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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  • The Common Story: A history of Tooting Common

    Article

    The Common Story: A history of Tooting Common, [ed] Katy Layton-Jones, Wandsworth Council’s Tooting Common Heritage Project, 2019, 132p, £10-00 from the Tooting History Group [or downloadable free].  A few miles from the Historical Association office, a substantial and easily accessible open space is what locally is known as ‘Tooting...

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  • Willington and the Mowbrays: After the Peasants' Revolt

    Article

    Willington and the Mowbrays: After the Peasants' Revolt, Dorothy Jamieson, Bedford Historical Record Society Vol 95, Boydell Press, 2019, 241p, £25-00, ISSN 0067-4826. At one level this scholarly and meticulous study introduces us to the Willington neighbourhood in Bedfordshire. Based on Dorothy Jamieson’s careful transcription of its manorial court rolls,...

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  • ‘You are Legend’: The Welsh Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War

    Article

    ‘You are Legend’: The Welsh Volunteers in the Spanish Civil War, Graham Davies, Welsh Academic Press, 2018, 224p, £19-99. ISBN 978-1-86057-1305 ‘You are legend’ is a phrase from the farewell speech by La Pasionaria in 1938 when the International Brigade withdrew from the Spanish Civil War. Amongst the British contingent...

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  • War Bows

    Article

    War Bows, Mike Loades, Osprey Publishing, 2019, 312p, £30-00. ISBN 978-1-4728-2553-7. This is a highly technical book. Mike Loades examines in exceptional detail four types of ‘war bow’ – the longbow, the crossbow, the composite bow and the Japanese ‘yumi’, used by the samurai. This is an extraordinarily well-illustrated scholarly...

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  • The Financial Affairs of David Lloyd George

    Article

    The Financial Affairs of David Lloyd George, Ian Ivatt, Welsh Academic Press, 2019, 160p, £19-99. ISBN 978-1-86057-1251. After 50 years of awareness of politically unsympathetic commentators making insinuations regarding David Lloyd George’s financial dealings, with particular reference to the ‘Lloyd George Political Fund’, Ian Ivatt has done a valuable service in...

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  • Literary Trails: Haworth and the Brontës

    Article

    Literary Trails: Haworth and the Brontës, Catherine Rayner and David Walford, Pen and sword History, 2018, 276p, £14-99. ISBN 9781526720856 Crossing the moors in West Yorkshire, even in mid-summer, there is a sense of being remote in what clearly at times is a challenging and bleak landscape. It is in...

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  • Henry Matthews, Viscount Llandaff: The Unknown Home Secretary

    Article

    Henry Matthews, Viscount Llandaff, The Unknown Home Secretary, Roger Ward, Fonthill Media, 2019, 96p, £16-99. ISBN 9781781557150. Despite Henry Matthews’ attempt to obstruct a biographical record of his life being prepared, by instructing his niece to burn all his private papers, Roger Ward offers us a well-composed and well-balanced assessment...

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  • 24 Hours at Balaclava: 25 October 1854

    Article

    24 Hours at Balaclava: 25 October 1854, Robert Kershaw, The History Press, 2019, 286p, £20-00. ISBN 9780750988889. Robert Kershaw’s review of what happened at Balaclava in October 1854 is part of an emerging genre of research. He has examined vast quantities of written sources which together give a strong sense...

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  • Norfolk and Suffolk Churches: The Domesday Record

    Article

    Norfolk and Suffolk Churches: The Domesday Record, David Butcher, Poppyland Publishing, 2019, 369p, £14-95. ISBN 9781909796614. This is a very specialist book with a seemingly rather local potential audience. However, those who, in the distant past, were much influenced by H. C. Darby’s examination of various aspects of Domesday Geography...

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  • Elizabeth Jennings: The Inward War

    Article

    Elizabeth Jennings: The Inward War, Dana Greene, Oxford University Press, 2018, 258p, £25-00. ISBN 978-0-19-882084-0. This biography contains much detail on Elizabeth Jennings’ life and poetry. Jennings (1926-2001), born into a Roman Catholic family in Oxford, was often depressed, guilt-ridden, needy and lonely. However, for long periods of her life she...

