1. Book you have referred to most

Laura Beers:  Ross McKibbin, Classes and Cultures: England 1918-1951 (1998)

The political historian’s cultural history.

Matthew Francis: Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory: A Conceptual Approach (1996)

My copy is falling apart from overuse. Aside from the fact that his work provided the theoretical underpinnings of my thesis, Freeden also seems to have an almost endless knowledge of political thought and political thinkers.

David Gange: Alex Owen, The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern (2004)

I love this book – in treating some extremely eccentric occultists it conjures the richest treatment of 1890s culture I know of. A brilliant example of how the apparently marginal can address the big themes of a period.

Vanessa Heggie:  Christopher Lawrence, Medicine in the Making of Modern Britain (1994)

Often used on my syllabus, so regularly referred to. For research-only, it’s probably a toss-up between the PhD’s most used book, which is Richard Soloway, Demography and Degeneration: Eugenics and the Declining Birthrate in Twentieth Century Britain (1995) and the first post-doc’s use of JA Mangan’s Athleticism in the Victorian and Edwardian Public School (1981)

Matthew Hilton: Manuel Castells, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Trilogy, 1996-1998)

This was really useful in helping me connect a whole variety of people, institutions and ideas when I was working on global/transnational history.

Matt Houlbrook: Stephanie Newell, The Forger’s Tale: In Search of Odeziaku (2006)

This book is a great example of how writing about an individual life can be a way of exploring broader historical issues — the relationship between metropole and colony and inequalities of race, class, and sexuality, for example.

Chris Moores: Geoff Eley, Forging Democracy: The History of the Left in Europe, 1850-2000 (2002)

Sadiah Qureshi: George Stocking, Victorian Anthropology (1987)

It has yet to be replaced by a more up to date survey of the entire century.

Jonathan Reinarz: Brian Harrison, Drink and the Victorians: Temperance Question in England, 1815-1872 (1971)

I started my graduate studies with drink, reluctantly left it when I began my post-doc, continued with it as a medical historian, and look forward to it, with at least one conference presentation on alcohol on the cards in 2015.

Kate Smith: John Brewer and Roy Porter’s Consumption and the World of Goods (1993)

More MBS ‘Desert Island’ posts:

  • 2. Most thought provoking book
  • 3.Most Controversial Book
  • 4. Book you wish you had written
  • 5. Favourite Article
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