Quick Link | Yet another history of Ireland – Galway Advertiser – August 05, 2010.

A nice review from Des Kenny for Thomas Bartlett’s new Ireland: A History.

The dedication to “my grandson Roc Bartlett McDonnell (b.2008) in the hope that his Ireland will be both peaceful and prosperous” – a wish we all aspire to – and the opening line of text – “May I begin in the year AD 431?” – suggest that a closer examination may be indeed worthwhile.

I was definitely not disappointed with the possible caveat that the book should carry with it a health warning in that it is so informative, so engrossing, so refreshing, so probing, and so accessible to the normal punter that it may change all personal preconceptions of what it means to be Irish.

via Quick Link | Yet another history of Ireland – Galway Advertiser – August 05, 2010..

Quick Link | ComingAnarchy.com » Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Sounds like a great book!

I greatly appreciated two aspects of the book. First was the historiographical analysis of how Genghis Khan has been perceived through time by historians, many of whom are descendants of the people conquered by Genghis Khan and his offspring. It is this that has lead to a wholly negative view of the Mongols. Weatherford argues that we in the West have the French philosopher Montesquieu to thank for our cultural recollection of the Mongols as “barbarians at the gate”. When examining history as far back as Genghis, it is important to amend the Churchillian maxim that “history is written by the victors”. History is written by the survivors.

The second aspect of the book I appreciated was Jack Weatherford’s hands-on approach to history. Although he mostly relied on The Secret History of the Mongols for details of the Great Khan’s life, he took it upon himself to go to the locales in Mongolia and along the Silk Road that were important to the development of Genghis and his ancestors. In the introduction Weatherford states: “Books can lie, but places never do.” Anyone who has ever been on a battlefield tour, I am sure would confirm that.

via ComingAnarchy.com » Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

Some Sunday History Links

Eoin Purcell

Really interesting post about Colbert and Academic Spies by the Wonders & Marvels folks:

Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) knew that well-paid scholars potentially make effective and sometimes brutal intelligence agents.
He also knew they had the requisite skills to make state surveillance systems. With their knowledge of law, feudal history and archival practices, Colbert trained a number of top ecclesiastical scholars such as Étienne Baluze and Joseph-Nicolas Foucault, and the d’Hozier family to help him make and manage police and tax files on French parliamentarians and nobles.

Just because the tool is there and I think we should always use useful tools, I bashed out a tagmash on LibraryThing for France, 17th Century, some interesting results. I’d like to see this being deeper and maybe a little more non-fiction focused but ut sure makes for an great jump off point.

Weidenfeld & Nicolson have acquired a one-volume history of World War II by Anthony Beavor. This is almost assured of being a massive seller from The Bookseller:

The new book, which is likely to be at least 700 pages long and titled simply The Second World War, is provisionally set for publication in 2012. Little, Brown and Company will publish the book in the United States.
Beevor’s Stalingrad has sold well over 400,000 copies in all editions through Nielsen BookScan, and Berlin close to 200,000, while D-Day has sold over 100,000 copies since publication in hardback in May. The Battle for Spain has sold close to 70,000 
copies through Nielsen BookScan.

If the book is anyway as good as Norman Stone’s book, World War One: A Short History, (which by the by didn’t require 700 pages to deliver a great text) it will be a very welcome volume.

A rather excellent infographic on the history of US Government bailouts since the 1970s.

And, for the date that is in it, read a little something on The Battle of Pharsalus, Ceaser’s victory over the forces of Pompey.

Eoin

A great Review for Petticoat Rebellion

Eoin Purcell

The Herald today has a smashing review of one of Mercier’s new books: Petticoat Rebellion: The Anna Parnell Story:

During the reign of Queen Victoria, women wore corsets to thrust breasts upwards and nip in waists, and crinoline hoops to make their buttocks and hips wider. They had problems walking freely, and often fainted.

Patricia Groves’ new book, Petticoat Rebellion; The Anna Parnell Story (Mercier Press, E14.99), offers a fascinating insight into the social restrictions and mores that threatened to hamper a radical female activist in the 19th century.

You can read the rest of Anna Coogan’s review here and you buy the book from Mercier here.

I have to say that I am biased as this was a book I commissioned early enough after arriving at Mercier Press, but the story is a wonderful forgotten episode in Irish history and well worth reading. The author is Patricia Groves and you can read her profile here. The Parnells were a truly international family, Anna’s grandfather was an American
Eoin

Some Sunday links

Eoin Purcell

A very nice post on Wonders & Marvels teeing up interest in Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson:

In the late summer of 1610 the captain guided the Discovery into modern Hudson Bay. He decided to spend the winter in Canadian waters even though he knew the ship would become trapped in ice. At some point during the bitterly cold months, some crew members decided they had suffered enough. When June came and the bay thawed, rebels put Hudson, his son, and seven loyal or ill men on a small boat (known as a shallop) and set them adrift. According to the survivors, the mutineers soon met a just fate when a group of Inuit killed four of them. A fifth rebel died, apparently of malnutrition, as the boat sailed homeward.

Apparently some historians were being paid £120,000 advances, seems to me the number of authors getting those kinds of figures must have been tiny:

Among the hardest hit are historians, who have found that books that would previously have earned them an advance of £120,000 are now commanding only £30,000. Some academics have turned from serious history to historical fiction to earn more money.

Tristram Hunt, who is believed to have received an advance of £100,000 for his biography of Friedrich Engels, said that he knew of several colleagues who had taken up fiction because it sold comparitively well. “There is a dangerous tendency among historians to slide into historical fiction, which must be avoided at all costs,” he said.

Lisa Jardine, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London, said that she was avoiding a new contract because of the uncertain state of the market. “I would not be surprised if I were now offered half of my last advance,” she said. “A few years ago we got really handsome advances to write books that did indeed become quite good bestsellers, but never earned out their advances. Then the publishers started asking jobbing authors to write books that did annoyingly well, but they’ve dried up, too. Now, as far as I know, what has replaced us are books about the history of science.”

Somewhat late in the day to be posting this article in The Guardian about the new history kids on the block but it is well worth the read:

Today’s schoolchildren do not leap at the chance to study history – in fact, it’s no longer even a core subject. The Conservative education spokesman, Michael Gove, says that history has been dying out in Britain’s schools in the last decade – and it’s true that the percentage of pupils taking GCSEs in the subject has fallen. But that might be about to change because history is becoming cool and the fightback is being spearheaded by a group of young, fashionable writers.

They have been an actor, an artist and a TV presenter, are aged between 25 and 35 and they all have book contracts. One wrote his account of the year 1381 in a corner of the trendy London members’ club, Soho House, during leave from his day job at a men’s magazine. And rather than being looked down upon by the old guard, they are highly regarded by the academic establishment: David Starkey is considered a mentor by two of them; Simon Sebag Montefiore by others.

Lots more out there in the world of history. If there is anything anyone wants me to mention or link to, please feel free to e-mail me at eoinpurcellsblog AT gmail.com.

Eoin