New Bodleian History Books: January 2019 – Historical Biographies

Throughout the ages writers have produced countless famous biographies of similarly famous men in history, from Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans (2nd century AD) to Vasari’s Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects of Renaissance Italy (1550), Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson (1791), Carlyle’s Life of Frederick the Great (1858), or even Ian Kershaw’s Hitler (1991).

Because of its connection to and overlap with popular books of the less scholarly “life writing” tradition, academic historical biography has been something of a stepchild for the subject: “The border separating history and biography has always been uncertain and anything but peaceful” is how Sabina Loriga puts it in her chapter on “The Role of the Individual in History” in a recent volume on Theoretical Discussions of Biography (Loriga, 2014, p. 77). Loriga discusses questions of biographical analysis (“What is important and unimportant in the life of a person?”) as well as questions concerning the relationship between biography and history (“Can the life of an individual illuminate the past?”) (Loriga, 2014, 89). Academic historical biography is thus concerned with both these types of questions, and uses biographical information to examine the lives of individuals in relation to secular and ecclesiastical institutions, local communities, social groups, and other entities, to, as Loriga phrases it, “reassess the balance between personal destinies and social structures” (Loriga, 2014, 90).

Thomas Carlyle famously stated that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”, but the latest Bodleian acquisitions of the genre beg to differ on both the “great” and the “men” parts of this statement – they include accounts of the lives of undeniably fascinating and influential but not necessarily history-making men and, importantly, women from a vast range of different times, locations, societies, and social circumstances. Here are only a few examples from the three main historical eras to whet your appetite.

For the medieval era, Giorgio Godi describes in detail a few years of the fascinating life and times of the 14th-century longbow man, soldier and mercenary captain John Hawkwood, a man of almost mythical proportions.

Medieval women are also well-represented: Leonora Alice Neville presents a volume on the life and work of Anna Komene, the 12th century Byzantine princess, scholar, physician, hospital administrator, and historian, daughter of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos and historical biographer in her own right as the author of The Alexiad, her account of her father’s reign. In her Stories of women in the Middle Ages, Maria Teresa Brolis then tells the fascinating tales of sixteen other medieval women who led equally interesting lives as fashion icons, art clients, businesswomen, saints, healers, lovers, or pilgrims throughout the European Middle Ages, from Hildegard of Bingen to Heloise, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Saint Clare of Assisi, Joan of Arc, and to lesser-known but still well-documented women such as a moneylender, a healer, and a pilgrim.

The early modern era is represented by a man very close to home in Vittoria Feola’s biography of Elias Ashmole, whose donation of his cabinet of curiosities to the University of Oxford in 1677 led to the establishment of the world’s first university museum, the Ashmolean. Rather less fulfilled (and certainly shorter) lives were led by the three women of the Italian Renaissance which are the subject of Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan’s and Jean-Claude Maire Vigueur’s book Décapitées. As the title rather suggests, she singles out three cases of women who were beheaded – or more precisely publicly executed for adultery on the orders of their husbands. These wives of three of the greatest lords of Renaissance Italy – Mantua, Milan, and Ferrara – were executed for adultery, though on a closer look it seems what they were most guilty of was having tried to take an active part in the great political and cultural innovations of their time.

On the cusp of the modern era we then find In Napoleon’s shadow, an account of a life lived not as, but alongside a traditional “great man” – it is an edition of the complete memoirs of Louis-Joseph Marchand, the personal valet to Napoleon Bonaparte during his exile to Elba, the Hundred Days, and his exile to St Helena until his death.

Moving into the 20th century the men are represented by a very brief life, with an even briefer apogee, but nonetheless one which : Robert M. Zoske’s Flamme sein! (“Be a flame!”) is a biography of Hans Scholl, founder of the nonviolent Nazi resistance movement Die Weisse Rose. It was less than a year after the group started  distributing their leaflets at German universities in the early summer of 1942, Hans and his sister Sophie were arrested, tried, and shortly after executed on 22 February 1943. A detailed look at the same period of German history from the female side is shown in Elisabeth Krimmer’s German women’s life writing and the Holocaust, which looks at memoirs, diaries, or autobiographically inspired fiction of women who were complicit bystanders during the National Socialist regime, whether as army auxiliaries or nurses, but also as female refugees, rape victims, and Holocaust survivors – their continuing support for the regime and, in some cases, their growing estrangement from it.

