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Polity has a strong and rapidly expanding list in the field of history. We publish the work of many internationally respected scholars and our list includes translations of works by some of the most distinguished European historians.
Our authors include Georges Duby, Roger Chartier, Norbert Elias, Alain Corbin, Piero Camporesi, Frank Lestringant, Natalie Zemon Davis, Catherine Hall, Robert Darnton, Peter Burke, Anton Blok, Asa Briggs, Mary Fulbrook, David Vincent, Peter Coates, M. L. Bush, Barry Reay, Keith Wrightson, Roy Porter, Serge Gruzinski, Bronisaw Geremek, Martine Segalen, Leonore Davidoff, Christian Meier, and Pierre Vidal-Naquet.
Visit our highlights page for more information on our new and forthcoming general interest titles.
Shlomo Venezia: Inside the Gas Chambers
"This Holocaust survivor's testimony, like all others, will be read with fear and trembling."
J. Donald Hughes: What is Environmental History? 2nd edition
"A masterfully condensed overview of one of the most urgent and rapidly developing fields of history. Written by a scholar of classical antiquity, it gracefully covers ancient, medieval, and modern periods – with a global vision. A state-of-the-art report for any scholar, and a perfect introduction for the student."
Sverker Sörlin, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm
Brenda E. Stevenson: What is Slavery?
"This small book is something of a miracle, telling a story of global importance and ancient lineage in ways both evocative and efficient. No other single volume better explains the origins and evolution of slavery in American history."
Edward L. Ayers, University of Richmond
Pero Gaglo Dagbovie: What is African American History?
"Pero Gaglo Dagbovie brilliantly explores the contours of the diverse spectrum of African American historical approaches to reveal a rich and varied intellectual tradition. An indispensable book for scholars of African American Studies."
Peniel E. Joseph, Tufts University
Jeffrey Weeks: What is Sexual History?
Until the 1970s the history of sexuality was a marginalised and neglected practice, largely ignored by the historical profession. Today it is a flourishing and well-populated field, increasingly integrated into the mainstream. With chapters on a diversity of subjects, this book will be an indispensable guide to its development.
John Nerone: The Media and Public Life: A History
"The Media and Public Life is a masterpiece of media history, a lively, sensible story of memorable moments involving the press, politics, and public."
Kevin Barnhurst, University of Leeds
Richard Whatmore: What is Intellectual History?
"In this timely and useful book, Whatmore provides a lucid and refreshingly personal introduction to both the history of Intellectual History and the ways it is practised today in the English-speaking world."
Ann Thompson, European University Institute
Shane Ewen: What is Urban History?
"Strongly recommended. Truly international in scope, this much-needed introduction to the field offers a balanced survey of the issues that have engaged urban historians over the past century."
Richard Harris, McMaster University
"Anyone who wants to understand the current state of education in Britain should read this beautifully crafted history of the struggles and collisions that have taken us to this place."
Sharon Gewirtz, King’s College London
Karl Schlögel: Moscow, 1937
"An almost impossibly rich masterpiece."
"Exceptionally readable. An extraordinary, thought-provoking masterpiece."
Now available in paperback, this compelling book reconstructs with meticulous care the process through which, month by month, the terrorism of a state-of-emergency regime spiraled into the 'Great Terror' during which 1½ million human beings lost their lives within a single year.
Leslie Stein: Israel Since the Six-Day War
Completing his acclaimed trilogy on the history of Israel, Leslie Stein brings readers right up to contemporary events in Israel since the Six-Day War. Stein chronicles Israel's wars and military engagements, but he also assesses many other issues, including Israel's economic development, and the nature of the PLO and Palestinian Authority.
Joachim Radkau: The Age of Ecology
This book is the first major study of the history of environmentalism, from its origins in romanticism and the nature cults of the late 18th century to the global environmental movements of today. Radkau argues that environmentalism is the true Enlightenment of our time – so much so that we can call our era 'the age of ecology'.
Karl Polanyi: For a New West
In this new collection of unpublished texts – lectures, draft essays and reports written between 1919 and 1958 – Polanyi examines the collapse of the liberal economic order and the demise of democracies in the inter-war years. To understand the profound challenges faced by our democracies today, we need to revisit history and revisit his work.
Peter Burke: The Italian Renaissance 3e
In this brilliant and widely acclaimed work, Peter Burke presents a social and cultural history of the Italian Renaissance. This thoroughly revised and updated, richly illustrated third edition makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Italian Renaissance, and to our comprehension of the complex relations between culture and society.
Roger Chartier: The Author's Hand and the Printer's Mind
In Early Modern Europe the first readers of a book were not those who bought it. They were the scribes who copied the author’s or translator’s manuscript, the censors who licensed it, the copy editor who prepared the text for the press, the typesetters who composed the pages of the book, and the proof reader who corrected them.
