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The pop historians

Since 1945 Britain has bred a disproportionate number of readable historians. Following AJP Taylor, the line between historian and journalist has blurred. But has the new post-cold war generation, led by Niall Ferguson, taken too literally the claim that history is good "box office"?

By Daniel Johnson   November 1998

We are living through the end of the end of history. Our ageing population may be attached to the most irrational of traditions, but the prime minister has decreed that Britain is a young country, and he has a mandate for modernity. Heritage, the buzzword of the 1980s, is out; modernisation, the buzzword of the 1960s, is in. Does this mean that history is to be downgraded? By the government perhaps-have you noticed how Labour politicians are never photographed beside anything old?-but not necessarily by the nation. Indeed, there may be an appetite for a new past to explain the…

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