Totalitarianism as a concept has made something of a comeback in recent years.
Historians and their publics: a consideration of Ludmilla Jordanova
In 1841, having unsuccessfully contested the Professorship of Natural History at University College London, W. S. Farquharson wrote to the College authorities as follows:
At a time when, particularly in the new universities and colleges of higher education, historians feel themselves in danger of being swept away by the advancing tide of vocationalism, any attempt to uphold the importance of the subject to the life of the nation is, one might think, to be welcomed.
It is given to few to be accorded ‘classic’ status in their own lifetime, but Marc Ferro has qualified twice over – not only for the work under discussion here, but also for his account of The Great War, 1914–1918 (1973).
'It is not necessary to be dull to write about history', Ged Martin remarks (p. 8). One suspects that many historians would add, 'but it helps'. This book is a wonderful antidote to that excessive seriousness. The style is crisp, paradox and aphorism abound – 'historians love paradoxes', Martin says (p.
Charles Darwin died in April 1882 at which time William Bateson and Walter Weldon were still Cambridge undergraduates and, indeed, still friends. In later years their bitter feud over the mechanisms of inheritance, evolution, and, in particular, the status of 'Natural Selection', was to colour Darwinian studies throughout the 1890s and well beyond.
How far should the practising historian accept the conclusion of the idealist analysis of history carried out by Michael Oakeshott in Experience and Its Modes (1), probably the most brilliant book on the philosophy of history written in the first half of the 20th century (even possibly includi
Edward Hallett Carr's contribution to the study of Soviet history is widely regarded as highly distinguished. In all probability very few would argue against this assessment of his multi-volume history of Soviet Russia. For the majority of historians he pretty much got the story straight.
Ernest Gellner, who died on 5 November 1995, was one of the great polymaths of the century. Many of his twenty books were concerned with philosophy, sociology and anthropology. Yet at the core of his work was an historical question.