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New Books in European Studies

Updated 8 days ago

Society & Culture
History
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Interviews with Scholars of Europe about their New Books

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Interviews with Scholars of Europe about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

6 Ratings
Average Ratings
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iTunes Ratings

6 Ratings
Average Ratings
5
1
0
0
0
Cover image of New Books in European Studies

New Books in European Studies

Latest release on Jan 17, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 8 days ago

Rank #1: Joel Elliot Slotkin, "Sinister Aesthetics: The Appeal of Evil in Early Modern Literature" (Palgrave, 2017)

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Why did creative writers in early modern England write so forcefully about the relationship between aesthetics and morality? How did they imagine creative work to reflect religious categories and moral expectations? In his new book, Sinister Aesthetics: The Appeal of Evil in Early Modern Literature (Palgrave, 2017), Joel Elliot Slotkin, a professor of English at Towson University, explores how Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare and Milton considered the appeal of evil, and why their writing moralized about aesthetics only to create characters or contexts in which that moral purpose seemed to be undermined. In this ground-breaking study, Slotkin explains how these writers created a “sinister aesthetics,” in which to test their readers, and to persuade their readers that the fall of humanity into sin had aesthetic as well as moral and noetic consequences.

Crawford Gribben is a professor of history at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests focus on the history of puritanism and evangelicalism, and he is the author most recently of John Owen and English Puritanism (Oxford University Press, 2016).

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Mar 29 2019

33mins

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Rank #2: Tim Bouverie, "Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill and the Road to War" (Tim Duggan Books, 2019)

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Appeasement: Chamberlain, Hitler, Churchill and the Road to War(Tim Duggan Books, 2019) is a groundbreaking history of the disastrous years of indecision, failed diplomacy and parliamentary infighting that help to make Hitler’s domination of Europe possible. Drawing on the available archival research, Oxford graduate, professional writer and one-time Channel 4 news journalist, Tim Bouverie has created a highly interesting portrait of the ministers, aristocrats, and amateur diplomats who, through their actions and inaction, shaped their country’s policy and determined the fate of Europe. Among other historical figures who appear in this tale are Hitler, Churchill, Chamberlain, Eden and Baldwin.

Beginning with the advent of Hitler in 1933, we embark on a fascinating journey from the early days of the Third Reich to the beaches of Dunkirk and the downfall of Chamberlain’s premiership. Bouverie takes us not only into the backrooms of Parliament and 10 Downing Street but also into the drawing rooms and dining clubs of imperial Britain, where Hitler enjoyed support among the ruling class and even some members of the royal family. Both sweeping and detail laden, Tim Bouverie provides both the first-time reader of this historical tale and the more experienced one, with a highly interesting and involved narrative of one of the most important periods in world history.

Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Jun 27 2019

39mins

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Rank #3: Matthew D. O'Hara, "The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico" (Yale UP, 2018)

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Latin America – especially colonial Latin America – is not particularly known for futurism. For popular audiences, the region’s history likely evokes images of book burning, the Inquisition, and other symbols of orthodoxy and fatalism. Specialists too tend to associate Latin America with a deep sense of historicism: the weight of memory – conquest, genocide, state violence – deeply marks the region’s politics and culture. On the other hand, in traditional historical narratives, a cognitive orientation towards the future is the province of northern Europe, the scientific revolution, liberalism, capitalism – in a word, modernity.

In The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico (Yale University Press, 2018), however, Matthew O’Hara uncovers a vast array of social practices in colonial Mexico that force us to reconsider who owns the future. Noted intellectuals were not the only ones planning ahead; instead, common people managed overlapping temporalities as they negotiated personal finance, heavenly salvation, health, and the climate. In addition to detailing the subjectivities such structures and practices produced, O’Hara also traces a long arc of change over three centuries of Spanish rule.  Improvised financial mechanisms, revised modes of discerning natural truths, and personalized notions of spiritual self-improvement transformed the colonial experience of time. But rather than tracking these to European philosophes, O’Hara finds them emerging from the fabric of colonial experience and developing into a unique temporality in which tradition and change were mutually constructive. For any readers interested in time and temporality, The History of the Future in Colonial Mexico will give you much to think with.

