J.H. Plumb (1911–2001) was a British historian. He taught at Cambridge and Columbia. Plumb was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1968 and was knighted in 1982. His works include England in the Eighteenth Century, The Making of a Historian,and The American Experience.


Franklin’s Mint

A Little Revenge: Benjamin Franklin and His Son

by Willard Sterne Randall
Benjamin Franklin has not attracted as many biographers as one might expect. His professional life was so complicated that would-be biographers shy away. At various times in his life he was a printer, a scientist, a journalist, a diplomat, a politician, an entrepreneur, and some would have us believe a …

Spreading the News

Slavery and Human Progress

by David Brion Davis
Since World War II professional history in America has become more sophisticated and analytical, more European, than ever before. The great historians of the Thirties and Forties, Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager, Allan Nevins, Garrett Mattingly, and the young Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., were largely cast in the traditional nineteenth-century …

Very Heaven

The Montgolfier Brothers and the Invention of Aviation, 1783-1784

by Charles Coulston Gillispie
One day last summer, the Place de la Concorde was a riot of color as a cloud of hot-air balloons rose majestically and blew eastward across Paris to mark the bicentenary of the achievement of the Montgolfier brothers: the first men to construct a hot-air balloon, in whose invention the …

Underqualified for the Job

The Image of the King: Charles I and Charles II

by Richard Ollard
In the flurry created by Antonia Fraser’s King Charles II Richard Ollard’s book is likely, undeservedly, to be overlooked. Also it is an odd book—a long essay, attached to a simple narrative structure, or rather chronology, since there is no story in a strict sense of the word. Salient facts …

Un-Kinglike King

Royal Charles: Charles II and the Restoration

by Antonia Fraser
Even by comparison with the rest of an unstable world, England was a wild, radical country in the seventeenth century. Usually kings or regents or ministers were despatched by assassins or thrown out of windows but never brought to trial. England, however, tried a captive queen in privacy and then …

Easy Living

Life in the English Country House: A Social and Architectural History

by Mark Girouard
Ambition in authors should always be applauded even though ambition in books, as in life, is rarely achieved. Mark Girouard calls his book, quite modestly, Life in the English Country House, but the title conceals more than it reveals of what he has attempted to do. Professor Girouard is concerned …

The Rise of Love

The Family, Sex and Marriage in England: 1500-1800

by Lawrence Stone
Professor Stone may be the boldest historian alive. Certainly he seems almost recklessly brave by the timid standards of the profession. He can write large books or short ones, but he cannot write a book about a trivial theme. His first large book, The Crisis of the Aristocracy, 1558-1641, analyzed …