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What Columbus Didn’t Know

Peter Green: The history of cartography, 21 February 2002

The Extraordinary Voyage of Pytheas the Greek, the Man who Discovered Britain 
by Barry Cunliffe.
Allen Lane, 182 pp., £12.99, October 2001, 0 7139 9509 2
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Ptolemy’s Geography: An Annotated Translation of the Theoretical Chapters 
edited by J. Lennart Berggren and Alexander Jones.
Princeton, 232 pp., £17.95, January 2002, 0 691 09259 1
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Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World: Atlas and Map-By-Map Directory 
by Richard J.A. Talbert.
Princeton, three volumes, £300, September 2000, 9780691031699
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... rather than physical data, and (perhaps because of this) takes its lead, fashionably, from Fernand Braudel in privileging the latter whenever possible. The history of cartography (and of exploration, with which it has always been bound up) is not always seen for what it is: one aspect of the slow development of human self-knowledge, as reflected ...

Too Much for One Man

Thomas Penn: Kaiser Karl V, 23 January 2020

Emperor: A New Life of Charles V 
by Geoffrey Parker.
Yale, 760 pp., £25, May 2019, 978 0 300 19652 8
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... government, societies, cultures and languages, wasn’t challenging enough, in an age in which, as Fernand Braudel put it, ‘distance was public enemy number one,’ Charles had other difficulties to contend with. Besides France, with which the Habsburgs were in a state of more or less constant conflict, Christendom itself was under sustained ...

Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

After the Reformation: Essays in Honour of J.H. Hexter 
edited by Barbara Malament.
Manchester, 363 pp., £17.95, December 1980, 0 7190 0805 0
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Puritans and Adventurers 
by T.H. Breen.
Oxford, 270 pp., £10, October 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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On History 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Sarah Matthews.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £10.95, January 1981, 0 297 77880 3
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Sociology and History 
by Peter Burke.
Allen and Unwin, 116 pp., £6.95, August 1980, 0 19 502728 0
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... the influx of African labour had given all whites common interests in preserving the slave system. Braudel has been called the greatest living historian. But this is neither his greatest nor his latest book. It is a collection of articles, the earliest dating from 1944, the most recent from 1963. Not unexpectedly, there is a good deal of repetition. Three ...


R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don, 8 May 1986

... which brought amused mutters about egomania from some colleagues, elicited one or two mentions of Fernand Braudel and more general protestations that there was no one then alive to whom such a title belonged. Both of the criticisms implied here are, I think, misdirected. First, writing is a solitary, hard and lonely business. To pour out a succession of ...


Stephen Bann, 4 November 1982

The Prince buys the Manor 
by Elspeth Huxley.
Chatto, 216 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 7011 2651 5
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by Sheila Ortiz Taylor.
Women’s Press, 120 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 7043 3900 5
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Scenes from Metropolitan Life 
by William Cooper.
Macmillan, 214 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 0 333 34203 8
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Constance, or Solitary Practices 
by Lawrence Durrell.
Faber, 394 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 571 11757 0
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Mickelsson’s Ghosts 
by John Gardner.
Secker, 566 pp., £8.95, October 1982, 0 436 17251 8
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Beware of pity 
by Stefan Zweig, translated by Phyllis Blewitt and Trevor Blewitt.
Cape, 354 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 224 02057 9
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... a dialogue with historiography which has become ever more explicit. The great French historian, Fernand Braudel, cited Dur-rell in the provocative conclusion to his study of the Mediterranean world, illustrating his concept of the longue durée with Durrell’s claim that the Greek fisherman of today enables us to understand Odysseus. The last chapter ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 December 1992

English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... W.G. Runciman. Andreas Hillgruber, Max Weber, Ernest Gellner, Carlo Ginzburg, Isaiah Berlin, Fernand Braudel and Francis Fukuyama. More recently (LRB, 24 September and 22 October), he has extended himself to Michael Oakeshott and others of Oakeshott’s generation on ‘the intransigent right’, and to those in Ukania who have been resurrecting ...


