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Recent Publications & Podcasts from Guest Speaker Professor Jeremy Black

 

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Professor Jeremy Black MBE 

Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. After graduating with a starred First from Cambridge, he undertook research at Oxford and has subsequently been Professor of History at the universities of Durham and (since 1996) Exeter. Jeremy is a prolific lecturer and writer, the author of over 100 books. Many concern aspects of eighteenth century British, European and American political, diplomatic and military history. He has also broadened his perspective, both temporally and geographically, and published on the history of the press, cartography, warfare, culture and on the nature and uses of history itself. Jeremy’s work adds up to the most sustained presentation of British history in recent decades. He is a major exponent of military, diplomatic and cartographic history and has been important in helping the British to look at their past, as well as in representing British history to foreign audiences. He received his MBE for services to stamp design.

 

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A Brief History of Britain 1851-2021

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group 

From the Great Exhibition’s showcasing of British national achievement in 1851 to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in Stratford in 2012 and on to Brexit, an insightful exploration of the transformation of modern Britain

This revised and updated fourth and final volume in the concise Brief History of Britain series begins in the specially-constructed Crystal Palace, three times the length of St Paul’s Cathedral, in Hyde Park at the beginning of the second half of the nineteenth century. The Great Exhibition it housed marked a high point of British national achievement, at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, at the heart of a great empire, with Queen Victoria still to reign for fifty years. It was a time of confidence in the future, and exuberant patriotism for Britain’s role in it.

The beginning of the Second World War in 1939 marks a turning point because of the great change it heralded in Britain’s global standing. At its peak, protected by the world’s greatest navy, the British Empire stretched from Australasia to Canada, from Hong Kong and India to South Africa, and from Jamaica to the Falklands. Now the empire is no more: a fundamental change not only for the world, but also for Britain. The Second World War had been won, but it had exhausted Britain and marked the beginning of its national decline.

Black links cultural and political developments closely – transport, health, migration and economic and demographic factors – in order to make clear how porous and changeable the manifestations of national civilisation can be, and to make sense of themes such as the triumph of town over country, Britain’s international clout and the shift from the dominance of the market at the turn of the nineteenth century to the growing significance of the state.

Importantly, he also looks at how public history has presented the nation’s past, and how the changing and different ways we look at that past are central aspects of our shared history.

Listen to a podcast of Jeremy talking about this publication with host of the New Books Network here 

 

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}A Brief History of the Mediterranean

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group 

The Mediterranean has always been a leading stage for world history; it is also visited each year by tens of millions of tourists, both local and international. Jeremy Black provides an account in which the experience of travel is foremost: travel for tourism, for trade, for war, for migration, for culture, or, as so often, for a variety of reasons. Travellers have always had a variety of goals and situations, from rulers to slaves, merchants to pirates, and Black covers them all, from Phoenicians travelling for trade to the modern tourist sailing for pleasure and cruising in great comfort.

Throughout the book the emphasis is on the sea, on coastal regions and on port cities visited by cruise liners - Athens, Barcelona, Naples, Palermo. But it also looks beyond, notably to the other waters that flow into the Mediterranean - the Black Sea, the Atlantic, the Red Sea and rivers, from the Ebro and Rhone to the Nile. 

Much of western Eurasia and northern Africa played, and continues to play, a role, directly or indirectly, in the fate of the Mediterranean. At times, that can make the history of the sea an account of conflict after conflict, but it is necessary to understand these wars in order to grasp the changing boundaries of the Mediterranean states, societies and religions, the buildings that have been left, and the peoples' cultures, senses of identity and histories.

Black explores the centrality of the Mediterranean to the Western experience of travel, beginning in antiquity with the Phoenicians, Minoans and Greeks. He shows how the Roman Empire united the sea, and how it was later divided by Christianity and Islam. He tells the story of the rise and fall of the maritime empires of Pisa, Genoa and Venice, describes how galley warfare evolved and how the Mediterranean fired the imagination of Shakespeare, among many artists. From the Renaissance and Baroque to the seventeenth-century beginnings of English tourism - to the Aegean, Sicily and other destinations - Black examines the culture of the Mediterraean. He shows how English naval power grew, culminating in Nelson's famous victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile and the establishment of Gibraltar, Minorca and Malta as naval bases. Black explains the retreat of Islam in north Africa, describes the age of steam navigation and looks at how and why the British occupied Cyprus, Egypt and the Ionian Islands. He looks at the impact of the Suez Canal as a new sea route to India and how the Riviera became Europe's playground. He shows how the Mediterranean has been central to two World Wars, the Cold War and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. With its focus always on the Sea, the book looks at the fate of port cities particularly - Alexandria, Salonika and Naples.

