We are taking a break over the summer and will be back in February 2018. Here’s a roundup of the top ten posts of 2017 and some summer reading ideas!
Firstly, we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making the AHA ECR community bigger and brighter this year, whether through writing for the blog, sharing posts, or commenting on Facebook and Twitter.
We would especially like to thank everyone who has contributed such incredible pieces to the blog and shared the trials and triumphs of ECR life with all of us. The runaway successes on the blog were the posts from you, ECRs, in the Emerging Historians Series but a few other pieces made it to the top ten as well. Here’s a roundup of the most read pieces of 2017:
1. Emerging Historians – Andre Brett
2. Emerging Historians – Pete Minard
3. How To… Write a Book Proposal – Phillipa McGuinness
4. Emerging Historians – Andonis Piperoglou
5. Emerging Historians – Ana Stevenson
6. Q&A with Stuart Macintyre
7. The Book That Changed My Life – Hannah Forsyth
8. How To… Do a Radio Interview – Michael Cathcart
9. Q&A with Richard Bosworth
10. Life Changing Articles – Zora Simic
Summer Reading Suggestions
We have asked our contributors to tell us about their summer reading lists, and we will be sharing some of these over the next few days on Facebook and Twitter. They have responded with an overwhelmingly rich and diverse list of books to get lost in over the summer. We would love to hear what you’re reading this summer too!
Here’s the first suggestion from Zora Simic to kick things off: ‘I look forward to reading Joan Wallach Scott’s Sex and Secularism over summer because despite announcing in my blog post that I prefer history articles to history books, I make exceptions for Joan Scott. Plus she kindly sent it to me because of this very blog. When I’m done, or in parallel, I’ll read Tina Brown’s Vanity Fair Diaries and the first volume of Jimmy Barnes’ memoirs.’
Our very own AHA President, Lynette Russell, has several recommendations all of which she has read (or re-read) in the last few months: Elizabeth Tynan’s Atomic Thunder, Nicholas Rothwell’s Quicksilver, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking (which notes is always worth revisiting!), Georgia Blain’s Births, Deaths, Marriages, Kate Summerscale’s The Wicked Boy and Sarah Kranostein’s The Trauma Cleaner.
Clare Wright has already written about her favourite reads of 2017 which you can find here. She also recommends Bernadette Brennan’s Helen Garner – A Writing Life, Sarah Sentilles’s Draw Your Weapons and Anne Patchett’s Commonwealth.
If you want books that probe and test the boundaries of history to read over summer, Anna Clark recommends Tom Griffiths’ The Art of Time Travel, Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful, and Eve Vincent’s Against Native Title.
Martin Crotty likes to get away from academia over the summer and indulge his other passions like pop history or political biography. The memoirs of Dame Enid Lyons are on his desk, though he says his reading is probably going to consist of Cricinfo scorecards. As he points out it’s always nice to give History and academia a break over the holidays too!
Or course not everyone can leave history behind over the summer, especially hard-working curators like Karen Schamberger! She will be reading work related books on storytelling and museums, such as Sujatha Fernandes’s Curated Stories: The Uses and Misuses of Storytelling, which she says is ‘an analysis of storytelling in the context of a shift towards neoliberal, free-market economies’, and Susan Cahan’s Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power which explores African Americans and New York Art Museums during the Civil Rights period. Also on her reading list are environmental and Aboriginal histories of the south-east corner of Australia: Jane Lydon’s Eye Contact, Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, Claire Miller’s Snowy River story: the grassroots campaign to save an icon, and Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth.
Trevor Burnard (whose Q&A for the blog is coming out in February 2018!) prefers reading history and historians to novels for his summer reading and has given us a wonderful list which he has enjoyed over the past year. These include:
- Jonathan Sumption’s The 100 Years’ War: Vol IV – ‘Britain’s leading judge who used his massive earnings as a top QC to self-fund sabbaticals in France to write on the 100 Years’ War. The best kind of traditional history. Vol IV, about Charles the Mad and England’s greatest monarch Henry V (how would history have been different if he had not died in 1422, just as was about to take over France?). Brilliant book and the main character, Joan of Arc, doesn’t come into play until his next and final volume.’
- Alan Taylor’s American Revolutions. ‘The best synthesis of this event by a double Pulitzer prize winner.’
- Laurent Dubois’ The Banjo. ‘How this instrument connects America, Europe and Africa. Cultural history as it should be written.’
- Jane Kamensky’s A Revolution in Color. ‘Wonderful book about John Copley and the art of the American Revolution. And funny!’
- Sara Maza’s Thinking about History. ‘Short, pungent, terrific. The Carr/Elton for our times.’
- Julian Hoppit’s Britain’s Political Economy. ‘Not a light read but a masterful account of politics and economics by a historian whom other historians think a model historian’.
- Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Aroha Harris’s Tangata Whenua. ‘How indigenous history and settler/colonial relations should be written. Harris’s work is good but the first two sections by Anderson and Binney are enthralling’.
