waterfield of books 16-20 covers a vital period in European history. Book 16 is devoted to Philip, and without it the career of this great king would be far more obscure to us. Book 17 is the earliest surviving account by over a hundred years of the world-changing eastern conquests of Alexander the Great, Philip's son. Books 18-20 constitute virtually our sole source of information on the twenty turbulent years following Alexander's death and on the violent path followed by Agathocles of Syracuse. There are fascinating snippets of history from elsewhere too - from Republican Rome, the Cimmerian Bosporus, and elsewhere. Despite his obvious importance, Diodorus is a neglected historian. This is the first English translation of any of these books in over fifty years. The introduction places Diodorus in his context in first-century-BCE Rome, describes and discusses the kind of history he was intending to write, and assesses his strengths and weaknesses as a historian. With extensive explanatory notes on this gripping and sensational period of history, the book serves as a unique resource for historians and students.
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  • Staging the People

    Jacques Ranciere

    Product Code: BZLWY
    Paperback
    These essays from the 1970s mark the inception of the distinctive project that Jacques Ranci re has pursued across forty years, with four interwoven themes: the study of working-class identity, of its philosophical interpretation, of "heretical" knowledge and of the relationship between work and leisure. For the short-lived journal Les R voltes Logiques, Ranci re wrote on subjects ranging across a hundred years, from the California Gold Rush to trade-union collaboration with fascism, from early feminism to the "dictatorship of the proletariat," from the respectability of the Paris Exposition to the disrespectable carousing outside the Paris gates. Ranci re characteristically combines telling historical detail with deep insight into the development of the popular mind. In a new preface, he explains why such "rude words" as "people," "factory," "proletarians" and "revolution" still need to be spoken.
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  • Dissident Rabbi

    Yaacob Dweck

    Product Code: BYXSO
    Hardback
    In 1665, Sabbetai Zevi, a self-proclaimed Messiah with a mass following throughout the Ottoman Empire and Europe, announced that the redemption of the world was at hand. As Jews everywhere rejected the traditional laws of Judaism in favor of new norms established by Sabbetai Zevi, and abandoned reason for the ecstasy of messianic enthusiasm, one man watched in horror. Dissident Rabbi tells the story of Jacob Sasportas, the Sephardic rabbi who alone challenged Sabbetai Zevi's improbable claims and warned his fellow Jews that their Messiah was not the answer to their prayers. Yaacob Dweck's absorbing and richly detailed biography brings to life the tumultuous century in which Sasportas lived, an age torn apart by war, migration, and famine. He describes the messianic frenzy that gripped the Jewish Diaspora, and Sasportas's attempts to make sense of a world that Sabbetai Zevi claimed was ending. As Jews danced in the streets, Sasportas compiled The Fading Flower of the Zevi, a meticulous and eloquent record of Sabbatianism as it happened. In 1666, barely a year after Sabbetai Zevi heralded the redemption, the Messiah converted to Islam at the behest of the Ottoman sultan, and Sasportas's book slipped into obscurity. Dissident Rabbi is the revelatory account of a spiritual leader who dared to articulate the value of rabbinic doubt in the face of messianic certainty, and a revealing examination of how his life and legacy were rediscovered and appropriated by later generations of Jewish thinkers.
  • Photography, Truth and Reconciliation

    Melissa Miles (Monash Universi

    Product Code: BXHRI
    Paperback
    Photography, Truth and Reconciliation charts the connections between photography and a crucial issue in contemporary social history. The book examines the prevalence of photography in cultural responses to processes of truth and reconciliation, and argues that photographs are a valuable means through which stories can be retold and historiography can be rethought. Five compelling case studies from Argentina, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Cambodia underscore the special role that this medium has played in facilitating processes of recovery, and in reconstructing suppressed histories, even when a documentary record of the events does not exist. The diverse practices addressed in this book - including artistic, protest, institutional, archival, legal and personal photography - prompt a new consideration of photography's links to presence, place, time, spectatorship and justice. Collectively, these practices attest to photography's key role in transitional justice, and in shaping historical understanding internationally. Important reading for students taking photography, visual culture, history and media studies courses, Photography, Truth and Reconciliation explores key historical and theoretical themes, including photography and testimony, international discourses on human rights and justice, and problematic notions of public and collective memory.
  • Natural Experiments of History