Lance C. Thurner teaches history at Rutgers Newark. His research and writing address the production of knowledge, political subjectivities, and racial and national identities in eighteenth and nineteenth-century Mexico. He is broadly interested in the methods and politics of applying a global perspective to the history of science and medicine and the role of the humanities in the age of the Anthropocene. More at http://empiresprogeny.org

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Jan 06 2020

35mins

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Rank #4: Geoffrey Parker, "Emperor: A New Life of Charles V" (Yale UP, 2019)

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From his accession to the Spanish throne in 1516 until his abdication in 1556, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V dominated Europe in a way that no ruler had since Charlemagne. In Emperor: A New Life of Charles V (Yale University Press, 2019), Geoffrey Parker draws upon an enormous array of documentation to provide readers with a better understanding of Charles and the many challenges he faced over the course of his decades-long reign. A member of the Habsburg dynasty, Charles stared assuming his inheritance at an early age due to the premature death of his father Philip the Fair. With his election as Holy Roman Emperor in 1520, Charles was sovereign over a realm stretching across central and northwestern Europe to Spain and her rapidly expanding empire in the Americas. The nature of his domains and the challenges he faced, from the persistent military clashes with his French counterpart Francis I to the rise of Lutheranism in Germany, forced Charles to adopt a peripatetic existence, spending much of his reign on horseback crisscrossing Europe to manage his scattered territories. As Parker shows, most of these problems defied his best efforts to resolve them, which fueled his decision to retire to a monastery in Spain two years before his death in 1558.

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Aug 23 2019

1hr 7mins

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Rank #5: Adrian Goldsworthy, "Hadrian's Wall" (Basic Books, 2018)

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Stretching across the north of England, from coast to coast, are the 73-mile long remnants of a fortification built by the Roman Army during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian. It is, as our guest Adrian Goldsworthy has written, “the largest of the many monuments left by the Roman Empire and one of the most famous.”

For centuries the purpose of Hadrian’s Wall, and the life of those who built it and lived near it, were shrouded in archaeological mystery. In Adrian Goldsworthy’s new book Hadrian's Wall (Basic Books, 2018) illuminates the subject by synthesizing the latest research, and bringing to bear his powerful historical imagination on the subject. And, speaking of historical imagination, in the United States he has simultaneously published a novel set along the border of Roman Britain—the second of a series—with his study of the wall itself.

Al Zambone is a historian and the host of the podcast Historically Thinking. You can subscribe to Historically Thinking on Apple Podcasts.

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May 24 2019

56mins

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Rank #6: Richard Bourke, “Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke” (Princeton UP, 2015)

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Richard Bourke, Professor in the History of Political Thought in the School of History at Queen Mary University of London, began developing his history of Edmund Burke’s political thought in 1991. Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke (Princeton University Press, 2015) uses Burke as a window into the eighteenth-century articulations of British imperial power, exploring the way that Burke approached relations between Britain, Ireland, America, India, and France. Beginning with Burke’s boyhood in Ireland, and closing with the challenge of grappling with Burke’s ongoing legacy, this beautifully written book displays Professor Bourke’s long study, attention to detail, and gift for trenchant observation. Our conversation ranged over subjects as familiar today as they were in the 1700s, including Burke’s understanding of representative politics as a means of resolving conflicts present in the public at large, struggles between state and corporate power, and the warrant for popular revolution.


“A career doesn’t have the coherence we impose upon it belatedly, but there exist preoccupations that recur and drive our action.”


Carl Nellis is an academic editor and writing instructor working north of Boston, where he researches contemporary American community formation around appropriations of medieval European culture. You can learn more about Carl’s work at carlnellis.wordpress.com.

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Sep 30 2016

47mins

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Rank #7: Jeremy Black, "The World at War, 1914-1945" (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019)

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In one of his latest books, The World at War, 1914-1945 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019), Professor of History at Exeter University, Jeremy Black, the most prolific historian in the Anglo-phone world, if not indeed on the entire planet, explores the forty-one years from the beginning of the Great War in August 1914 to the surrender of Japan in August 1945. This book provides the reader with an innovative global military history that joins three periods—World War I, the interwar years, and World War II. Professor Black, offers a comprehensive survey of both wars, comparing continuities and differences. He traces the causes of each war and assesses land, sea, and air warfare as separate dimension in each period. A must read for anyone interested in this time period of military and indeed global history.

Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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May 22 2019

51mins

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Rank #8: David L. Hoffmann, "The Stalin Era" (Cambridge UP, 2018)

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In his new book The Stalinist Era(Cambridge University Press, 2018), David L. Hoffmann focuses on the myriad ways in which Stalinist practices had their origins in World War I (1914-1918) and Russian Civil War era (1918-1920). These periods saw mass mobilizations of the population take place not just in Russia and the early Bolshevik state, but in many other nations, too.

In order to place Stalinism in this more comparative context, Hoffmann draws on a variety of primary archival sources. The Stalinist Era also provides a broad synthesis of recent work on  Stalinism, and so interested readers will be able to follow his bibliography to much of the key historical work on the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. Following its treatment of the Russian Civil War, The Stalinist Era takes readers through the NEP (New Economic Policy) period, the “building socialism” era of crash industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture, the Purges of the late 1930’s, the Second World War, and the final postwar Stalin years. Finally, Hoffmann suggests, there are important ways in which Stalinism did not die with Stalin himself.

The Stalinist Era combines an effective synthesis of the entire Stalin period, while at the same time, putting forth a specific and engaging argument that Stalinism mirrors many broader trends in modern nations. Historical writing should encourage comparative thinking, and Hoffmann’s book does exactly that.

Aaron Weinacht is Professor of History at the University of Montana Western in Dillon, MT. He teaches courses on Russian and Soviet History, World History, and Philosophy of History. His research interests include the sociological theorist Philip Rieff and the influence of Russian nihilism on American libertarianism.

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Jan 29 2019

1hr 6mins

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Rank #9: Edin Hajdarpasic, “Whose Bosnia? Nationalism and Political Imagination in the Balkans, 1840-1914” (Cornell UP, 2015)

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It seemed that everyone wanted Bosnia in the late nineteenth century: Serbian and Croatian nationalists; Ottoman, Habsburg, Muslim and Yugoslav movements. At the same time, they all felt frustration with the Bosnian peasants for not living up to their nationalist and political imaginations. In Whose Bosnia? National and Political Imagination in the Balkans (Cornell University Press, 2015),Edin Hajdarpasic makes a number of arguments about how we understand nationalism and political movements in contested spaces. By exploring how these different movements defined Bosnia and Bosnians, crafted narratives of suffering and engaged youth, he argues that nationalism was a productive, open-ended force even in the face of seeming failures to achieve the nationalists’ goals. Hajdarpasic discusses these themes, as well as “nation-compulsion” which he defined as “a set of political and moral imperatives that one grapples with as part of becoming and maintaining oneself as a proper patriot.”


Edin Hajdarpasic is Associate Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where he teaches courses in Western Civilization; the modern Balkans; nineteenth-century Europe; and the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires.

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Oct 31 2017

1hr 9mins

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Rank #10: Geraldine Heng, "The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages" (Cambridge UP, 2018)

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In The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press 2018), Geraldine Heng collects a remarkable array of medieval approaches to race that show the breadth and depth of the kinds of racial thinking in medieval society. In creating a detailed impression of the medieval race-making that would be reconfigured into the biological racism of the modern era, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages reaches beyond medievalists and race-studies scholars to anyone interested in the long history of race.

Throughout the study, Heng treats race-making as a repeating tendency to demarcate human beings through differences that are selectively essentialized as absolute and fundamental. Thus constituted, these categories are then used to guide the differential apportioning of power. Scholars working in critical race studies have clearly demonstrated that culture predisposes notions of race. The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages reaffirms that insight by examining the era before the dominance of biological discourses. Race has always been about strategically creating a hierarchy of peoples for differential treatment. By exploring race in the European middle ages, Heng lays bare the skeleton of racial thinking as a sorting mechanism, a structural relationship for the management of human differences.

In Heng's hands, the tools of critical race studies make it possible to name the systems and atrocities of the Middle Ages for what they were, revealing race-making before the modern vocabulary of race coalesced. Bringing together a group of specialized archives that aren't usually in conversation, Heng in many cases allows the medieval past to powerfully testify to the pre-modern history of race-formation, racial administration, and racist exploitation and oppression.

