Posts tagged with ‘history’

The Invention of Tradition

The Invention of Tradition, edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, is a selection of essays by different historians. To quote the blurb:  Many of the traditions which we think of as ancient in their origins were, in fact, invented comparatively recently. This book explores examples of this process of invention […] There’s a great […]

1000 AD survival tips

Kottke pointed out this thread, a discussion starting from this question: I wanted to ask for survival tips in case I am unexpectedly transported to a random location in Europe (say for instance current France/Benelux/Germany) in the year 1000 AD (plus or minus 200 years). I assume that such transportation would leave me with what […]

Going Dutch by Lisa Jardine

Full, slightly overblown title: Going Dutch: How England Plundered Holland’s Glory. This is a book about the relationship between England and Holland in the C17th. It’s an interesting period, of course: the C17th was Holland’s ‘Golden Age’, when the country was not only a wealthy global power but at the intellectual and especially artistic forefront of Europe. For […]

Links

Charles Darwin’s Beagle Diary: 9th May 1833 After a period of being a bit dull, Darwin's Beagle diary livens up as he goes ashore and meets some gauchos. "I here found out I possessed two or three things which created unbounded astonishment. — Principally a small pocket compass." (del.icio.us tags: C19th CharlesDarwin Uruguay history )

Prokudin-Gorskii photographs

I’ve actually linked to these before, but a post over at i heart photograph reminded me about them and I was browsing through them again. Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii was a Russian photographer taking colour pictures in the years before the Great War. He took three black and white negatives of each subject using different coloured filters, then reassembled them […]

Bones, Rocks and Stars by Chris Turney

Or to give it its fuller, more informative title: Bones, Rocks and Stars: The Science of When Things Happened. It is what it sounds like: a brief (under 200 pages, including the index) overview of dating technologies for a general audience: radio isotope dating, dendrochronology, Antarctic ice cores and so on. And I enjoyed it; […]

The Century of Revolution by Christopher Hill

The full title is The Century of Revolution, 1603-1714; i.e. the century in question is the longish C17th from the death of Queen Elizabeth to the death of Queen Anne. I guess most centuries are centuries of revolution somewhere, and in one way or another, but the C17th was the only time the English have had an actual […]

Deletionists, Inclusionists, and the joy of the trivial.

There is, I gather, an ongoing philosophical debate running behind the scenes of Wikipedia; one which will probably run forever. On the one side are the deletionists; on the other are the inclusionists. The question is how to deal with articles about less important subjects: one side generally favours deleting them, the other would prefer […]

A London particular

And a peculiarly London sun – against which nothing could be said except that it looked bloodshot – glorified all this by its stare. It hung at a moderate elevation above Hyde Park Corner with an air of punctual and benign vigilance. The very pavement under Mr Verloc’s feet had an old-gold tinge in that […]

The Thames path, Westminster to Putney

I talked about the juxtaposition of the C19th Gothic of Tower Bridge and the genuine medievalness of the Tower of London: not, in my opinion, one of the great planning decisions in the history of London. Well, at Westminster, you meet with a similar case. The Palace of Westminster (i.e. the Houses of Parliament), started […]

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar is a biography of Stalin, focussed on his domestic life and the tightly-knit group of people around him: his own family, and politicians, bodyguards, and their families. As a piece of history, it’s very impressive. It’s clearly the result of a huge amount of research by Montefiore: he […]

The Thames path, London Bridge to Westminster

A fairly short chunk of the path; I was intending to go a bit further, but the sun went in and I wasn’t really enjoying it much so I hopped on the tube at Westminster. Still, if you use one of the traditional definitions of a city—a town with a cathedral—this section includes the three […]

George III and the Mad-Business by Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter

I highly recommend this fascinating book; it seems to be out of print, but there are lots of second-hand copies on Amazon. As the title suggests, it’s about poor mad George III. And even Americans, brought up to think of George III as a tyrant, might have a little sympathy for him after reading this. […]

Erasmus Darwin by Desmond King-Hele

This is a biography of Charles Darwin’s grandfather. He was a doctor by trade, and one of the most highly rated in the country, but was one of those classic Enlightenment figures whose interests included botany, meteorology, physics, chemistry, engineering, philosophy and just about anything else that came his way. And for a few years […]

Darwin waxing lyrical

Charles Darwin was in an unusually poetical mood 175 years ago today: The night was pitch dark, with a fresh breeze. — The sea from its extreme luminousness presented a wonderful & most beautiful appearance; every part of the water, which by day is seen as foam, glowed with a pale light. The vessel drove […]

Family roots

I watched Who Do You Think You Are earlier, the BBC’s celebrity genealogy show. It’s a bit of a lottery. Carol Vorderman gets an ancestor who was the first person to identify a dietary cause for beri-beri and who probably would have won the Nobel prize if he lived a little longer, as well as […]

Samurai William by Giles Milton

William Adam was an English sailor working as a pilot on a Dutch expedition of five ships that set out in 1598 to make money in the Orient. In 1600, after a disastrous voyage during which just about everything went wrong, Adam was one of just 24 men surviving on one of the ships – […]

Elizabeth by David Starkey

I’ve just been reading Elizabeth by David Starkey, a book about the early life of Elizabeth I. It covers the very start of her reign, but most of it is about her relationships with Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary Tudor. It raises the question: when little girls want to be princesses, what kind of […]

Notes from the war

Not the current debacle in Iraq, the ’39-’45 war. I’m reading the second volume of the Mass-Observation diaries (see my post about the first one here), and I thought I’d just pick out a couple of quotes. After the battle of Alamein: The newspapers are in ecstasies. There are more maps than ever, showing arrows […]

We Are At War by Simon Garfield

This is one of a trilogy of books using material from the Mass-Observation archives. To quote Wikipedia: Mass-Observation was a United Kingdom social research organisation founded in 1937. Their work ended in the mid 1950s … Mass-Observation aimed to record everyday life in Britain through a panel of around 500 untrained volunteer observers who either […]

‘amongst other things’

Today’s entry from Darwin’s Beagle diary: 29th May 1832 Rio de Janeiro Cloudy greyish day, something like an Autumnal one in England; without however its soothing quietness. I wanted to send a note this morning into the city & had the greatest difficulty in procuring anybody to take it. All white men are above it, […]

Anglo-Saxon names

Teju has a couple of great posts about names and what they mean (1, 2), specifically relating to Yoruba. Which set me thinking about Anglo-Saxon naming. I have no idea exactly what relationship the Saxons had with their names, and I don’t know what academic work has been done on it—I’m just going on the […]

Crete by Antony Beevor

The story of the German invasion of Crete during WW2 and, to a lesser extent, the resistance thereafter. This is really a book of cockups all round; the Germans had already taken the Greek mainland and planned a completely airborne invasion of Crete using paratroops and gliders which was, as it turned out, wildly ambitious, […]