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A Short History of the Normans
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A Short History of the Normans, by Leonie V. Hicks (I.B. Tauris, 2016).

The Battle of Hastings in 1066 is the one date forever seared on the British national psyche. It enabled the Norman Conquest that marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England. But there was much more to the Normans than the invading army Duke William shipped over from Normandy to the shores of Sussex. How a band of marauding warriors established some of the most powerful kingdoms in Europe – in Sicily and France, as well as England – is an improbably romantic idea. In exploring Norman culture in all its regions, Leonie V. Hicks places the Normans in the context of early medieval society. Her comparative perspective enables the Norman story to be told in full, so that the societies of Rollo, William, Robert and Roger Guiscard are given the focused attention they deserve. From Hastings to the martial exploits of Bohemond and Tancred on the First Crusade; from castles and keeps to Romanesque cathedrals; and from the founding of the Kingdom of Sicily (1130) to cross-cultural encounters with Byzantines and Muslims, this is a fresh and lively survey of one of the most popular topics in European history.

The European Union
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The European Union: Politics and Policies, by Jonathan Olsen and John McCormick (Westview Press, 2016).

Covering the history, governing institutions, and policies of the European Union, Jonathan Olsen and John McCormick present the EU as one of the world’s economic and political superpowers, which has brought far-reaching changes to the lives of Europeans and has helped its member states to take a newly assertive role on the global stage. Unlike most other books on the EU, this text pays particular attention to the implications of the EU for the United States.

Thoroughly revised, with new photographs and updated tables and figures, the sixth edition of The European Union explains developments that have brought severe challenges to the Union, such as the Greek crisis, the Brexit, tensions with Russia over Ukraine, and new waves of refugees into Europe. Essential reading for students of European politics, this book offers an up-to-the-minute look at both the opportunities and existential threats facing this powerful institution.

 

Contact in the 16th Century
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Contact in the 16th Century: Networks Among Fishers, Foragers and Farmers, edited by Brad Loewen and Claude Chapdelaine (University of Ottawa Press, 2016).

From Labrador to Lake Ontario, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to French Acadia, and Huronia-Wendaki to Tadoussac, and from one chapter to the next, this scholarly collection of archaeological findings focuses on 16th century European goods found in Native contexts and within greater networks, forming a conceptual interplay of place and mobility.

The four initial chapters are set around the Gulf of Saint Lawrence where Euro-Native contact was direct and the historical record is strongest. Contact networks radiated northward into Inuit settings where European iron nails, roofing tile fragments and ceramics are found. Glass beads are scarce on Inuit sites as well as on Basque sites on the Gulf’s north shore, but they are numerous in French Acadia. Ceramics on northern Basque sites are mostly from Spain. An historical review discusses the partnership between Spanish Basques and Saint Lawrence Iroquoians c.1540-1580.

The four chapters set in the Saint Lawrence valley show Tadoussac as a fork in inland networks. Saint Lawrence Iroquoians obtained glass beads around Tadoussac before 1580. Algonquin from Lac Saint-Jean began trading at Tadoussac after that. They plied a northern route that linked to Huronia-Wendaki via the Ottawa Valley and the Frontenac Uplands.

Finally, four chapters set around Lake Ontario focus on contact between this region and the Saint Lawrence valley. Huron-Wendat sites around the Kawartha Lakes show an influx of Saint Lawrence trade in the 16th century, followed by an immigration wave about 1580. Huron-Wendat sites near Toronto show an unabated inflow of Native materials from the Saint Lawrence valley; however, neutral sites west of Lake Ontario show Native and European materials arriving from the south.

A review of glass bead evidence presented by various authors shows trends that cut across chapters and bring new impetus to the study of beads to discover 16th-century networks among French and Basque fishers, Inuit and Algonquian foragers and Iroquoian farmers.

With contributions from Saraí Barreiro, Meghan Burchell, Claude Chapdelaine, Martin S. Cooper, Amanda Crompton, Vincent Delmas, Sergio Escribano-Ruiz, William Fox, Sarah Grant, François Guindon, Erik Langevin, Brad Loewen, Jean-François Moreau, Jean-Luc Pilon, Michel Plourde, Peter Ramsden, Lisa Rankin and Ronald F. Williamson.

