History book reviews

Reviews of the latest history books, all written by expert historians.



Why Nations Fail
by Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson
Frank Trentmann has high praise for an ambitious attempt to explain the vast discrepancies of global wealth
Masters of the Post: The Authorized History of the Royal Mail
by Duncan Campbell-Smith
Jeremy Black delights in a thoughtful chronicle of the Royal Mail
The Zong: A Massacre, the Law and the End of Slavery
by James Walvin
Madge Dresser applauds an insightful study of a slave ship atrocity and its aftermath
Britain, Ireland, and Continental Europe in the Eighteenth Century
by Stephen Conway
Jeremy Black on how Georgian Britons interacted with their European neighbours
Pashas: Traders and Travellers in the Islamic World
by James Mather
Jerry Brotton on a vivid tale of British traders in the orient
Magpies, Squirrels  and Thieves: How the Victorians Collected the World
by Jacqueline Yallop
Felix Driver on a sympathetic portrayal of a group of Victorian collectors
The Sugar Barons: Family, Corruption, Empire and War
by Matthew Parker
James Walvin reviews an engaging exploration of the slave-based sugar islands in the West Indies
The Slave Trade
by James Walvin
David Musgrove on an excellent summary of human bondage
Cry Havoc: The Arms Race and the Second World War 1931–1941
by Joe Maiolo
Roger Moorhouse on the race for military supremacy before the Second World War
The Birth of Modern Britain
by Francis Pryor
Marilyn Palmer enjoys an archaeologist’s explorations of unfamiliar grounds
The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance
by Edmund de Waal
Rob Attar reviews an unusual history of a group of Japanese carvings and their owners
Children of Light: How Electricity Changed Britain Forever
by Gavin Weightman
Stephen Halliday is fascinated by stories of electrical pioneers
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