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 British Census

    Article

    The British Census, Simon Smith, Shire Publications, 2021, 64p, £8-99. ISBN 978-1-78442-457-2 This is timely and informative. Simon Smith has very carefully placed the British Census in the wider perspective of historical processes of collecting data about people’s lives over the centuries. The narrative is clear and well-organized, and there...

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  • The Hornsey Enclosure Act 1813, David Frith

    Article

    The Hornsey Enclosure Act 1813, David Frith, Hornsey Historical Society, 2021, 92p [13 colour maps and 16 illustrations], £12-00, ISBN 978-0-906794-57-9. This publication by the Hornsey Historical Society may seem to be a very specialist work relating to a very specific location. Whilst that is strikingly self-evident, the reality is...

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  • Korean Air War: Sabres, MIGs, and Meteors 1950-53

    Article

    Korean Air War: Sabres, MIGs, and Meteors 1950-53, Michael Napier, Osprey Publishing, 2021, 320 pages, £30, ISBN HB 978-1-4728-44446  Korea is known as ‘The Forgotten War’ and air warfare is usually considered a specialist area, which means that Michael Napier has taken on a daunting job in writing a history...

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  • The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo

    Article

    The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo, Paul Strathern, Atlantic Books, 2021, 372p, £20-00. ISBN 9781786498724. Very occasionally we are offered an entirely new perspective on a body of detail with which we already seem entirely familiar but which has the effect of transforming our understanding. Paul Strathern’s The Florentines: From...

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  • Plague, Pestilence and Pandemic: Voices from History

    Article

    Plague, Pestilence and Pandemic: Voices from History, [ed] Peter Furtado, Thames and Hudson, 2021, 335p, £20-00. ISBN 978-0-500-25258-1. This book is very timely in its arrival. Peter Furtado, the former Editor of History Today, has provided us with two approaches to the issue of Plague, Pestilence and Pandemic. In the...

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  • Come Wind, Come Weather: Storm: Tempest and Other Natural Phenomena within Local Sources

    Article

    Come Wind, Come Weather: Storm: Tempest and Other Natural Phenomena within Local Sources, Trevor James, Lichfield Press, 2021, 116p. £10-00.  ISBN 978-0-905985-62-6  What a pleasure it is to review a book by that arch-reviewer, Dr Trevor James. This book follows closely on his previous one, England’s Saintly Landscapes, and confirms...

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  • This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe

    Article

    This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe, Robert Tombs, Allen Lane, 2021, 203 pp, £16.99. ISBN 978-0-241-48038-0  Robert Tombs is well-known for his works on French and English history and he has turned his hand to an admirably concise history of Britain’s relationship with its European neighbours from the...

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  • Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures

    Article

    Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures, Jason Sandy and Nick Stevens, Shire, 2021, 96pp, £9-99. ISBN 9781784424329.  For two hours every day low tide exposes what this book calls ‘the ‘longest archaeological site in Britain’. Erosion and riverboat activity regularly reveal new artefacts. Henry Mayhew, in London Labour and...

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  • The Reckoning – The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944

    Article

    The Reckoning – The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944, Prit Buttar, Osprey Publishing, 2020, £30, 496 pages, ISBN HB 978-1-4728-3791-2 This is the ninth of Prit Buttar’s non-fiction books about conflict on Germany’s Eastern Front in the First and Second World wars, several of which Trevor James and I...

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  • Tracing Your Prisoner Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stephen Wade

    Article

    Tracing Your Prisoner Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stephen Wade, Pen and Sword, 2020, 176p, £14-99. ISBN 9781526778529 This is part of a very helpful series that has been produced by Pen and Sword. In this volume Stephen Wade guides us into a potentially unfamiliar area of family and...

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  • Holding the Line: The Naval Air Campaign in Korea

    Article

    Holding the Line: The Naval Air Campaign in Korea, Thomas McKelvey Cleaver, Osprey, 2021, 320p, £14-99. ISBN 9781472831736. This provides a very thorough introduction to how the politics behind military strategy operates in the United States. What we find, with extraordinary parallels with our own time, is that after the...

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  • Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister: Lord Liverpool

    Article

    Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister: Lord Liverpool, Martin Hutchinson, The Lutterworth Press, 2020, 429 pp, £50.00, ISBN 978-0-7188-9563-1  A continuous period of almost 15 years as Prime Minister suggests that Liverpool possessed a large array of talents, yet the average student of modern British history knows much less about him and his characteristics than those...

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  • The Last of Africa’s Cold War Conflicts: Portuguese Guinea and its Guerrilla Insurgency

    Article

    The Last of Africa’s Cold War Conflicts: Portuguese Guinea and its Guerrilla Insurgency, Al J. Venter, Pen and Sword, 2020, 210p, £25-00. ISBN 9781526772985 This book offers more than its title suggests. It is an analysis of how the longest-standing colonial power in Africa suddenly retreated after a domestic ‘coup’...

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  • Boudica at Mancetter: The Latin, the Land, The Logistics

    Article

    Boudica at Mancetter: The Latin, the Land, The Logistics, Margaret Hughes, Atherstone Civic Society, 2020, 256p, £10-00 [and £3-00 p + p]. ISBN 978-0-9551803-3-0. Enquiries to secretary@atherstonecivicsociety.co.uk One of the locational mysteries of the history of these islands is where exactly did Queen Boudica fight her final battle in AD...

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  • The English Civil War: An Atlas and Concise History of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1639-51

    Article

    The English Civil War: An Atlas and Concise History of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1639-51, Nick Lipscombe, Osprey, 2020, 389p, £50-00.                   ISBN 9781472829726. This is an extraordinarily thorough book. Simultaneously it manages both to provide a clear commentary on military experiences within the Three Kingdoms whilst also providing...

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  • Tracing Your Poor Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians

    Article

    Tracing Your Poor Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians, Stuart A. Raymond, Pen and Sword, 2020, 196p, £14-99. ISBN 9781526742933 This is a very helpful aide memoire for anyone wishing to find out what their impoverished ancestors may have experienced. Inevitably it cannot provide precise answers to the most specific...

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  • In Cold War Skies: NATO and Soviet Air Power, 1949-89

    Article

    In Cold War Skies: NATO and Soviet Air Power, 1949-89, Michael Napier, Osprey, 2020, 320p, £30-00. ISBN 978-1-4728-3688-5. This book will appeal to two separate audiences. At one level Michael Napier has provided in extraordinary detail the nature and development of air defence in the widest reaches of the European...

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  • Rome: City in Terror – The Nazi Occupation 1943-44

    Article

    Rome: City in Terror – The Nazi Occupation 1943-44, Victor Failmezger; Osprey Publishing, 2020, 496 pp, £25.00ISBN 978-1-4728-4128-5  Victor Failmezger has written a thorough and detailed narrative of the appalling conditions that existed in Rome in the period from the first Allied bombing of Rome in July 1943 to its liberation on...

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  • James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars

    Article

    James of St George and the Castles of the Welsh Wars, Malcolm Hislop, Pen and Sword, 2020, 302p, £25-00. ISBN 9781526741301 The title of Malcom Hislop’s book tends to understate the extent of what he manages to embrace in this important volume. The role of James of St George in...

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  • Haldane: The Forgotten Statesman who Shaped Modern Britain

    Article

    Haldane: The Forgotten Statesman who Shaped Modern Britain, John Campbell; Hurst and Company, 2020, 482p, £30-00. ISBN 9781787383111 From my years in the sixth form through being a student and teacher, I have referred to what is now a very battered copy of Alan Palmer’s Penguin Dictionary of Modern History. The...

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