Tales from the past

Stephen Davies tackles one of the biggest of big questions: How did the world we live in — the modern world — so radically and rapidly diverge from the world of our pre-modern ancestors? A review of The Great Cities in History. A look at how lice thwarted Napoleon's invasion of Russia. What historians don't study says volumes; a case in point is widespread acceptance of the thesis that slaves did not rebel during the Civil War. Tall tales from the past: Meet the "JK Rowling of history textbooks". A soap dish that changed history: Lars Brownworth on the enduring yet seldom-appreciated significance of a seventh-century emperor's bath. The first chapter from Hysteria Complicated by Ecstasy: The Case of Nanette Leroux by Jan Goldstein. A review of Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath by Carlo Ginzburg. The writing life: Gordon Wood on defending the academicians. Mysteries of the ancient world: Smithsonian reports on Stonehenge, Alexandria, Hatshepsut, the Parthenon, the Vikings, ancient Ithaca, and Easter Island. Historians despair at the thought of finding anything new about the second world war. Us and them: Human history, perhaps, was shaped mostly by walls. The first chapter from Secular Cycles by Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov. A review of Blood, Iron and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World by Christian Wolmar. A review of Paul Johnson's Churchill (and more and more and more). A lost European culture, pulled from obscurity: A little-known people existing before ancient Egypt and Greece’s glory worked with metal and had an evolved visual language (and more and more). A look at the 7 most badass last stands in the history of battle.