You can find all items tagged as “biography” in the Bodleian History collections here.

New Bodleian History Books: December 2018 – Writing “macrohistory”

The concept of “total history” is not a new one – the “histoire totale” advocated by Fernand Braudel of the Annales School in the 1940s introduced a historiography which strove to observe the long and medium-term evolution of economy, society and civilisation, and thus avoid the tunnel vision created by separating economic, political, social and other forms of history. For the late 20th and the 21st century, the historian David Christian has gone even further in the idea of what timeframe “history” should be looking at, coining the term Big History for a multidisciplinary approach which encompasses everything from the Big Bang to the present, an integrated history of the cosmos, earth, life, and humanity as a whole.

But scale in historiography of course also goes the other way – “microhistory” uses investigations of small and well-defined units of research (such as a single event, a single individual or a single small community) to eventually ask these same larger questions about society or humanity.

Somewhere inbetween the two extremes lie studies that have recently been termed “macrohistory” – not as ambitious as to claim to be “total” or “big” history, but going well beyond the scale of microhistory in their scope. Over the last few months a number of the new History books arrived at the Bodleian have been of this kind of historiography – studies which span an ambitiously large time frame, and therefore elude categorizing into such traditional historical eras as “Antiquity”, “medieval history”, “early modern history” or “modern history”.

Still very much on a trend towards “histoire totale” for individual countries are for example John Julius Norwich’s History of France and the Storia mondiale dell’Italia edited by Andrea Giardina which trace developments from Roman times to the present; and Richard Bressler aims to write a similarly wide-ranging history for a rather more delineated timeframe, but for the entire world in The Thirteenth Century.

Several recent studies in the area of History of Science and Medicine aim for a similarly comprehensive account across the centuries while focussing on one specific aspect or subject – Mechanics from Aristotle to Einstein run from the 4th century BC via Descartes, Galileo, and Newton to the 20th century; the History of Forensic Medicine traces the science from its beginnings in Ancient China and Rome to its history in individual countries from Japan to Europe and the U.A.E., and The Ambulance – a history reviews 800 years of ambulance services, including the vehicles used and the individuals who served on them.

A number of newly arrived studies in Social History, too, conduct their discussions on a similarly ambitious scale: Michelle Perrot’s The Bedroom. An Intimate History discusses the importance of this one room for the history of mankind (and womankind) from Greek and Roman antiquity to today; Rob Boddice’s History of Emotions (also available online as eLD) looks at how emotions change over time, cause historical events, or influence human morality; Nikos Panou’s Evil Lords (also available online) examines tyrants and tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance, and Séverine Auffret writes Une histoire du féminisme, tracing the movement from Antiquity to the present day.

You can find all items tagged with “macrohistory” in the Bodleian History collections here.

New Bodleian History Books: November 2018 – WWI

Right on schedule for the Centenary of the First World War a number of exciting new history books on various interesting aspects of WWI have arrived at the Bodleian!

In Ypres Mark Connelly and Stefan Goebel examine the small Belgian city which between 1914 and 1918 became the location of five major battles between the Allied troops and the Germans – battles which resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties, and placed Ypres at the heart of First World War battlefield tourism.

Opening his focus to the entirety of the Western Front rather a single battlefield, David T. Zabecki’s The generals’ war: operational level command on the Western Front in 1918 examines the plans and decisions of the senior-most German and Allied commanders, exploring the military strategies of those generals during the last year of the Great War.

And not from the generals’ view, but from the complete opposite side of the spectrum come Les carnets de guerre de Louis Barthas: 1914-1918. This is an edition of the 19 notebooks compiled by a French corporal who fought for four years in some of the most dangerous sectors of the front, including Verdun and the Somme. Into these notebooks Barthas transcribed his diary and letters, adding collected picture postcards, illustrations, and maps clipped from newspapers and magazines.

Unlike these first books which examine the war and WWI warfare proper, several of the newly arrived books focus on the social and cultural history of WWI. Laura Rowe writes on Morale and discipline in the Royal Navy during the First World War, and Roger L. Ransom examines the dark history of war profiteering in Gambling on war: confidence, fear, and the tragedy of the First World War

Along with socio-cultural history, gender studies are also gaining a foothold in war historiography – while all of the above monographs focus rather naturally on the (male) soldiers and their (male) commanders, the final pair of books I would like to present in this blog post take as their topic the often neglected “other half” of humanity involved in the Great War – the women.

