Review: Volume 45

Review: Volume 45



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  • Second World War
  • Roman Empire
  • Trade Union History
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.45 ACP

The 45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) or 45 Auto (11.43×23mm) [1] is a rimless straight-walled handgun cartridge designed by John Moses Browning in 1904, for use in his prototype Colt semi-automatic pistol. After successful military trials, it was adopted as the standard chambering for Colt's M1911 pistol. [2] The round was developed due to a lack of stopping power experienced [3] in the Moro Rebellion using the .38 Long Colt. This experience and the Thompson–LaGarde Tests of 1904 led the Army and the Cavalry to decide a minimum of 45 caliber was required in a new handgun.

The standard issue military 45 ACP round has a 230-grain bullet that travels at approximately 830 feet per second when fired from the government issue M1911A1 pistol. It operates at a relatively low maximum chamber pressure rating of 21,000 psi (145 MPa) (compared to 35,000 psi/241 MPa for 9mm Parabellum and 40 S&W), which due to a low bolt thrust helps extend service life of weapons. Due to standard pressure 45 ACP rounds being inherently subsonic when fired from handguns and submachine guns, it is a useful caliber for suppressed weapons to eliminate the sonic boom.

Today, most NATO militaries use sidearms chambered for the 9×19mm Parabellum cartridge, but the effectiveness of the 45 ACP cartridge has ensured its continued popularity with large caliber sport shooters, especially in the United States. In 1985, the 45 ACP M1911A1 pistol was replaced by the Beretta M9 9mm pistol as the main sidearm of the U.S. military, which in turn was replaced with the SIG Sauer P320 designated M17 for the full size and M18 for the compact.


Is Nationalism still Europe’s Dominant Political Ideology?

Four historians consider whether the continent that gave the world the nation state still remains in its thrall.

Desperate Measures

Driven to extremes by the expectations loaded on them, some men turned to self-castration.

Stop Press

It is often claimed that press censorship came to an end in England at the close of the 17th century. But it persisted, thanks to an unsavoury network of government spies.

Asia’s Great Survivors

Thailand’s monarchy is today one of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful, but it has faced a constant struggle for survival.

All Change

The century that changed London forever.

Baby Boom or Bust?

The Covid pandemic seems to have caused a birth dearth. Historically, how have countries responded to falling birthrates?

Melusine: The Myth that Built Europe

A symbol of female power in an age of patriarchy became a tool of propaganda for two prominent queens.

Springs Eternal

The image of Roman Bath was the creation of 18th- and 19th-century archaeologists. Only now are new perspectives revealing a more complex and accurate history of the city.


The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare. Volume 1, Greece, The Hellenistic World and the Rise of Rome

The Cambridge history of Greek and Roman warfare covers Archaic and Classical Greece, the Hellenistic period and also the Roman Republic until around 100 BC (Volume Two deals with the Late Republic and Imperial period till Late Antiquity) and contains fifteen chapters by various contributors. Apart from the three introductory chapters in the present volume all other parts of Greek and Roman Warfare are structured the same way: international relations, military forces, war, battle, warfare and the state, and war and society. The military forces and battle chapters are sometimes divided into an A and B portion dealing with the forces/battles on land and at sea respectively. The book is very comprehensive and a welcome starting point in approaching ancient military studies. The editors as well as the authors can be congratulated on their efforts in producing this important reference work.

This handbook aims to be a comprehensive overview of war in antiquity encompassing new research and recent discoveries, and therefore offers a refreshing contrast to earlier standard works by Delbrück or Kromayer and Veith, for example. 1 It is not intended to be a narrative account of numerous wars and battles but rather “a thematic analysis of the main aspects of warfare in the ancient world” (XV). Yet it is teeming with numerous fascinating details that can only be touched upon in the following summary.

The first introductory chapter by Victor Davis Hanson discusses the modern scholarship on ancient warfare, primarily from the 19th-century to the present (pp. 3-21). “The Paradox of War” is the subtitle of Simon Hornblower’s interesting chapter on warfare in ancient literature (pp. 22-53). He investigates the paradox that the ancient writers profess a dislike of war while being fascinated by it and that the prominence of war is in disproportion to its frequency and practical significance. Hornblower examines the historical reality and the trustworthiness of ancient historiography on war. The reconstruction of ancient warfare is the theme of Michael Whitby’s contribution (pp. 54-81).

