peaky-blinders-online

The Grimy, British Forest Gump: BBC’s Peaky Blinders

Chalk another one up to my brother. It’s a rare event that he’s the one to recommend a period piece to me, but when he does, I make sure to watch. I’d heard about Peaky Blinders for a while, but had just never got around to it. That changed this summer, and now that the most recent (fifth) season has aired on Netflix, what better time is there to review this riveting, historically-saturated series?... Read More
An Indigenous Peoples History of the United States

Meaningfully Discomforting: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne. An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. Audiobook. Tantor Media, 2014. Last summer, Supreme Court-watchers, indigenous rights activists, and other interested parties were shocked to learn that the United States Supreme Court re-ordered an oral hearing session in the pending landmark Carpenter v. Murphy (now Sharp v. Murphy) case. The implications of […]... Read More
These Truths

Comprehensive Yet Digestible: Jill Lepore’s These Truths

Lepore, Jill. These Truths: A History of the United States. Audiobook. Recorded Books, 2018.  I must confess that I did not actually “read” These Truths, or at least not in the conventional sense. Instead, I opted to listen to the audiobook version, read by the distinguished Jill Lepore herself. And so it was that I […]... Read More
THE BORGIAS (Season3)

Bushels of Borgias: Christopher Hibbert’s The Borgias and their Enemies and Showtime’s The Borgias

As any history lover is wont to do, I recently combed through Netflix and added every period piece that I could find to my watch list. I decided to begin, well, at the beginning, or at least with the earliest on my new list. Thus I came to Showtime’s 2011 series The Borgias, starring Jeremy Irons as Rodrigo Borgia, the Renaissance Pope Alexander VI and patriarch of a famously corrupt Spanish noble family. The show itself was highly entertaining, full of intrigue, backbiting, and monologues that have become the hallmarks of prestige television. As always, Jeremy Irons is magnetic, and even though the Renaissance has never been my specialty, his performance sustained me through events that otherwise might not have kept my interest. As I prepared to review The Borgias, however, I realized that I lacked any foundation for such an historical review. I thus dutifully hunted down a history of the family, and so we come to this tandem review.... Read More
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A Terrible Beauty: Patrick Radden Keefe’s Say Nothing

When I think of the Troubles, I remember the summer I spent abroad in Ireland. I think about visiting Belfast, where we went forth from the world-class Titanic Museum to explore streets filled with murals, flags, and “peace walls” still dividing Catholics and Protestants. I think of the walking tour we took in Derry, the […]... Read More
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Give Me More! Max Adams’ The Viking Wars

From first cracking open In the Land of Giants (hopefully coming soon to a Concerning History book club near you), I have been enthralled with what I’ve come to call Max Adams’ Dark Ages Trilogy. Now at last I’ve come to what, for many, is the main event: the cataclysmic clash of cultures—Roman Christian Anglo-Saxon, Irish Christian Celtic and Brythonic, and Pagan Scandinavian—that define the ninth and tenth centuries and the British Isles themselves to this day. Eagerly anticipating Adams’ historical treatment of such oft-tread ground, I dove right in. While I was mostly satisfied by the end, however, as with most endings, I was left wanting just a little bit more.... Read More
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American Horror Story: AMC’s The Terror: Infamy

Last spring, Heather and I enjoyed AMC’s somewhat nontraditional historical horror/thriller The Terror (reviewed here on Concerning History). Its story of a British expedition trapped north of the Arctic Circle, struggling to survive the elements even while stalked by a malevolent spirit, was gripping and, well, weird. We were excited to hear that it had been renewed for a second season, though of course this new batch of episodes would need to cover a different story. On board for an anthology series of different period piece horror stories, Heather and I eagerly tuned in.... Read More
Barracoon

A Poignant and Personal Story of Slavery and Its Aftermath: Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon

Hurston, Zora Neale. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo.” New York: Amistad, 2018. Nearly a century ago, a young, not-yet-famous Zora Neale Hurston traveled to the small community of Africatown (now Plateau) just north of Mobile, Alabama, where she would interview a local man named Cudjo Lewis. Lewis had been born Olaule Kossola […]... Read More
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Well, Yeah: Jeffrey A. Auerbach‘s Imperial Boredom

British Empire? Check. My alma mater’s world renowned university press? Check. As soon as I unwrapped Imperial Boredom over Christmas 2018, I was psyched. Here was an aspect of empire seldom talked about: what did it feel like to experience the British Empire on the ground? To settle it, to govern it, to sail or soldier for it? Unexciting, apparently, judging from the title. Of all the books Heather gave me that Christmas, I saved it for last as my grand finale. It was certainly nice to return to familiar material, though in keeping with its subject matter, it perhaps wasn’t as grand a finale as I had originally hoped.... Read More
Astoria

Riveting and Insightful: Peter Stark’s Astoria

Stark, Peter. Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire. New York: HarperCollins, 2014.   As someone who is mostly interested in “Civil War to Civil Rights” history, my interest (and by extension knowledge) usually stops east of the Mississippi and almost always east of the Rockies. Since moving to Oregon last year, […]... Read More