Book Reviews

The Historian is the publication for general members of the HA. One of its regular features is book reviews.  The reviews cover everything from the popular new history books to some of the more obscure, specialist books that make you proud that publishers still value history books. Find out what is hot on the history shelves here.

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  • Free Seats for All

    Article

    Free Seats for All: The boom in church building after Waterloo, Gill Hedley, Umbria Press, 2018, 20p, £20-00, ISBN 978-1-910074-16-1 This is a welcome addition to our detailed understanding of the growth of Anglican church building in the 19th Century. It stands as a very helpful complement to M.H. Port’s Six Hundred...

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  • Voices of the Flemish Waffen-SS

    Article

    Voices of the Flemish Waffen-SS, Jonathan Trigg, Amberley, 2017, 256p, £20-00. ISBN 978-1-4456-6636-5  The subtitle of Jonathan Trigg’s book is ‘The Final Testament of the Oostfronters’ and this very aptly guides us to his purpose in researching this topic. Given the unsettling knowledge that Belgian and Dutch nationals fought within...

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  • Snapdragon

    Article

    Snapdragon: The World War II Exploits of Darby’s Ranger and Combat Photographer Phil Stern, Liesl Bradner, Osprey, 2018, 312p, £20-00, ISBN 978-1-4728-2850-7 Phil Stern was a highly successful photographer of fashionable and remarkable figures in the post-war era. His range extended from Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to the more serious...

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  • Stoke-on-Trent in 50 Buildings

    Article

    Stoke-on-Trent in 50 Buildings, Mervyn Edwards, Amberley, 2018, 96p,       £14-99. ISBN 978-1-4456-7781-1 Mervyn Edwards records that there are fewer than 200 listed buildings in Stoke-on-Trent. The limited number of listed buildings is an immediate indication of the constraints under which he has been making his selection of fifty buildings for...

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  • Hitler’s British Isles: The Real Story of the Occupied Channel Islands

    Article

    Hitler’s British Isles: The Real Story of the Occupied Channel Islands, Duncan Barrett, Simon and Schuster, 2018, 413p, £20-00.  ISBN 978-1-4711-6637-2 Having just read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Bloomsbury 2008), this very interesting book has now extended considerably my understanding of the nature of the experiences of...

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  • Charles I and the People of England

    Article

    Charles I & The People of England, David Cressy, Oxford University Press, 2017, 447pp. £14.99 paper, ISBN 978-0-19-870830-8 Originally published in 2015, this book is a blend of historical analysis and constitutional theory, parish politics and ecclesiology, military, cultural, and social history. Charles I and the People of England is the first major attempt...

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  • A History of Women in 100 Objects

    Article

    A History of Women in 100 Objects, Maggie Andrews and Janis Lomas, The History Press, 2018, 350pp., £20 paper, ISBN 978-0-7509-6714-3 The history of the world has been told in objects and the past decade has seen a growing number of books. But what about the objects that tell the history of...

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  • Paradise in Chains

    Article

    Paradise in Chains: The Bounty Mutiny and the Founding of Australia, Diane Preston, Bloomsbury, 2018, 333pp., £25 hard, ISBN 978-1-63286-610-3 William Bligh hold the unenviable record of having suffered two mutinies in his career. The story of the mutiny on the Bounty in April 1789 and of William Bligh's and his men's survival...

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  • The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present

    Article

    The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present, Ronald Hutton, Yale University Press, 2017, 360pp., £25 hard, ISBN 978-0-300-22904-2 Why have societies across the globe feared witchcraft? This book delves deeply into its context, beliefs and origins in Europe's and global history.  Witches came to prominence –...

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  • Pontifex Maximus: A Short History of the Popes

    Article

    Pontifex Maximus: A Short History of the Popes, Christopher Lascelles, Crux Publishing, 2017, 375pp., £9.99 paper, ISBN 978-1-909979-45-1 This book is aimed at the general reader who is short on time and seeks an accessible overview unencumbered by ecclesiastical jargon and scholarly controversies. Frank McLynn, author of Genghis Khan, Napoleon and...