Part I is on “Archaic and Classical Greece”. Jonathan M. Hall’s chapter (pp. 85-107) provides an introduction to the agonistic age and covers the mechanics of international relations, supracivic leagues and amphictyonies, and hegemonic alliances. It closes with a summary of the new world order after the Peloponnesian War. Peter Hunt (pp. 108-146) outlines the various types of military forces the Greeks employed and their hierarchy: hoplites and their armoury, cavalry — which played a minor role in southern Greece in this era — peltasts, archers, slingers, and the navy. In further sections he explains military units and officers, training, and the manpower of Greek armies (citizens, metics, slaves, mercenaries, and elite units). Chapter 6 (pp. 147-185) by Peter Krentz takes a look at the organisational side of warfare from the call to arms (or oars), supplies, timing of campaigns, the departure of troops, their encampment, the defenders options, looting and ravaging, combat, epiteichismos (i.e., constructing fortresses in enemy territory), the fate of the defeated, and the return home. Everett Wheeler gives a thorough analysis of land battles (chapter 7 A: pp. 186-223), beginning with an introduction “defining the battlefield of debate”, in which he makes a critical assessment of past and present scholarship on the emergence of the phalanx in the seventh century BC and ancient perception of Greek infantry superiority against outsiders. Wheeler continues by explaining the development of the phalanx, the mechanics of hoplite combat and the emergence of generalship after the Persian Wars. This is followed by an equally stimulating contribution by Barry Strauss (chapter 7 B: pp. 223-247), who covers the history of Greek warships, the hard training and the various naval operations in which triremes could be employed, and on the development and experience of siege warfare. Chapter 8 (pp. 248-272) by Vincent Gabrielsen concerns warfare and the state in Archaic and Classical Greece. The focus lies here on the producers of violence and the profits of war, where he singles out centralisation, finance, imperial revenue, and war in Athens in the century before the death of Alexander. In the following chapter (pp. 273-299) Hans van Wees deals with the impact of warfare on Greek society. He cites Sparta as an exception in terms of extreme dedication—in the rest of Greece military standards were rather low—, and he points out that the demands of war did not dictate the daily routine of the people or shape their social and political structures, but “it was the demand of social, political and economic life which shaped warfare” (p. 273). In three sections he investigates the leisure class, competitiveness and pleonexia (greed), and society and politics.

Part II on the Hellenistic World and the Roman Republic starts with Richard Billows’s chapter on international relations (pp. 303-324), where he examines the different relationship patterns of this period: Hellenistic states between each other as well as with cities, and the relations between cities. The two last sections concern early Rome and its contact with the Hellenistic world. A very detailed summary on the land forces by Nicholas Sekunda in chapter 11 A (pp. 325-356) follows. Sekunda discusses the changes in military demography and military tactics during the times of Philip and Alexander, particularly the Macedonian phalanx and focuses on the same aspects under the successors of Alexander, with additional coverage on units such as thureophoroi (infantry more suited for smaller Greek armies), mercenaries, cavalry, and exotic troop types. The latter includes cuirassed infantry, scythed chariots, and elephants.

Part III is on the confrontation with Rome and the resulting changes in Greek and Roman armies. One significant change occurred after Pydna, when Hellenistic armies abandoned the phalanx and began equipping their infantries in “Roman style”, a process that increased in the following century. The naval forces are treated by Philip de Souza (chapter 11 B, pp. 357-367) in three sections: the development of the polyremes, shipbuilding, and manpower in the Hellenistic kingdoms, Rome and Carthage.

