Monday, 27 July 2009

Essential History: 27th July

by Derry Nairn

Here's a quick look at some historical headlines making the British press, both over the weekend and today.

Guardian: Brutalist London Housing Estate threatened with demolition
Architectural History

The JoePublic blog at the Guardian today puts forward a case for the 1970s Robin Hood housing estate in east London to be saved from demolition. The key question from the debate is a hugely relevant one - how do we decide what historical buildings are worthwhile and which aren't?

Scotsman: Women's beauty evolving; men remain Neanderthal


The Scotsman today quotes a University of Helsinki report, stating that evolution is forcing women to become more attractive, while men remain rooted to their caveman genes. Raises a smile, but also makes you think...

Iranian periods of mourning have signalled great events
Michael Purcell in the Times on the historical resonance of mourning ceremonies and martyrdom in Iranian culture. We have a related overview of recent Iranian history in the current August issue.

Confucianism enjoys a revival in China
Chinese History

Steven A Bell in the Guardian assesses recent uses of Confucianism beyond the realm of Chinese government. Academic spheres such as economics and psychology have been incresingly referring to its principles over the past decade. But did it ever go away, I wonder?

New efforts to record and protect ancient trees
The Times reports on a new campaign to protect Britain's ancient trees, described here rather nicely, as 'cathedrals of the ancient world'.

30,000 tribesmen invade Edinburgh for the Highland Games
The Independent reports on this year's Highland Games in Scotland via several interlocking historical themes: record numbers of attendees; the 250th anniversary year of Robert Burns; inverse levels of interest in Scottish tribal history in Scotland and abroad. This article on Sir Walter Scott, '1822 spin doctor supreme', offers some helpful context.

Heritage site descriptions dumbing down?

The Times reports on new efforts by English Heritage, the state body responsible for managing and promoting historic sites such as Stonehenge, to make its literature coherent to 'all intellectual levels'.

100 years since Bleriót flew the Channel

The Daily Express remembers when Louis Bleriót flew the English Channel, and marks the occasion by talking to a Swede intent on replicating the historic journey

Profile of our very own Andrew Roberts
The Observer goes all rock'n'roll over one of our most consistent and interesting contributors, Andrew Roberts. He's 'a social animal of epic proportions'. Allegedly. Check out his last piece for History Today, A Woman at Waterloo.

The Nazi-hunting Jewish Brigade of the British Army
The Times compares the exaggerated pulp history of Tarantino's new film with the real story behind Britain's postwar Nazi-hunters.


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