European History

Mining and the Rise of Capitalism

Jeannette Graulau— From David Landes’s Prometheus Unbound to Giovanni Arrighi’s Origins of Our Times, scholars continue to quarrel over one of the most difficult questions of all time: the why, how, and where of the origins of capitalism. Some return to the inexhaustible argument of England’s Industrial Revolution. Others, demystifying

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Will They Swing the Thick Stick?

Martin Pugh— I spent 1969 to 1971 on Voluntary Service Overseas as a Lecturer in European History at the Aligarh Muslim University in India. It was an exciting time politically as Indira Gandhi, the prime minister, had entered her radical phase provoking much controversy within the Congress Party. She nationalized

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Bugging the Nazis in World War II

Helen Fry— In 1939 British intelligence took over Trent Park in North London, the former country house of the aristocrat Sir Philip Sassoon. The house was “wired for sound,” and a hidden workforce of men and women moved in. This was one of three secret sites where German prisoners, and

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When the Austrian School of Economics Supported a Progressive State

Janek Wasserman— Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom is inarguably the most famous book associated with the Austrian School of Economics. The basic premises of Hayek’s argument are well known: “socialist” trends in German thought now threatened Western democracies; fascism and Nazism were the necessary outcome of those trends; government planning undermined

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The Rising of Croatia

Marcus Tanner— The long rule of the Turks over most of Croatia came to a sudden end in the 1680s. Responsibility for the conflict fell squarely on the Turks. In 1683 the Sultan’s Grand Vizier, Kara Mustafa, decided to revive the tradition of conquest of the previous century. Marching an

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America’s Long Jewish History

Jonathan D. Sarna— New Amsterdam, part of the remote Dutch colony of New Netherland in present-day New York State, was among the New World’s most diverse and pluralistic towns. A French Jesuit missionary in 1643 reported that “eighteen different languages” were spoken by local inhabitants of different sects or nations.

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The Emperor and His Family

Geoffrey Parker— In 1855 the French historian Jules Michelet hailed Archduchess Margaret of Austria as ‘The real “strong man” of the family’ whose efforts, above those of all others, ‘made the House of Austria great’. Rather like the eulogy of Henri Pirenne, this is an exaggeration: although the archduchess proved

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The History of Humour

Terry Eagleton— Perhaps the single most contradictory political phenomenon of the modern world is nationalism, which ranges from the Nazi death camps to a principled resistance to imperial power. In terms of sheer political ambiguity, however, humour runs it fairly close. If it can censure, debunk and transform, it can

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From House Telegraphs to Mobile Phones

Lee Jackson— In December 1858, Punch, the satirical magazine, imagined the next stage in the nineteenth century information revolution: the “house telegraph.” With such a device, one could be both at home and yet in constant telegraphic contact with the wider world. But was this really a good idea? A

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A Century of Moscow’s Meddling in US Politics

David Brandenberger— Allegations of Russian dirty tricks in the 2016 US presidential campaign often treat the issue of interference as if it were a historic, unprecedented transgression. But although the means used for such meddling (WikiLeaks, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) may have been new in 2016, the meddling itself was much

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