I have published various academic articles and reviews in the International History Review, The Historical Journal, Middle Eastern Studies, and Cultural and Social History. This page provides selected abstracts and links.
‘France, Germany, and the origins of drug prohibition’, International History Review, 42 (2020)
Long widely available, opiates and cocaine came under a raft of prohibitive laws in the United States and Europe from 1914 onward, paving the way for contemporary drug control. Explanations for this change remain fragmented, with limited overlap between cultural interpretations, mostly US or UK focused, and international histories. Taking a first step towards a synthesis, this article looks at the rise of medical theories of addiction in France and Germany and its interlink with the first drug laws. While emerging disease concepts of addiction were important in paving the way for prohibition, this shows, they could not predict the nature of the laws passed. Germany, notably, though a leader in addiction research, failed to criminalize the drug user when the time came. In neither country, secondly, can the impulse to legislate on narcotics be attributed to the medical body, which already possessed significant authority under their respective pharmacy laws. This, finally, throws the onus on international developments. France, like the US and the UK but unlike Germany, was through its possession of colonial opium franchises a front-rank participant in the early twentieth-century opium conferences, providing a crucial trigger for banning drugs at home as well as abroad.
This article is at: France, Germany, and the Origins of Drug Prohibition
‘The balance of forces on the eve of Munich’, International History Review, 40 (2018)
Had the Munich Agreement not forestalled it, the Second World War, or at least a European war, would have begun in 1938. According to arguments in defence of appeasement, Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier bought time and avoided embroiling their countries in a conflict for which they were not prepared. The historiography on Munich, nevertheless, has long lacked a full picture of the balance of forces at the time. This article aims to establish which side in the looming conflict was best positioned. It examines the likely line-up of belligerents, their respective land, sea, and air forces, and their war plans and strategies. The French and Czechoslovak armies were a more than even match for the Wehrmacht, it argues. Czechoslovak army strength and defensive capabilities, too often ignored or glossed over, weighed the scales down materially against German success. An analysis of the German, Czechoslovak, and French plans shows that Hitler’s projected offensive was a hazardous enterprise that risked becoming bogged down and opening the Reich to a multi-sided invasion. This was without even counting, finally, on the potential contributions of Britain and the Soviet Union on the allied side.
This article is at: www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07075332.2017.1309559.
‘Notions of addiction in the time of the First Opium War’, The Historical Journal, 58 (2015)
This article explores whether the British decision-makers and public were conscious of the habit-forming nature of opium at the time of the Chinese war of 1839–42, the First Opium War. While most political historians have assumed that the British authorities understood the nature of the drug, social historians argue that notions of addiction only arose, in Britain, at the end of the nineteenth century. Examining the abundant press, pamphlet, and parliamentary literature generated by the war debate, this article examines in what terms opium use was characterized, it considers the groups that intervened on both sides of the debate, and it situates that debate within early Victorian values and mores. The article concludes that the British leaders and political nation were well aware of the drug’s habit-forming properties. Not only was it widely recognized that it was something dangerous that was being introduced, at the point of a gun, into China, but there can be said to have existed, in Britain, a layman’s notion of drug addiction.
‘Guizot’s absence of a plan for Jerusalem’, Middle Eastern Studies, 51 (2015)
Historians have speculated over the existence of an 1841 plan by the French foreign minister François Guizot to internationalize Jerusalem as a Christian city, a plan holding major implications for the eventual emergence of a Jewish state and for European–Ottoman relations. This article aims, based on fresh archival and other sources, to provide a definitive evaluation of Guizot’s plan, its scope, and its motivations. It broadens the field to encompass other great-power plans mooted in 1841, including plans of a Protestant yet Zionist flavour, and it reassesses the political weight of early nineteenth-century European religious impulses with regard to Palestine.
This article is at: www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00263206.2014.972950.
‘The Napoleonic legend and the war scare of 1840’, International History Review, 35 (2013)
The Eastern Crisis of 1839-41 originated in the Ottoman Empire and in a bid for independence by the indomitable Mehemet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt. It soon became the concern of the European Great Powers, and it brought them to the brink of a war with France in 1840. How France could have risked war on behalf of an Egyptian pasha, however, seems incomprehensible. This article uses a cultural lens to decipher a subject that has inconclusively been treated in conventional diplomatic histories. Examining a whole body of hitherto neglected sources – press, parliamentary transcripts, pamphlets, histories, travel literature, representational material – it argues that the attitudes of decision-makers such as Adolphe Thiers and Louis-Philippe were grounded not in tangible French interests but in a series of cultural engagements that went back to the Egyptian expedition of 1798. Mehemet Ali emerged, in French public opinion, as an Oriental Napoleonic figure. Egypt, as a potential nation-state under a reforming leader, came to appeal to many elements across the July Monarchy’s political scene. The enemy of the ancien régime in the East, it became a French national champion.
This article is at: www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07075332.2013.813865.