The World War One Historical Association annual Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., prize for 2015 for the best work of history in English on World War One (1914-1918) has been won by Dr. James Lyon, author of Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914: The Outbreak of the Great War, (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015). Professor Lyon has studied the Balkans for over thirty-four years and currently works at the Austrian University of Graz's Center for Southeast European Studies.
The Tomlinson award winner is chosen by a panel chaired by Professor Dennis Showalter of Colorado College, a past President of the Society for Military History. Other panel members are Dr. Michael Neiberg, Professor at the US Army War College, and Graydon A. Tunstall, Senior Lecturer at the University of South Florida. The prize is made possible through a grant from Norman B. Tomlinson, Jr., Director-emeritus of The Western Front Association – United States Branch. (WFA-US became the World War One Historical Association – WW1HA – in 2011.)
The panel chose this book because it takes a new look at the critical Balkan front using the latest archival evidence. Panel members were impressed that Lyon takes a transnational approach to the subject, setting the Serbian front into an international context. Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914 analyzes diplomatic, political, and military arenas to give the fullest picture yet of events on the Balkans, the true fulcrum of 1914.
Previous Tomlinson award winners, World War One centennial events and projects, and much more can be found at www.ww1ha.org.
James Lyon's Serbia and the Balkan front was published by Bloomsbury in July 2015. You can find out more about the book and purchase copies via the Bloomsbury website.
Today on the blog, Bloomsbury author Linda McDowell from the University of Oxford talks about her forthcoming book, Migrant Women's Voices: Talking About Life and Work in the UK Since 1945 in relation to the current debate about migration in Europe.
"The war came and we have to climb the mountains… to Albania. I took my children on a plastic boat from south of Albania to Italy, just a private boat. We have to pay the money. 23 people in the boat and everyone was squeezing the children…"
-- Fitore, born in Kosovo
Fitore’s journey across the Adriatic was in 1999. In 2016, similar journeys dominate the news. Shocking images of children washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean, cold and frightened people walking across Europe and xenophobic responses as states erect fences or close borders all seem to herald a new and distressing crisis.
A little thought, though, and it is not hard to recollect that Europe has been here before. At the end of World War II, about seven million refugees were homeless; after Vietnam, the ‘boat people’ became UK residents; and after the war in Kosovo at the end of 1990s, queues of the disposed, walking across borders, became common again. The UK Government’s response to asylum seekers has not always been as disappointing as it is at present. Jewish women were given a home and work in the 1930s; women and men from the Baltic States were transformed from asylum seekers into what were termed ‘European Volunteer Workers’ and employed to assist in the post-war reconstruction efforts after 1945; refugees after the Hungarian crisis in 1956 came to the UK; and from the mid-1960s thousands of East African people of South Asian heritage, including the people expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin in 1972, were allowed to come to Britain despite increasingly restrictive immigration legislation.
Once settled, refugees and asylum seekers often become workers. Others come to the UK explicitly as economic migrants, already with a job offer or ready to seek work as soon as they enter the country. These migrants - the majority once from Britain’s former empire, but currently from an increasingly diverse range of countries - often find work in some of the least secure and least prestigious parts of the labour market. Typically low paid, especially the women among them, they labour to care for the sick and the elderly, for children, as British mothers also enter the workforce in growing numbers, working in hospitals and care homes, on the buses, in factories making car components, stitching collars onto shirts or assembling soft toys in their own homes, waiting at tables, or, for the more fortunate or better qualified, teaching in schools and universities or working in banks, in libraries or operating theatres.
In the increasingly rancorous debates about the impact of migrants and possible Brexit, women migrants are seldom heard. In my book Migrant Women’s Voices, my aim is to begin to challenge their silencing: to let them tell their own stories of dispossession and migration, of hunger, of violence and rape, of severe hardship, and of hard labour in the UK - but also the joy of rebuilding lives, establishing families and re-cementing former community ties. Between an introductory and concluding chapter, more than 70 women from Latvia, Kuwait, Uganda, Colombia, Ireland, Trinidad, New Zealand, Brazil, India, East Timor and 12 other countries tell their stories in their own words, revealing the enormous contribution they have made to this country, not only through their waged work but by helping the UK to become a more diverse and tolerant country - at least until recently. My hope is that these inspiring stories of ‘ordinary’ but exceptional lives will help to challenge negative preconceptions about the impact of migration into the UK.