    Jared Diamond

    Product Code: BWQTY
    Paperback
    Some central questions in the natural and social sciences can't be answered by controlled laboratory experiments, often considered to be the hallmark of the scientific method. This impossibility holds for any science concerned with the past. In addition, many manipulative experiments, while possible, would be considered immoral or illegal. One has to devise other methods of observing, describing, and explaining the world. In the historical disciplines, a fruitful approach has been to use natural experiments or the comparative method. This book consists of eight comparative studies drawn from history, archeology, economics, economic history, geography, and political science. The studies cover a spectrum of approaches, ranging from a non-quantitative narrative style in the early chapters to quantitative statistical analyses in the later chapters. The studies range from a simple two-way comparison of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, to comparisons of 81 Pacific islands and 233 areas of India. The societies discussed are contemporary ones, literate societies of recent centuries, and non-literate past societies. Geographically, they include the United States, Mexico, Brazil, western Europe, tropical Africa, India, Siberia, Australia, New Zealand, and other Pacific islands. In an Afterword, the editors discuss how to cope with methodological problems common to these and other natural experiments of history.
  • History in the Plural

    Niklas Olsen

    Product Code: BVWSX
    Paperback
    Reinhart Koselleck (1923 - 2006) was one of most imposing and influential European intellectual historians in the twentieth century. Constantly probing and transgressing the boundaries of mainstream historical writing, he created numerous highly innovative approaches, absorbing influences from other academic disciplines as represented in the work of philosophers and political thinkers like Hans Georg Gadamer and Carl Schmitt and that of internationally renowned scholars such as Hayden White, Michel Foucault, and Quentin Skinner. An advocate of "grand theory," Koselleck was an inspiration to many scholars and helped move the discipline into new directions (such as conceptual history, theories of historical times and memory) and across disciplinary and national boundaries. He thus achieved a degree of international fame that was unusual for a German historian after 1945. This book not only presents the life and work of a "great thinker" and European intellectual, it also contributes to our understanding of complex theoretical and methodological issues in the cultural sciences and to our knowledge of the history of political, historical, and cultural thought in Germany from the 1950s to the present.
  • Meiji Restoration Losers

    Michael Wert

    Product Code: BVWID
    Hardback
    This book is about the "losers" of the Meiji Restoration and the supporters who promoted their legacy. Although the violence of the Meiji Restoration is typically downplayed, the trauma was real, and those who felt marginalized from the mainstream throughout modern Japan looked to these losers as models of action. Using a wide range of sources, from essays by former Tokugawa supporters like Fukuzawa Yukichi to postwar film and "lost decade" manga, Michael Wert traces the shifting portrayals of Restoration losers. By highlighting the overlooked sites of memory such as legends about buried gold, the awarding of posthumous court rank, or fighting over a disembodied head, Wert illustrates how the process of commemoration and rehabilitation allows individuals a voice in the formation of national history. He argues that the commingling of local memory activists with nationally known politicians, academics, writers, and treasure hunters formed interconnecting memory landscapes that promoted local figures as potential heroes in modern Japan.
  • The Orange Trees of Marrakesh

