LETTERS:Self-scrutiny for white males

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The Independent Online
From Mr James Arnold-Baker Sir: Following Mark Lawson's article "Fugitives from the book police" (31 January), I would like to put into context Oxford University Press's decision not to publish Professor John Vincent's A Very Short Introduction to History. Professor Vincent, a respected scholar who has been published by OUP in the past, was invited to submit a proposal for a volume on history in a series of introductions to a variety of academic disciplines, aimed at sixth-formers, undergraduates, and the general reader.

Advisers' reports on an early draft of the book identified a number of important areas that needed to be covered in greater depth and it was agreed with Professor Vincent that these should be addressed in the final typescript. They included social history, ancient history, and European and American history. Despite the early identification of these issues, they were not addressed in the final typescript to the extent that OUP felt necessary, given the objectives and intended readership of the series in question.

The question of "inclusive language", or "political correctness", had no bearing whatsoever on OUP's decision not to publish the book.

Yours faithfully, James Arnold-Baker Secretary to the Delegates and Chief Executive Oxford University Press Oxford 31 January

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