Neal Ascherson: European Migration to AD 1000, 23 October 2008

Europe between the Oceans: 9000 BC-AD 1000 
by Barry Cunliffe.
Yale, 518 pp., £30, July 2008, 978 0 300 11923 7
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... Barry Cunliffe’s large and magnificent new book has a guiding motto, it is a famous sentence by Fernand Braudel about the Mediterranean, which Cunliffe applies to the whole continent and repeats several times in these pages: ‘Our sea was from the very dawn of its prehistory a witness to those imbalances productive of change which would set the rhythm ...
Dreaming of Cockaigne: Medieval Fantasies of the Perfect Life 
by Herman Pleij, translated by Diane Webb.
Columbia, 544 pp., £23.50, June 2001, 0 231 11702 7
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... on peasants and tenants by a rapacious nobility. Nonetheless, scarcity was the main problem. Fernand Braudel, in Capitalism and Material Life, describes the Middle Ages as a period when ‘famine recurred so insistently for centuries on end that it became incorporated into man’s biological regime and was built into his daily life. A few overfed ...

Things Keep Happening

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Histories of Histories, 20 November 2008

A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the 20th Century 
by John Burrow.
Allen Lane, 553 pp., £25, December 2007, 978 0 7139 9337 0
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What Was History? The Art of History in Early Modern Europe 
by Anthony Grafton.
Cambridge, 319 pp., £13.99, March 2007, 978 0 521 69714 9
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The Theft of History 
by Jack Goody.
Cambridge, 342 pp., £14.99, January 2007, 978 0 521 69105 5
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Thucydides and the Philosophical Origins of History 
by Darien Shanske.
Cambridge, 268 pp., £54, January 2007, 978 0 521 86411 4
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... on the ancient world, Joseph Needham on ‘science and civilisation’ in China and the West, Fernand Braudel on Europe’s economy, Norbert Elias on the emergence of civilised manners – have, in the very breadth of the comparisons they make, served to strengthen the prejudice that Europe was predestined to be superior in its ...


Neal Ascherson: Hugh Trevor-Roper, 19 August 2010

Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Weidenfeld, 598 pp., £25, July 2010, 978 0 297 85214 8
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... was he such a Little Englander as he seemed. Visiting Paris, he was enthralled by the work of Fernand Braudel and the Annales School, and complained that they were ‘totally excluded from Oxford which remains, in historical matters, a retrograde provincial backwater’. The books continued not to appear. In Sisman’s biography I counted at least ...

Jottings, Scraps and Doodles

Adam Shatz: Lévi-Strauss, 3 November 2011

Claude Levi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory 
by Patrick Wilcken.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 7475 8362 2
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... at the university, and held on to his job thanks only to the intervention of his colleague Fernand Braudel. His recent marriage, to Dina, an ethnologist, was in trouble. The couple’s friend Mário de Andrade, a poet and musician, ‘had a soft spot’ for Dina, and it seems to have been reciprocated. The Lévi-Strausses divorced soon after they ...

Forgive us our debts

Benjamin Kunkel: The History of Debt, 10 May 2012

Paper Promises: Money, Debt and the New World Order 
by Philip Coggan.
Allen Lane, 294 pp., £20, December 2011, 978 1 84614 510 0
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Debt: The First 5000 Years 
by David Graeber.
Melville House, 534 pp., £21.99, July 2011, 978 1 933633 86 2
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... but hardly owners – of agricultural land led to the rise of wage labour.) Graeber follows Fernand Braudel in virtually identifying capitalism with consolidated finance, contrasting the ‘anti-market’ of the monopolistic great capitals with the humbler local markets left over from the Middle Ages. What distinguishes Graeber’s account, apart ...

Hangchow Retrouvé

Emma Rothschild, 22 May 1980

... meals to honey, ashes and cannibalism. One hundred and forty-two pages on the history of food in Fernand Braudel’s magnificent new Les Structures du Quotidien.3 ‘Food is a sort of grill,’ wrote the late Roland Barthes, ‘through which all the sciences which we now call social and human may successfully be exercised.’4 Eating was one of ...

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