Beginning with the violent and sweeping anti-Semitism of thirteenth century England, showing the ways that Jews became the template by which other races were measured, The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages launches a careful exposure of the way that minority groups were (and are) manipulated to create the sense of a national majority. A short but potent comparison to the English treatment of Irish subjects drives the analysis home.

A researcher, writer, editor, and educator, Carl Nellis digs in archives and academic libraries for the critically-acclaimed Lore Podcast and as research lead for Unobscured Podcast. Studies on both sides of the Atlantic left him chasing the tangled colonial history that threads the culture of the Middle Ages into today’s United States.

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Feb 26 2019

1hr 1min

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Rank #11: Pieter M. Judson, “The Habsburg Empire: A New History” (Harvard UP, 2016)

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Pieter Judson established himself as one of the top scholars of the East Central Europe with his first two books Exclusive Revolutionaries (University of Michigan Press, 1996) and Guardians of the Nation (Harvard University Press, 2006). His latest book, The Habsburg Empire: A New History (Harvard University Press, 2016) provides scholars with the first major general history of the Empire since a new wave of scholarship began chipping away at the myths built up in various national historiographies. Not only does his book offer a reappraisal of Habsburg history that incorporate concepts like national indifference, but more than previous histories it gets out of the purely political realm to look at economic changes. In so doing beyond offering a new more nuanced understanding of how and why Austria-Hungary fell apart, he also suggests the the twenty years before 1848 were much more interesting than the conventional narrative has allowed. It was a pleasure to speak with Pieter again about this book.

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Oct 18 2017

58mins

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Rank #12: Matthew Lockwood, "To Begin The World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe" (Yale UP, 2019)

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Growing up as an American, you’re bound to be all-but-suffused with triumphalist histories of the American Revolution. Those histories might have a tough of the Hegelian to them, asserting that the Revolutionary War was part of the inevitable development of freedom worldwide. More academic histories have focused more critically on the war itself and what it meant for American society, such as the fact that a war allegedly fought for freedom also involved the ongoing oppression of slaves. The war’s global dimensions have similarly been discussed, dating back at this point to Samuel Flagg Bemis’ The Diplomacy of the American Revolution.

Matthew Lockwood’s To Begin The World Over Again: How the American Revolution Devastated the Globe (Yale University Press, 2019) pushes this analysis farther, looking at the global consequences of the American Revolution. Lockwood shows that the war, whatever its debatable effects for the residents of the thirteen colonies, unleashed a whole host of catastrophes for people elsewhere. Those living under British rule found their relationship with their government dramatically revised. British distraction allowed some European powers to undertake conquests of their own, while the United Kingdom in turn sought new commercial opportunities. Meanwhile, the effects of the war spilled into India and South America, setting off a new wave of global unrest.

Zeb Larson is a recent graduate of The Ohio State University with a PhD in History. His research deals with the anti-apartheid movement in the United States. To suggest a recent title or to contact him, please send an e-mail to zeb.larson@gmail.com.

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Dec 20 2019

1hr 6mins

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Rank #13: Emile Chabal, “A Divided Republic: Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France” (Cambridge UP, 2015)

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Emile Chabal’s A Divided Republic: Nation, State and Citizenship in Contemporary France (Cambridge University Press, 2015) is an in-depth analysis of the languages and preoccupations of French civil society and political culture from the 1970s to the present. Picking up where many historical studies leave off, the book pursues the legacies of the period of France’s Trente Glorieuses, including a number of critical political shifts and turning points during the last four decades. A study focused on French elites, the book moves from consideration of the contributions of intellectuals, academics, and journalists, to the ways that changing ideas and vocabularies played out in the everyday life of French politics.


Concerned with the broad consensual middle ground of French politics since the 1970s, the book is divided into two parts: the first examines French neo-republicanism in the wake of De Gaulle, while the second looks at a range of liberal critiques of the varieties of that republicanism. Seeking to push past traditional categories of left and right in the French context, the book looks closely at how actors across the political middle responded to the major issues that seemed to most challenge definitions of national identity. Considering the impact of postcolonialism in debates about laicite, integration, and immigration, A Divided Republic also looks at parite, the idea of the Anglo-Saxon in French political discourse, the question of regional differences, and the role of the language of crisis in state reform. Attentive to the always evolving and contested meanings of ideologies, terminologies, and their strategic deployment, the book will be highly compelling reading for anyone interested how the political thinks, speaks, and acts in contemporary France.


Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. A historian of culture and politics in the twentieth century, her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. Please drop her a line at panchasi@sfu.ca if you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast.

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Aug 24 2016

1hr 1min

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Rank #14: Holly Hurlburt, “Daughter of Venice: Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance” (Yale UP, 2015)

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Caterina Corner lived a life that was composed of a mixture of adventure, power, and tragedy. The daughter of a Venetian patrician and merchant, she was married to the king of Cyprus while barely a teenager. Within two years of voyaging to her new home in 1472, she became a mother, a widow, and the ruler of Cyprus, over which she reigned until she was dethroned by her Venetian benefactors in 1489. In Daughter of Venice: Caterina Corner, Queen of Cyprus and Woman of the Renaissance (Yale University Press, 2015), Holly Hurlburt describes the life and artistic legacy of this remarkable woman. As she explains, much of our image of her is shaped by the portraits and other artwork of her, both from her reign and afterward. In combination with the extant documentary record, they reveal how Caterina maintained and projected her authority as queen in a tumultuous time while facing challenges from several Mediterranean powers. Ever after her removal to a community in northern Venice, she maintained her influence and dignity as the lady of Asolo, both as a noble landowner and as a Renaissance patron.

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Mar 30 2017

46mins

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Rank #15: Surekha Davies, “Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps, and Monsters” (Cambridge UP, 2016)

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You find a lot of strange things on late medieval and “Age of Discovery” era maps. Of course there are weird beasts of every sort: dragons, griffins, sea monsters, and sundry multi-headed predators. But you also find a lot of bizarre, well, people. These include giant people, tiny people, one-footed people, people with two heads, and people with no heads at all (their eyes, mouths and noses are in their chests). What is one to make of all these different kinds of humanity? And, more important from a historical point of view, what did Renaissance mapmakers think they were doing when they adorned their cartographical products with them? In her wonderful new book Renaissance Ethnography and the Invention of the Human: New Worlds, Maps, and Monsters (Cambridge University Press, 2016), Surekha Davies offer answers aplenty, and good ones. Listen in.

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Jan 12 2017

58mins

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Rank #16: Brian Jenkins, “Lord Lyons: A Diplomat in an Age of Nationalism and War” (McGill-Queens UP, 2014)

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Described upon his death in 1887 as the ideal diplomatist, Richard Lyons served Great Britain in a variety of roles over the course of a long and distinguished career. In Lord Lyons: A Diplomat in an Age of Nationalism and War (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014), Brian Jenkins describes Lyons’s eventful life and the often subtle impact he made in international relations. The son of an officer in the Royal Navy, Lyons was long drawn to diplomatic service. Sent to Greece as an aide soon after finishing his education, he rose steadily through the ranks over the course of a series of postings in Europe. Named minister to the United States in 1858, Lyons arrived to witness the emergence of secession, and he spent much of his tenure in America grappling with the challenges posed by the war that resulted. His success in such extraordinary circumstances cemented his reputation and led to his appointment as ambassador, first to the Ottoman Empire, then to France, where he served during the fall of Napoleon III’s Second Empire and the establishment of the Third Republic. Throughout it all, as Jenkins shows, Lyons set a standard of conduct as a hard-working nonpartisan defender of Britain’s interests that his successors strove to emulate.

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Feb 08 2018

55mins

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Rank #17: Keir Giles, "Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West" (Chatham House, 2019)

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From Moscow, the world looks different. It is through understanding how Russia sees the world—and its place in it—that the West can best meet the new Russian challenge to the existing world order. Moscow Rules: What Drives Russia to Confront the West (Chatham House, 2019), by Chatham House Senior Russian expert, Keir Giles provides the sophisticated and curious reader a primer to help explain Putin’s Russia.