The chapter on war for this period is by Jonathan P. Roth (pp. 368-398), who pays attention to the changes in strategy, logistics (food supplies), and campaign mechanics. The latter involved the new aspect of professional and mercenary troops no longer being dispersed after a campaign season, as was typical for citizen armies. The concluding paragraph discusses the human costs of war on a larger scale and how it affected military personnel and civilians. Battles (chapter 13, pp. 399-460) are shared by Philip Sabin (land battles) and Philip de Souza (naval battles and sieges). Sabin provides a joint thematic analysis in order to point out the differences and similarities in Hellenistic and Roman armies of the Middle Republic. In addition, he pays attention to the changes in battles which had become larger and far more complex as in the preceding era. He takes two perspectives: first “the grand tactical level” = the general’s battle (deployment, command, manoeuvre, outcomes) and second “the tactical level” = the soldier’s battle (exotic weapons, cavalry, infantry). A concluding part is on the question of determinants of success. De Souza assesses the tactics, the Roman employment of the entering bridge ( corvus), casualties (usually very high for rowers), catapults on board ships, access control of ports by naval forces and surprise attacks, and presents an extensive summary of sieges with all the aspects and challenges involved. The chapter on “warfare and the state” by John Serrati (pp. 461-497) is split in equal parts between the Hellenistic world and Rome. The author presents a chronological overview with a special focus on Hellenistic imperialism and the financial dimension in Roman military activities. The book’s last chapter by J.E. Lendon, (pp. 498-516), is on war and society. He contrasts “military excellence as craft” in the Hellenistic world to “military excellence as virtue” among the Romans and examines the consequences for each side.

This is followed by a chronological timeline from the Late Bronze Age down to 101 BC, a glossary of Greek and Latin terms, a list of ancient authors, a source and general index, and an extensive bibliography.

Volume One of Greek and Roman Warfare is an accomplished handbook reflecting the current state of research on this subject. It leaves the narrow focus of earlier reference works and studies, which have focused largely on textual analysis, topographical studies and recent experience or individual events. It also attempts a closer look at what actually might have happened to soldiers and troop units in “the generic ‘face of battle'” (pp. 401-402), an approach prompted by Keegan’s important study. 2 The economic aspects of war as well as military expenses are touched upon in some of the chapters. Not all details are covered, e. g., the financial gifts Roman soldiers received when partaking in the triumphal parade of their general is not mentioned here. This tradition served as a precedent for later more costly developments in the Late Republic. The bibliography contains most of the relevant works and will guide students and scholars alike to further reading. Several of the German titles cited contain spelling and grammatical errors, however. 3 Greek and Roman Warfare includes several maps (pp. xviii-xxx), illustrations and photos which highlight some of the points made by the contributors. These quibbles notwithstanding, this book is an extremely interesting and stimulating read.Most of the military facts assembled and discussed here are embedded in the works of the ancient writers, while other information is gleaned from archaeological data and occasionally from subsequent modern experiment. Thus many finer points of ancient military organisation or engagement (be it hoplite combat or naval manoeuvres) might escape notice on a casual reading of Thucydides, Xenophon or others. This main analysis — common to all contributions here — is the major strength of this book. Introduction: the historiography of ancient warfare:
1. The modern historiography of ancient warfare. Victor Davis Hanson
2. Warfare in ancient literature: the paradox of war. Simon Hornblower
3. Reconstructing ancient warfare. Michael Whitby
Part I. Archaic and Classical Greece:
4. International relations. Jonathan Hall
5. Military forces. Peter Hunt
6. War. Peter Krentz
7. Battle.
(1) Land battles. Everett Wheeler
(2) Naval battles and sieges. Barry Strauss
8. Warfare and the state. Vincent Gabrielsen
9. War and society. Hans van Wees
Part II. The Hellenistic World and the Roman Republic:
10. International relations. Richard Billows
11. Military forces. Nicholas V. Sekunda
12. War. Jonathan Roth
13. Battle.
(1) Land battles. Philip Sabin
(2) Naval battles and sieges. Philip de Souza
14. Warfare and the state. John Serrati
15. War and society. J. E. Lendon
Chronological table
Glossary
List of ancient authors.

1. J. Kromayer, G. Veith, Heerwesen und Kriegsführung der Griechen und Römer (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft IV.3.2). Munich 1928 H. Delbrück, Geschichte der Kriegskunst im Rahmen der politischen Geschichte, vol. I, 3rd edn., Berlin 1962.

2. John Keegan, The Face of Battle, New York 1976.

3. Sion-Jenkis is not Sion-Jenkins. This error even crept into the notes.


‘The British Are Coming’ Review: History as Enchantment

American colonists and British soldiers exchange fire at the Battle of Lexington, 1775.

