Tag: history

Book: Small Wars, Faraway Places, by Michael Burleigh

Michael Burleigh, Small Wars, Faraway Places: The Genesis of the Modern World, 1945–65 (Macmillan 2013), 608pp In short: this is a dreadful book. There is, of course, no such thing as an unbiased work of history, and the most biased authors are generally those who think they’re unbiased but are instead just blind to their own […]

Book: Capitalism & Slavery, by Eric Williams

Eric Williams, Capitalism & Slavery (2nd edn, University of North Carolina Press 1994), 307pp This has been on my “to read” list for a couple of years now, ever since coming across it in a British Empire seminar, and I finally picked it up for my dissertation. It’s pretty much a seminal, though not uncontroversial, work […]

Book: Empire of Cotton, by Sven Beckert

Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History (Vintage 2015), 640pp I got the impression, when reading this, that Beckert may have simply wanted to write a history of capitalism; on the other hand, perhaps cotton really was the original subject, and the sheer scale of its impact on capitalism came later. Either way, this really is […]

Revolutionary Art

Recently the Guardian published an article about a (then-upcoming) exhibition on post-Revolution Russian art at the Royal Academy, specifically referring to it as “brutal propaganda” and worrying that our admiration of it “sentimentalises one of the most murderous chapters in human history”. Unfortunately, the author seems deeply confused not only about what the exhibition represented […]

Reading A People’s History of the United States, ch.3

Notes on Chapter 3, Persons of Mean and Vile Condition. Previously: chapter 2. This chapter and the previous one really interrelate, to the extent that I’m almost not sure it made sense to separate them. On one hand, it makes a sort of intuitive sense to dedicate each of the first three chapters to native Americans, black […]

Reading A People’s History of the United States, ch.2

Notes on Chapter 2, Drawing the Color Line. Previously: chapter 1. Next: chapter 3. When I originally read this chapter a few years back, it struck me for two reasons: firstly, it was the first time I’d seen an attempt to explain how the slave trade came about; secondly, because it went further than that and identified […]

Book: A History of Modern Russia, by Robert Service

Robert Service, A History of Modern Russia (2nd edn, Penguin 2003), 704pp The original edition of this book covered up until the 1990s. This is a review of the second edition, extended up to 2002; there’s also a third edition up to 2009. Service’s biggest problem boils down to his lack of self-awareness. He has a […]