For my next read, I travelled from the 17th century and Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and England fighting to control trade across East Asia, as fictionalised in Shōgun, to the 18th century and the rise of a trading corporation with violence in its constitution. William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy is a boiled down history of the East India Company and its violent occupation and control of the Indian subcontinent that laid the foundations of the British Raj.
Stasiland has the subtitle Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall. In it, Anna Funder shares the experiences of a number of East Germans to build a picture of life under an oppressive regime. Her interviewees range from people who tried to escape, people separated arbitrarily from family overnight, and people who worked for the Stasi. There are amazing people between these pages who survived unimaginable horrors, and there are also the people who supported the use of those horrors. I found it a very moving book. Continue reading →
The Family From One End Street is a British children’s classic, and a book I read and re-read as a child, repeatedly borrowing it from the library. Eve Garnett did a brave thing for the time in taking the things she saw of the lives of poor children living in London in the 1920s and writing a children’s book that acknowledged that poverty but showed that working class parents loved and protected their children as much as middle class parents, and that children have the same love of adventure no matter where they sit in the social structure. Many publishers turned the manuscript down, but eventually it was published and Garnett beat Tolkien’s The Hobbit to win the Carnegie Medal. Continue reading →
This is a collection of essays previously published in journals, conference proceedings and studies of economic history around the world. They are interesting explorations of what made the Industrial Revolution uniquely English, whether it’s fair to compare English activity with that on the European mainland, and how incipient globalisation impacted on knowledge exchange and technological development. Continue reading →