Monday, 7 December 2009

The best History Today articles of 2009

Derry Nairn:
‘Too many to list! Having said that, I’m a sucker for the big and often provocative questions asked by our ‘Today’s History’ writers: in Beyond the Great Divide (May), Daniel Lord Smail wondered why history and archaeology still exist as independent disciplines; the following month saw Chris Wickham attack the image of the medieval world as the ‘Dark Ages’ in In the Medieval (June); and Leo Hollis brought us up to date on 800 years of the London Bridge in Spanning Centuries: London Bridge (July). That month also saw two of my favourite feature articles: the tragicomic tales of would-be Hitler, Engelbert Dollfuss, in Austria’s Diminutive Dictator: Engelbert Dollfuss by A.D. Harvey, and the garrotting panic that gripped Victorian Britain in Stranglehold on Victorian Society by Emelyne Godfrey.’

Paul Lay:
‘So many to choose from, but how about Beyond the Great Divide (May), Daniel Lord Smail’s appeal for the reunification of history and archaeology; and Genius Eclipsed: The Fate of Robert Boyle (November), a compelling reappraisal of the great scientist by Michael Hunter, the world’s leading authority on Boyle.’

Kathryn Hadley:
‘Just before Karadzic’s trial was due to begin, in Conflicting Truths: The Bosnian War (August) Nick Hawton, the BBC’s correspondent in Sarajevo and Belgrade from 2002 to 2008, reflected on his time reporting in the region. Over 100,000 people lost their lives and it is estimated that 20,000 Muslims were missing after the war. The article provides a fascinating insight into the complexities and conflicting interpretations of the horrific conflict, which are bound up with the history and politics of the region.’

Andy Patterson:
‘Two articles, chosen because I learnt something new and unexpected from both: Vercingetorix and the Failure of Gallic Resistance by John Haywood (September) and Africans in the Indian Mutiny by Rosie Llewellyn-Jones (December).

Sheila Corr:
‘So many good ones, but it’s hard for me to separate my enjoyment of an article from the experience of researching pictures and how difficult and/or rewarding it has been. In April, we published Elizabeth Tollet and her Scientific Sisters , an excellent article by Patricia Fara about Elizabeth Tollet, an overlooked 17th century scientist and poet, of whom there were no known likenesses. Serendipity plus a combination of googling and traditional research (contacts, persistence) lead to the discovery of a portrait in a private house, which had been previously unidentified as her, even by the owners.

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