Saturday, August 1, 2020

Reading history

Matthew Franck recommends several non-academic historians—C.V. Wedgwood, Barbara Tuchman, Antonia Fraser, Winston Churchill, Paul Johnson—all of whom I have read (but not all they have written). This is history that is fun to read. His list is hardly exhaustive but it is a good one. This is what he writes about Johnson:
If a history of Europe in the fourteenth century is ambitious, how about the whole world in a period just closing as the author writes? That was the subject of the prolific British journalist and author Paul Johnson in Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties (1983). This is highly opinionated conservative history writing, but eminently readable and with a strongly argued thesis about modern totalitarianism’s threat to the freedom of the human mind. Johnson punctuates his tale with vignettes that show the follies of the great and the good, as when George Bernard Shaw, during the Soviet Union’s 1932 famine, “threw his food supplies out of the train window just before crossing the Russian frontier ‘convinced that there were no shortages in Russia.’ ‘Where do you see any food shortage?’ he asked, glancing round the foreigners-only restaurant of the Moscow Metropole.”
Regarding Churchill:
.... The day after Churchill’s death in 1965, the political philosopher Leo Strauss said to his graduate seminar at the University of Chicago, “Not a whit less important than [Churchill’s] deeds and speeches are his writings, above all his Marlborough—the greatest historical work written in our century, an inexhaustible mine of political wisdom and understanding, which should be required reading for every student of political science.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.