So, in conclusion, there are very much aspects of reality that historians just don't grasp, because they too much focus on change, and especially on the continuous motor of change: conflict, struggle and war. We all know — surely we do? As a journalist, I tend to agree: peace and the absence of struggle or conflict is dull; when nothing happens, there's nothing to report, and so there's no history. Investigating the six most salient categories of human identity, difference, and confrontation—religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization—David Cannadine questions just how determinative each of them has really been. The book gave me the feeling of sitting next to a slightly racist, boring, drunk old Uncle at a xmas party. Yet our public discourse is polarized more than ever around the same simplistic divisions, and Manichean narrative has become the default mode to explain everything that is happening in the world today. This was one of the worst non-fiction books I've read in a long, long time and something of the standard I would expect to pick up at a discounted book shop. No doubt many historians hope that what they write about will also pose a moral challenge to the many surviving forms of discrimination and violence in the world.
While the narrator was fairly enjoyable The rest of the book was not. People with access to media, victors who write the history one sided tell the story, while the every day facts are put aside as they do not fit the narrative, the humanity. First, I would argue that it is the differences between groups of people that drive our development as a species. These are analysed as organisational categories, and subjected to a quizzical analysis, winkling out contradictions and paradoxes. Hovering well above the personal details of exemplars of the times, and focusing mostly on recent centuries, the author argues again and again that despite differences, most cultures or regimes accommodate others.
Things were more complicated than that. So I do judge books by covers! If there are conflicts, the conflicts are real; if there are debates, the debates are real; if there is oppression, the oppression is real. Again we are given a useful summary of, more particularly, feminism and feminist historiography; but, again, quite how historians in the future should treat the subject s in their efforts to heal divisions is far from clear. An interesting read and a good addition to nay social scientists library. Cosy bromides aside, he aims to clean up his own professional backyard. But often these turn out on closer inspection to be people talking past each other, or just disliking each other personally. David Cannadine detests generalisations and looks disapprovingly on any attempt to divide humanity into precise categories.
Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Anyway, there is the professor at the end of the lists, his tigers knocked down one by one. I say partially because, while he sometimes shows greater commonality in history, he sometimes shows a fragmentation into more than two camps on the particular dividing theme, and sometimes he just argues that the claim is just based on poor analysis, period. And that has served to bequeath an over-simple story of difference and conflict — a story that is invalidated, or at least may and should be counterbalanced, by the evident co-operation and mutual toleration often shown within ethnically, racially, and theologically mixed communities through the centuries. As long ago as the 1960s J. Through I generally do not read reviews in newspapers, I like my book shopping in real book shops and pick what I see. Given the missionary monotheism of Christianity, a religion that is both exclusive and proselytizing, the stage would seem set for stories of endless strife.
Cannadine's conclusion is documented in his title: the past has not been so divided by these fissures as most historians and political leaders have claimed. Rather they are artificial - and distinctly fragile - creations belied by the ample evidence that, in most times and places, people of various sorts have got along in amity and harmony. However, we are just as apt to not do so. At the end he says what we need to write more histories of cooperation. It is already a landmark work, and its title has entered our vocabulary. While his conclusions and language sometimes grow repetitive, they nonetheless serve to underscore at every turn an incisive argument buttressed by millennia of evidence.
Zoroastrianism is possibly the earliest extant religion. As long ago as the 1960s J. Q: The Undivided Past focuses on six categories of identity that have been used to define—and divide—humanity: religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization. It is simply not the case that for most of human history social groups, peoples, empires and genders have got on reasonably well. It is highly intelligent, stimulating, occasionally provocative and enormous fun to read. Sweeping accounts described how religious groups or nations managed to achieve great things, often after battling other groups. Alas, he would do well to remember that the task of historians is to interpret the past, not change it.
Since at least from the last two centuries, much of what we presented to ourselves at least in the West as the clear-cut linear progression of history has become questionable. And very few such controversies are resolved by there being an unequivocal winner: more usually, exhaustion sets in, and people move on to different issues. In his new book, David Cannadine has created a bold, fascinating new interpretation of the British 19th century in all its energy and dynamism, darkness and vice. Protestants, by the end of the 16th century, had splintered into many shades of dissent — Calvinist, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian — all united in their dislike of Rome but viewing each other with undisguised distaste. Again and again, categories have been found--religion, nation, class, gender, race, 'civilization'--that have sought to explain world events by fabricating some malevolent or helpless 'other'.
Actually his beginning is the profession of politics, or the sort of simple-minded politics embraced by the likes of George W. Be that as it may, it does not augur well for the future, considering some of the very real problems faced by many Christian organisations none of which entirely agree with one another. That is something which might well find favour with many contemporary theorists, but which must surely surprise and possibly shock all but a minority of practising historians, for whom a supposed however spurious detachment from any ideology has long been accounted a disciplinary virtue. I find two things wrong with this. Did you find one to be most significant, historically? Most of us, in reality, live with multiple identities all the time, and great harm is often done by insisting on the primacy of one identity at the price of disregarding all others.