Newest Review: ... into a given historical period or issue or secondly, to decide whether I am interested enough in the area to read more about it. Each artic... more
What is the Cost of History? (£4.95 to be exact)
Member Name: madgedc
Date: 28/02/11, updated on 28/02/11 (36 review reads)
Advantages: well presented, enjoyable reading, easily accessable articles.
Disadvantages: A bit pricey for a regular romance.
Disclaimer: History Today is addictive!!!
Those that have read my reviews before will have read that I am a history student and therefore reading historical publications are not just a matter of choice they are a matter of necessity. I began my subscription to History Today Magazine two years ago and I can whole heartedly confirm that my studies have been complimented and enriched.
History Today magazine celebrated its 60th anniversary this January, its first publication in 1951 would have cost you half a crown. The magazine's credibility as purely academic, coupled with just a tad of inflation, has boosted the price considerably and now you're looking at close to a fiver per issue. But this is monthly and a subscription will save you £17 per year (that's 3 and half extra issues than the shop price). But more importantly, what you will gain in return are fascinating, up to date articles about history written by top historians in their fields. This will give any body who works with, or studies history an insight into current debates and historical contention that is certainly advantageous.
The magazine always contains 5 main feature articles, most of them written by leading historians pursuing research into the subject of the article. Each is written in a way that is highly accessible to anyone ignorant to the subject in question. In short; you don't need to be a historian familiar with all the historical dialect, as most new ideas that are introduced into the pieces are explained and clarified. Articles will typically be around 7 pages. This is long enough to give enough details, but also short enough to read quickly on the bus or the tube. I use these articles in two ways. Firstly, I use them if I don't want to read a whole book to acquire a decent knowledge into a given historical period or issue or secondly, to decide whether I am interested enough in the area to read more about it. Each article will usually give you some idea of further reading. History today articles are often used by students as part of their reading where as BBC History (although a very enjoyable read) is often not. This does give a student/researcher/teacher some confirmation that what they are reading is reliable enough.
The articles are ordered in columns around plenty of photographs or illustrations. This is particularly useful for students who are used to reading just black and white. Art can be useful in illustrating and clarifying the main points which will help them to stick in your mind. They can also be used to demonstrate how contemporaries saw the world. All of this only serves to bring history to life. Often the articles will use primary sources to bring you closer to the event.
The magazine also has an excellent selection of usual features and regular columns. One of my favourite features is the 'letters' section. These are reader's response to the articles and features. What I truly love about reading them is that you really get a sense of historical contention. Ok, some of them may write in and say how much they loved a reading, but this is extremely rare. Most people write in to criticise an article or a particular point of view. (Correction of grammar, spelling and sloppy proof reading are also a favourite.) History is all about interpretation and like a science it builds on discrediting theories and finding new insights. The letters section shows that this is still absolutely the case and disagreement amongst historians is what makes history as a discipline so compelling.
The 'From the Archive' section at the back involves historians revisiting articles published some time ago in history today and indicates where the article continues to be held as truth and where the articles have been revised. Updating readers about articles is really interesting as the reading learns a great deal about historiography; how it develops and what external factors ordered the historian to view an event in history in such a way. It also pays homage to some of the great historians (who are like pop stars to us students) whose works, although at times disproved or heavily criticised, provide inspiration for us up and coming ones.
In the 'past times' section there are games, quizzes and the usual amusing cartoon. (Get it? past- times pastimes? no?) The cartoon is always really funny, but then I have tried to re-tell them to others and they usually go down like a lead balloon which leads me to the conclusion that history is either no laughing matter or history jokes really aren't very funny.
There is always a crossword which allows you to test your general history knowledge. I always have a stab at it as there is a 'recent selection of history books' up for grabs and as the proud owner of a large collection I am always looking for new additions. But alas if it's anything the crossword page has taught me is that I know nothing about history! Thankfully though, I can learn as the answers are always printed in the next edition which I usually survey with great interest at times texting answers back and forth to my friends. (One of them always replies 'I was going to say that!'- course you were.) I have noticed that since I began my subscription I am steadily improving but I'm not up there with Starkey yet.
The history matters section consists of three short pieces dedicated and determined to relate history to today and demonstrate why history is still an important subject. I have to convey that this is my favourite part of the magazine. So many people believe that history is not important in today's modern society. I would argue that in fact it may even be more important. I will not go into detail about why this is the case. However I will say that he pieces are quick and easy to read and are very good at allowing the reader to see today's events in the context of history. On many occasions they relate to events that are shaping the world today. Food for thought about the future as well as the past.
There is also a book review section which is ridiculously useful. These are trust worthy reviews by experts. They don't give you the good old trusted 5 star rating, but instead they give you a general opinion about the book, introduce you to the topic that the book covers and give you an indication of who the book is more appropriate for; hardcore historians or ignorant laymen (me!). I have fond some of the best books I have ever read trawling the review section. Again this page affirms to me that truly I am a reader; I get really exited when I go to buy a book and I would attribute allot of that enthusiasm to the amazingly insightful reviews that I have read in history today.
So who can read history today? Answer- anyone with a general interest in history as an interesting read or history as an academic subject. The magazine provides up to date and credible information about all areas in history and once a month I read my copy from cover to cover (usually while my daughter is watching Nick Jnr). I plan to keep my subscription as I have found myself so eager to keep up to date with my subject that I may be slightly addicted. I would recommend this to anyone; but particularly to students of history or those considering studying history. The magazine will introduce anyone to what studying history is really about and guess what....... it aint just about remembering dates!
Summary: Brilliant glossy mainstream journal for anyone with an interest/tendancy/passion to history.