John Brewer teaches in the Humanities and Social Sciences ­Division at the California Institute of Technology. He is currently working on a book on Vesuvius in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
 (November 2016)


Ben Franklin: Caught Between Worlds

Benjamin Franklin; painting by Jean-Baptiste Greuze, late eighteenth century

Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire

by Carla J. Mulford

Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father

by George Goodwin
There could hardly be two more different treatments of Ben Franklin than the studies by Carla Mulford and George Goodwin.1 Mulford’s Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire is the fruit of a lifetime’s study of the statesman and polymath, a polemically engaged and bold attempt to lend coherence …

Were Top American Leaders…Royalists?

An 1829 engraving of the Sons of Liberty pulling down a statue of King George III at the Bowling Green, New York, in July 1776

The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding

by Eric Nelson
The powers of the executive branch are under fierce scrutiny. President Obama’s use of an executive order to modify the enforcement of immigration laws has been opposed by twenty-four states challenging the legality of his actions, federal judge Arthur Schwab has unilaterally issued a judgment striking down the executive order, …

England: The Big Change

A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People? England 1783–1846

by Boyd Hilton
Boyd Hilton’s archly titled A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People? covers English history from the loss of the first British Empire in 1783 to the dramatic repeal of the Corn Laws that until 1846 had protected the landed classes from the chilly blast of free competition in the international grain …

Selling the American Way

Irresistible Empire: America's Advance Through Twentieth-Century Europe

by Victoria de Grazia
At first sight it is a little hard to know why the astonishing economic recovery of Europe after World War II should have provoked so much controversy. Yet from the 1950s onward, few questions have been more vigorously discussed than that of how and with what consequences Western European nations …

City Lights

Building Jerusalem:The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City

by Tristram Hunt
Tristram Hunt’s Building Jerusalem is an erudite and elegant account of the rise and fall of the Victorian city, and an eloquent plea for the return of the pride and civic consciousness that he sees as the great achievement of those who shaped urban life in nineteenth-century Britain. Its focus, …

The Irish Indian Chief

White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America

by Fintan O'Toole
When Sir William Johnson died in July 1774, he was one of the richest and most powerful men in colonial America. He bequeathed large sums of money to his numerous children (including eight by his Native American spouse, Degonwadonti, known as Molly Brant) and an astonishing 170,000 acres of land …

The Return of the Imperial Hero

Trafalgar: The Men, the Battle, the Storm

by Tim Clayton and Phil Craig

Nelson: The New Letters

edited by Colin White
The French Revolution of 1789 not only overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, and plunged the nation into a sanguinary civil war, but it also inaugurated more than twenty years of European warfare. The monarchies of Europe, notably Prussia and Austria, were appalled by the radicalism and atheism of the …

The First Thatcherite?

William Pitt the Younger

by William Hague
A prominent English conservative politician, Ann Widdecombe, has described William Hague’s biography of William Pitt the Younger as a book “about a witty, youthful and ambitious politician by a witty, youthful and ambitious politician.” Her link between William Hague, who in June 1997 was elected the youngest leader of the …