Migrant Women's Voices by Linda McDowell is published on 25th February 2016, and is available to pre-order on the Bloomsbury website.
Today's post is by Sophie De Schaepdrijver, Associate Professor of History at Penn State University, USA and author of Bloomsbury book Gabrielle Petit: The Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War.
Earlier this week, in Brussels, six men stood trial for having, last June, badly beaten a homeless Polish man on Luxembourg Square (which, in sad irony, sits smack in the city’s “European quarter”). The men belong to the movement Nation, which vows to fight the “invasion” of Belgium by immigrants. On this year’s Armistice Day, Nation held a demonstration at a symbolic locus – the monument in the city of Tournai commemorating the Belgian First World War heroine Gabrielle Petit (1893-1916).  Petit was a resistance agent; she worked for British secret intelligence and was shot by a German firing squad in Brussels at the age of 23.
Nation’s demonstration at Petit’s monument is a weird and wretched addition to the memory of a young woman who was hailed as Belgium’s “national heroine” in the interwar years (by both Flemings and French-speakers, one notes) and who remained an emblem of civilian resistance during the Nazi occupation, but whose name faded from the nineteen-sixties onward, together with the very idea of a Belgian national narrative. It is not the first time Petit’s memory is usurped by the extreme right. In the nineteen-thirties, Fascist leader Léon Degrelle enjoined fellow Belgians to look to her to bolster national pride. In real life, of course, Degrelle would have had no time for the likes of Petit – a bruised, fiercely intelligent young woman who, before the war, eked out a living on the precarious edges of belle époque Brussels’ service-job market. She lived in the low-rent section of Molenbeek, today home largely to Muslim Belgians; when rent money was lacking, she slept rough - like the Polish victim of Nation’s bruisers.
Nation’s defense of violent bullying by reference to the memory of someone who had stood up to overwhelming power is, of course, spectacularly inappropriate, as the journalist Marc Metdepenningen wrote on Wednesday in the Belgian daily Le Soir. In reaction, Belgium’s National Federation of Combatants has vowed next year to suitably celebrate the centenary of Petit’s death, at that same Tournai monument, on April 1, 2016. (Yes, she was shot on the day of pranks – quite possibly as a deliberate humiliation. But that’s another story.)
This coming celebration will be, as the expression goes, a Good Thing. For Petit’s monument in Tournai stands a bit forlorn today: its passionate intensity is out of tune with its dejected surroundings – this is a place where men can be found at 10 a.m., slouching on the benches beneath the monument, drinking beer from cans and holding very large dogs on leashes. The defense of Petit’s memory might, however briefly, bring back some spark; it might infuse public space with a European narrative appropriate to the memory of the girl who, shortly before her death, wrote to her German guardian in prison that after the war they should be friends.
 Marc Metdepenningen, “Six paumés, victimes de Nation,” Le Soir, December 16, 2015, p. 10. I thank my colleague Stefan Moens of Erasmus Hogeschool in Brussels for alerting me to this article.
 In the UK, the Allied Special Forces Association and the Escape Lines Memorial Society plan a commemoration of their own at Garden 1, which remembers Special Operations agents: https://www.memorialgrove.org.uk/garden1.htm In Belgium, the Senate plans a commemoration on March 23, 2016.
Gabrielle Petit: The Death and Life of a Female Spy in the First World War was published in the UK and USA in January 2015 and is available to buy via the Bloomsbury website - please click here for more information.
Is there any better gift to give or receive than books? We don’t think so! So we’ve asked some of our authors to share with us their Bloomsbury Holiday Wish Lists, to help inspire your gift-giving this season!
Today’s Wish List is from Bob Brier, author of the forthcoming Cleopatra’s Needles: The Lost Obelisks of Egypt. He is Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University, USA, and is a world-famous Egyptologist. He is the author of The Murder of Tutankhamen, Ancient Egyptian Magic, Egyptian Mummies, and Secret of the Great Pyramid. He was host to TLC's documentary series The Great Egyptians, The World of Pyramids, and Mummy Detective.
