China Resumes Control of Hong Kong

At midnight on June 30 and into the morning of July 1, 1997 Britain formally ceded sovereignty over Hong Kong to China, ending more than 150 years of British rule. The moment would come to symbolize a changing world amid a more powerful China and an emerging Asia. China was a rising economic and military…

Just how important is Magna Carta 800 years on?

This year people in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and plenty of other nations will mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The document will be lauded for establishing one vital principle. A new book about Magna Carta is published today which claims to offer new insights into one of the most famous documents…

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…

Tales from the India Office

A transgender singer hits stardom in Baghdad. Officials scramble to impose order after a Kuwaiti restaurant is found to be selling cat meat. Gulf royals on an official visit to London are left marooned in a drab south London suburb because of a shortage of hotel rooms in the West End. These are some of…