HISTORY IN MAPS

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I was recently looking at some older maps of Africa in the colonial period. Now, maps can be quite deceptive in telling stories, but one in particular struck me forcefully. This is a c.1913 map of the African religious scene. The Muslim regions are quite familiar, and the mapmaker has done his/her best to show [Read More...]

ENDING THE DRAFT

For obvious reasons, historians concern themselves with writing about things that happened, rather than others that did not exist, or that ceased to happen. In one instance though, we can learn a lot about modern America from tracing the long-term cultural impact of something that finished over forty years ago, namely the military draft. Odd [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR: A WORLD ON THE CROSS

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In my book The Great and Holy War, I write at some length about the propaganda imagery of the war, and how thoroughly it drew on Christian imagery, especially Christ himself, and the Crucifixion. Posters and cartoons depicted whole nations as the victims of crucifixion. Usually they were depicted in the form of women, and [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR (3)

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One hundred years ago this week, Europe began the deadliest war in its history (to that date). I have been writing about how historians can find and use visual resources to understand attitudes at the time, and I have written about Germany and France. The other key player at the start of the war, of [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR (2)

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I was discussing the vast range of visual materials that historians can use to illustrate attitudes to the First World War. German propaganda especially suggested that easy victory lay within reach, which was fine unless and until they ran into obstacles and defeats, when all those cheery images began to look very sour. The French, [Read More...]

PICTURING THE GREAT WAR (1)

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We are presently commemorating the centennial of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Plenty of different theories allocate blame for that event to various powers, usually to Germany, with Russia as a runner up. For present purposes, though, let us set aside blame and look at how the different powers presented the [Read More...]

WARS HOLY AND UNHOLY

(c) The Highlanders' Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

I have been posting a lot recently on the topic of holy war and crusade in the context of the First World War. In that context, I read a piece by Donald R. McClarey posted at the American Catholic. It includes a quote that demands a “discuss!” following it. The piece is called “Benedict XV, [Read More...]

CONSTRUCTING A CATHOLIC CRISIS

Jason Berry is a journalist who works on Catholic issues and clergy sexual abuse. He has recently published an article on abuse issues, in which he attacks my work. He is quite at liberty to make such a criticism, but he cannot do so on the basis of an outrageous mis-representation of what I actually [Read More...]

STICKING UP FOR JEWS?

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Over the past few years, we Anxious Bench bloggers have dealt with many and sundry topics. As I look back, though, I am surprised to see one big omission, both my myself and my colleagues, which is that of Jews and Judaism, and Christian-Jewish relations. If we have touched on it, we have not said [Read More...]

THE BREAKING OF IMAGES

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In a recent Times Literary Supplement, David Motadel reviewed James Noyes’s 2013 book The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam. The review, and the associated scholarship, raises important questions about how we conceive of the Reformation, how we teach it, and, significantly, how we will commemorate the [Read More...]


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