I love the history of Egyptology and Excavation so there are several Bloomsbury titles that would be great X-mas gifts.
One I have read before, but never tire of the story is The Tomb of Siphtah and the Tomb of Queen Tiyi by Theodore Davis. This is a wonderful tale of early excavations in the Valley of the Kings by the American millionaire, Theodore Davis. He thought he found Queen Titi's tomb, but got it wrong, and the mystery still continues as to whose royal mummy he found in the tomb. Great stuff!
Hidden Hands: Egyptian Workforces in Petrie Excavation Archives, 1880-1924 looks like a winner. Petrie was such a character that he still fascinates us today. Also, I love the way Stephen Quirke writes.
One title I never heard of, but would love for Christmas is Archaeologists, Tourists, Interpreters
Exploring Egypt and the Near East in the Late 19th–Early 20th Centuries I don't know the two authors but the title sounds wonderful. Just my kind of thing.
I hear there is another book coming out very soon that I would love Santa to bring. It is by Phyllis Saretta (Asiatics in Middle Kingdom Egypt Perceptions and Reality) and deals with foreigners in ancient Egypt. This is also something that should be a great read and worth having as reference.
All of these books are currently up to 40% off as part of Bloomsbury's Holiday Sale on Bloomsbury.com. Bob Brier's book Cleopatra’s Needles: The Lost Obelisks of Egypt will be published in April 2016 by Bloomsbury.
Bloomsbury History is proud to have recently published Exploring the Dutch Empire: Agents, Networks and Institutions, 1600-2000 edited by Catia Antunes and Jos Gommans (both Leiden University, the Netherlands), a collection which explores Dutch participation in and contribution to globalisation through a study of the Dutch empire in Asia, Africa and the Americas. By offering a new insight into the macro and micro worlds of the global Dutchman the book fills a gap in the historiography on empire and globalization, which has previously been dominated by British and, to a lesser extent, French and Spanish cases.
The recent book launch at Leiden University featured a speech by Professor Jan Pronk, a former minister in the Netherlands, a high official at the United Nations and a widely acclaimed authority on global development issues, in which he discussed some of the debates raised by the volume’s contributions. Below is a short extract from the speech; to read the full version, please follow this link.
"This is a book about dilemmas in empire building. While in theory the construction of an empire may seem to be a matter of simply applying a surplus of power, dominating weaker nations, exercising force without hesitation, no questions asked, the reality is different. As the authors of this study make clear, building an empire raises questions to be addressed, deals to be closed and dilemmas to be faced.
There is the dilemma of a small country with a large empire. How to handle this in order to get the desired results? How far can the empire be stretched, before withering away, due to forces from within? How far can it be expanded, before being defeated by competing empires? In which directions on the globe would expansion offer the greatest chance for success? Which are those desired results, and what is success? Economic or political, or otherwise? What should be strived for: short term gains, or long term benefits? Who decides about all this: the government back home, or companies which form the backbone of the empire? Or should it be the people and authorities who represent the home country in the field, far away, but who may have developed their own interest, and who may feel a certain bond with indigenous people in the periphery of the empire rather than with the power brokers in the centre?
These are the dilemmas of power, the power of the metropolis. But these are also the dilemmas of the people in the centre and in the periphery: politicians, administrators, merchants, entrepreneurs, investors, tradesmen, the military, missionaries, explorers and researchers, all of them with their own views and their own interests.
No wonder that empires compete and fight, that they expand and crumble, that they rise and fall.
The authors of this book have studied the ways and means in which the Dutch empire - a vast empire of a small country - has operated in order to sustain itself. Their main conclusion is that these operations have been very flexible throughout a period of four centuries, from 1600 to 2000. This flexibility implied a capacity to adapt to local circumstances, to meet competition from outside, and to address resistance from within, either by force - often - or, not seldom, by negotiation, forging alliances, embracing cosmopolitanism, or even creolization.
