PositiveIrish Times (IRE)Wide-ranging ... Mac Sweeney does not so much question as dismantle ... Mac Sweeney is at her most persuasive when exploring the changing uses of ancient history, and indeed the book could perhaps have focused entirely on that ... Despite the fascinating selection of characters, its sweep can feel uneven ... It is inevitable that not everything can be covered in such a large sweep, and Mac Sweeney’s breadth of knowledge and elegant style keep the book highly engaging.
PositiveIrish Times (IRE)The book’s structure (neither biographies nor narratives) can feel awkward, but each case study buttresses Kershaw’s conclusion that the 12 \'were not just makers of the 20th century\' but \'were also made by it\' ... Interplay of the individual and their context animates all of Kershaw’s case studies, not least in the Soviet Union ... There is, wisely, no unifying theory of personality and power in Kershaw’s conclusions.
RaveThe Irish Times (IRE)Despite her tireless courage, Hayden does not preach, and is deeply self-reflective about her reporting ... She gives voice to individuals without ever losing sight of the larger picture. People ask her how she can deal with such traumatic work and she \'can’t help feeling that this question is another way for people to avoid engaging with the bigger issue\'.
RaveIrish Times (IRE)[A] sweeping and brilliant new history of the International Brigades ... Tremlett – a veteran Guardian journalist based in Madrid – assembles a magnificent and readable history ... With the far-right on the rise across the West and the term anti-fascist becoming degraded by those who deny its threats with false equivalence, Tremlett offers both powerful history and a vital warning.
MixedThe Irish Times (IRE)Gallagher insists that his biography is \'not an apologia\', but his admiration for Salazar’s dedication and statecraft certainly shines through, and he tends to relativise the regime’s \'obviously repressive side\' ... Gallagher’s own conservative political views too often intrude on his conclusions, his Euroscepticism leading him to dismiss post-Salazar Portugal as a \'well-behaved child in the European Union\' despite undeniable economic and social progress under democracy ... In the era of the rising alt-right, we must hope that Gallagher is wrong that there may again be \'demand for national leaders of a not dissimilar stamp\'.
PositiveThe Irish Times (IRE)Corthorn wisely offers not another biography of Powell’s unconventional career, but a study of his ideas, focusing on a rigorous examination of his decades of speeches ... Corthorn persuasively argues that Powell’s diverse, shifting, and often contradictory positions can be understood as attempts to grapple with the perceived “decline” of the British nation ... Corthorn’s rigour is impressive, and with such a controversial figure he is perhaps wise to stick to a \'detached, impartial perspective\'. But with Powell’s views – and his toxic brand of nationalism and racism – ascendant, there could have been a deeper assessment of how his ideas have continued to poison the wells of British politics long after his death. By tracing their history, however, Corthorn has offered a valuable guide to a figure who looms over Brexit Britain.
PositiveThe Irish Times (UK)The nuanced analysis, however, is at times overwhelmed by the book’s length: concision would have amplified the argument, as would a greater variety of voices amid the rigorous research (there are extensive endnotes but sadly no bibliography) ... There is perhaps a lack of hard economic data, but Reid-Henry convincingly shows that the very nature of democracy and citizenship were being fundamentally altered by \'institutional reconfigurations, political epiphanies and societal changes of heart\' ... Reid-Henry’s thoughtful epilogue asks what might be the future for democracy. To avoid an age of extremes, he persuasively argues that we must move beyond the idea of popular sovereignty as merely the blunt majority will of a national electorate. He concludes with a vital observation ... Examining the history of our own time is crucial to understanding the challenges we face.
PositiveThe GuardianThe final instalment in the Penguin series, spanning 1950-2017, coherently brings a long and complex narrative up to date ... At times, Kershaw seems to take the primacy of politics too far: more culture and more voices would have been welcome, but his ability to bring together complex stories from Portugal to Ukraine to create a coherent history of transformation is impressive.
RaveThe Irish Times\"MacCulloch does not chase, but instead leads us through the \'maze\' of surviving documents, meticulously piecing together the puzzle of how an obscure Putney blacksmith’s son revolutionised early modern England ... MacCulloch painstakingly charts the spread of Cromwell’s tentacles through politics, property and patronage ... There is certainly no more definitive guide to that extraordinary journey than MacCulloch’s excellent biography.\
PositiveThe Financial TimesThe masterful political narrative tends to crowd out the rest of Cannadine’s knowledge: polymathic cultural references are skimmed over, while discussions of social, economic and gender evolutions and revolutions seem frustratingly brief. Cannadine skilfully shows how the men of government (and of industry, religion and more) were 'riding tigers that they could never fully control', and whose destination they rarely knew. Yet the 'tigers', and what they devoured, receive less attention than those atop them. This is not, however, a history with narrow horizons, and the marshalling of material across a huge breadth is greatly impressive.
Richard J. Evans
RaveThe GuardianIt is a vast story, but Evans uses individual narratives to open his chapters, reminding us of the 'human dimension' and allowing 'contemporaries to speak for themselves' ... Evans persuasively emphasises the spread of human power over nature ... The Pursuit of Power offers both a compelling big picture and a flavour of the time.