The search for an explanation for why Britain was the first nation to industrialise

Many observers of modern social science are convinced of the maxim: ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’. Yet good historical scholarship has always used statistics as the antidote to the ‘damned lies’. This is especially useful with the Industrial Revolution, where wild theories dominate. Below I examine three famous theories […]

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The Wreck Detectives

Vietnam’s Cham Islands, renowned for tropical beaches, granite cliffs and the swallows now circling dizzily overhead have a ominous history. The names for these islands reflect their shape and character – one is called “East Wind”, another “Tomb”. That is the first clue to the history of these waters. This is the story of the coast that […]

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What do dictators like to eat?

You are what you eat – but also how you eat and who you eat with. Food can affect your mood, your bowels and your world-view, write Victoria Clark and Melissa Scott, authors of Dictators’ Dinners: A Bad Taste Guide to Entertaining Tyrants. In this age of the foodie, the gourmand and the gourmet, we have […]

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The self-publicist whose medical text books caused a stir

Published nearly 500 years ago, Andreas Vesalius’s medical text books occupy an important place in scientific history. Intricate art, unlike anything that had been seen before, sits alongside detailed text that sought to change the way bodies were dissected post mortem. Cambridge University Library holds well-preserved copies of the Fabrica, and its companion piece the […]

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