The flexibility and adaptability of the empire is one of the most intriguing findings of this book. These findings were brought together by a broad range of authors, who studied the Dutch empire in successive phases of its history and in different parts of the world, geographically as well as culturally. While Emmer and other historians had argued that Dutch expansion overseas took place without building an empire, the authors of this book conclude that an empire did exist, not as a homogenous physical construction, but as a heterogeneous network. The Dutch empire did not consist of a vast peripheral territory under complete physical command and control by the centre in the Low Lands at the sea, far away in Europe. On the contrary, Dutch expansion overseas developed into an empire by constructing an intricate, differentiated and flexible combination of agents, networks and institutions."
Exploring the Dutch Empire, published in May this year, is available to purchase online via our website, where you can also read more about the book and see the table of contents.
Bloomsbury is very proud to be considered the leading publisher of Winston Churchill, and in today’s blog post we have plenty of exciting Churchill-related news for you.
The Churchill Archive
First off, we’re pleased to announce the re-launch of the online Churchill Archive, featuring a fresh new look and easier navigation. The Archive features more than 800,000 pages of original documents relating to Churchill, ranging from his personal correspondence to official exchanges with kings, presidents, politicians and military leaders. It’s the go-to archive for information on Churchill’s life and legacy, as well as providing a fascinating window onto modern British and world history more generally.
The new-look website makes it even easier to browse its many documents, using powerful search tools to explore the contents of the Archive itself or navigate to the many higher education teaching resources, including original extended essays and brand new 'Focus on...' features. These provide overviews of broad fields of modern history, with introductions by leading historians and links to rich selections of files and documents from the Archive. Topics include Women and Social Change, Empire and Imperialism and The Cold War and Nuclear Weapons. You can find out more about the collections available here.
The Churchill Archive is available for purchase by institutions via subscription or on a perpetual access basis. Free trials are now available, open to lecturers, faculty and librarians of universities, colleges and academic institutions, and the duration and timing of these trials can be negotiated in order to suit the requirements of your institution. If you’d like to enquire about a subscription or a trial, please contact:
Churchill Archive for Schools
This summer we’re also launching the Churchill Archive for Schools, a special resource making the archive freely available to secondary schools and sixth form colleges. Churchill Archive for Schools carefully selects archive documents, organised and presented as ‘investigations’, to help young historians develop their research skills. Based around four broad themes central to the study of modern history, these ‘investigations’ introduce students to 6 to 8 documents from the Archive, with background information to help them interpret the sources. Bookmark this page.
The new Churchill Central website was launched in January 2015 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Churchill's death. Churchill Central is a hub for Churchill-related organisations to collaborate, contribute and share content that extends the Churchill world. Users can learn about the different stages in Churchill’s life, exploring themes based on aspects of his multi-faceted character. A unique interactive timeline allows users to navigate their way through all the key years in his life, as well explore events and developments taking place elsewhere in the world. Other features include an online treasure hunt with a prize for the winner. The site also includes quizzes, quotes and a calendar listing current exhibitions, lectures and events as well as an online shop.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force and My African Journey
Finally, in September we’ll be re-issuing two books written by Churchill himself: The Story of the Malakand Field Force and My African Journey. The latter follows the adventures of the 22-year-old Churchill who talked his way into the Malakand Field Force as a war correspondent, reporting on the front line in a struggle against restless tribes on the Northwest Frontier. My African Journey, first published in 1908, documents the travels of Churchill (now in his thirties) through Africa; he waxes lyrical on the natural beauty of Uganda and goes on to explore Egypt and Sudan via the White Nile. Both of these books give us a personal introduction to the pre-war Churchill who many of us are a little less familiar with. We think they’re an excellent addition to our extensive publishing on all things Churchill.
A Cultural History of the Senses is the definitive overview of the role of the senses from antiquity to the modern age, covering themes such as religion, philosophy, science, medicine, literature, art and media. Superbly illustrated, these books delve into the sensory foundations of Western civilization, taking a comprehensive period-by-period approach, which provides a broad understanding of the life of the senses in history. With contributions from such prominent scholars as Peter Burke, Alain Corbin, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and Chris Woolgar, the six volumes set the stage for a vital new way of understanding the past.