Alison Fell’s Women as veterans in Britain and France after the First World War looks at former nurses, charity workers, secret service agents, members of resistance networks in occupied territory or of the British auxiliary corps. After the end of the war these women appropriated the cultural identity of “female war veteran” in order to have greater access to public life in a political climate in which women were rarely heard on the public stage.

Similarly, the women Stefania Bartoloni writes on in Donne di fronte alla guerra: pace, diritti e democrazia (1878-1918) demanded more rights and more democracy and called for women’s participation in decisions on national and international affairs. Beginning at the end of the 19th century but continuing through to the end of WWI, this group of feminists and suffragists critiqued the male power system in which men were the heads of governments and diplomacy who chose to settle conflicts between nations through the instrument of war.

You can find all the books tagged with “World War I” on the Bodleian History Faculty LibraryThing pages here!

 

 

New Books at the HFL

As it’s Black History Month, we would like to highlight new books purchased by the library which explore black history. Covering a range of topics from racial integration, slavery in the Atlantic and Black intellectual voices in the U.S. You can find these books on the New Books Display in the Upper Gladstone Link.

For a full list of recent acquisitions, including other topics, click on the image below:

Gershenhorn, Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: a life in the long black freedom struggle (2018, Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press)

Harrigan, Frontiers of Servitude: Slavery in Narratives of the Early French Atlantic (2018, Manchester, Manchester University Press)

Bury My Heart in a Free Land: Black Women Intellectuals in Modern US History (2018, Santa Barbara, Praege)

Blackett, The captive’s quest for freedom : fugitive slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and thepolitics of slavery (2018, New York, Cambridge University Press)

Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: the roots of slavery, white supremacy, and capitalism in seventeenth century North America and the Caribbean (2018, New York, Monthly Review Press)

Walker, The Burning House (2018, New Haven, Yale University Press)

 

There are more! Find them here.

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If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

 

New Books at the HFL

Mes amies, de rien! The library has recently purchased new books on French History, from an account of Napoleon’s life during the very eventful years of 1805-1810, to a reassessment of Thomas Paine’s influence on the French Revolution and much more.

For a full list of recent acquisitions, including other topics, click on the image below:

Broers, Napoleon. Volume 2, The spirit of the age, 1805-1810 (2018, London, Faber & Faber)

Cusimano, Selected works of Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis (2018, Washington, D.C.,The Catholic University of America Press)

Park, Papal protection and the crusader : Flanders, Champagne, and the kingdom of France, 1095-1222 (2018,  Woodbridge, The Boydell Press)

Sowerwine, France since 1870 : culture, politics and society (2018, London, Palgrave Macmillan)

Millington, Fighting for France : violence in interwar French politics (2018, Oxford, OUP)

Clark, Thomas Paine : Britain, America, and France in the age of enlightenment and revolution (2018, Oxford, OUP)

There are more! Find them here.

You will also find our New Books Display in the Upper Gladstone Link.

Personalise your alerts

If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

Books Recently Added to the History Faculty Library

Your prayers have been answered! The library has recently bought books on Catholic History, from Catholic revolutionaries in Poland and France to a history of the Second Vatican Council and much more.

For a full list of recent acquisitions, including other topics, click on the image below:

Kosicki. Catholics on the barricades : Poland, France, and “revolution”, 1891-1956 (2018, New Haven, YUP)

Pollard. Catholicism in modern Italy : religion, society and politics since 1861 (2008, Abingdon, Routledge)

Walser-Smith. Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914

Farrelly, Anti-Catholicism in America, 1620-1860 (2018, Cambridge, CUP)

Tallett. Catholicism in Britain and France since 1789 (1996, London, Hambledon Press)

Alberigo. History of Vatican II (1995-2006, Maryknoll, Orbis)

There are more! Find them here.

You will also find our New Books Display in the Upper Gladstone Link.

Personalise your alerts

If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

New Books: contesting the United Kingdom and the history of sexuality

This month sees the introduction of a selection of texts on Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Northern Ireland, with topics including prominent (often divisive) political figures, rebellions, changing political landscapes and debates on national identity and autonomy. In addition, we’ve acquired materials on the history of sex and sexuality, highlighting discussions on gender identity and shifting social and cultural representations of the human body.

