Friday, 29 January 2010

New selection of book for reader reviews

Every month, we offer our readers the opportunity to review some of the latest history publications and to have their review published on the History Today Books Blog. Here is the selection for January. To submit a review, please send an email to Kathryn Hadley (k.hadley[at] specifying your choice of book. We will then send you the book with a one-month deadline to send us your review. Books will be sent on a first come first served basis. (Unfortunately, we are unable to send out books to the USA).

The Victorians: Britain Through the Paintings of the Age, Jeremy Paxman (BBC Books)
This history of the birth of modern Britain draws upon the paintings of the era to provide an insight into family, faith, urban life, industry and empire and how such themes helped define the Victorian sprit and imagination.

New York Undercover: Private Surveillance in the Progressive Era, Jennifer Fronc (University of Chicago Press)
A study of the private investigators employed by social activists in Progressive-era New York to uncover the roots of society’s problems and combat behaviour they viewed as sexually promiscuous, politically undesirable or criminal.

America, Empire of Liberty, David Reynolds (Penguin)
This one-volume history of the United States brings to life presidents from Washington to Obama, whilst also drawing on the voices of ordinary men and women. It reveals the grandeur and paradoxes of a country that offered liberty on a scale unmatched in Europe, but founded its prosperity on the labour of black slaves and the dispossession of the Native Americans.

Mobilizing Youth, Susan B. Whitney (Duke University Press)
An account of the formative years of the Young Communists and Young Christian Workers in France in the two decades following the First World War when they moved to the forefront of French politics, which also examines the ideologies of the movements, their major campaigns, their styles of political and religious engagement, and their male and female branches.

Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War, Marc Egnal (Hill and Wang)
A reinterpretation of the American Civil War from the 1820s through Reconstruction, which moves beyond the reigning orthodoxy that the American Civil War was waged over moral principles, to argue that economics was instead the main factor that moved the country to war.

The Classic Maya, Stephen D. Houston and Takeshi Inomata (Cambridge University Press)
This synthesis of the Classic Maya, who in the first millennium AD created courtly societies in and around the Yucatan Peninsula, reports on kings, queens, nobles, gods and ancestors, as well as the millions of farmers and other figures who lived in societies predicated on sacred kingship and varying political programs.

Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic, Paul A. Rahe (Cambridge University Press)
This study of John Milton, Marchamont Nedham, James Harrington and Thomas Hobbes, champions of the republican experiment conducted in England between 1649 and 1660, situates them with regard to the novel species of republicanism first promoted in the early 1500s by Machiavelli and examines the debt that they owed the Epicurean tradition in philosophy and the political science crafted by the Arab philosophers Alfarabi, Avicenna and Averroes.

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