Here is what Professor Geoffrey Hawthorn had to say about A Cultural History of the Senses, in his special review for the Times Literary Supplement:
“But what exactly is the enterprise? Most obviously, it is to take historical inquiry into a new area. More ambitiously, it is to extend and perhaps even alter our understanding of areas we think we already know. Most excitingly, we can hope that it might extend our understanding of the relations more generally between biology, circumstance, sensation and expression. Neurological observation, Holly Duggan reports in a riveting introduction to her essay on the sensory content of early modern poetry, has revealed that smelling a lily, watching someone smelling a lily, and reading an account of someone smelling a lily all rely on similar areas of the brain. And in triggering an expanse of wider (involuntary) memory, Proust’s madeleine could have done so in the area that processes tactile sensation. … The “incessant shower of innumerable atoms” of sensation that Virginia Woolf had felt and Ralf Hertel discusses in the last of these volumes may now cohere, insofar as it coheres at all, in a smartphone. But the change has been deeper than that. It is not just that we recognize that “all day, all night,” as Woolf wrote, “the body intervenes.” It is that we are able now, as some might say again, to express the fact. Each of the contributors to the last of these volumes has interesting things to say about how artists and theorists have responded to the change, not infrequently separating sense from the sensor altogether, but a satisfying explanation of it still seems to elude. What is clear is that an increasing number of us are now are culturally free to use Socrates’ “whatever we ought to call it” to make whatever we wish of what we see, hear, taste, smell and touch - and just as important, free to avoid what we wish to. Looked over at the longue durée, that may be most remarkable of all.”
Mark M. Smith of the Wall Street Journal also had a number of positive things to say about the collection:
“These impressive volumes enable us to venture beyond the credo that “seeing is believing” and to better appreciate the original iteration of that phrase as it was used in the medieval period: “Seeing is believing but feeling’s the truth.” For the same reason, “A Cultural History of the Senses” reminds us that histories of smell, sound, taste and touch—as well as of sight—are remarkably useful in helping us remember that the truth is more complex than it might first appear.”
We’re delighted about the positive reception of A Cultural History of the Senses, which has been a success with academics, journalists and general enthusiasts. Take a look at the volumes in more detail here.
Bryan Fanning’s Histories of the Irish Future is an intellectual history of Ireland and a history of Irish crises viewed through the eyes of twelve key writers: William Petty, William Molyneux, Edmund Burke, Thomas Malthus, Richard Whately, Friedrich Engels, John Mitchel, James Connolly, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Jeremiah Newman, Conor Cruise O’Brien and Fintan O’Toole.
These writers’ analyses of the shifting conditions of Ireland, and their efforts to address Ireland’s predicaments, provide a fascinating lens through which to examine the wider social, political, economic and cultural anxieties of their times. Bryan Fanning adopts this unique angle in Histories of the Irish Future, resulting in a pioneering interdisciplinary contribution to modern Irish history and Irish Studies that will appeal to students of politics, economic history, and philosophy.
Highly original in its approach, thoroughly-researched and elegantly written, the book brings its twelve subjects to life whilst also weaving together a compelling narrative of Ireland’s evolution in recent centuries. Here’s what our pre-publication reviewers had to say about it:
‘[E]legantly readable, informative, erudite and wonderfully engaging… The book presents a lucid and compelling narrative and its choice of figures presents new perspectives on Ireland as it was theorised; a tour de force.’
Dermot Moran, Professor of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Ireland
‘Thoughtful, reflective, rich in anecdote and with lively pen portraits of a dozen thinkers… Fanning’s work is a distinguished contribution to a small corpus of work on the Irish intellectual tradition. At a time when Ireland appears to be directionless even purposeless, such a work is badly needed to inform contemporary debate about Ireland’s future.’