A co-publication with the Canadian Museum of History

Generations in Estonia
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Generations in Estonia: Contemporary Perspectives on Turbulent Times, edited by Raili Nugin, Anu Kannike, and Maaris Raudsepp (University of Tartu Press, 2016).

This volume provides a compelling insight into 20th century generational identities in Estonia. Located on the borderline between East and West, Estonia offers a particularly concentrated example of multi-directional changes. It is the first collection of studies for the international reader that offers a wide-ranging analysis of generations in Estonia, including inter-generational relations, generational dynamics, socialization and habitus, the perception of generational identity, and generations as carriers of memory.

Shakespeare and Space
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Shakespeare and Space: Theatrical Explorations of the Spatial Paradigm, edited by Ina Habermann and Michelle Witen (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). 

This collection offers an overview of the ways in which space has become relevant to the study of Shakespearean drama and theatre. It distinguishes various facets of space, such as structural aspects of dramatic composition, performance space and the evocation of place, linguistic, social and gendered spaces, early modern geographies, and the impact of theatrical mobility on cultural exchange and the material world. These facets of space are exemplified in individual essays. Throughout, the Shakespearean stage is conceived as a topological ‘node’, or interface between different times, places and people – an approach which also invokes Edward Soja’s notion of ‘Thirdspace’ to describe the blend between the real and the imaginary characteristic of Shakespeare’s multifaceted theatrical world. Part Two of the volume emphasises the theatrical mobility of Hamlet – conceptually from an anthropological perspective, and historically in the tragedy’s migrations to Germany, Russia and North America. 

Jan Brueghel and the Senses of Scale
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Jan Brueghel and the Senses of Scale, by Elizabeth Alice Honig (Penn State University Press, 2016).

Unlike the work of his contemporaries Rubens and Caravaggio, who painted on a grand scale, seventeenth-century Flemish painter Jan Brueghel’s tiny, detail-filled paintings took their place not in galleries but among touchable objects. This first book-length study of his work investigates how educated beholders valued the experience of refined, miniaturized artworks in Baroque Europe, and how, conversely, Brueghel’s distinctive aesthetic set a standard—and a technique—for the production of inexpensive popular images.

It has been easy for art historians to overlook the work of Jan Brueghel, Pieter’s son. Yet the very qualities of smallness and intimacy that have marginalized him among historians made the younger Brueghel a central figure in the seventeenth-century art world. Elizabeth Honig’s thoughtful exploration reveals how his works—which were portable, mobile, and intimate—questioned conceptions of distance, dimension, and style. Honig proposes an alternate form of visuality that allows us to reevaluate how pictures were experienced in seventeenth-century Europe, how they functioned, and how and what they communicated.

A monumental examination of an extraordinary artist, Jan Brueghel and the Senses of Scale reconsiders Brueghel’s paintings and restores them to their rightful place in history.

Constituting Scotland
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Constituting Scotland: The Scottish National Movement and the Westminster Model, by Elliot Bulmer (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). 

There is currently a sparse and much-needed literature on constitutional design in Scotland. The rise of the Scottish national movement has been accompanied by the emergence of a distinct constitutional ideas, claims and arguments.

Drawing on the fields of constitutional theory, comparative constitutional law, and Scottish studies, this book examines the historical trajectory of the constitutional question in Scotland and analyses the influences and constraints on the constitutional imagination of the Scottish national movement, in terms of both the national and international contexts. It identifies an emerging Scottish nationalist constitutional tradition that is distinct from British constitutional orthodoxies but nevertheless corresponds to broad global trends in constitutional thought and design.

Much of the book is devoted to the detailed exposition and comparative analysis of the draft constitution for an independent Scotland published by the SNP in 2002. The 2014 draft interim Constitution presented by the Scottish Government is also examined, and the two texts are contrasted to show the changing nature of the SNP’s constitutional policy: from liberal-procedural constitutionalism in pursuit of a more inclusive polity, to a more populist and majoritarian constitutionalism.

Liberty or Death
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Liberty or Death: The French Revolution, by Peter McPhee (Yale University Press, 2016). 

The French Revolution has fascinated, perplexed, and inspired for more than two centuries. It was a seismic event that radically transformed France and launched shock waves across the world. In this provocative new history, Peter McPhee draws on a lifetime’s study of eighteenth-century France and Europe to create an entirely fresh account of the world’s first great modern revolution—its origins, drama, complexity, and significance.
 
