Over the weekend I continued my Anxious Bench series on the challenges of writing biographies by reflecting on the problem of historical evidence. While the biographer whose book I’m currently reading seems to have enough evidence to narrate his subject’s entire life on a weekly (sometimes daily or even hourly) basis, I know that he actually is deploying … More When There’s Too Much Historical Evidence
‘Tis the season when we curate some of the histories and biographies showing up on Best Books of 2016 lists, just in case you’re struggling to come up with a gift for that history buff in your life. (Key: A – Amazon; G – Guardian; NYT – New York Times; PW – Publishers Weekly) Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time: … More The Top Histories of 2016?
Time to show my hand and reveal of my favorite examples of historical moviemaking. Well, TV series-making, but then that’s just another form of the motion picture. After spending two Anxious Bench posts developing a set of four criteria for evaluating that kind of storytelling, today I applied them to two cable TV shows: the feminist time-traveling drama Outlander (Starz!) … More Soviets and Sassenachs: My Two Favorite Historical TV Series
Today at The Anxious Bench you’ll find part two of my series on how we might evaluate historical movies like Free State of Jones, which has inspired rave reviews from some historians and criticism from others. If you missed the first part, go back to read what I meant that historical movies and TV series must strive to be both … More What Makes for the Best Historical Movies? (part 2)
As I write this post, the sun is setting over the River Somme in northern France. One hundred years ago today, in the middle of World War I, nightfall hid the grisly sight of nearly 20,000 dead British and Commonwealth soldiers. One of them was a twenty-year old officer named John Sherwin Engall, who had written to his parents … More The Somme at 100
I’m going to push back my usual Saturday links wrap until tomorrow. It’s proven impossible to ignore what happened in Britain this week, even though I’m not sure I actually have a lot of help to offer people wondering just what Brexit is or why it matters. I can’t explain just why the European Union has … More Scattered Thoughts on Brexit
In 1975 Great Britain held a referendum on its 1973 admission to what was then still the European Economic Community. By a two-to-one margin, British voters ratified their country’s new role in Europe. In nine days, they will revisit that decision with another referendum, one that could well end with Britain negotiating a withdrawal from the European … More British Christians Debate “Brexit”
For national anthem buffs like me, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this! Yes, earlier today the British parliament took a step towards England adopting its own national anthem, as opposed to using “God Save the Queen.” The sponsor of the bill, a Labour MP named Toby Perkins, noted the tension between British and national identity … More A New English National Anthem?
It’s December 1st, time to share our annual round-up of historical works that have cracked various “Best Books of 2015” lists, for any reader who might be looking for gifts for the history buff in their life. (Key: G = The Guardian; NYT = New York Times; PW = Publishers Weekly; WP = Washington Post; Philip Ball, Invisible: … More The Top Histories of 2015?
Here… • The week started peacefully, and oddly, enough with a little piece about North Korea, time zones, imperialism, and Sabbath. • Then I knew that I’d be publishing a guest-post by Devin Manzullo-Thomas providing historical context for Goshen/Eastern Mennonite controversy in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU). • I didn’t know that Devin’s post would become … More That Was The Week That Was