Tom Bartlett, Professor of Irish History, University of Aberdeen, UK
Bryan Fanning has recently appeared in several video interviews produced by University College Dublin in which he discusses some of the figures who appear in the book and their wider significance. In this video he introduces the book, explaining why intellectual life is such a key aspect of modern Irish history and how the figures he discusses in the book exemplify the times they lived in:
Here tells us about Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, a feminist and radical republican who campaigned for women’s right to vote in Ireland:
Another figure examined in the book is Robert Malthus, a famous demographer who is sometimes blamed for the Great Famine in Ireland:
Histories of the Irish Future was published in November 2014, and is available to buy on the Bloomsbury website.
Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914 is the first history of the Great War to address in-depth the crucial events of 1914 as they played out on the Balkan Front. James Lyon demonstrates how blame for the war’s outbreak can be placed on different historical aspects. In doing so, he portrays the background and events of the Sarajevo Assassination and the subsequent military campaigns and diplomacy on the Balkan Front during 1914. Lyon challenges existing historiography that contends the Habsburg Army was ill-prepared for war and shows that the Dual Monarchy was in fact superior in manpower and technology to the Serbian Army. Here is what Sir Ivor Roberts, the former British Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Ireland and Italy and current President of Trinity College, Oxford thinks of the book:
It might have been thought that there was very little left to say about the events of 1914 after the distinguished crop of books which have emerged in the last year. Yet James Lyon’s book covers genuine new ground focussing as it does on the events of 1914 in the Balkans seen from the Serbian end of the telescope and basing himself on many Serbian, Austrian, and Bosnian archival sources which have not been accessed by writers in English previously, including new material on Serbia’s relations with Turkey.
He provides compelling evidence to reject the claims that the Serbian reply to the Austrian ultimatum was so full of ambiguities and evasions as to make it unsurprising that it was rejected. Lyon paints a vivid picture of the Habsburg ambassador in Belgrade, von Giesl, preparing his departure, even so far as to receive Serb ministers on the evening of the expiry of the ultimatum in plus-fours and travelling clothes, before he had even read the reply. This was perhaps to be expected as Count Berchtold’s ultimatum to Serbia was deliberately drafted to be rejected. And yet the Kaiser, no less, concluded that the Serbian reply was “a great moral victory for Vienna: but it removes every reason for war” And Sir Edward Grey told the Austrian ambassador that “ It seemed to me that the Serbian reply already involved the greatest humiliation to Serbia that I had ever seen a country undergo, and it was very disappointing to me that the reply was treated by the Austrian Government as if it were as unsatisfactory as a blank negative.”
Lyon also deals comprehensively and in painstaking detail with the old canard that the Habsburg armies were less prepared for war than Serbia’s. In fact, it emerges clearly from Lyon’s lucid account that not only was the Pašić government desperate to avoid war but the debilitating effect of the two Balkan Wars and the consequent parlous insufficiency of arms and ammunition meant that at least in the early stages any war with an army of Vienna’s strength would be a disaster. The problems of lack of arms were compounded by lack of manpower: disease, wounds and desertions (60,000 in the first five months of the war) and basic equipment, (they were often dressed entirely in peasant clothes) which reduced the Serbian army in the last months of 1914 to a rag tag ‘peasant mob’. Yet the US Ambassador to Serbia perceptively noted that while the Serb army “looked like bands of tramps… [they] made excellent soldiers.” A result of the hardening experience of the two Balkan wars. Moreover while the Austrians thought little of the senior Serbian generals and officers, this proved, as Lyon illustrates, a very flawed judgment.
The later parts of the book provide an impressive and exhaustive account of the early battles of the war as seen from the Balkan perspective. It touches on the dramatic moments when Belgrade was close to surrendering to the Dual Monarchy in November 1914, the impact of the Balkan theatre on other fighting fronts and the behind-the- scenes deals which aimed at bringing Italy into the war at the expense of Serbian territorial ambitions. I can think of no other English language work which addresses Serbia’s military effort in such a coherent and meticulous fashion nor which paints such a vibrant and dramatic picture of political life in Serbia in the days of the July crisis and immediately after the declaration of war.
Based on archival sources from Belgrade, Sarajevo and Vienna and using never-before-seen material to discuss secret negotiations between Turkey and Belgrade, Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914 enriches our understanding of the outbreak of the war and Serbia’s role in modern Europe. The book publishes later this year and is available to buy on our website.