History book reviews

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



Band of Angels: The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women
by Kate Cooper
Peter Heather rates a study of the vital, and previously neglected, role of women in the early Christian church
When Britain Burned the White House: The 1814 Invasion of Washington
by Peter Snow
Andrew Lambert praises a look of the roles of statesmen and servicemen in an often neglected period of US history
The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945–57
by Frank Dikötter
Robert Bickers on a vivid exploration of the bloody reality behind the ‘golden age’ of the Chinese Revolution
The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words 1000 BCE – 1492 CE
by Simon Schama
Colin Shindler commends the first volume of a witty and wide-reaching history of the Jewish people across centuries
Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin's Global Plot
by Giles Milton
Nigel Jones is gripped by a vivid account of the efforts by members of the Secret Intelligence Service to infiltrate Russia
Paralysed with Fear: The Story of Polio
by Gareth Williams
Michael Worboys praises a look at the spread of polio, and what it says about recent medical development
How to Be a Victorian
by Ruth Goodman
Alison Kay enjoys an entertaining overview of Victorian domestic life, from farming to fashion
The Restoration of Rome
by Peter Heather
Peter Jones on a study exploring attempts to revive the Roman empire — and how they unwittingly proved successful
A Great and Glorious Adventure: A Military History of the  Hundred Years’ War
by Gordon Corrigan
Jeremy Black considers an accessible exploration of the causes – and consequences – of the Hundred Years’ War
Bolívar: The Epic Life of the Man who Liberated South America
by Marie Arana
Paulo Drinot assesses a biography of Simón Bolívar that finds new things to say in an already crowded field of study
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957–59
by David Kynaston
Francis Beckett considers the latest in a series of books on postwar Britain, focusing on the final years of the 1950s
Men from the Ministry: How Britain Saved its Heritage
by Simon Thurley
Richard Morris on a look at the project to protect Britain's heritage — and what its survival says about the nation
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