Sunday, September 29, 2013

A few recent publications

Last week, I received a pre-press proof of an essay I wrote a couple of years ago. It has had a relatively long gestation process as a result of what sounds like some challenging financial issues faced by the editor, which appear now to have been solved. In any case, the surprise was a pleasant one, and I'm happy that the not insignificant amount of work I invested in it will at least result in a publication (which will not only be the first publication related to my new research project but also my first German-language entry on my publication list).

It then occurred to me that, since a few other things of mine have recently seen the light of day, I might note them briefly here, in case you're interested in this sort of thing.

1. First, I contributed a chapter to the new collection Moral Panics, Social Fears and the Media: Historical Perspectives, edited by Sian Nicholas and Tom O'Malley (Routledge, 2013).

The chapter is titled 'Watching the Detectives (and the Constables): Fearing the Police in 1920s Britain', and it is one of the last of a series of publications to emerge out of a research project I was involved in a few years ago that focused on a series of British policing scandals in the late 1920s and how they were discussed in the press . (I first stumbled upon these scandals in the context of my research on the Pace murder trial, which became my second book, The Most Remarkable Woman in England.)

A final draft version of the chapter is available for reading or download at my pages at or ResearchGate, and here is  a brief excerpt:

There were specific worries about the reliability of police evidence, the rough handling of demonstrators, the over-zealous policing of ‘indecency’ and the possible use of intimidation during questioning. The press gave significant attention to allegations of wrongful arrest and poor treatment, especially when they involved socially prominent or even simply ‘respectable’ people.

An Evening Standard cartoon inspired by the police scandals.
Anxieties peaked in 1928 with two sensational scandals, the Pace and Savidge cases, described in more detail below. These events were given exhaustive press coverage and provoked commentary regarding an apparent crisis in police-public relations. A 1928 Daily Mirror editorial observed, ‘the impression has long been prevalent that, once a man or a woman falls foul of the police, there is no possibility of struggling out of the net that evidently catches the innocent as well as the guilty’.

An essay by A. P. Herbert entitled ‘Stopping People from Doing Things’ [Sunday Express, 27 May 1928, 2] captures the tone of such criticism well, seeing police misconduct as a symptom of wider problems: ‘The habit of the governing mind at the present day is one of continual interference in things that do not matter to the neglect, very often, of the things that do, a habit of meticulous insistence on petty rules and prohibitions; and, naturally, the police have caught the fever from their masters’. Herbert argued:

‘The petty tyrannies of policemen are only the natural and logical consequences of the large policy of social tyranny for which our rulers are responsible. We fondly thought that we fought the Great War for Liberty, but conquered Berlin is a free city, and London is as free as a kindergarten school.’

2. Secondly, the contribution I wrote to a collection on the reception of the ideas of Oswald Spengler (he of Decline of the West fame) that I had previewed earlier this year came out a couple of months ago. The collection, Oswald Spengler als europäisches Phänomen: Der Transfer der Kultur- und Geschichtsmorphologie im Europa der Zwischenkriegszeit 1919-1939 was ably edited by Zaur Gasimov and Carl Antonius Lemke Duque, and it considers Spengler reception in several countries. I was responsible for Britain, and in '"German foolishness" and the "Prophet of Doom": Oswald Spengler and the Inter-war British Press' (one of three English-language contributions to the collection), I focus, as the title suggests, on how Spengler's ideas were discussed in a range of major newspapers and magazines.

A brief excerpt: 

Oswald Spengler, looking jaunty as usual.
Although Spengler's work was highly controversial in his homeland, British commentators tended to depict it representing something typically German. On this basis, in a radio broadcast titled »Spengler–A Philosopher of World History« (reprinted in the Listener in 1929), popular philosopher C.E.M. Joad sought to explain national differences related to Spengler's reception: »The Germans have an appetite for ideas which rivals, if it does not exceed, the English appetite for emotions«*. Referring to then-popular authors of romance novels and histories, he observed: »While the Englishman is enjoying a feast of passion at the luscious boards of Miss Dell or Miss Hull, the German refreshes himself with draughts of pure thought from the fountain-head of some abstruse philosopher«**. Spengler's sentences, he continued, »seem to be the necessary accompaniments of German philosophy in the grand manner: Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, all wrote them and worse; they sound the authentic German note«. [166-67]
* Listener, 27 February 1929, p. 250.
** »Spengler, the most abstruse German now writing, is also the most popular. He belongs, it is clear, to the grand tradition of German philosophy«. Ibid. Ethel M. Dell was a romance novelist and Eleanor Hull wrote Irish history. See also: »[F]or whereas the success of the Anglo-Saxon best-seller depends upon a facile acceptance of emotions, the Teutonic best-seller demands of the reader an equally facile acceptance of ideas«. New Statesman, 3 July 1926, p. 332.  

3. Finally, a couple of my reviews have also come out this year.

  • One at the open-access journal Law, Crime and History on Shame, Blame and Culpability: Crime and Violence in the Modern State, edited by Judith Rowbotham, Marianna Muravyeva and David Nash. (Issue here, direct link to review [pdf] here.)
  • Another at Reviews in History on Haia Shpayer-Makov's excellent new police history: The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England. (Link to review.)

I have, incidentally, uploaded most of the reviews I've written over the last ten years or so to both and ResearchGate.

Happy reading!

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