The Historian 135: Out now

Journal news

Ed. Paula Kitching and Trevor James, published 5th December 2017


One hundred years ago the Russian Revolution of October/November 1917 changed the lives of millions of Russians but it also led to changes across Europe and the rest of the world for decades to come. Those Ten Days that Shook the World were certainly the inspiration for the theme of this edition. While there are two articles exploring the Bolshevik Revolution, we didn’t want to make this a ‘Russia’ edition; having said that, there have been so many revolutions and revolutionary movements across the world that a focus was needed. So, apologies: there is no coverage of the revolutions or revolutionaries from the Americas, Africa or Asia, or anything post-1920. This edition has instead attempted to explore some of the most famous European revolutions from different angles – Russia is examined from below by Sarah Badcock and through art by Peter Waldron.

The French Revolution is well-trodden ground but is usually studied for its beginning whereas the article by Malcolm Crook explores the end of the revolution. The German Revolution following the First World War marked German politics deeply and helped to foster the extremist politics of that country into the 1920s and ‘30s that plunged the world once more into war. Today many people would pay scant attention to that revolution but we are fortunate to have it covered by Simon Constantine.

I have really enjoyed collecting and reading the articles in this edition. It has helped me to re-evaluate those periods and events. The theme of revolution has also made me review what I think of as revolutionary and why. Exploring a variety of periods of radical change has made me take a closer look at what is happening in the world today – not to draw parallels but just to think about what shifts mankind and ideologies can still make. Or will the future simply be reinterpretations of ideas from the past? Revolutions don’t need to be brutal but they do signify change. I wonder what insights these articles can provide for the changes happening across the world today.

Paula Kitching

Aspects of War and Insights into Everyday Life

The Historical Association continues to be indebted to it members and friends who voluntarily contribute articles to the columns of The Historian. Since its launch in the 1980s, well in excess of one thousand articles have been offered freely in this way to our varied and very enthusiastic readership. Among those contributors is Paula Kitching, the guest editor of this particular edition. In expressing our appreciation for this present issue, we also have to add our thanks for her co-ordination and leadership of our ‘Aspects of War’ series which has been running since 2014, a series designed to emphasise the commemoration of the Great War by exploring issues related to that conflict, largely without examining the military campaign. This has been a huge success and we intend to make the complete series available in one digital package after the process is complete in 2018.

We are now looking ahead beyond the ‘Aspects of War’ series. The Editorial Committee has decided to explore, under a preliminary title, ‘Insights into Everyday Life’ in the 1920s and 1930s. You may wonder where we are going with this and what it may entail. The question is What do we know, mostly at one remove, about how ordinary people lived their lives in that era? We will be interested in the special and unusual – two examples which came to mind today were shopping experiences, such as the elaborate mechanisms installed in shops to centralise payments, rather than have individual tills for each department; or social behaviour within families, such as the elderly man whom I was accustomed to watch in Addiscombe who used to heat the poker in the fire until it was white-hot and then plunge it into his pint of beer, presumably to give his drink a boost. We are sure that you can contribute much better ‘cameos’ of everyday life for us to share with our expanding readership.

Our Annual Conference at Stratford-upon-Avon is already being advertised. The previous Stratford conference was highly successful and we hope that this one will surpass that experience. Anyone who would like to discuss possible ‘insights into everyday life’ is invited to speak to me or other members of our very active Editorial Committee while enjoying the conference.

Trevor James