Linda Colley is Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton. Her latest book is Acts of Union and Disunion: What Has Held the UK Together—and What Is Dividing It? 
. (June 2017)


What Gets Called ‘Civil War’?

Benjamin West: Death on the Pale Horse, 1817

Civil Wars: A History in Ideas

by David Armitage
Cicero, an opponent of Caesar, is the earliest-known writer to have used the term “civil war.” He also employed it in a speech that he delivered at the Forum in 66 BCE, close to the spot where his severed head and hands would be put on display twenty-three years later, as punishment for his activism and his words. In the following century, the youthful poet Lucan completed a ten-book masterwork, De Bello Civile, on how, under Caesar, “Rome’s high race plunged in her [own] vitals her victorious sword.” Lucan dedicated his saga to Nero, the emperor who later forced him to commit suicide. Their writings and the gory fate of these men helped to foster and perpetuate the idea that civil warfare was a particularly nasty variant of organized human violence.

Facing Napoleon’s Own EU

Philip James de Loutherbourg: The Battle of the Nile, 1800

In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793–1815

by Jenny Uglow
Throughout 1940, Virginia Woolf struggled with the terrors and mysteries of war. Neither of the Woolfs knew that their names were on the “black list” of Britons set to be arrested—and presumably killed—in the event of a successful Nazi invasion, but since Leonard was Jewish, the couple prepared for the …

A Tale of Two Empires

Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America, 1492–1830

by J.H. Elliott
The polymath and politician Francis Bacon wrote his “Short View to Be Taken of Great Britain and Spain” in 1619. At this point, Spain laid claim to the largest, most widely dispersed, and by far the richest empire in the world, but Bacon detected frailties in the giant. Philip III, …

The Sea Around Us

Atlantic History: Concept and Contours

by Bernard Bailyn

The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640–1661

by Carla Gardina Pestana
Human beings, wrote the ancient Greek geographer Strabo, “are in a certain sense amphibious, not exclusively connected with the land, but with the sea as well.” Yet works of history are usually landlocked. Most historians write about particular states, nations, continents, or empires, and if they glance at maritime matters …

Tough Guys

From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity

by Leo Braudy
“As for the war,” Hector tells Andromache in the Iliad, “That is for men.” In the past, almost all societies have accepted this proposition unquestioningly and in two different senses. Since men do not get pregnant, are generally taller and stronger, and possess larger lungs and hearts, war has traditionally …