For everything that separated the patriots, the loyalists and the British troops who fought in the American Revolution, they all had something in common. As Rick Atkinson tells us in “The British Are Coming,” they shared “an ancient, squalid secret: that war was an enchantment, a sorcery, a seductive spectacle like no other, beguiling the eye and gorging the senses.” Mr. Atkinson’s book, the first in a planned Revolution Trilogy, shares this secret sentiment, too, offering an enchantingly seductive account of the war, from the Battle of Lexington (1775) to the Battle of Princeton (1777), and is chock full of momentous events and larger-than-life characters. Perfect material for a storyteller as masterly as Mr. Atkinson.

The book begins not in Boston or, for that matter, anywhere in America, but in England at the desk of George III. The king had come to see war with America as inevitable. “Blows must decide,” he wrote Lord North, his chief minister, in a note dated Nov. 18, 1774, at “48 minutes past mid-night.” George was “a demon for details,” the author writes. So is Mr. Atkinson.

For the most part, “The British Are Coming” is organized chronologically into narrative episodes such as Paul Revere’s frantic warning on horseback, “The British are coming!” (Mr. Atkinson cautions, however, that a contemporary quoted Revere as “warning, more prosaically, ‘The regulars are coming out.’ ” Not much of a book title, that.) The British retreat from Lexington, Charlestown’s burning, the Battle of Bunker Hill: Mr. Atkinson’s sweeping narrative encompasses all of these events, as well as America’s unsuccessful invasion of Quebec. There, Gen. Montgomery, shot at point-blank range “in both thighs and . . . through the face,” died on the spot. “Unlike most European wars of the eighteenth century,” Mr. Atkinson warns, “this one would not be fought by professional armies on flat, open terrain with reasonable roads, in daylight and good weather. And though it was fought in the age of reason, infused with Enlightenment ideals, this war, this civil war, would spiral into savagery, with sanguinary cruelty, casual killing, and atrocity.”

Additional episodes demonstrate the powerful British force being “driven off by a rabblement of farmers and shopkeeps, led by low-born, ascendant men like the plowman Israel Putnam, the anchorsmith [Nathanael] Greene, and the book vendor [Henry] Knox.” Mr. Atkinson recounts events in Europe, too: George III inspecting his fleet at Portsmouth, England British recruitment efforts in Cork, Ireland Benjamin Franklin’s diplomacy in Paris. But on center stage are the battlefields: Sullivan’s Island, Kip’s Bay, Harlem Heights, Lake Champlain. These and many others are documented in stellar prose and 24 exquisite maps. It all leads to the volume’s grand finale: American victories at Trenton and Princeton, where George Washington’s “genius” blossomed and “a bold, resolute man” became “bolder and even more hell-bent.”

With so much action involving so many in disparate places, a lesser writer might lose readers along the way. But Mr. Atkinson weaves it all together seamlessly, bringing us with him. Pithy character sketches—reminiscent of 18th-century historians David Hume and Edward Gibbon, both of whom Mr. Atkinson cites—bring the dead to life. We come to know the famous but also the forgotten, including Capt. Glanville Evelyn of the King’s Own. Universally respected, Evelyn died “unmarried, without issue, and not yet thirty-five.” His zeal for Britain’s empire earned him “little more than an excruciating death and an anonymous grave in a foreign field.”


‘Pride’ Review: Sweeping History Made Personal

Alia Shawkat as Madeleine Tress in ‘Pride’

Assumptions will be made in advance about “Pride,” the ambitious six-part documentary about the history of
LGBTQ+ civil rights in America. And some will be correct. Is it celebratory? Yes. Is it self-congratulatory? To a degree. Is it a sweeping, encyclopedic, overly ambitious, Ken Burns-ian attempt to be the last word on the subject? On the contrary.

Despite the breadth of the subject and the decades-long arc of the project—from “1950s: People Had Parties” through “2000s: Y2Gay”—the governing impulse in the series is for intimacy, a telling of smaller personal stories that illuminate the large themes. The anecdotal aside (or digression) is a stratagem employed by plenty of documentaries, as well as political speeches. But here it provides warmth and a pulse to what might have in other hands been deadly dull historiography. “Pride” is very much alive, partly because it goes deep rather than wide in wrangling the unwieldy, unmanageable stories that make up an equally untidy movement.