Was the Revolution a major turning point in French—even world—history, or was it instead a protracted period of violent upheaval and warfare that wrecked millions of lives? McPhee evaluates the Revolution within a genuinely global context: Europe, the Atlantic region, and even farther. He acknowledges the key revolutionary events that unfolded in Paris, yet also uncovers the varying experiences of French citizens outside the gates of the city: the provincial men and women whose daily lives were altered—or not—by developments in the capital. Enhanced with evocative stories of those who struggled to cope in unpredictable times, McPhee’s deeply researched book investigates the changing personal, social, and cultural world of the eighteenth century. His startling conclusions redefine and illuminate both the experience and the legacy of France’s transformative age of revolution.

From Day to Day
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From Day to Day: One Man’s Diary of Survival in Nazi Concentration Camps, by Odd Nansen, edited by Timothy J. Boyce (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016).

In 1942, Norwegian Odd Nansen was arrested by the Nazis, and he spent the remainder of World War II in concentration camps—Grini in Oslo, Veidal above the Arctic Circle, and Sachsenhausen in Germany. For three and a half years, Nansen kept a secret diary on tissue-paper-thin pages later smuggled out by various means, including inside the prisoners’ hollowed-out breadboards.

Unlike writers of retrospective Holocaust memoirs, Nansen recorded the mundane and horrific details of camp life as they happened, “from day to day.” With an unsparing eye, Nansen described the casual brutality and random terror that was the fate of a camp prisoner. His entries reveal his constantly frustrated hopes for an early end to the war, his longing for his wife and children, his horror at the especially barbaric treatment reserved for Jews, and his disgust at the anti-Semitism of some of his fellow Norwegians. Nansen often confronted his German jailors with unusual outspokenness and sometimes with a sense of humor and absurdity that was not appreciated by his captors.

Europe’s Untapped Capital Market
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Europe’s Untapped Capital Market: Rethinking Integration After the Great Financial Crisis, by Diego Valiante (Centre for European Policy Studies & Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016).

The quality of financial integration is one of Europe’s principal concerns in the aftermath of the great crisis. The lack of risk sharing lies at the heart of the financial instability produced by the rapid retrenchment of capital flows within national boundaries. The limited cross-border banking and capital markets activity is unable to provide investors with the necessary risk diversification to allow economies to withstand asymmetric shocks. This book builds on a year-long discussion with a group of academics, policy-makers and industry experts to provide a long-term contribution to the Capital Markets Union project, launched by the European Commission in 2015. It identifies 36 cross-border barriers to capital markets integration and provides an organic plan, consisting of 33 policy recommendations, to relaunch EU financial integration. These aim to improve the key components of cross-border capital market transactions: price discovery, execution and enforcement. It also provides a comprehensive overview of the current structure and the state of integration of Europe’s capital markets.

Representations of Islam in the News
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Representations of Islam in the News: A Cross-Cultural Analysis, edited by Stefan Mertens and Hedwig de Smaele (Lexington Books, 2016).

The representation of Islam is unquestionably a critical test for comparing journalistic reporting across countries and cultures. The Islamic religion has weight in international reporting (defining what we termed “foreign Islam”), but it is also the religion of numerically important minority groups residing in Europe (“national Islam”). The first part of the book is “setting the scene.” Three chapters provide insights in dominant patterns of the representation of Islam as detected by various authors and studies involved with Islam representation in Europe. Part two, the core section of the book, contributes to the development of the field of comparative journalism studies by comparing several countries and six media systems in Western Europe: the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium (Flanders), the French-speaking part of Belgium (Wallonia), the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the U.K. Part three of this book presents two reception studies, one qualitative and the other quantitative. Equally important, as the bulk of attention goes to Western Europe, is the extension towards the representation of Muslims and Islam outside Western Europe. Part four of the book is devoted to the representation of Islam in some of the so-called BRICs-countries: Russia, China, and India.

Shadowlands
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Shadowlands: Memory and History in Post-Soviet Estoniaby Meike Wulf (Berghahn Books, 2016). 

