Kathryn Johnson Reviews “A World Elsewhere” by Sigrid MacRae

“A World Elsewhere” by Sigrid MacRae is a book with many different stories. On the surface, it’s a look at wartime Germany from the inside, but as you read on, you realize that it’s far, far more than that. This is the story of an outsiders view from the inside, of the authors American mother living in wartime Germany; the …

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Rebecca Rideal reviews “Deus Vult” by Jem Duducu

Deus Vult: A Concise History Of The Crusades By Jem Duducu Amberley Publishing (2014) In 312AD, the Roman Empire was in the grips of civil war. Torn between rival emperors Constantine and Maxentius, events reached a crescendo with the Battle of Milvian Bridge. On the eve of the battle Constantine had visions of Jesus and decided to adorn his troops …

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Fear then and now.

During Counter-terrorism week in 2014, police nationwide distributed leaflets to commuters on how to behave in a terror attack, with advice such as “run, hide and tell”. It ignited a debate vacillating between sardonic criticism of this anodyne phrasing and outrage at government fear-mongering. Despite living in an ‘age of terror’, many of us consider self-defence in anticipation of a …

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Concerning Hobbits

A few years back I stumbled upon a Hobbit hole. I chanced upon it in a lecture of 1900 by John Rhys, the first Oxford Professor of Celtic. Rhys was arguing that behind the divinities, demons, fairies and phantoms of Celtic folklore are dim memories of various peoples that once inhabited the British Isles. What especially drew my attention was …

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Of Counter-Factuals and Contingency

“But when fundamentals are doubted, as at present, we must try to recover the candour and wonder of the child; the unspoilt realism of and objectivity of innocence. Or, if we cannot do that, we must try at least to shake off the cloud of mere custom and see the thing as new, if only by seeing it as unnatural.” …

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David Tiedemann reviews ‘Bunker Hill’ by Nathaniel Philbrick

One of the problems with popular history of the American Revolution, and its era, is that it has been largely unable to free itself from the “Great Men of History” style. One needs to look no further than the two books by David McCullough, on John Adams, and the military leadership of the Continental Army in 1776, published in the …

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Five minutes with… Terry Deary

Terry Deary is well known as the author of the Horrible Histories series. His new book series, Dangerous Days is popular history aimed at adult readers.   The latest in the series, Dangerous Days in Elizabethan England, is out now, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. What is an historian? I think you’d have to ask an historian that. I’m just a …

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Tolkien’s English Mythology

J.R.R. Tolkien’s tales of Middle-earth are hailed as founding texts of modern fantasy. But his recently published commentary on the Old English poem Beowulf suggests that Tolkien saw his creative writing as a work of historical reconstruction. The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings were conceived as the original stories behind an ancient but long lost English …

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The Mighty Turkey: An American Historical Icon

Thanksgiving is fast descending on the American landscape. At the end of November, millions of Americans, fueled by an unquenchable passion for gluttony-based nostalgia, will sharpen their carving knives and engage in the mass ritual slaughter of turkeys in the name of a national feast that puts any pyramid-topped, beating heart extirpating, ancient Aztec sun-god sacrifice to shame. Yes, it’s …

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Temporality Matters: The History Manifesto

“A history undergraduate places aside her work on an assignment for a few hours to surf the Web, and what she sees there worries her. It always troubles her, because her conscience keeps asking her how to connect her work with the world outside the university. She thinks of herself as a reformer, and corruption, pollution, and inequality rock her …

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David Tiedemann Reviews ‘The Dead Duke’ by Piu Marie Eatwell

The purpose of the kind of popular historical writing exemplified in The Dead Duke, by Piu Marie Eatwell, is to present a period or subject to a non specialized audience in an accessible way.  Hopefully by the end of the work the reader’s genuine curiosity is piped and they can go on to explore the era further. Taking this function …

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The Bloody History of Chocolate

Delicious chocolate has a far stranger history than you may at first think biting into its brown creamyness. Chocolate is derived from Theobroma cacao seeds, better known as cocoa beans, which are indigenous to South America. The very earliest discovery of chocolate being processed for human consumption comes from drinking cups that have been dated to around 1,750 BC. These cups were …

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The Romans Couldn’t Decide on Their Origins

We are often told how “civilised” and how much better the Romans were than the surrounding barbarians (the word barbarian comes from the Roman era, the Romans couldn’t understand these languages and thought they were just saying “bar, bar” all the time so barbarian means some who says bar all the time). However the Romans weren’t always as smart as …

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An Endangered Species: Britain’s Non-Royal Duchesses

What a joy it is in this internet era, when so much information is ‘out there’ and (it seems) just about everything has been discovered, to find subjects which remain unexplored.  With historical topics, newly-opened archives can offer fresh information. When an area of what might be called living history turns out to be unexamined, it is very exciting. Britain’s …

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The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

Exclusive extract from the first chapter of  ‘The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse’ by Piu Marie Eatwell After a long and dreary drive through wet country lanes, the party that included the ‘young duke ’ – for that was the identity of the pale and heavy-eyed young man of twenty-two – arrived at its destination. Welbeck …

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