    Stephen Frederic Dale

    Product Code: BVUDT
    Hardback
    In his masterwork Muqaddimah, the Arab Muslim Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), a Tunisian descendant of Andalusian scholars and officials in Seville, developed a method of evaluating historical evidence that allowed him to identify the underlying causes of events. His methodology was derived from Aristotelian notions of nature and causation, and he applied it to create a dialectical model that explained the cyclical rise and fall of North African dynasties. The Muqaddimah represents the world's first example of structural history and historical sociology. Four centuries before the European Enlightenment, this work anticipated modern historiography and social science. In Stephen F. Dale's The Orange Trees of Marrakesh, Ibn Khaldun emerges as a cultured urban intellectual and professional religious judge who demanded his fellow Muslim historians abandon their worthless tradition of narrative historiography and instead base their works on a philosophically informed understanding of social organizations. His strikingly modern approach to historical research established him as the premodern world's preeminent historical scholar. It also demonstrated his membership in an intellectual lineage that begins with Plato, Aristotle, and Galen; continues with the Greco-Muslim philosophers al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes; and is renewed with Montesquieu, Hume, Adam Smith, and Durkheim.
  • The Rhythm of Eternity

    Robbert-Jan Adriaansen

    Product Code: BVTVU
    Hardback
    The Weimar era in Germany is often characterized as a time of significant change. Such periods of rupture transform the way people envision the past, present, and future. This book traces the conceptions of time and history in the Germany of the early 20th century. By focusing on both the discourse and practices of the youth movement, the author shows how it reinterpreted and revived the past to overthrow the premises of modern historical thought. In so doing, this book provides insight into the social implications of the ideological de-historicization of the past.
  • Sensitive Pasts

    Carla van Boxtel

    Product Code: BVQUV
    Hardback
    Heritage, as an area of research and learning, often deals with difficult historical questions, due to the strong emotions and political commitments that are often at stake. In this, it poses particular challenges for teachers, museum educators and the publics they serve. Guided by a shared focus on these "sensitive pasts," the contributors to this volume draw on new theoretical and empirical research to provide valuable insights into heritage pedagogy. Together they demonstrate the potential of heritage as a historical-educational domain that transcends myopic patriotism, parochialism and simplistic relativism, helping to enhance critical and sophisticated historical thinking.
  • Conceptual History in the European Space

    Willibald Steinmetz

    Product Code: BVIAW
    Hardback
    The result of extensive collaboration among leading scholars from across the European continent, Conceptual History in the European Space represents a landmark intervention in the historiography of concepts. It brings together ambitious thematic studies that combine the pioneering methods of historian Reinhart Koselleck with contemporary insights and debates, each one illuminating a key feature of the European conceptual landscape. With clarifying overviews of such contested theoretical terrain as translatability, spatiality, and center-periphery dynamics, it also provides indispensable contextualization for an era of widespread disenchantment with and misunderstanding of the European project.
  • Evidence and Meaning

    Jorn Rusen

    Product Code: BVHZK
    Hardback
    As one of the premier historical thinkers of his generation, Jorn Rusen has made enormous contributions to the methods and theoretical framework of history as it is practiced today. In Evidence and Meaning, Rusen surveys the seismic changes that have shaped the historical profession over the last half-century, while offering a clear, economical account of his theory of history. To traditional historiography Rusen brings theoretical insights from philosophy, narrative theory, cultural studies, and the social sciences, developing an intricate but robust model of "historical thinking" as both a cognitive discipline and a cultural practice-one that is susceptible neither to naive empiricism nor radical relativism.
  • Modern Germany in Transatlantic Perspective

    Michael Meng

    Product Code: BVGUH
    Hardback
    Bringing together incisive contributions from an international group of colleagues and former students, Modern Germany in Transatlantic Perspective takes stock of the field of German history as exemplified by the extraordinary scholarly career of Konrad H. Jarausch. Through fascinating reflections on the discipline's theoretical, professional, and methodological dimensions, it explores Jarausch's monumental work as a teacher and a builder of scholarly institutions. In this way, it provides not merely a look back at the last fifty years of German history, but a path forward as new ideas and methods infuse the study of Germany's past.
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  • The Making of Selim