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  • Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Introduction

    Article

    Geoffrey Chaucer: A New Introduction, David Wallace, Oxford University Press, 2017, 172pp., £10.99 hard, ISBN 978-0-19-880506-9 Originally writing over 600 years ago, Geoffrey Chaucer is today enjoying a global renaissance. Poets, translators and audiences from many cultures from Iran to the islands of Japan find Chaucer inspiring. His tale-telling geography is vast, his...

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  • 50 Finds from Staffordshire

    Article

    50 Finds from Staffordshire: Objects from the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Teresa Gilmore, Amberley, 2018, 96p, £14-99. ISBN 978-1-4456-7548-0. Teresa Gilmore’s book is valuable at three levels. Her 50 Finds from Staffordshire provides a very helpful insight into archaeological discoveries within Staffordshire, largely over the last ten years, all reported to...

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  • Nannau: A Rich Tapestry of Welsh History

    Article

    Nannau: A Rich Tapestry of Welsh History, Philip Nanney Williams, Llwyn Estates Publication, 2016, 393p, £30-00. ISBN 978-0-9955337-0-7 This is an extraordinary book. It is a memorial to the long-established Nannau estate and its long-standing family in Merioneth but it has potential for a much wider readership. Its painstaking research...

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  • Politics, Society and Homosexuality in Post-War Britain

    Article

    Politics, Society and Homosexuality in Post-War Britain: the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 and its significanceKeith Dockray Fonthill Media, 2017, 96 pp., £14.99. ISBN 978-1-78155-624-5  This book is a good introduction to the legislation concerning and the Establishment attitudes towards gay or ‘homosexual’ society from the latter half of the...

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  • Kingsley Wood: Scenes from a Political Life 1925-1943

    Article

    Kingsley Wood: Scenes from a Political Life 1925-1943, Hugh Gault, Gretton Books, 2017, 564p, £25-00.  ISBN 978-0-9562041-9-6 It is a truism that we only know what we know, a statement as appropriate for professional historians as everyone else. Lecturing on Neville Chamberlain’s social reforms or the role of Winston Churchill,...

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  • Case Red: The Collapse of France, 1940

    Article

    Case Red: The Collapse of France, 1940, Robert Forczyk, Osprey Publishing, 2017, 464p, £20-00. ISBN 978-1-4728-2442-4 Case Red is a deliberate and very helpful attempt by the American military historian Robert Forczyk to refocus our perspectives on exactly what did happen in June 1940. His view is that most historians...

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  • Staffordshire’s War: Voices of the First World War

    Article

    Staffordshire’s War: Voices of the First World War, Karen Hunt, Amberley, 2017, 160p, £14-99. ISBN 978-1-4456-5785-1 In Staffordshire’s War Professor Karen Hunt has reflected the best intentions of the Editors of The Historian when they initiated their ‘Aspects of War’ series of articles, designed to explore the widest possible context...

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  • Rorke’s Drift: A New Perspective

    Article

    Rorke’s Drift: A New Perspective, Neil Thornton, Fonthill Media Limited, 2016, 192pp., £20 hard, ISBN 978-1-78155-553-8. The battle of Rorke’s Drift on 22-23 January 1879 is established in history as one of Britain’s most incredible actions, where approximately 155 defenders held off a Zulu force of over 4,000 warriors in a savage,...

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  • Alias Blind Larry

    Article

    Alias Blind Larry. The Mostly True Memoir of James Laurence The Singing Convict, Rob Wills, Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016, 366pp., $39.95 paper, ISBN 978-1-925333-11-4. Rob Wills maintains that most convict memoirs are saturated with piety and penitence. But this is not the case with James Laurence. Alias Blind Larry is a convict story, an...

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  • Wealth and Disaster

    Article

    Wealth and Disaster: Atlantic Migrations from a Pyrenean Town in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, John Hopkins University Press, 2016, 230pp., $45 hard, ISBN 978-1-4214-2128-5. In 1729, Marc-Antoine Lamerenx, a minor French nobleman, set sail for Saint-Domingue. Twenty years later, peasant Jean Mouscardy also made the long and difficult journey to Saint-Domingue. Although...

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