Leading article: If history is bunk, who's to blame?


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The Independent Online

According to the chairman of the Wolfson History Prize, there is no decent history being written because the younger generation is jazzing up its work with one eye on the best-seller list.

The development is a regrettable one. But it does not come out of the blue. For some years, academics have concentrated on producing narrowly focused monographs on highly specialised areas and abandoned narrative for analysis. Popular storytellers have stepped in to fill the gap.

Sadly, popularisers can be less concerned with primary sources and more with creating an emotional connection. Often they judge historical figures by modern standards, or use history as an ideological weapon to score contemporary points.

The solution is simple: the academic historians who have done all the monographic legwork should get down to writing more rattling good reads themselves.