Each episode of “Pride”—which will be available on Hulu the day after it makes its premiere on FX (three episodes Friday three more, May 21)—is the work of a different director or directors, all of whom come out of what’s generally lumped together as gay or queer cinema. Each filmmaker imposes personal stylistic choices on the tale of his/her/their decade, but they also operate in rather specific neighborhoods of the LGBTQ+ community, with intersections. Cheryl Dunye’s chapter on the ’70s, for instance, begins with the lives of the filmmaker Barbara Hammer and the poet Audre Lorde and eventually gets into the intramural wars of the women’s movement, whose leaders (notably Betty Friedan) resisted gay involvement for fear of alienating mainstream America. Which was something the Christian Right and Phyllis Schlafly would exploit, as Ms. Dunye goes on to explain.

This echoes, in its way, the approach of Bayard Rustin, a major strategist for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who, as recalled in Andrew Ahn’s “1960s: Riots & Revolutions,” understood not just the moral weight of nonviolence but its usefulness in swaying public opinion. Similarly, he and the Black civil rights movement understood the need to play down Rustin’s involvement and his own homosexuality.

One of the recurring conflicts within “Pride” is between pragmatism and radicalism, of movements at war with themselves—“1980s: Underground,” directed by Anthony Caronna and Alex Smith, is one example, dealing as it does with the AIDS crisis. But the history is one thing, the storytelling another. “Pride,” co-produced with Killer Films (whose Christine Vachon has been a force in gay-oriented cinema for decades), doesn’t try to do the impossible, to be all things to all people LGBTQ+. There are some things lost in such a filmmaking philosophy, of course. But most of them are boring. What was gained was something sincerely moving and even more valuable than a cataloging of legislative malpractices, or a parade of well-known people.


New Orleans Saints draft history: Review of 2018 selections

The New Orleans Saints traded up in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft for defensive end Marcus Davenport at pick No. 14, a move that took many analysts by surprise but showed again how aggressive the team's front office is. Davenport, out of Texas-San Antonio, was seen as a bookend to the dominant Cameron Jordan. Davenport went on to play 13 games for the Saints in 2018 and put up a strong 4.5 sacks.

Next, the Saints selected Central Florida wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith at pick No. 91. With the injury of wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. at the beginning of the 2018 season, Smith stepped into a large role for the Saints. In 15 games, Smith came up with 28 receptions for 427 yards and five touchdowns. Smith's first touchdown came in the "Monday Night Football" game against the Washington Redskins, when quarterback Drew Brees found Smith on a 62-yard touchdown pass to secure the NFL's all-time passing yardage record.

The Saints selected tackle Rick Leonard (127), safety Natrell Jamerson (164), cornerback Kamrin Moore (189), running back Boston Scott (201), and center Will Clapp (245) with their remaining selections.

Scott and Clapp were the only two to come out of training camp with a role in New Orleans. Scott played with the Saints practice squad before signing with the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 11. Clapp also played on the practice squad, but saw action in final three games of 2018.

Davenport, Smith and Clapp will look to expand their roles with the Saints as they head into their fourth NFL season.

2018 Draft summary:

The Saints traded up in the 2018 NFL Draft to select Davenport. The Saints didn't have a second round selection after trading that selection to San Francisco. In the third round the Black & Gold selected Tre'Quan Smith. New Orleans would then draft Leonard (127) and Jamerson (164) in the fourth and fifth round. The Saints had two picks in the sixth round, where they would draft Moore (189) and Scott (201). To complete their 2018 NFL Draft, New Orleans selected LSU's Clapp with the 245th pick overall.


New Orleans Saints draft history: Review of 2014 selections

The 2014 draft yielded six players, none of whom are still with the New Orleans Saints. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks got off to an impressive start in his rookie season before suffering a season-ending thumb injury and validated that with an even more impressive back-to-back 1,100-yard plus receiving seasons in 2015 and 2016. Cooks is currently on the Houston Texans roster.

