Acquisitions

Peter Bowler. Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin. Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 2013. I figured I should put my money where my mouth is and at least buy this, and hopefully even read it. Bowler uses a counterfactual approach in an attempt to elucidate how important Darwin was to the development of Darwinism by taking him out of the picture. What I like about this is that it's not a narrative describing one particular possible alternate timeline, which is the default mode of writing counterfactual histories even when done by academic historians. Instead Bowler is deliberate and analytical all the way along, weighing the (real) evidence and explaining his conclusions. If counterfactual history has any value beyond simply pointing out that things might have been different, it's in something like this approach.

Siân Nicholas and Tom O'Malley, eds. Moral Panics, Social Fears, and the Media: Historical Perspectives. New York and London: Routledge, 2013. Lots of good stuff about such things as Edwardian wireless, the enemy within, A Clockwork Orange, and fear in East German television, plus several more reflective/theoretical essays. Turns out that I follow two of the contributors on Twitter (@DavidjHendy and @JohnCarterWood), which is probably not a coincidence. If you're a writer, you really should be on Twitter.

S. C. M. Paine. The Wars for Asia, 1911-1949. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Argues that the Sino-Japanese War, the Second World War, and the Chinese Civil War need to be understood together, as a long cascade of conflicts. It's certainly novel to see all these wars being given approximately equal space, when two of them are glossed over in most of the histories I tend to read and the third is somewhat dominant. The focus is much more political and strategic than operational, and Paine focuses on the prewar decades in China and Japan (and the Soviet Union) as much as on the actual wars themselves.

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5 thoughts on “Acquisitions

  1. Re: ‘Darwin Deleted’ – First mental image was a treatise looking at the import of the 1942 air-raids (well, we are on Airminded!) followed by a Canberra-centric decision to administer the Northern Territory directly…

    I should perhaps add that I’ve never visited Darwin, but I have been to Darwin’s house, so my worldview may be skewed, but not by location!

    “If you’re a writer, you really should be on Twitter.” Huh? What?

  2. Post author

    “If you’re a writer, you really should be on Twitter.” Huh? What?

    Well, perhaps I should have said ‘If you’re a writer and you would like more people to read what you write…’ There is evidence to suggest that for academics, discussing and sharing links to your articles can dramatically increase downloads. The same is presumably true for other writers (though obviously the effect will be smaller when the content is paywalled). On Twitter, links get shared rapidly and promiscuously among communities of interest, in a way that doesn’t happen on other forms of social media such as blogging, forums, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This is because the short format is idea for quickly posting a link and perhaps a brief comment or two, without feeling the need for an exegesis; but perhaps more importantly because of the ease of retweeting and the different nature of the network effect compared with the others. Twitter has its limitations too, of course (and nobody should join up after reading this comment and expect miracles). But it’s an extremely effective way of publicising your work without actually publicising it, i.e. by being yourself and socialising rather than selling.

  3. Well, I did.

    And I’ve won free stuff, too. (Thanks Classic Air Force – @ClassicAirForce)

    So there!

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