Nice essay about the appeal of the once famous British historian A.J.P. Taylor, by Geoffrey Wheatcroft:

One last legacy of Taylor’s career is the “journo-don.” He blazed a trail later followed by Simon Schama, Niall Ferguson and others. First a reputation is established by works of authentic scholarship, then come the broader books of high vulgarisation, then the television series, full of glib generalisations and, too often, of downright howlers. But wasn’t Taylor himself following the great tradition of Macaulay as a popular historian? Maybe the comparison is all too apt. As Lord Acton said, Macaulay’s opinions were “utterly base, contemptible and odious,” his writing “flashy and superficial,” which is true of my boyhood hero Taylor, I now fear. Acton went on to say that even he, the most unsympathetic of his critics, could still think Macaulay one of the greatest of writers, and I still think Taylor at his best a very good writer. The pity of it is that he too was so often “pleasant reading, and key to half the prejudices of our age.”

[x]#1683 fan donderdag 23 februari 2006 @ 12:54:08

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