Disease stalks the land. Cases soar. Thousands die daily. Governments across the world, local and national, take the dramatic step of restricting access to or even closing bars, hotels, theatres, cinemas, schools and shops. The global economy spins into recession and billions of dollars are lost.
Such reporting will be familiar to newspaper readers in the twenty-first century. The COVID-19 crisis, caused by a highly infectious and deadly novel virus, to which populations across the world have no pre-existing immunity, has, at the time of writing, killed at least two million people. In June 2020, the World Bank gloomily projected…
Britain’s wartime cipher cracking centre has been an obsession of mine for about 20 years. I first visited the museum, which now occupies the wartime site, at the tender age of thirteen. When I was eighteen, I got a job as a gardener and general dogsbody with the Bletchley Park Trust, which manages the site today. When I was twenty-two, I decided that what the world really needed was another historian and chose to focus my research on Bletchley Park.
Among my friends, a common joke, when discussing slightly idiosyncratic research topics, is ‘teacups’. This was because, as a part of my Doctoral dissertation (and subsequent book), I spent a good deal of time researching crockery. My research was on the bureaucracy of Britain’s now famous cryptanalysis bureau, the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) headquartered at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
What, you might reasonably ask, does crockery have to do with wartime Signals Intelligence? Well, the answer is nothing. But understanding crockery does have a very great deal to do with understanding bureaucracy. When GC&CS first…
Since Senator Kamala Harris rose to international prominence, as a potential Democratic Presidential candidate in 2019, the public spotlight has fallen upon her. Now that she has become Vice President Joe Biden’s running-mate for the 2020 Presidential Election, that intensity will only grow. Like President Barak Obama before her, the fact that Harris is a person of colour and the child of immigrant parents has led some to question whether she is sufficiently ‘American’ to be a heartbeat from being the incumbent of the Oval Office.
UK based academic historian. Lecturer