Category: Book Reviews

Book Reviews

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The Land of the Post-Modern

The Pole Andrzej Stasiuk and the Ukrainian Juri Andruchowycz, both born in 1960, are two of the most read contemporary writers from Central and Eastern Europe. Their works have been translated into many languages and they have close contacts in the West, particularly Germany. At first glance, their success seems...

Illustration of scene from 'The Painted Skin' in 'Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio' 0

Translating Chinese Works (2): Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio

On 17th August 2017, The Economist published a commentary on China’s recent revival of its traditional culture, a trend enthusiastically sponsored by the government. Alongside schemes and events such as calligraphy summer schools, this is also leading to the greater promotion of research into the translation of Chinese literature. As...

Composite feature image for the book 'Prime Minister Corbyn' 0

The Best Leaders We’ve Never Had? A Review of ‘Prime Minister Corbyn’

As we have discussed on this site before, counterfactual history is a very useful, yet undervalued tool of historical analysis. When taken seriously, it offers a unique instrument for measuring the impact of particular events, decisions or personalities, by enabling historians to construct realities in which they did not exist or...

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Cao Cao: A Villain Hero

As a young girl reading the classic Chinese novel San Guo Yan Yi (三国演义) I always felt great sympathy for Liu Bei, the leader of the Shu-Han kingdom. The novel depicts the battles and adventures of heroes in the Three States Period (208-220 AD) and, as a result of author Luo...

In Search of the Miraculous: Ouspenski and Gurdjieff 65 years on. 0

In Search of the Miraculous: Ouspenski and Gurdjieff 65 years on

In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching is a central text on the life and works of the once popular Armenian mystic George Gurdjieff. Though now largely forgotten by the Western mainstream, Gurdjieff is an extremely curious, multi-sided figure of late 19th-early 20th century European history. He...

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Can We Understand History Through Fiction?

This holiday I read Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel,  All the Light We Cannot See (2014). The book centres around two characters: Werner, a German Nazi youth, and Marie-Laure, a blind French girl. The two face the imminent Second World War from their respective, opposing sides. While Doerr’s work...

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Lost Worlds: Reviving Nostalgia for German Central Europe?

Whether it is remembered as the ‘lost German East’ or as an idealised, multicultural region like Galicia, Germans and Austrians have a complicated relationship with Central Europe. As the locus of German culture and crimes, Austrian and German nostalgia for German Central Europe is often regarded with suspicion — if...

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What’s a Book Worth?

‘What’s A Book Worth’ a brainchild of Mathew Lyons is a campaign attempting to re-realisation the worth of books. The team at HTTP (History to the Public) decided to get involved as well because everyone on the team loves books. A discussion of what is a book worth occurred in our...

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Nothing Beyond Mind (心外无物) and Knowledge as Action (知行合一): Wang Yangming (王阳明), the Greatest Chinese Idealist Philosopher and Strategist (I)

Any mention of idealism in philosophy will probably bring to mind names like Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. However, in China’s Ming dynasty, there was a very important Chinese Idealist philosopher who is much less well-known in the West, yet was the founder of idealism in ancient China and was canonized...