Author(s): David Cannadine
David Cannadine's impassioned, controversial plea for us to recognise the importance of both equality and history. Great works of history have so often had at their heart a wish to sift people in ways that have been profoundly damaging and provided intellectual justification for terrible political decisions. 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'. The Undivided Past is an agonised attempt to understand how so much of the writing of history has been driven by a fatal desire to dramatize differences - to create an 'us versus them'. Is is above all an appeal to common humanity.
[Cannadine's] great strength is his lucid and crushing treatment of false prophets ... his case is urgent, as the news demonstrates every day ... Cannadine is frank in acknowledging that his is not the last word ... but he has uttered the first word and deserves exhaustive discussion. His plea is of enormous value. It should be heard in every think tank, madrassa, history workshop and sixth form and should guide the utterances of statesmen -- Hugh Brogan History Today Cannadine marshals modern scholarship, a sure historical sweep, and a confident polemic ... Quite rightly, Cannadine denounces the collective, warring identities conjured up by [neoconservative scholars] and again highlights a broader history of cultural exchange ... this collection winningly combines history, politics, and contemporary culture in a refreshingly optimistic manner -- Tristram Hunt MP BBC History An ambitious and wide-ranging exploration of the notion of human solidarity. It explores the concept by seeking to analyse what divides us, neatly sidestepping the need to list what we have in common ... an interesting and informative read Good Book Review [An] impassioned plea ... The Undivided Past should earn applause ... The next time some tub-thumping loudmouth proclaims the timeless truth of a binary divide - between, say, 'Britain' and 'Europe' - throw this book at them -- Boyd Tonkin Independent Highly intelligent, stimulating, occasionally provocative and enormous fun to read ... The Undivided Past is a cry for tolerance ... It is a noble message and one that historians would do well to heed -- Philip Ziegler Spectator Elegantly written and stimulating ... [Cannadine] goes much further than most academic historians in challenging the centrality of tensions based on nation, class, ethnicity and gender -- David Priestland Guardian Cannadine urges us to see through [prejudices] and past them, to get away from the old chestnuts of class, race, gender and the rest, and to concentrate on exploring what brings us together -- Mark Mazower Financial Times Each chapter of Cannadine's book ... displays the incisive and original argument for which he is renowned ... Cannadine is surely right to insist on a recovery of the unchronicled swathes of human history dominated by cooperation and peace, rather than wars of race, religion or nationalism ... [The Undivided Past displays] his characteristic style and ingenuity -- Jeffrey Collins Times Literary Supplement Cannadine has produced a set of lively and informative essays that are leavened ... by a dry wit -- Jill Stephenson Times Higher Education
Sir David Cannadine is Chair of the National Portrait Gallery, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University and General Editor of the Penguin History of Europe and Penguin History of Britain. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and the Chair of the Blue Plaques Committee. His major books include The Rise and Fall of the British Aristocracy, Ornamentalism and Mellon: A Life. He has previously taught at Cambridge, Columbia and London universities.