My favourite history books 2013: Ashley Jackson
In a special supplement in our October issue, leading historians pick their favourite history book of the year so far, their all-time favourite and the title that they're most looking forward to in the coming months
Among my favourite reads in the past year has been Chris Prior’s Exporting Empire: Africa, Colonial Officials and the Construction of the British Imperial State, c.1900−39 and Giordano Nanni The Colonization of Time: Ritual, Routine, and Resistance in the British Empire (both Manchester University Press). Pursuing an interest in the history of the wartime British Empire, I have also enjoyed Judith Bennett’s Natives and Exotics: World War II and Environment in the Southern Pacific (University of Hawaii Press).
Favourite history book of all time
As regards all-time favourites, unforgettable milestones from student days include Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic, Ronald Robinson and Jack Gallagher’s Africa and the Victorians, and Jan Morris’s Pax Britannica trilogy. As a student of imperial and military history, George Macdonald Fraser’s rollicking Flashman novels stand out (as does his memoir of the Burma war, Quartered Safe Out Here).
In terms of forthcoming titles, I am keen to get my mitts on Judith Byfield and Timothy Parsons’ (et al) edited collection Recentering Africa in the History of World War Two (Cambridge University Press). I am curious to see whether Lawrence James’s Churchill and Empire can measure up to Richard Toye’s Churchill’s Empire, which beat it into the field by several years (though one might not believe it given the publicity surrounding the publication of the more recent title!).
Ashley Jackson is the author of Buildings of Empire, set to be published in November by Oxford University Press