The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography From the Revolution to the First World War gets a positive review in today’s New York Times; other reviews online include The New York Sun, The Guardian, and The Independent.
Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category
The Fall 2007 issue of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History features a review forum on Charles S. Maier, Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors.
The other articles in this issue (links to Project Muse HTML):
The New York Times Sunday Book Review has a review of Ramachandra Guha’s new book India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy. Added bonus: an excerpt from the first chapter.
She points out that in the aftermath both sides had their disappointments. Nixon and Kissinger “went too far, for example, in making assurances to China about withdrawing American forces from Taiwan, which they were not, in the end, able to keep.” As for the “China card”—the additional leverage that the new détente with China was supposed to give to the US—the Americans found that it did not lead to the North Vietnamese either ending the war or giving ground in the Paris peace talks. Nixon’s visit occurred, she argues, because both sides came to the conclusion at the same time that it was a promising idea. In the end it was the will of just four men to begin the week that changed history.
The May 10th edition of The Economist has a review (“The Ash Heap of History?“) of new books by Robert Service (Comrades! A History of World Communism) and Archie Brown (Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective). The reviewer is not too crazy about Brown’s book, though notes that its study of the Gorbachev era is crucial for understanding Russia today. Service’s book comes off better:
With this volume he has produced one of the best-ever studies of his subject, even if he is much stronger on Russia than on other countries. Eschewing the usual convoluted language of Marxist debates, he provides a gripping account of communism’s intellectual origins, pedigree and impact. Concluding that Marx and his followers “were not the fundamental rethinkers of the contemporary world”—he accords that honour to Albert Einstein, Max Weber and others—Mr Service turns from ideas to their practical application.
More generally, the review argues that the end of the Cold War does not mean that studies of the Soviet Union and Communism can go by the wayside – studying the history of Communism has much to teach the world today.
All in all, A Nation among Nations makes a convincing plea to place U.S. history in a global setting. Bender contextualizes America in a double sense: he demonstrates that the main issues of U.S. history are problems that spanned the globe. As well as these parallels of comparable challenges and varying results, Bender offers us insights into how global interactions impacted on America and other societies. Thus, he draws together the two main strands of the debate on transnational or global history. Also, it is inspiring to see how easily he brings together political, social, economic, and cultural history. The book builds upon a stupendous historical knowledge of American and world history. And while some of his findings might not be completely new for the expert of the specific field and others provocative or even doubtful, it is hard to imagine a reader to whom this book does not offer surprising and inspiring insights.
Readers interested in Bender’s book may also want to consult Andrew Cayton’s review in Reviews in American History [vol. 34, issue 4 (2006): 573-580; full-text at Project Muse].
Matti Bunzl. Symptoms of Modernity: Jews and Queers in Late-Twentieth-Century Vienna. Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 2004. xii + 292 pp. Notes, bibliography. $24.95 (paper), ISBN 0-520-23843-5. Find it at your library (WorldCat link)
Reviewed by: Clayton Whisnant, Department of History, Wofford College.
Published by: H-German (August, 2006)
“Postmodernity” has a staggering number of definitions, but most would include some notion that contemporary society is more openly pluralist than it was a half-century ago. Matti Bunzl makes his own contribution to this literature by bringing this take on postmodernity together with those of several authors who connect the “normalizing” process of modernity with the rise of the modern nation state. The heart of modernity, Bunzl proposes, is the fiction of the coherent nation-state, imagined as an “ethnically homogenous and inherently masculinist” entity (p. 13). The demise of this “nationalizing project” can consequently be traced by examining the social and state treatment of two key groups, Jews and homosexuals. Bunzl argues that their integration into the symbolic space of the nation, along with the radical reassessment of their importance for the life of the nation, serves as a chief gauge for the emergence of postmodernity.
Read the rest of the review at H-Net Reviews.