Serge Gruzinski: The Eagle & the Dragon
Serge Gruzinski returns to two episodes in the sixteenth century which mark a decisive stage in global history and show how China and Mexico experienced the expansion of Europe. He presents a global history of the sixteenth century, conceived as another way of reading the Renaissance, less Eurocentric and more in tune with our age.
Jerry Toner: Roman Disasters
This book looks at how the Romans coped with, thought about, and used disasters for their own ends. Rome has been famous for its great triumphs. Yet Rome also suffered colossal disasters. From the battle of Cannae, to the destruction of Pompeii, to the first appearance of the bubonic plague, the Romans experienced large scale calamities. This insightful book is the first to treat such disasters as a conceptual unity. It shows that vulnerability to disasters was affected by politics, social status, ideology and economics. Above all, it illustrates how the resilience of their political and cultural system allowed the Romans to survive the impact of these life-threatening events.
Morillo with Pavkovic: What is Military History, 2nd edition
"The second edition of What is Military History? is a fast-paced, authoritative introduction to what is possibly the oldest and still the most popular > form of historical writing. The innovations of the past 50 years that reinvigorated military history and transformed it into one of the strongest sub-fields in the historical discipline are skillfully highlighted. Snooty academics who dismiss military history as a simple narrative concerning battles and generals need to read this book to discover the rich scholarship they have been missing. Serious military historians seeking new arguments to justify their specialty will also benefit from this informative and witty survey."
Gregory J. W. Urwin, Temple University
This clear, readable introduction to the popular field of military history is now available in a refreshed and updated second edition. It shows that military history encompasses not just accounts of campaigns and battles but includes a wide range of perspectives on all aspects of past military organization and activity.
Withington: Society in Early Modern England
"A rigorous and persuasive charting of key concepts and discourses which not only reformulates the significance of the 'early modern' period but also gives that period a new shape."
Keith Wrightson, Yale University
This book traces the coinage of 'early modern' as a category of historical analysis to Victorian debates about the origins of modern society. It then moves back in time to consider when and why words like 'modern' and 'society' were first introduced into English in the 16th and 17th centuries and who it was that used them. In so doing it unpicks the connections between linguistic and social change and how the consequences of those processes still resonate today.
A major contribution to our understanding of European history before 1700, the book will interest anybody concerned with the historical antecedents of contemporary culture and the interconnections between the past and the present.
Burke: What is Cultural History? 2nd Edition
"There is no clearer, more erudite, more humane voice in the field of cultural history than that of Peter Burke. This book is a delight, a tour in the company of a sure and steady guide to the ways men and women in the past have tried to make sense of the world in which they live."
Jay Winter, Yale University
"This book is timely, well-written, and of high quality. It fills a significant gap in the discipline – there are currently no histories of the subject which match this book’s breadth in such a thorough, unbiased way."
Gregory Miller, University of Oklahoma
Terrorism is one of the forces defining our age, but it has also been around since some of the earliest civilizations. This one-of-a-kind study of the history of terrorism - from ancient Assyria to the post-9/11 War on Terror - puts terrorism into broad historical, political, religious and social context. The book leads the reader through the shifting understandings and definitions of terrorism through the ages, and its continuous development of themes allows for a fuller understanding of the uses of and responses to terrorism.
Livi Bacci: Migration
"The appearance of any book by demographic historian Massimo Livi-Bacci is cause for celebration and one on migration especially welcome. Migration, more than most issues, is best understood in the context of long-term patterns. This book, drawing on research in several languages, deftly puts the European experience of both emigration and immigration into long-term historical perspective, distilling six centuries into fewer than 100 pages."
J.R. McNeill, Georgetown University
This short book provides a succinct and masterly overview of the history of migration, from the earliest movements of human beings out of Africa into Asia and Europe to the present day, exploring along the way those factors that contribute to the successes and failures of migratory groups.
Lothar Müller: White Magic: The Age of Paper
"Consistently readable and highly entertaining, this witty and learned book deftly decouples paper's history from the story of printing to tell new and surprising tales about a medium that continues to pervade our daily life. You'll never look at a blank page in quite the same way again."
Catherine Robson, New York University
Adrian Howkins: The Polar Regions: An Environmental History
"Here are compelling portraits of the Arctic and Antarctic, past and present. A talented story-teller, Howkins offers a fast-paced journey to the ends of the Earth."
Ronald E. Doel, Florida State University
Barry Reay, Nina Attwood and Claire Gooder: Sex Addiction: A Short History
"This is an exquisitely researched, persuasive and often funny account of how, over the last thirty years, enjoying sex more publicly or enthusiastically than conservatives might have wished was turned into a phantasmic syndrome – sex addiction – that became real enough to support a small army of therapists and patients."