Saints 2014 Draft Summary:

New Orleans traded up in the first round to select Cooks out of Oregon State. In the second round, the Black & Gold selected defensive back Stanley Jean-Baptiste (58th overall). Although the Saints didn't have a third round pick due to the trade with Arizona, they drafted linebacker Khairi Fortt with the 126th overall selection. With two picks in the fifth round, the Saints drafted two defensive players. With the 167th overall pick, New Orleans selected Vinnie Sunseri, strong safety out of Alabama. Just two picks later (169th overall), New Orleans snagged Ronald Powell (pick acquired from New England). With their last pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Saints selected offensive tackle Tavon Rooks.


‘Apocalypse ’45’ Review: Graphic Images of Wartime

Candid testimonies from World War II veterans accompany vivid archival footage in this immersive documentary that showcases the myths we tell ourselves about war.

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At one point in “Apocalypse ’45,” the camera gazes over Tokyo from an American military bomber as the plane ejects a cluster of cylinders. For several beats, the bombs disappear into the air. Then we see the explosions: tiny bursts of orange far below.

Startling images appear throughout “Apocalypse ’45,” a transfixing documentary that depicts the final months of World War II in rare detail. The film (streaming on Discovery+) combines vivid archival footage from war reporters with the accounts of an array of veterans. Its project is to immerse us in the horrors of warfare, and to convey the ways its witnesses cope with war’s psychic toll.

The images, taken from digitally-restored film reels that sat in the National Archives for decades, are disturbingly graphic. A Japanese woman steps off a cliff in the Mariana Islands to avoid being taken hostage. Soldiers on Iwo Jima shoot flamethrowers into caves. Planes piloted by kamikaze plunge into ships near Okinawa. The director Erik Nelson adds realistic wartime sound effects to the silent footage, achieving an unsettling verisimilitude.

But the veterans, whose candid testimonies are interwoven in voice over, are the movie’s shrewdest addition. Notably, Nelson declines to distinguish among the men, and instead patchworks their deep, breathy voices into sonic wallpaper. Without faces or names, their remarks cannot be individually condemned or celebrated. Rather, they blend into a collective, showcasing how people seek out myths — about war’s inevitability, Japanese conformity, or American might — to find reason where there may be none.

When it comes to representing non-American experiences, the documentary is less equipped. Nelson calls on only one Japanese interviewee, a survivor of Hiroshima. His voice opens the documentary, and reappears later on to describe the atom bomb attack. The survivor’s perspective is vital, but offered alone, its inclusion feels perfunctory. “Apocalypse ’45” knows that war is hell for everyone. But it’s difficult to escape the sense that, in this film’s view of history, America is top of mind.

Apocalypse ’45
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. Watch on Discovery+.


Human Resource Management Review

The Human Resource Management Review (HRMR) is a quarterly academic journal devoted to the publication of scholarly conceptual/theoretical articles pertaining to human resource management and allied fields (e.g. industrial/organizational psychology, human capital, labor relations, organizational behavior). HRMR welcomes manuscripts that focus on micro-, macro-, or multi-level phenomena relating to the function and processes of human resource management. HRMR publishes articles that provide new insights aimed at stimulating future theory development and empirical research. Critical examinations of existing concepts, theories models, and frameworks are also welcome as are quantitative meta-analytical reviews that make a conceptual/theoretical contribution.

Subject areas appropriate for HRMR include (but are not limited to) Strategic Human Resource Management, International Human Resource Management, the nature and role of the human resource function in organizations, any specific Human Resource function or activity (e.g., Job Analysis, Job Design, Workforce Planning, Recruitment, Selection and Placement, Performance and Talent Management, Reward Systems, Training, Development, Careers, Safety and Health, Diversity, Fairness, Discrimination, Employment Law, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Workforce Metrics, HR Analytics, HRM and Technology, Social issues and HRM, Separation and Retention), topics that influence or are influenced by human resource management activities (e.g., Climate, Culture, Change, Leadership and Power, Groups and Teams, Employee Attitudes and Behavior, Individual, team, and/or Organizational Performance), and HRM Research Methods. Papers introducing or helping to advance our understanding of emergent HR topics or issues are also strongly encouraged.

