Essays

arc de triomphe gilets jaunes

Modern France and the ghosts of the past

France, like all countries, is haunted by events and mistakes of times past. These ghosts will guide modern policy until they are overridden and laid to rest.

history boys

History while it’s still smoking

There are clear pitfalls in writing the first draft of history but that doesn’t mean that historians should shy away from the challenges of doing so.

Best of Engelsberg Ideas in 2021

This year at Engelsberg Ideas we’ve published analysis and observations from leading thinkers and writers. Here are some of our favourite pieces.

wine cana wedding jesus

For the love of wine

Wine has been enriching the human experience since the beginnings of civilisation. From ancient Jordan or a wedding at Cana to 1960s Cambridge or South Africa, wine remains a constant throughout history.

eurasia map geopolitcal

The Eurasian Century, Part I: What Mackinder Knew

Sir Halford Mackinder believed that major showdowns in international affairs of the 20th century would revolve over control of the Eurasian continent and its maritime approaches. His thesis is worth revisiting in light of the US-China rivalry today.

fall of berlin wall 1989

The Eurasian Century, Part IV: Cold War

An authoritarian, expansionist Soviet Union represented the heartland threat Mackinder had long foreseen. But ironically, his insights birthed a strategy for containing that threat—and building the liberal international order we know today.

xi jinping people's liberation army

The Eurasian Century, Part V: Beijing’s Gambit

In many ways, Xi Jinping’s China is a state like no other. But its ambitions for global supremacy are but a new twist on a familiar problem – and are eliciting a familiar response from the rest of the world.

Relief of the Council of Chalcedon

Reassessing Christian history

While Christianity may strive to sing in a single voice, no one modern denomination ought to claim a monopoly on the truth. The region’s history is in fact far more eclectic.

Fortifications in the style of the brilliant French military engineer Sebastian de Vauban (1633-1701) . Engraving c1890

On guard: the contemporary salience of military fortification

Fortresses, border walls and guard towers – today’s excessively guarded age is on a global scale far exceeding famous past efforts including that of Roman Emperor Hadrian and the Great Wall of China. Often unremarked on, these fascinating structures tell us a story of changing global power struggles and political might.

Steatite bowl with mythological scenes from the Khafalji tribe, possibly of Elamite origin. The figure could be the goddess Inanna.

Uruk and the origins of the sacred economy

Peering into the hearts and minds those living four thousand years ago is an impossible task. However, when it comes to the worship of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna, it seems clear to be, quite literally, a labour of love and fear.

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