The historian on revelations from our past, from the lives of London’s 18th-century prostitutes to Britain’s final decades as a colonial power
That old cliche, “history is written by the victors”, doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. It is much more unfair than that. History is written by the literate, and is biased towards societies with written languages. Those doing the writing needed to be wealthy and leisured enough to afford the time and connected enough to be able to access the records and persuade the publishers. History is mostly about men rather than women, and until depressingly recently, little was written by women.
Histories can only be written if the records exist – if people at the time regarded the events they were witness to, and the people those events affected, as being significant enough to be worthy of recording. All of this conspires to leave much of the ...
A highly readable and startling history uses individual testimonies to strip away the layers of myth and misunderstanding that surround this devastating conflictFour generations have been born since the end of the second world war. The infants of today – “Generation Z” in demography-speak – are the great-great-grandchildren of the wartime generation. Since the defeat of Germany and the capitulation of Japan, countless terrible conflicts have been fought, and tens of millions have died in them. Indeed the numbers killed in wars since 1945 will, in the coming decades, inevitably exceed the death toll of the second world war. Yet even as we approach the third decade of the 21st century, and as 1945 slowly slips beyond living memory, it remains the case that when we talk about “the war”, everyone understands that we are referring to the calamitous conflict of 1939-45.
The borders between numerous nations, the widespread acceptance of ...
Even abolitionists don’t emerge unscathed from a fearless, brilliant history of racist thinking spanning 500 yearsThere are passages in Stamped from the Beginning
that could serve as an obituary to the myth of post-racial America; that fanciful and woefully ahistorical delusion that flowered, briefly, during the early months of Barack Obama’s first term. Ibram X Kendi’s new book, written during Obama’s second term, places that moment within a broad and sobering historical context.
Spanning five centuries of racist thought, Stamped from the Beginning
both begins and ends with passionate denouncements and dissections of the entrenched inequality, structural racism and racial violence that disfigure contemporary America. How could it not? During the book’s gestation, Trayvon Martin was shot dead, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown
and Freddie Gray were all killed at the hands of the police and the “Charleston nine” were murdered by a white supremacist terrorist.