For a full list of recent acquisitions, click on the image below:

 

Dorr, Noel. Sunningdale: the search for peace in Northern Ireland. (2017, Dublin: Royal Irish Academy)

McAllister, Laura. Plaid Cymru: the emergence of a political party. (2001, Bridgend : Seren)

Torrance, David. Whatever happened to Tory Scotland? (2012, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

Adams, James E. Dandies and Desert Saints: styles of Victorian masculinity. (1995, London: Ithaca)

Cook, Matt. et al. A Gay History of Britain: love and sex between men since the Middle Ages. (2007, Oxford: Greenwood World)

Feinberg, Leslie. Transgender Warriors: making history from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman (1996, Boston, Massachusetts: Beacon Press)

There are more! Find them here.

 

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If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

 

Newly received History books: South America, Black Tudors, Samurai, the Atlantic World and more

Another week another selection of books recently added to the HFL collection. This week includes a number of books on South American political history alongside titles on the Samurai and Japan, race in Tudor England, and a history of homosexuality in our capital. Click the image below to be taken to a full list of recently aquired items.

Sader, Emir. – Without fear of being happy : Lula, the Workers Party and Brazil (1991 | London : Verso)

O’Shaughnessy, Hugh. – The priest of Paraguay : Fernando Lugo and the making of a nation (2009 | London : Zed)

Kaufmann, Miranda. – Black Tudors : the untold story (2017 | London : Oneworld)

Ikegami, Eiko. – The taming of the samurai : honorific individualism and the making of modern Japan (1995 | Cambridge, Mass ; London : Harvard University Press)

Egerton, Douglas R – The Atlantic world : a history, 1400-1888 (2007 | Wheeling, Ill. : Harlan Davidson)

Ackroyd, Peter. – Queer city : Gay London from the romans to the present day (2017 | London : Chatto & Windus)

There are more!

Many more new books were received. You can find them all here.

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If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

Newly received History books: German art and war, white slavery, cultural assimilation and an English master.

Below is a small selection of new books that have been added to our collections in the past fortnight, this week’s selection isn’t themed but does include a varied selection of social, cultural and art history.

Potter, Pamela Maxine, Art of suppression : confronting the Nazi past in histories of the visual and performing arts (University of California Press, 2016)

Hales, Petrescu and Weinstein (eds.), Continuity and crisis in German cinema, 1928-1936 (New York : Camden House, 2016)

Merritt, Keri Leigh, Masterless men : poor whites and slavery in the antebellum South (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Wiese and Wilhelm (eds.) American Jewry : transcending the European experience? (London : Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)

Woods, Gregory, Homintern : how gay culture liberated the modern world (Yale University Press, 2016)

Shanes, Eric, Young Mr Turner : the first forty years, 1775-1815 (Yale University Press, 2016)

 

There are more!

Many more new books were received. You can find them all here.

Personalise your alerts

If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.

Newly received History books: Egyptian maths, Medieval Wales, Martin Luther, 19th century Europe, Royal Navy & Cold War

In this week’s batch of new History books, I selected titles relevant for most periods. There are also two much-anticipated books by the two Regius Professors of History from Cambridge and Oxford, Prof. R. Evans and Prof. L. Roper. Enjoy!

Imhausen, Annette, Mathematics in ancient Egypt : a contextual history (Princeton, 2016)

Stephenson, David, Medieval Powys kingdom, principality and lordships, 1132-1293 (Woodbridge, 2016)

Roper, Lyndal, Martin Luther : renegade and prophet (London, 2016)

Evans, Richard J., The pursuit of power : Europe 1815-1914 (London, 2016)

Bennett, G. H., The Royal Navy in the age of austerity 1919-22 : naval and foreign policy under Lloyd George (London, 2016)

Spohr, Kristina, Transcending the Cold War : summits, statecraft, and the dissolution of bipolarity in Europe, 1970-1990 (Oxford, 2016)

new-history-books-20-sept-2016There is more!

Many more new books were received. You can find them all here.

Personalise your alerts

If you would like a personalised RSS feed so you can be alerted to our new history books, just email isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk with your preferred period, country or topic.