Tag British history

Caged lies and Truth drugs

Helen Fry— The allegations of brutality at the London Cage are shocking enough, but evidence emerges to reveal for the first time in this book that Colonel Scotland apparently sanctioned the use of ‘truth drugs’ on his prisoners. Clearly, this needs to be placed in the broader context of the

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Ep. 33 – Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the Great Stink of 1858

The summer of 1858 was hot and stinky in London and filled with stories and scandals.

Disraeli, de Rothschild, and the Struggle to Admit Jews to Parliament

Rosemary Ashton— What was it like to live in London through one of the hottest summers on record, with the River Thames emitting a sickening smell as a result of the sewage of over two million inhabitants being discharged into the river and floating up and down with the tide, never

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The Office of the Coroner and the Birth of the Modern English State

Matthew Lockwood— The image of the detective is a familiar one to modern eyes. Contemporary culture is rife with crime dramas, police procedurals, and medical investigations. Searching for the origins of this ubiquitous cultural type in the Anglo-American world, few would delve deeply into the past, pinpointing instead the nineteenth

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To Sleep or Not to Sleep?

Sasha Handley— Large swathes of the modern industrialized world are in the grip of a sleep-deprivation crisis. So say Jonathan Crary and Ariana Huffington, who represent just two voices in a chorus of recent critical commentaries highlighting the corrosive effects of our globalized 24/7 culture on sleep’s duration and quality.

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On the Origin of the Coffeehouse

Brian Cowan— It should be easy to identify what a coffeehouse was at the dawn of the eighteenth century: a place where people gathered together to drink coffee, learn about the news of the day, and perhaps to meet with other local residents and discuss matters of mutual concern. Yet

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The Prince Who Saved the Magna Carta

Catherine Hanley— Have you ever heard of Magna Carta? It’s likely that you have: the document is famous throughout much of the world and has come to represent enduring freedom and liberty. It exercised a strong influence on the US constitution; sixteen states incorporated the full text into their statute

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Remembering the Reign of Henry IV

Chris Given-Wilson— When Henry of Bolingbroke seized the throne from his cousin King Richard II in September 1399, he presented himself to the people of England as the champion of property rights–and no one was better qualified than he to do so, for it was Richard’s unjustified seizure of Henry’s

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Why Was Victorian London So Dirty?

Lee Jackson— In 1899, the Chinese ambassador was asked his opinion of Victorian London at the zenith of its imperial grandeur. He replied, laconically, ‘too dirty’. He was only stating the obvious. Thoroughfares were swamped with black mud, composed principally of horse dung, forming a tenacious, glutinous paste; the air

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Meet Ivan Maisky: Soviet Ambassador to London, 1932–1943

Gabriel Gorodetsky— Serendipity often lies at the heart of scholarly discoveries. Some fifteen years ago I launched a research project which culminated in the joint official publication of documents on Israeli-Soviet relations. It is hard to describe my excitement when, while seeking information concerning the involvement of Ivan Maisky, the

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