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  • Bathing Beauties, Knobbly Knees and Music by the Sea: The Marina, Great Yarmouth 1937-1979

    Article

    Bathing Beauties, Knobbly Knees and Music by the Sea: The Marina, Great Yarmouth 1937-1979, Colin Miller, Poppyland Publishing, 2019, 134p, £10-95, ISBN 9781909796584. At one level this is a detailed chronicle of what happened in Great Yarmouth when the local council decided in the 1930s to develop an open-air music...

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  • Crime on the Canals

    Article

    Crime on the Canals, Anthony Poulton-Smith, Pen and Sword, 2019, 120p, £12-99. ISBN 9781526754783. This interesting book is presented as an exposure of criminality on the canal system, and it does achieve that objective rather well. It has to be said that it is more about crime than canals, although...

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  • Britain’s Jews in the First World War

    Article

    Britain’s Jews in the First World War, Paula Kitching, Amberley, 2019, 286p, £14-99.  ISBN 978-1-4456-6320-3 The title of this book does not fully convey the importance of its contents and focus. It provides a variety of perspectives on the Jewish involvement in the British war effort in the Great War....

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  • Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire

    Article

    Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire, Philip Modiano, RPS Publications, 2019, 180p [with 185 images], £14-00. ISBN 978-1-9164931-0-0 Occasionally a remarkable book appears on a most unexpected topic. Philip Modiano’s research into the life and creative output of the Reverend John Louis Petit is just one such work. Modiano presents this...

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  • The Pirate World: A History of the Most Notorious Sea Robbers

    Article

    The Pirate World: A History of the Most Notorious Sea Robbers, Angus Konstam, Osprey Publishing, 2019, 336p, £25-00. ISBN 976-1-4728-3097-5 Angus Konstam very successfully blends a narrative of how piracy has been a challenge to settled society for at least two thousand years with some very important insights. He explains...

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  • The Parish Atlas of England

    Article

    The Parish Atlas of England: All Early Ordnance Survey 6-inch Maps Traced Over, (ed) T.C.H. Cockin, Malthouse Press, 2017, 898p, £60.00*, ISBN 978-1-907364-10-5. *The Parish Atlas of England is available to Historical Association members at the special price of £45.00 direct from the publishers: The Malthouse Press, Grange Cottage, Malthouse Lane,...

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  • The Great Famine

    Article

    The Great Famine, (ed) John Gibney, Pen and Sword History, 2018, 136p, £12-99. ISBN 9781526736635. This selection of essays, edited by John Gibney, is the first instalment of a collaboration between Pen and Sword History and the History Ireland magazine. Its focus is the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s...

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  • Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy

    Article

    Aunt Branwell and the Brontë Legacy, Nick Holland, Pen and Sword History, 2018, 160p, £12-99. ISBN 9781526722232. Nick Holland offers a very constructive and helpful introduction to the life and achievements of Elizabeth Branwell, ‘Aunt Branwell’ to the four Brontë children who survived into adulthood.  He is already a biographer...

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  • The Palestinians and British Perfidy: The Tragic Aftermath of the Balfour Declaration of 1917

    Article

    The Palestinians and British Perfidy: The Tragic Aftermath of the Balfour Declaration of 1917, C.W.R. Long, Sussex Academic Press, 2018, 307p, £75-00. ISBN 1845198961978. One of the hazards of modern-day British politics, an experience shared by politicians in both of our main political parties, is to express a view or...

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  • The King’s Cross Story: 200 Years of History in the Railway Lands

    Article

    Peter Darley, The King’s Cross Story. 200 Years of History in the Railway Lands, The History Press, Stroud, 2018, paperback, £20.00, ISBN 978 0 7509 8579 6 Simon Bradley in his foreword to Peter Darley’s ground-breaking exploration of the Great Northern Railway’s celebrated terminus at King’s Cross explains how this...

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