There has, in recent years, been a proliferation of work on popular culture in early modern England. Barry Reay’s Popular Cultures in England 1550-1750 (London and New York: Longman 1998. Pp. ix + 235) is a perceptive and engaging synthesis, rooted in a thorough knowledge of recent work.
In the last two decades the history of modern British politics has been the subject of fierce debate as its long cherished narratives and explanatory models have been questioned from a variety of 'revisionist' perspectives.
Edwin Jones has produced a powerful, complex, eloquent and truly remarkable book. It is a heady blend of history and politics, past and present - committed scholarship in the best sense. It rests on the conviction that historical understanding matters.
At the Gladstone Centenary Conference, held at Chester in the summer of 1998, one speaker pointed out that at that point in time there were ten or eleven new biographies of 'WEG' under contract.
Callum Browns excellent book on the historical origins and contemporary significance of Up-helly-aa, Shetlands winter fire festival, has recently won The Frank Watson Prize awarded by the University of Guelph, Canada, for being the best book of its year on Scottish history and no comment here will detract in any way from that impressive achievement; superlatives come to the
'He probably knows more naval history than any English speaking man living. Pity he don't produce a great work instead of piddling about in the byways of naval history'. So wrote Alfred Thayer Mahan to Stephen Luce in 1890 about John Knox Laughton.
Joseph P. Huffmans Family, Commerce and Religion in London and Cologne: Anglo-German Immigrants, c.1000-c.1300: (Cambridge 1998) is the most recent contribution to a burgeoning field of historical scholarship, i.e. the study of Anglo-German relations in the Middle Ages. Over the last fifteen years a number of studies have appeared on the subject.
For over forty years it has been all but impossible to begin an undergraduate lecture, a book or paper dealing with aspects of military conflict in the early modern period, without reference to the inaugural address given by Michael Roberts in 1956 on The Military Revolution 1560-1660.
I confess that he gets on my nerves. I have admired some of his work. But the ipse behind the work - what a lot of that ipse there is!