Reading My Way Through Roman Britain, Part 3

September 15, 2015

British journalist Charlotte Higgins (It’s All Greek To Me) was always fascinated by the classical world, but that fascination didn’t extend to Roman Britain. She thought of Britain as an unglamorous outpost on the edge of the Roman Empire–an opinion shared by most Romans of the time-. A visit to Hadrian’s Wall changed her mind. […]

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Reading My Way Through Roman Britain, Part 2

September 11, 2015

Guy de la Bédoyère’s The Real Lives Of Roman Britain: A History of Roman Britain Through The Lives of Those Who Were There is not a narrative history of Roman Britain. (De la Bédoyère has already written several versions of that narrative.) It is instead an attempt to look at the 360 years of Roman […]

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Independence Lost:

August 28, 2015

Those of you who’ve been hanging out in the Margins for a while now know there are some types of history books that can be counted on to make me say “I want to read this”: Books that tell a story we think we know from a radically different persepctive Books that deal with people […]

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“Closing” Japan

April 28, 2015

In 1853 , Commodore Matthew Perry and his squadron of four “black ships of evil mien” opened Japanese ports to trade with the United States, a literal example of “gunboat diplomacy”. * Most historically literate Americans are aware of Perry’s expedition in broad terms, even if they don’t know any of the details. Western accounts […]

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From the Archives: Prince Henry the So-called Navigator

March 6, 2015

I currently have my head down trying to finish a big project that I’m excited about. Instead of driving myself crazy trying to write blog posts at the same time or, worse, “going dark” I’ll be running some of my favorite posts from the past for the next little while. Enjoy. And I’ll see you […]

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The End of French Algeria

February 21, 2015

The Algerian Revolution, which lasted from 1954 to 1962, was one of the bloodiest of the anti-colonial wars that broke out in Asia and Africa after the end of World War II. * Algerian resistance against colonial rule in Algeria was nothing new. Abd al-Qadir fought against French expansion in North Africa for fifteen years […]

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Abandoning the Algerian Model

February 8, 2015

Tunisia and Morocco came under French control much later than Algeria, in 1883 and 1912 respectively, as part of the great “scramble for Africa” at the end of the nineteenth century.* From the French perspective, the imperial experience in Tunisia and Morocco was very different than that in Algeria.** In both states, French investors became […]

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Rabindranath Tagore: Poet, Nobel Laureate, Indian Nationalist

January 30, 2015

Few people in the modern world attain the degree of celebrity that allows them to be known by a single name: Napoleon, Gandhi, Madonna. Even those who reach single-name celebrity in their own country may be largely unknown to the rest of the world. Take the example of Bengali poet, novelist and composer Rabindranath Tagore […]

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By Sword and Plow: French Settlement in Algeria

January 27, 2015

The conquest of Algeria in 1830 was the beginning of France’s second period of imperial expansion. * Like many colonial wars, the conquest became a sinkhole, eating armed forces and resources that many believed could better be used back home in France, which was in political turmoil following the July Revolution. (You could argue that […]

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Abd al-Qadir Fights Back

January 20, 2015

  If the French hadn’t invaded Algeria in 1830, Algerian emir Abd al-Qadir would probably have been content to follow his grandfather and father as the spiritual leader of the Qadiriyah Sufi order. In the fall of 1832, when the French began to expand their control into the Algerian interior, the Arab tribes of Oran […]

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