    H. Erdem Cipa

    Product Code: BVAVP
    Paperback
    The father of the legendary Ottoman sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, Selim I ("The Grim") set the stage for centuries of Ottoman supremacy by doubling the size of the empire. Conquering Eastern Anatolia, Syria, and Egypt, Selim promoted a politicized Sunni Ottoman* identity against the Shiite Safavids of Iran, thus shaping the early modern Middle East. Analyzing a wide array of sources in Ottoman-Turkish, Persian, and Arabic, H. Erdem Cipa offers a fascinating revisionist reading of Selim's rise to power and the subsequent reworking and mythologizing of his persona in 16th- and 17th-century Ottoman historiography. In death, Selim continued to serve the empire, becoming represented in ways that reinforced an idealized image of Muslim sovereignty in the early modern Eurasian world.
  • Charting the Past

    Jeremy Black

    Product Code: BUUDZ
    Paperback
    Eighteenth-century England was a place of enlightenment and revolution: new ideas abounded in science, politics, transportation, commerce, religion, and the arts. But even as England propelled itself into the future, it was preoccupied with notions of its past. Jeremy Black considers the interaction of history with knowledge and culture in eighteenth-century England and shows how this engagement with the past influenced English historical writing. The past was used as a tool to illustrate the contemporary religious, social, and political debates that shaped the revolutionary advances of the era. Black reveals this "present-centered" historical writing to be so valued and influential in the eighteenth-century that its importance is greatly underappreciated in current considerations of the period. In his customarily vivid and sweeping approach, Black takes readers from print shop to church pew, courtroom to painter's studio to show how historical writing influenced the era, which in turn gave birth to the modern world.
  • A Path Twice Traveled

    Paul A. Cohen

    Product Code: BUHDM
    Paperback
    In this memoir, Paul A. Cohen, one of the West's preeminent historians of China, traces the development of his work from its inception in the early 1960s to the present, offering fresh perspectives that consistently challenge us to think more deeply about China and the historical craft in general. A memoir, of course, is itself a form of history. But for a historian, writing a memoir on one's career is quite different from the creation of that career in the first place. This is what Cohen alludes to in the title A Path Twice Traveled. The title highlights the important disparity between the past as originally experienced and the past as later reconstructed, by which point both the historian and the world have undergone extensive change. This distinction, which conveys nicely the double meaning of the word history, is very much on Cohen's mind throughout the book. He returns to it explicitly in the memoir's final chapter, appropriately titled "Then and Now: The Two Histories."
  • How Democracies Die

    Steven Levitsky

    Product Code: BTPVM
    Paperback
    How does a democracy die? What can we do to save our own? What lessons does history teach us? In the 21st century democracy is threatened like never before. Drawing insightful lessons from across history - from Pinochet's murderous Chilean regime to Erdogan's quiet dismantling in Turkey - Levitsky and Ziblatt explain why democracies fail, how leaders like Trump subvert them today and what each of us can do to protect our democratic rights. 'A useful primer on the importance of norms, institutional restraints and civic participation in maintaining a democracy - and how quickly those things can erode when we're not paying attention' President Barack Obama 'A must-read' Andrew Marr, Sunday Times 'Excellent, scholarly, readable, alarming and level-headed' Nick Cohen, Observer 'The greatest of the many merits of Levitsky and Ziblatt's How Democracies Die is their rejection of western exceptionalism. They tell inspiring stories I had not heard before. Excellent' Nick Cohen, Observer 'Provocative, timely. One of my favourite reads this year' Elif Shafak, author of The Bastard of Istanbul 'Anyone who is concerned about the future of democracy should read this brisk, accessible book. Anyone who is not concerned should definitely read it' Daron Acemoglu, co-author of Why Nations Fail 'A lucid and essential guide to what can happen' Jennifer Szalai, New York Times 'We owe the authors a debt of thanks for bringing their deep understanding to bear on the central political issue of the day' Francis Fukuyama, author of Political Order and Political Decay 'In this brilliant historical synthesis, Levitsky and Ziblatt show how the actions of elected leaders around the world have paved the road to democratic failure, and why the United States is now vulnerable to this same downward spiral. This book should be widely and urgently read as a clarion call to restore the shared beliefs and practices-beyond our formal constitution - that constitute the essential 'guardrails' for preserving democracy' Larry Diamond, author of The Spirit of Democracy
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