Listen to a podcast of Jeremy talking to The Critic’s political editor, Graham Stewart about the forces that have shaped Mediterranean history here

Listen to a podcast of Jeremy talking about this publication with host of the New Books Network here

 

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}A Brief History of Italy

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group 

Despite the Roman Empire's famous 500-year reign over Europe, parts of Africa and the Middle East, Italy does not have the same long national history as states such as France or England. Divided for much of its history, Italy's regions have been, at various times, parts of bigger, often antagonistic empires, notably those of Spain and Austria. In addition, its challenging and varied terrain made consolidation of political control all the more difficult. This concise history covers, in very readable fashion, the formative events in Italy's past from the rise of Rome, through a unified country in thrall to fascism in the first half of the twentieth century right up to today. 

The birthplace of the Renaissance and the place where the Baroque was born, Italy has always been a hotbed of culture. Within modern Italy country there is fierce regional pride in the cultures and identities that mark out Tuscany, Rome, Sicily and Venice to name just a few of Italy's many famous regions. Jeremy Black draws on the diaries, memoirs and letters of historic travellers to Italy to gain insight into the passions of its people, first chronologically then regionally. 

In telling Italy's story, Black examines what it is that has given Italians such cultural clout - from food and drink, music and fashion, to art and architecture - and explores the causes and effects of political events, and the divisions that still exist today.

Listen to a podcast of Jeremy talking about this publication with host of the New Books Network here

 

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}A Brief History of Portugal 

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group 

This is a comprehensive history of Portugal that covers the whole span, from the Stone Age to today. An introduction provides an understanding of geographical and climatic issues, before an examination of Portugal’s prehistory and classical Portugal, from the Stone Age to the end of the the Roman era.

Portugal’s history from ad420 to the thirteenth century takes in the Suevi, Visigoths and Moors. Then, a look at medieval Portugal, covers the development of Christian Portugal culminating with the expulsion of the Moors, with a focus on key sites. A subsequent section on Spanish rule, between 1580 and 1640, explains why Spain took over and why Spanish rule collapsed. There is a significant focus on Portugal’s global role, particularly during the age of exploration, or expansion, in the fifteenth century to 1580: Manueline Portugal, Henry the Navigator, Vasco da Gama and Belém. Portugal was the first of the Atlantic empires, with territory in the Azores, Madeira, West Africa and Brazil, and it remained a major empire until the 1820s, retaining an African empire until the 1970s. It’s empire in Asia – in Malacca, Macao, Goa and Timor – continued even longer, until the 1990s. Black shows how Portugal had a global impact, but the world, too, had an impact on Portugal. Baroque Portugal, between 1640 and 1800, is explored through palaces in Mafra, Pombal and elsewhere and the wealth of Brazil. The nineteenth century brought turmoil in the form of a French invasion, the Peninsular War, Brazilian independence, successive revolutions, economic issues and the end of the monarchy. Republican Portugal brought further chaos in the early years of the twentieth century, then the dictatorship of Salazar and its end in the Carnation Revolution of 1974. Portugal’s role in both world wars is examined, also its wars in Africa. From the overthrow of autocracy to a new constitution and the leadership of Soares, contemporary, democratic Portugal is explored, including the fiscal crisis of recent years. Throughout Black introduces the history and character of the country’s principal regions, including the Azores, Madeira and the Cape Verde Islands. He looks at key national sites, at Portuguese food and wine and the arts, with special sections devoted to port, Portugal’s famous tiles and the university established at Coimbra in 1290.

Listen to a podcast of Jeremy talking about this publication with host of the New Books Network here

 

{MEDIA GALLERY DEFAULT}A Brief History of Spain 

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group 

Despite being relatively brief, this very readable history covers environmental, political, social, economic, cultural and artistic elements, and is very open to regional variations and to the extent that the history of the peninsula and of its political groupings was far from inevitable. Its tone is accessible, supported by boxes providing supplemental information, and is perfect for travellers to Spain.

Listen to a podcast of Jeremy talking about this publication with host of the New Books Network here

 

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