April 2015, issue no. 370

Paul Giles reviews 'Incognita' by G.A. Mawer

Paul Giles

As the author explains in his preface, Incognita had its genesis in events to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the voyages of Janszoon and Torres to the Cape York Peninsula in 1606, with the explorations of these Dutch mariners representing the first European sighting of Australia. This book has been several years in the making, and it offers an ... More

Simon Caterson reviews 'The Rich' by John Kampfner

Simon Caterson

Just how different are the rich from everyone else? F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a 1926 short story that they are ‘soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations an ... More

James Dunk reviews 'The Man Who Thought He was Napoleon' by Laure Murat

James Dunk

In 1798, during the revolutionary wars on the European mainland, the Irish rebelled. Though they were supported militarily by the French Republic, it was the ideas heralded by the Revolution that gave real strength to their cause. A decade later, in Dublin, William Hallaran argued in hisAn Enquiry Into the Causes Producing the Extraordinary Addition to the Number ... More

Glyn Davis reviews 'Poiesis' by Peter Acton

Glyn Davis

On what terms should we interrogate the past? Ancient life can seem essentially unknowable, a place where everything is different, glimpsed only in the words of those who lived then and surviving traces of material culture.

The Cambridge classical scholar Sir Moses Finley argued for an interpretation of ancient life bounded by then current civic and religiou ... More

Peter Acton reviews 'The Invention of News' by Andrew Pettegree

Peter Acton

When St Paul’s burned down in 1561, no one was in any doubt that it was the work of God. The debate – and it was a furious one in the press of the time – concerned what this said about His views on the abolition of the mass. Contemporary press reports of the Battle of Lepanto, the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and the Spanish Armada show how reporting of ev ... More

Sheila Fitzpatrick reviews 'Red Apple' by Phillip Deery

Sheila Fitzpatrick

This book is about a moral panic resulting in the deployment of huge police and bureaucratic resources to ruin the lives of some unlucky individuals who were, or seemed to be, Communist Party members or sympathisers. None of Deery’s cases seems to have been doing anything that posed an actual threat to the US government or population; that, at least, is how it loo ... More

Wilfrid Prest: 'Notebooks, English Virtuosi, and Early Modern Science'

Wilfrid Prest

With the advent of digital technology and the Internet, traditional paper-based scholarship appears increasingly threatened with redundancy, if not total obsolescence. This may help to explain current interest in the various techniques adopted by early modern natural philosophers and scholars who struggled to cope with the diverse and rapidly expanding bodies of dat ... More

Miriam Cosic reviews the biography of 'Wilhelm II'

Miriam Cosic

Wilhelm II, German Kaiser and King of Prussia, may be a shadowy figure for Australian readers, better known as the butt of funny-scary caricatures in British World War I propaganda or of black humour in popular soldiers’ songs, than as a political player in his own right. He remains enigmatic even for scholars. Some hand him the burden of responsibility for World ... More

Bernard Whimpress reviews 'The Commonwealth Games'

Bernard Whimpress

The Commonwealth Games, like the Commonwealth of Nations, often seem irrelevant. I intended to declare my bias in this review when I found author Brian Oliver saying the same thing on the first page of his introduction. But, as the author points out, the Games have survived the political, cultural, and sporting odds for more than eighty years and have a rich sportin ... More

The abiding impact of W.E.B. Du Bois

Luke Horton

William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868–1963) forged one of the most remarkable careers of his generation. Starting in the 1890s, often considered the nadir of race relations in the United States, he became the first black man to hold a Harvard bachelor’s degree; emerged as Booker T. Washington’s most eloquent opponent on the issue of segregation; published pio ... More

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