The Early Modern Commons

Recent Book Reviews

Book reviews from the last 6 months.

Samuel Pepys and the Popish Plot

Accusations of treason against Samuel Pepys were a side product of the Popish Plot: he was accused of being a Catholic (treason enough in England then) and of providing naval secrets to France. The two...

Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777

Book Review: Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777 by Michael C. Harris (Savas Beatie, 2014). Author Harris was a former Brandywine Battlefield...

The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding

Book Review: The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding, by Eric Nelson (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2014) The Royalist Revolution, by Eric Nelson, provides a fresh take on the American...

Edward Short Interviews Paul Shrimpton

Newman scholar Edward Short interviews Paul Shrimpton for The Catholic World Report (Short had previously reviewed Shrimpton's book for The Weekly Standard). Two questions piqued my interest: a look at...

Saints and Beauty: Pope Benedict XVI's "Holy Men and Women"

Father Benedict, the former Pope Benedict XVI and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, expressed the link between beauty and holiness often, for example, in this message to a gathering of Communion and Liberation...

My Review of Alison Weir's "Elizabeth of York"

I read this book on my Kindle, inspired by Elena Maria Vidal's review on her Tea at Trianon blog.Elizabeth of York was like a hinge between the Plantagenets and the Tudors. Henry VII married her to strengthen...

Reading the Field from a Book: Some Thoughts on Eric Nelson’s The Royalist Revolution

Michael D. Hattem looks at Eric Nelson's book, "The Royalist Revolution," for what it says about the state of American Revolution political studies.
From The Junto on 12 Jan 2015

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier

When I finished listening to the audiobook version of Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier, I was left sitting at my kitchen table in floods of tears. What a moving story! The first thing...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 29 Apr 2015

Teaching the Revolution.

Anthony Millevolte is professor for chemistry at the University of Wisconsin Colleges where he also teaches the history of science courses. When he was teaching an introductory course on the so-called...
From The Renaissance Mathematicus on 21 May 2015

Book Review: Many Kinds of Silence

Second book of 2015! This historical novel imagines what William Shakespeare might have been up to during those lost years in the 1580's. Suspenseful tension makes this a real page turner, or screen turner...

Chesterton is EVERYWHERE!!

There I was, eating lunch and reading a book review in The Wall Street Journal, when I looked up the page and saw:"Christendom has had a series of revolutions and in each one of them Christianity has died....

Review and Giveaway: RODIN'S LOVER by Heather Webb

Written with a passion and conviction worthy of the sculptor herself, Heather Webb's new novel RODIN'S LOVER (Plume, January 2015) explores the tumultuous life, troubled psyche, and splendid achievements...
From Writing the Renaissance on 23 Jan 2015

EMA Book Reviews: February 2015

The most recent EMA Book Reviews list is available here and under “Research.”
From Early Modern Architecture on 2 Feb 2015

Daigler on Revolutionary War Spies in Newport, 7 May

On Thursday, 7 May, Ken Daigler will speak about the stories from his book Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence During the Revolutionary War with the Newport Historical Society.Everyone...
From Boston 1775 on 2 May 2015

Newman's Idea and Reality of University Education

In The Weekly Standard, Edward Short reviews a new book on Blessed John Henry Newman's theory of university education and its reality:Until now, the two most highly regarded books on Newman’s treatment...

Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency

Book Review: Blood of Tyrants: George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency by Logan Beirne (Encounter Books, 2013) On a May morning in 1754, a young George Washington commanding a handful of Virginia...

James Madison and the Making of America

Book Review: James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin R. C. Gutzman (St. Martin’s Press, 2012) In James Madison and the Making of America Kevin R. C. Gutzman energetically debunks the mythical...

Belloc's Strengths and Weaknesses

There is much that Belloc gets wrong in his Characters of the Reformation--details like Henry VIII having syphilis and Anne Boleyn having an extra finger--but his analysis of politics and personalities...

Roxana by Daniel Defoe

After many years of wanting to read Daniel Defoe’s Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress, I have just finished listening to the unabridged Audible audiobook recording of this classic. Daniel Defoe who...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 28 Jan 2015

From astronomy to literature – Bridging the gap

Recent years have seen more and more people proclaiming a crisis in the humanities. In an age where politicians seem to have mutated into one-track worshippers of the Gods of Mammon anything, which can’t...
From The Renaissance Mathematicus on 26 Feb 2015

The Great Courses: The Birth of the Modern Mind: the Intellectual History of the 17th and 18th Centuries

Once again, Audible delivered the goods. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this excellent lecture series by Professor Alan Charles Kors. For those of you who study philosophy, the content may...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 21 Apr 2015

Q&A with Stephen R. Berry, Author of A Path in the Mighty Waters

Jessica Parr follows up her review of Stephen Berry's "A Path in the Mighty Waters," with a Q&A.
From The Junto on 24 Feb 2015