- Giorgio Riello Cotton: The Fabric that Made the World. ‘It doesn’t get the coverage of Sven Beckert’s flawed book on cotton but this is the real deal in how you write global history. And loads of pretty pictures. Read alongside Robert Duplessis’s The Material Atlantic’.
- Richard Dunn’s A Tale of Two Plantations. 40 years in the history so a tribute to forms of social history now seldom practised and a profound meditation on the historian’s craft
Martin Crotty likes to get away from academia and history over the summer and indulge his other passions like pop history or political biography. The memoirs of Dame Enid Lyons are on his desk, though he says his reading is probably going to be confined to Cricinfo scorecards. As he points out, it’s nice to give history and academia a break over the holidays too!
Or course not everyone can leave history behind over the summer, especially hard-working curators like Karen Schamberger! She will be reading work related books on storytelling and museums (which all sound fascinating), such as Sujatha Fernandes’s Curated Stories: The Uses and Misuses of Storytelling, which she says is ‘an analysis of storytelling in the context of a shift towards neoliberal, free-market economies’, and Susan Cahan’s Mounting Frustration: The Art Museum in the Age of Black Power which explores African Americans and New York Art Museums during the Civil Rights period. Also on her reading list are environmental and Aboriginal histories of the south-east corner of Australia: Jane Lydon’s Eye Contact, Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu, Claire Miller’s Snowy River story: the grassroots campaign to save an icon, and Bill Gammage’s The Biggest Estate on Earth.
Our fellow ECRs have several fantastic reading recommendations for the summer too. André Brett (author of the number one AHA ECR blog post of 2017!) has not only recommended some fascinating books but also provided a wonderful and detailed commentary on them – we are certainly convinced!
- Simon Bradley, The Railways: Nation, Network, and People(London: Profile Books, 2015)
‘I am thoroughly enjoying this account of Britain’s railway history, which deserves all the praise it has received in the two years since its release. It shows how railways have affected daily life profoundly since their inception, linking broader economic and technological processes to the personal experiences of riding the rails. In many ways it is inspirational for what I am researching on Australasia.’
- Ben Schrader, The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities 1840–1920 (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2016)
‘I bought this on its release and have been meaning to read it ever since. New Zealand’s history and national mythmaking place an emphasis on the country, on the independent Pākehā “man alone” working for himself in the backblocks, so we know surprisingly little about the cities. Schrader received the W.H. Oliver Award for this book at the New Zealand Historical Association’s conference on 30 November, so that ought to be the prompt I need to actually sit down with it!’
- Robert Caro, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York(New York: Knopf, 1974)
‘I thought it about time that I got around to this classic – especially as its elucidation of how political patronage shapes and corrupts public works policy is of great relevance to my interests. I would have finished it already if its intimidating size did not make it so difficult to read in bed comfortably. Caro’s distinctive writing style should stimulate any historian with any sense for lively, engaging writing into renewed creativity.’
- W.P. Morrell, The Provincial System in New Zealand, 1852–76, rev. ed.(Christchurch: Whitcomb and Tombs, 1964)
‘It’s hard for me to go more than a couple of months without flicking through this, so at some point this summer I know I’ll open it again and re-read one chapter or another. I do not agree with all of Morrell’s conclusions or his choices of which aspects of the provincial system to discuss in detail – as I surely make clear in my own book on the subject. But as he is one of the rare historians to take the provincial system seriously, I find this book a great inspiration, and also an opportunity to compare my own conclusions on provincial topics to his. (D.G. Herron is my other great inspiration for provincial history, but he died tragically before publishing a book. Any New Zealand historian owes it to themselves to read his PhD thesis and articles.)
On Ana Stevenson’s list are: Oodgeroo (University of Queensland Press, 1994), by Kathie Cochrane (which she found at the Newcastle second-hand bookshop after AHA 2017!); Anne Heffernan and Noor Nieftagodien’s Students Must Rise: Youth Struggle in South Africa Before and Beyond Soweto ’76, which brings historical context to South Africa’s #FeesMustFall movement; The Black Sash: Women for Justice and Peace, which is about the women’s anti-apartheid resistance organisation, The Black Sash, by one of its presidents.
On Claire Wright’s list are: Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, as she says it’s not recent, but it has attracted a huge amount of hype; Regina Lee Blaszczyk’s Fashionability: Abraham Moon and the Creation of British Cloth for the Global Market (this is because she loves a good history of commodity trades); Jim Tomlinson’s Managing the Economy, Managing the People: Narratives of Economic Life in Britain from Beveridge to Brexit – tl; dr [too long; didn’t read]. Everything is a lie.
The summer months can be a rewarding but also challenging time of year for ECRs, especially those of us with sessional positions. So, whether you’re spending your time writing job applications, grants, articles, book proposals, books, doing some research or spending time with family and friends, we wish you a happy summer!