Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Some Exciting Histories in the Pipeline
Continuum are one of the more enterprising of our small publishing houses. Their most recent innovation is a series called – wait for it - Continuum Histories. These are small format reprints of selections from classic historical narratives introduced by a leading modern authority. The first three are already out and highly recommended: Lord Macaulay’s History of England, introduced by John Burrow; William H. Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Mexico, introduced by John Elliott; and J.A. Froude’s The Reign of Mary Tudor introduced by Eamon Duffy.
They make excellent introductions to anyone concerned with the shifting sands of historiography or serve as handy reminders to those who engaged with the ‘history of history’ at university. Burrow, author of one of the best general introductions to historiography, A History of Histories (Penguin, 20007), is especially good on the great Whig historian who, whatever his faults – most notably a deluded faith in progress – wrote in magnificent prose to an enormous audience. There really is no serious historian of such popular appeal today. Future titles in the Continuum Histories include Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution introduced by Ruth Scurr; and, one I am really looking forward to reading, Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire introduced by the excellent Tom Holland.