Bernard Bailyn’s Last Act?: An Interview with the Harvard Historian on His New Book

Erich Herschthal talks with Bernard Bailyn about his recent essay collection, "Sometimes an Art."
From The Junto on 6 Feb 2015

Tempests and Tedium in the Transatlantic: Shipboard Life in the 18th Century

Jessica Parr reviews Stephen R. Berry's new book, "A Path in the Mighty Waters: Shipboard Life in Atlantic Crossings to the New World."
From The Junto on 23 Feb 2015

Father Rutler on the Parables

Father Rutler originally wrote these essays on the parables of Jesus in Crisis Magazine 13 years ago, so a diligent web researcher (like me) could find them on-line. In each of the 24 chapters of...

Thomas Simes, Military Writer

When researching the Revolutionary War one is constantly keeping an eye out for primary source materials. Some of those sources are the very same books read by the people we study, including the wide range...

William Washington, American Light Dragoon: A Continental Cavalry Leader

Book review: William Washington, American Light Dragoon: A Continental Cavalry Leader in the War of Independence by Daniel Murphy (Westholme Publishing, 2014). William Washington, the Revolutionary War...

Book Review: Competing Visions of Empire

Review: Abigail L. Swingen, Competing Visions of Empire: Labor, Slavery, and the Origins of the British Atlantic Empire (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015). There have been some fantastic new...
From The Junto on 6 May 2015

EMA Book Reviews: May 2015

The most recent EMA Book Reviews list — for May 2015 — is available here and under “Research.”
From Early Modern Architecture on 12 May 2015

Review: Jessica Choppin Roney, Governed by a Spirit of Opposition

Historians often emphasize how "new" politics was in the early republic, and many have used voluntary associations as evidence of this. In Governed by a Spirit of Opposition, however, Jessica Choppin Roney...
From The Junto on 25 Jun 2015

Top Honors from the Journal of the American Revolution

The Journal of the American Revolution just announced its 2014 Book of the Year Award. The winning title is Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities During the War for Independence,...
From Boston 1775 on 20 Jan 2015

Review: By the Sword by Alison Stuart

By the Sword is Alison Stuart’s first novel and is set for a re-release in March of this year. Although I have known Alison for some time (Hoydens and Firebrands), I had never before read any of...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 27 Feb 2015

Review: REBEL QUEEN by Michelle Moran

Fictional accounts of India published in English usually take the perspective of a British transplant encountering a foreign culture for the first time: think E.M. Forster’s A PASSAGE TO INDIA or M....
From Writing the Renaissance on 10 Mar 2015

William Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction by Stanley Wells

This month, Oxford University Press publishes William Shakespeare: A Very Short Introduction by one of the most esteemed living authors on Shakespeare, Stanley Wells. Wells, in addition to being one of...
From The Bardathon on 5 Apr 2015

Review: THE TAPESTRY by Nancy Bilyeau

Ever since her Dominican priory was closed by order of Henry VIII, Joanna Stafford has tried to live a quiet life weaving tapestries in the small town of Dartford. Yet fate refuses to allow her respite....
From Writing the Renaissance on 18 Mar 2015

Guest Post: Writing the Book Proposal

Craig W. Gill is the Editor-in-Chief and Assistant Director of the University Press of Mississippi. He has worked at the Press for more than 17 years and has served in publishing for almost 25 years. He...
From The Junto on 18 May 2015

A Village and The Man in the Wing Chair

From the U.S. publisher Simon & Schuster:In this #1 international bestseller, a young woman leaves everything behind to work as a librarian in a remote French village, where she finds her outlook on...

Meeting Arthur and Honor: The Lisle Letters

Arthur Plantagenet was a bastard son of Edward IV, acknowledged and raised at his father's Court. He was Elizabeth of York's half-brother and thus related to Henry VIII who appointed him as the King's...

Book Review: The Silencing by Kirsten Powers

I read Kirsten Powers's The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech because I was interested in what she would say about free speech on our university and college campuses. I have blogged about...

Moonfleet.

It is usually the case that the book is always better than the movie, but having read the book, I can only hope that the movie is better than the publication. J.M. Falkner was certainly no historian, nor...
From A Woodsrunner's Diary on 3 Jun 2015

Shelby M. Balik’s Rally the Scattered Believers

At the beginning of February, Wake Forest University hosted a symposium marking the 25th anniversary of the publication of Nathan Hatch’s The Democratization of American Christianity (Yale University...
From The Junto on 27 Feb 2015

New Word on The Revolution’s Last Men from Don Hagist, 27 May

On Wednesday, 27 May, the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston will host a book talk by Don N. Hagist, author of The Revolution’s Last Men: The Soldiers Behind the Photographs. The...
From Boston 1775 on 19 May 2015