HRMR does not consider manuscripts that report qualitative or quantitative studies that test hypotheses or inductively examine ideas. In addition, conceptual papers and meta-analyses that do not sufficiently advance the literature in terms of providing novel insights for further theoretical development and empirical research will not be considered. Moreover, in its quest to foster the development of general theories and models, HRMR does not consider papers that deal with a single occupation, company, industry or country, nor cases of these entities (a single company, industry, etc. can be used as the primary example, but should not be the only example and the insights of the paper must be generalizable beyond that primary example). Finally, as a scholarly journal, manuscripts written primarily for practicing managers are also not considered. Submissions of these types of papers will be rejected as being outside the scope of the journal, unless requested as part of a special issue. The Editor and Associate Editors will provide an initial editorial review to determine whether submissions fall within the scope of the journal and/or are of sufficient merit to warrant peer review.


Book Review: Conquistadores: A New History

A long time has passed since Christopher Columbus, Hernan Cortés and Francisco Pizarro arrived in the New World, and it seems like there is little that we don’t know about their historic voyages from Spain. They came, they saw, they conquered, killing hundreds of thousands of locals, plundering unimaginable amounts of gold, silver and jewels, and transforming the region in almost every possible way.

Conquistadores: A New History by Fernando Cervantes is billed as a “reframing” of the conquests and comes as the world vociferously reviews all kinds of long-standing narratives that were penned by the victors.

But this book by one of the world’s leading authorities on the intellectual and religious history of early modern Spain and Spanish America is not a revisionist history.

Cervantes has written about the atrocities meted out by the conquistadors for decades and his key argument here is that any discussion of the conquistadors’ actions must be set in the context of their own time, not in ours. The conquistadors were products of their environment, where great glory and riches came to those daring enough to hit the high seas and discover new worlds.

The Mexican historian explains the background to those voyages and his total command of the details is the key to the book’s success. The basics are well known: Columbus touching land in the Caribbean while searching for a westward route to Asia Cortés striking out unauthorized for Mexico and seizing Tenochtitlán, then one of the biggest cities in the world and Pizarro’s brutal domination of the Incas and the sacking of Peru.

Most of what we know about these conquests comes from the Spaniards’ own telling: Some of the details were written down after the fact and much else came in self-serving missives to the Spanish crown designed to impress the court and inflate the deeds and the loyalty of those reporting them. There is no comparable version of events from the side of the Mexica or Incas.

Cervantes judiciously lays out the narratives we do have and helps steer the reader toward the most likely version of events. He frequently questions the official versions and paints rounded pictures of the conquerors, the vanquished indigenous leaders, and the worlds they inhabited in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

The book is excellent in describing the rich and sophisticated worlds they encountered. Cervantes’ description of Tenochtitlán and the battles to control it are vivid, and the portraits of Moctezuma, Atawallpa, and the power struggles that proceeded the fall of the Inca empire are equally fantastic.

Cusco, for example, was described to Spanish king Charles V as “the greatest and most splendid of all the cities ever seen in the Indies. … [S]o beautiful and graced with so many fine buildings that even in Spain it would certainly stand out.”

The booty taken from Peru was phenomenal: 26,000 pounds of silver and more than 13,000 pounds of 22.5 carat gold in the first four months alone.

“Exploring for its own sake was all very well, but what the monarchs really needed was cash,” Cervantes writes as he balances out the conquests’ religious, commercial and imperial motives.

The book is weighty — there are detailed descriptions of the Taíno people’s creation myths, the origins of the Spanish inquisition, and Bartolomé de las Casas’ powerful moral opposition to the conquests — but it is rarely slow or dull.

In fact, it reads like both an adventure story and a travelogue, with Cervantes an enthralling guide.

If there are quibbles, they are over the slightly uneven pace. There is a heavy accent on the early expeditions in the Caribbean and Mexico. Pizarro’s conquest of Peru is given less space and the pages devoted to Hernando de Soto’s fruitless traipse around the southern U.S. in search of gold are uneventful in comparison. There is little mention of the conquests of Colombia, Chile, Bolivia or Paraguay and nothing about the Portuguese conquest of Brazil, which is a shame, as a comparison would have made for interesting reading.

But those are minor grumbles. Conquistadores is a tour de force and should be welcomed by anyone interested in Latin American history.