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Category: Book Reviews

Monarchies and the Great War

Reviewed by Mario Draper.

The First World War has frequently been described as a watershed moment. Arthur Marwick, for instance, famously put forward the notion that the resultant social, economic, and political change qualified it as the first total war. The impact on the institution of monarchy was no less dramatic, with the abrupt demise of the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Habsburgs, as well as the resultant fall of the Ottoman dynasty a few years later. Nevertheless, a systematic study of monarchy’s role and influence during the First World War has received relatively little attention. This is all the more evident in terms of comparative history, where even The Cambridge History of the First World War only tackles the question of monarchy within the framework of civil-military relations (the autocracy vs democracy debate), which naturally extends its scope to include a study of the participating republics. To this end, Matthew Glencross and Judith Rowbotham’s conference and ensuing published proceedings, Monarchies and the Great War, provides a useful addition to the plethora of publications that have accompanied the Centenary of the First World War.

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Does Terrorism Work? A History

Reviewed by Megan King.

Richard English’s Does Terrorism Work? provides readers with an extensive, yet unwaveringly insightful probe into whether or not the employment of terrorism can accomplish the intended goals of its perpetrators. As a political historian, English emphasizes the need for a cross-disciplinary, yet historically grounded approach to the study of terrorism and responses to terrorism accompanied by a meticulously developed framework for assessment. Accordingly, English draws on concepts and approaches from traditions such as political science, international relations, philosophy, and geography. In strengthening and expanding his survey, the bulk of this work utilizes four case studies of non-state terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida, the Provisional IRA (PIRA), Hamas, and Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) or Basque Homeland and Freedom. Although it indeed possesses a mildly misleading title, this study is intended not as an answer to the question, ‘Does terrorism work?’ but rather as a means of opening that inquiry up for debate and advancing the study of terrorism and the discussion of its efficacy. As such, this enthralling and informative work will make a substantial contribution to the bookshelf of scholars and casual social scientists alike.

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Ypres: Great Battles.

Reviewed by Matthew Haultain-Gall.

Ypres. For well over one hundred years now, the name of this Belgian town has become shorthand for the death and destruction wrought by the First World War. But why? For whom? And which Ypres? After all, hundreds of thousands of combatants from dozens of nations fought several major battles in the ‘immortal salient’, each of which generated their own distinctive narratives. These questions are at the heart of Mark Connelly and Stefan Goebel’s fantastic Ypres, which painstakingly strips back the layers of this dense, multifaceted lieu de mémoirefrom the turn of the twentieth century to the First World War centenary.

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Fighting the People’s War

Reviewed by Oliver Parken. The notion of the Second World War as a ‘people’s war’ remains an established, and highly contested, tool for understanding the experience and representation of the conflict. Transmitted through wartime propaganda and cultural codes, scholars have tended to assess its workings in the home front context. In the British case, citizens were, after all, drawn into the front-lines of war as targets of enemy bombardment as well as forming the back-bone…

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