All Reviews

A Last Stand

Emma Fattorini, Hitler, Mussolini & The Vatican: Pope Pius XI and the Speech that was Never Made

reviewed by Hugh O'Shaughnessy

For decades historians have been fascinated by the riddles which surround the attitude of the aristocratic Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, towards the government and people of Germany – in which he served the Vatican as its nuncio before he was appointed Secretary of State – and to Jews whom he is charged with doing too little to protect. Notably through the writings of Rolf Hockhuth’s play The Representative (1963), the impression has been given that there was no strong force in the... [read more]

An Emergent Practice

Charles R. Beitz, The Idea of Human Rights

reviewed by Jeffrey Petts

In the year of the Arab Spring it is timely to examine the role of states and international organisations in the internal politics of other states: rhetorically, what justifies military intervention in Libya but not Syria to defend human rights? Charles Beitz’s arguments for a ‘fresh start’ to understanding the idea of human rights centre on human rights as a matter of ‘elaborate international practice’: that every human being has human rights, is ‘the subject of global concern’,... [read more]

Sugar, Slavery & Colonial Rivalry

Matthew Parker, The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War

reviewed by Tony Norfield

Britain was once the world’s biggest slave trader, transporting African slaves to colonies in the Americas. Two-thirds of the slaves worked on sugar plantations in the Caribbean, and this book gives the history of the British families who owned them: the ‘sugar barons’. Parker’s account of the mercantile entrepreneurs who developed plantations in the West Indies tells of how their colossal wealth made the King of England look like he was down on his luck. But more enlightening is his... [read more]

Liquid Modernity

Zygmunt Bauman, Collateral Damage: Social Inequalities in a Global Age

reviewed by Abigail Rhodes

The riots that took place from 6th – 9th August 2011 made Britain sit up and take notice. What began as a peaceful protest in Tottenham, North London, over the police shooting of Mark Duggan soon descended into a free-for-all frenzy of theft and violence which resulted in the deaths of five people. The speed with which the riots spread across the country was shocking. Social networking sites and mobile phones aided those involved to communicate rapidly with each other and led to the... [read more]

English Micro-history

Mark Knights, The Devil in Disguise: Deception, Delusion and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment

reviewed by David Morgan

‘The dramatic story of the Cowpers of Hertford includes a murder mystery, bigamy, a scandal novel, and a tyrannised wife, all set against the backdrop of violently competing local factions, rampant religious prejudice, and the last conviction of a witch in England.’ This sounds like a popular work of fiction from one of our more lurid authors but it is actually a serious work of historical scholarship that is being described. The Devil in Disguise is the latest work from Mark Knights,... [read more]