Thomas Laqueur, University of California, Berkeley
David Vincent: Privacy: A Short History
"From the crowded tenements of the Middle Ages to the eternal panopticon of the Internet, David Vincent deftly examines the social, political and technological determinants of privacy. This is essential reading for all those interested in privacy in all its forms – physical, emotional and spiritual."
Edward Higgs, Essex University
"No one has had a greater collective impact on modern historiography than the historians of the Annales School, and no one has appraised their aims and achievements with more sympathetic insight than Peter Burke."
Stuart Clark, University of Swansea
Pierre Bourdieu and Roger Chartier: The Sociologist and the Historian
In 1988, the renowned sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and the leading historian Roger Chartier met for a series of lively discussions that were broadcast on French public radio. Published here for the first time, these conversations are an accessible and engaging introduction to the work of these two great thinkers.
Marzio Barbagli: Farewell to the World: A History of Suicide
"Barbagli’s study is a brilliant synthesis of the history and sociology of suicide, covering both the West and the East, from ancient martyrs to contemporary suicide bombers."
Jeffrey Watt, University of Mississippi
Christophe Charle: Birth of the Intellectuals: 1880-1900
"Charle's work turns a sharp focus towards the creation of modern intellectuals, and brings out its worldwide cultural significance. This is a very welcome translation of an important book."
Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania
Benoit Peeters: Derrida: A Biography
"A real tour de force…Benoit Peeters has produced a compelling narrative that sheds light on all aspects of Derrida’s remarkable career."
Jonathan Culler, Cornell University
Pierre Bourdieu: On the State
In this major work the great sociologist Pierre Bourdieu addresses the following questions: What is the nature of the modern state? How did it come into being and what are the characteristics of this distinctive field of power that has come to play such a central role in the shaping of all spheres of social, political and economic life?
Antonio Forcellino: Raphael: A Passionate Life
"Beyond simply recounting the biographical journey, Antonio Forcellino also seamlessly incorporates analyses of Raphael’s works in this lively study. Painter, architect, set designer: all facets of Raphael are discussed with the consummate art of the storyteller."
Tout pour les femmes
Carl Schmitt: Dialogues on Power and Space
"These short dialogues, written in the 1950s when Carl Schmitt was no longer center stage, are primers on two essential themes of his thought: the inescapable reality of power that cannot be normatively wished away; and the spatial shift from a terrestrial to a maritime view of the world, which unleashes the total mobilization of technology that shapes global modernity."
William Rasch, Indiana University
Reinhard Mehring: Carl Schmitt: A Biography
"Mehring demonstrates conclusively how Schmitt's struggles with, among other issues, his sexual desire and his obsession with the Jews, generated some of the most important, influential and dangerous political writings of the twentieth century."
John P. McCormick, University of Chicago
"In this brilliant intellectual history of Sartre, Patrick Baert creates a new theory of the public intellectual not in terms of their intentions but through the consequences of their thought. The result is a superb contribution to our understanding of public intellectuals and to the sociology of knowledge."
Bryan S. Turner, The City University of New York
Peter Wagner: Progress: A Reconstruction
"Wagner's critical and original take on ‘progress’ is a very important and timely contribution to contemporary debates on human freedoms and futures."
Dipesh Chakrabarty, The University of Chicago
Anne B. Shlay and Gillad Rosen: Jerusalem: The Spatial Politics of a Divided Metropolis
"This book by two excellent scholars is an excellent introduction for anyone who wants a deep understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what is happening politically on the ground in Jerusalem."
Moshe Amirav, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
This series will provide accessible guides for undergraduate students of history, introducing students to the different eras and types of historical study. The books mark out the territory covered by each sub-discipline (whether chronological or intellectual), setting out how each came to be established as a distinct field of study. They will outline areas of contention and debate, providing students with the tools to discuss the texts that they read and to engage in their own work.
This series is comparative in character and includes books by well-established scholars who are leaders in their field. The books have been written in a way that is suitable for non-specialists, and the series will provide ideal introductory texts, especially for students who are being encouraged to think about historical problems in a conceptual and comparative way.
This major new series is designed to provide an up-to-date and coherent group of textbooks on the history of science. The series consists of period-based volumes which taken as a whole will provide a coherent narrative from ancient times to the present day. Written with students and non-specialist readers in mind, the series takes full account of new directions in the field, while setting the analysis within wider cultural history.
This series makes available to a wide audience the ideas of some of the most influential classic thinkers of our time. The books situate thinkers within their social and historical contexts, showing how their work emerged from a particular setting and addressed some of the concerns of their time. They are written in a clear and concise way, making them suitable for students and for the interested general reader.