As per Giles, Russia and the West are like neighbors who never seem able to understand each other. A major reason, this book argues, is that Western leaders tend to think that Russia should act as a “rational” Western nation—even though Russian leaders, Tsars, Commissars and Presidents alike for centuries have thought and acted based on their country’s much different history and traditions. Russia, through Western eyes, is unpredictable and irrational, when in fact its leaders from the Tsars to Putin almost always act in their own very predictable and rational ways. For Western leaders to try to engage with Russia without attempting to understand how Russians look at the world is a recipe for repeated disappointment and frequent crises.

Keir Giles, describes how Russian leaders have used consistent doctrinal and strategic approaches to the rest of the world. These approaches may seem deeply alien in the Western world, but understanding them is essential for successful engagement with contemporary Russia. Giles argues that understanding how Moscow’s leaders think and act—not just Vladimir Putin but his predecessors and eventual successors—will help their counterparts in the West develop a less crisis-prone and more productive relationship with Russia.

Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Sep 03 2019

34mins

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Rank #18: Timothy Snyder, “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning” (Tim Duggan Books, 2015)

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It’s rare when an academic historian breaks through and becomes a central part of the contemporary cultural conversation.

Timothy Snyder does just this with his book Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Tim Duggan Books, 2015). He does so by boldly arguing that we don’t really understand what happened during the Holocaust. He argues in favor of an emphasis on ideology with Adolf Hitler at the center. But he also stresses the importance of the experience of occupation and the role of state structures, incentives and punishments. It was, he suggests, the persistence or disappearance of states that made all the difference in the way the Holocaust emerged over time.


Because of our misunderstanding of the nature of the Holocaust, we’ve misunderstood the lessons that it should teach us. Because the world of our time rhymes with that of the Holocaust, this misunderstanding poses real threats to our world.


It’s a tremendous book, fully worth of the extensive praise it has received. It will no doubt lead to many conversations among holocaust and genocide scholars alike.


We only had time to touch on the big themes of the book in this interview. Hopefully you’ll get a feel for the flavor of his argument and why it’s so challenging to the discipline.

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Jan 28 2016

1hr 19mins

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Rank #19: Sam White, “A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America” (Harvard UP, 2017)

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Sam White’s brand new book A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America (Harvard University Press, 2017) turns the tales we learned in grade school about early European colonization of North America upside-down. In the last decades of the 16th and first decades of the 17th century, three empires—Spain, France and England—each sought to establish new colonial projects on the continent of North America. They had the misfortune to embark on these projects at the most severe point of a global climatic shift called the Little Ice Age, whose harsh winters, droughts and storms seemed to plague the unready Europeans at every turn. From Florida to Maine, North Carolina to New Mexico, climate and weather-related difficulties challenged European colonists in a multitude of ways, and White explains how even the nominally successful colony projects, like Jamestown, were lucky near-misses whose success was by no means inevitable. This is a totally new look at the early history of Europeans in North America, which holds significant lessons for coping with and thinking about our modern problems of anthropogenic climate change.

Sam White is associate professor of history at Ohio State University. An expert on climate and environmental history in the early modern period, he is also the author of the acclaimed book The Climate of Rebellion in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and co-founder of the Climate History Network, a resource for historians and other professionals studying climate history and climate change.

Sean Munger is an author, historian, teacher and podcaster. He also has his own historical podcast, Second Decade.

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Dec 15 2017

54mins

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Rank #20: John Freed, “Frederick Barbarossa: The Prince and the Myth” (Yale UP, 2016)

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For all of his importance as a medieval ruler, there are surprisingly few biographies in English of the German emperor Frederick Barbarossa (c. 1122-1190). John Freed fills this gap with his new book, Frederick Barbarossa: The Prince and the Myth (Yale University Press, 2016), which offers readers both an account of Frederick’s life and his posthumous image as a German ruler. Freed begins by describing the historical background of 12th century Germany, setting Frederick’s succession to the throne within the context of medieval dynastic politics. From there he recounts Frederick’s campaigns against both the papacy and the Italian communes, his subsequent efforts to strengthen his rule in Germany, and his death in the Near East while participating in the Third Crusade. Though an undercurrent of frustrated ambition ran throughout many of his efforts, Frederick nonetheless became a symbol of a united Germany by the 19th century and, in the process, achieved a stature as a sovereign that belied the complicated realities of the world in which he lived.

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Jul 15 2016

1hr 9mins

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