Located within the forgotten half of Europe, historically trapped between Germany and Russia, Estonia has been profoundly shaped by the violent conflicts and shifting political fortunes of the last century. This innovative study traces the tangled interaction of Estonian historical memory and national identity in a sweeping analysis extending from the Great War to the present day. At its heart is the enduring anguish of World War Two and the subsequent half-century of Soviet rule. Shadowlands tells this story by foregrounding the experiences of the country’s intellectuals, who were instrumental in sustaining Estonian historical memory, but who until fairly recently could not openly grapple with their nation’s complex, difficult past.

The Muslim Question in Europe
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The Muslim Question in Europe: Political Controversies and Public Philosophies, by Peter O’Brien (Temple University Press, 2016).

An estimated twenty million Muslims now reside in Europe, mostly as a result of large-scale postwar immigration. In The Muslim Question in Europe, Peter O’Brien challenges the popular notion that the hostilities concerning immigration—which continues to provoke debates about citizenship, headscarves, secularism, and terrorism—are a clash between “Islam and the West.” Rather, he explains, the vehement controversies surrounding European Muslims are better understood as persistent, unresolved intra-European tensions.

O’Brien contends that the best way to understand the politics of state accommodation of European Muslims is through the lens of three competing political ideologies: liberalism, nationalism, and postmodernism. These three broadly understood philosophical traditions represent the most influential normative forces in the politics of immigration in Europe today. He concludes that Muslim Europeans do not represent a monolithic anti-Western bloc within Europe. Although they vehemently disagree among themselves, it is along the same basic liberal, nationalist, and postmodern contours as non-Muslim Europeans.

The Specter of Skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment
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The Specter of Skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment, by Anton M. Matytsin (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016).

The ancient Greek philosophy of Pyrrhonian skepticism spread across a wide spectrum of disciplines in the 1600s, casting a shadow over the European learned world. The early modern skeptics expressed doubt concerning the existence of an objective reality independent of human perception. They also questioned long-standing philosophical assumptions and, at times, undermined the foundations of political, moral, and religious authorities. How did eighteenth-century scholars overcome this skeptical crisis of confidence to usher in the so-called Age of Reason?

In The Specter of Skepticism in the Age of Enlightenment, Anton Matytsin describes how skeptical rhetoric forced philosophers to formulate the principles and assumptions that they found to be certain or, at the very least, highly probable. In attempting to answer the deep challenge of philosophical skepticism, these thinkers explicitly articulated the rules for attaining true and certain knowledge and defined the boundaries beyond which human understanding could not venture. Matytsin explains the dialectical outcome of the philosophical disputes between the skeptics and their various opponents in France, the Dutch Republic, Switzerland, and Prussia. He shows that these exchanges transformed skepticism by mitigating its arguments while broadening the learned world’s confidence in the capacities of reason by moderating its aspirations. Ultimately, the debates about the powers and limits of human understanding led to the making of a new conception of rationality that privileged practicable reason overspeculative reason.

Matytsin also complicates common narratives about the Enlightenment by demonstrating that most of the thinkers who defended reason from skeptical critiques were religiously devout. By attempting either to preserve or to reconstruct the foundations of their worldviews and systems of thought, they became important agents of intellectual change and formulated new criteria of doubt and certainty. This complex and engaging book offers a powerful new explanation of how Enlightenment thinkers came to understand the purposes and the boundaries of rational inquiry.

 

Dealing with Dictators
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Dealing with Dictators: The United States, Hungary, and East Central Europe, 1942-1989by László Borhi, translated by Jason Vincz (Indiana University Press, 2016).

Dealing with Dictators explores America’s Cold War efforts to make the dictatorships of Eastern Europe less tyrannical and more responsive to the country’s international interests. During this period, US policies were a mix of economic and psychological warfare, subversion, cultural and economic penetration, and coercive diplomacy. Through careful examination of American and Hungarian sources, László Borhi assesses why some policies toward Hungary achieved their goals while others were not successful. When George H. W. Bush exclaimed to Mikhail Gorbachev on the day the Soviet Union collapsed, “Together we liberated Eastern Europe and unified Germany,” he was hardly doing justice to the complicated history of the era. The story of the process by which the transition from Soviet satellite to independent state occurred in Hungary sheds light on the dynamics of systemic change in international politics at the end of the Cold War.