Review and Giveaway: MADEMOISELLE CHANEL by C. W. Gortner

MADEMOISELLE CHANEL by C. W. GortnerWilliam Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2015384 pagesISBN: 978-0062356406What happens when an author known for his convincing, dramatically compelling depictions of the...
From Writing the Renaissance on 26 Mar 2015

Review and Giveaway: THE PRICE OF BLOOD by Patricia Bracewell

The second installment of Patricia Bracewell’s Emma of Normandy trilogy, THE PRICE OF BLOOD (Viking, February 5, 2015), expands and deepens the eleventh century world the author so convincingly recreated...
From Writing the Renaissance on 3 Feb 2015

A Quick Read: Jean Plaidy's "The Murder in the Tower"

Plaidy (aka Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Hibbert, etc) tells the story of the Overbury murder in this quick-paced and complex novel. The villainess Frances Howard, later the Countess of Essex...

“Your Most Affectionate Friend…”

Tom Cutterham reviews Cassandra Good's debut book, "Founding Friendships: Friendships between Men and Women in the Early American Republic" (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
From The Junto on 13 Apr 2015

Review: Life in a 17th Century Coffeehouse

I just read Life in a 17th Century Coffeehouse by David Brandon and, by and large, I enjoyed it. This is a quick read as it is short (8 chapters and 90 pages long), but it is jam-packed with information...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 19 Feb 2015

Review: Andrew Beaumont, Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748-1761

Frequent guest poster Christopher F. Minty reviews Andrew Beaumont's new book, "Colonial America & the Earl of Halifax, 1748–1761" (OUP, 2015).
From The Junto on 21 Apr 2015

“Ellis’s strategy of building his narrative around four exemplary men”

Back in July 2013 I discussed historian Joseph J. Ellis’s focus on, in his words, “the most prominent members of the political leadership during this formative phase” of the nation, as...
From Boston 1775 on 16 May 2015

Reviewing Digital History

"Dive in, pilot projects, and do digital work in small batches." Sara Georgini chats with Jeff McClurken of the Journal of American History about getting started in digital history and the changing scope...
From The Junto on 20 Jan 2015

Q&A: Abigail Swingen, Competing Visions of Empire

Abigail Swingen is Assistant Professor of History at Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX).  She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago.  She specializes in the Early Modern...
From The Junto on 7 May 2015

A War of Flowers – Jane Thynne

I’ve already reviewed the first two brilliant books in Jane Thynne’s Clara Vine series and had to come back and let you all know how much I absolutely loved A War of Flowers, the third instalment in...
From Madame Guillotine on 14 Jan 2015

Book Reviews

I’ve reviewed a couple of new history books for The History Vault: “A Million Years in a Day” by Greg Jenner – ‘An excellent debut from an exciting new author’ “Deus...
From Restoration London on 18 Jan 2015

Book Review – Breast Cancer in the Eighteenth Century

Breast Cancer in the Eighteenth-Century by Marjo Kaartinen (London: Pickering Chatto, 2013), 256 pp Print: £60  eBook: £24    Breast Cancer in the Eighteenth Century is a compelling...
From Deviant Maternity on 15 Mar 2015

Book Review: Shakespeare’s Theatres and the Effects of Performance

My latest book review is forthcoming in the next edition of Notes and Queries. This edition will also include a note on “Thomas Churchyard and Music” by my academic mentor at UEA, Dr Matthew...
From Dr Johann Gregory on 3 Feb 2015

Revolutions Without Borders

R. R. Palmer's Age of Democratic Revolutions famously had no room in its two volumes for what many of us now recognise as the most revolutionary of them all—the one in Haiti between 1791 and 1804....
From The Junto on 11 Jun 2015

Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island

Book Review: Spies in Revolutionary Rhode Island by Christian M. McBurney. History Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1626197244, softcover, 158 pages, illustrated. The last few years have seen a surge of interest...

Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of Charles Lee

Book Review: Renegade Revolutionary: The Life of Charles Lee by Phillip Pappas (New York University Press, 2014). Prior to 2013, there had not been a major biography of Charles Lee since 1968. Then, within...

Ann Weisgarber's THE PROMISE, Now in Trade Paperback. Review.

A year ago, I published this review of Ann Weisgarber's luminous novel, THE PROMISE, released today in trade paperback from Skyhorse Publishing. Every word of this short novel rings true and resonates...
From Writing the Renaissance on 5 May 2015

A Tea at Trianon Review: Elizabeth of York

Elena Maria Vidal reviews Alison Weir's biography of Elizabeth of York, Henry VII's queen. To quote:I found the biography to be inspiring on a spiritual level as well. From earliest child hood, Elizabeth...

Blenheim: The Battle for Europe by Charles Spencer

Although the Battle of Blenheim took place in the 18th Century, the historical persons involved were extremely important in Late 17th-century European history. This was the second book by historian Charles...
From The Seventeenth Century Lady on 13 Apr 2015