The Global Seven Years War by Daniel A. Baugh (2011)

(This long book is part of the Routledge ‘Modern Wars in Perspective’ series. Since some of the wars date back to 1460 you have to query the definition of ‘modern’.) Although an American, the author, Daniel A. Baugh, is a distinguished historian of the British Royal Navy from the Restoration to the mid-Victorian era. In […]

Political documents of the British civil wars

Political documents of the civil wars What follows are summaries of some of the key political documents produced between the start of Charles I’s conflict with Scotland  in 1637 and the Restoration of Charles II in 1660. Instead of a chronological or thematic approach to the period, this is a different angle from which to […]

The Thirty Years War by S.H. Steinberg (1966)

S.H. Steinberg’s history of the Thirty Years War is one of the ‘Foundations of Modern History’ series. It’s admirably short (128 pages including references and index), quite old (published in 1966) and surprisingly opinionated. The preface claims that Steinberg ‘reorientates and reinterprets’ the familiar story. Steinberg’s ‘reorientation’ makes four central claims: 1. that the phrase Thirty […]

Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of The Thirty Years War by Peter H. Wilson (2010)

Introduction – the four main phases of the war The role of individual rulers Why was the Thirty Years War important? Wilson’s interpretations of the war The deep historical context of the Thirty Years War The Holy Roman Emperors Issues facing the Holy Roman Emperor in the early 17th century The role of religion in […]

Introduction to The Plays of William Wycherley by W.C. Ward (1893)

Old literary criticism is often valuable because it sees works of literature in the round, as a whole. Its judgements are often mature, made by people who have seen a lot of life and often had other full-time careers, as lawyers, politician and so on. So their opinions are aware of and take into account […]

Journey To A War by W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood (1939)

When we awoke early next morning the train was crossing a wide valley of paddy fields. The rising sun struck its beams across the surfaces of innumerable miniature lakes; in the middle distance farmhouses seemed actually to be floating on water. Here and there a low mound rose a few feet above the level of […]

The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw 1939–45 by Władysław Szpilman

Władysław Szpilman was born to Jewish parents in 1911 in Warsaw. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland 28 years later, in August 1939, Szpilman was already an accomplished classical pianist who worked giving live recitals on Warsaw Radio, as well as writing his own compositions. This memoir was written immediately after the war, in 1945, and […]

War Fever by J.G. Ballard (1990)

This is Ballard’s last collection of short stories, some very short indeed. War Fever The Secret History of World War 3 Dream Cargoes The Object of the Attack Love in a Colder Climate The Largest Theme Park in the World Answers to a Questionnaire The Air Disaster Report on an Unidentified Space Station The Man Who […]

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Award 2019

This is an exhibition of the 55 or so portrait photos which were shortlisted for this year’s Taylor Wessing photographic portrait exhibition. The organisers received 3,700 photographic portraits from 1,611 photographers in seventy countries around the world, whittled it down to these 55, and then, a month ago, the first, second and third prize winners […]

The Last Years of Austria-Hungary edited by Mark Cornwall (1989)

Volume 27 of the Exeter Studies in History series, The Last Years of Austria-Hungary, consists of seven essays. Of the half dozen books I’ve read on the subject it is one of the most out of date, having been published in 1990. According to Amazon there is a new, updated edition but, like most academic […]