The Story of Russia

REVIEW BY ANDRÉ VAN LOON. The Story of Russia is a thorough work of historical writing that unfortunately leaves aside its most interesting ideas after the book’s introduction. Figes starts with a fascinating series of hypotheses: that Russia has been more divided over its past than any other country; that…

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War Classic: The Campaigns of Napoleon

Chandler sees Napoleon as a gifted improviser whose operations were nonetheless underpinned by certain consistent principles. Amongst his key skills as a commander were a personal charisma that inspired and moulded others to his will…

Convoys: the British struggle against Napoleonic Europe and America

REVIEW BY PATRICK BONIFACE. Military success throughout time has been dependent on the orderly and safe supply of goods, food, fuel, ammunition, and personnel. Ancient mariners devised the convoy system to protect these vital supplies, and over the centuries little has fundamentally changed to the basic concept. During the dozen…

Nagasaki: the forgotten prisoners

REVIEW BY TOBY CLARK. Sailing into Hong Kong in late August 1945, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Anson symbolised the Japanese defeat. Within a week of her arrival, the Anson hosted 500 recently freed ex-Prisoners of War (POWs) for afternoon tea, followed by a tour of the battleship. Reading this…

Fen and Sea: the landscapes of south-east Lincolnshire AD 500-1700

Review by Duncan W Wright. The fens of eastern England are usually characterised as unremittingly flat, with big skies but little topographical variation. This (frankly lazy) assumption fails to account for the subtle differences in geology and height above sea level that are key to understanding the fens and their…

Hunter-Gatherer Ireland: making connections in an island world

Review by George Nash. When looking at the prehistory of Ireland, we are instantly drawn to the complex societies that were involved in the construction and use of burial monuments of the Neolithic, some five to six millennia ago. The Mesolithic of Ireland (10,000 to 6000 BC), however, was inhabited…

Conquering the Ocean: the Roman invasion of Britain

Review by Matthew Symonds. Reconstructing Roman military campaigning in Britain poses a fascinating challenge. For some periods, a solid overview of events – from a Roman perspective, at least – is provided by Classical writers as renowned as Julius Caesar and Tacitus. At other times, whole decades can pass with…

Growing up human: the evolution of childhood

Review by Joe Flatman. Growing Up Human examines the history of childhood in the broadest sense, from reproductive options through conception and eventual transference into adulthood, by way of gestation, birth, early years, childhood, and adolescence. The book was, clearly, written with the intention of appealing to a mass market,…

How to Build Stonehenge

Review by Susan Greaney. This elegant new volume is the first book for over 60 years to focus specifically on how the world-famous Neolithic monument of Stonehenge was constructed. The narrative progresses through the step-by-step process of the extraction, transport, dressing, and erection of the stones that form the main…

Pearl of the Desert: A History of Palmyra

Review by Jennifer A Baird. Palmyra has long been considered the jewel of Syria. In recent years, the site – which is internationally well-known for its monumental remains – has become infamous after those remains were targeted for destruction, casualties of the ongoing Syrian conflict, which has taken many lives…

Lyde Green Roman Villa, Emersons Green, South Gloucestershire

Review by Simon Esmonde Cleary. Excavations in 2012-2013 on the north-eastern edge of Bristol revealed an area of landscape with evidence of human activity from the Neolithic to the recent past, but the most-plentiful evidence – which was excavated in four main areas and forms the focus of this volume…

Land Surveying in Ireland, 1690-1830

Review by William D Shannon. O ’Cionnaith, himself a land surveyor, presents a vivid account of how Ireland became one of the most-mapped countries in the world, following the Cromwellian and Williamite land redistributions, which led to the Down Survey of the 1650s and the Trustees Survey of 1700-1703. The…

Shadowlands: a journey through lost Britain

Review by HB. Shadowlands is a moving and at times personal tour of Britain’s lost villages and urban spaces. The author pointedly excludes the historical remains of ‘urban success’ found in places like Bath and St Albans, choosing instead to journey through ‘Ghost Britain’ and sites of ‘squandered potential’. These…

Assessing Iron Age Marsh-Forts

Review by Ian Ralston The subtitle to this volume – ‘with reference to the stratigraphy and palaeoenvironment surrounding The Berth’ – indicates clearly its main objective: detailed consideration of the environs of the Shropshire fort, the subject of several small-scale excavations since the 1960s. (Those archaeological results are included only…

The Prehistoric Artefacts of Northern Ireland

Review by C McSparron. This book is a comprehensive catalogue of finds of artefacts made by archaeologists, antiquarians, and members of the public over centuries in Northern Ireland. It records discoveries from excavations, field-walking, stray finds, and material from museum and institutional collections. The area considered, Northern Ireland, is not…

Atlas of the Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

Review by Andrew Tibbs. This invaluable contribution to our knowledge of hillforts is the most complete study on the subject in Britain and Ireland to-date. A long-awaited volume, it sheds much light on these somewhat enigmatic structures, detailing the results of the project of the same name, which ran from…

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