history and politics

Douglas Dowell
Douglas Dowell
a shelf of power and provocation
A major history of Israel, with a huge amount of material for the reader to draw on and assess.
A biography of Mary I which looks at her achievements as well as her reputed failures. Mary led the only successful Tudor rebellion and her Catholic restoration was actually successful and effective. The book reminds us that, had she not died in 1558 with her Protestant half-sister as heir, she might well have been seen as a successful monarch.
A life of Richard III in the middle of the historiographical spectrum.
David Laws clearly had an agenda himself: for better and for worse (more informed; less able to divulge and more inclined to spin), he was at the heart of negotiations. But there's lots of detail in here.
No one who wrote about the formation of the Coalition did so without an agenda, but Andrew Adonis gives an argument from a Labour perspective. As a former Lib Dem himself, currently chairing the National Infrastructure Commission, he's far from unthinkingly tribal himself.
I've always enjoyed history books which cut across national boundaries and look at other connected areas, so 'Atlantic' naturally appealed. The book covers the nature of the sea itself as well as history narrowly-defined. It's particularly good on mass travel.
This is a highly readable history of Poland, deftly taking you through many centuries of history. The Piasts, the Jagiellons and the Union of Lublin, the Commonwealth period, Polish nationalism after the partitions and much more are all covered.
A thorough study of the imagery and iconography of coronations.
It's easy to romanticise ancient Egypt - getting so distracted by the beauty of the Pyramids that you forget the years of back-breaking slave labour which put them there, for instance. Wilkinson's book tells the story of what we know about ancient Egypt, but highlights the ruthlessness within that story as well.
Nicola Shulman looks at Thomas Wyatt's poetry and its impact in Henry VIII's court. She looks at the layers of meaning behind his words, and the likely contexts for their use, to shed light on Wyatt's life, Anne Boleyn's rise and fall and more besides. She sometimes forgets to qualify informed speculation and occasionally places too many arguments on too slender a base, but overall it's an interesting and different perspective (and beautifully written).
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