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  • Published: 19 March 2013
  • ISBN: 9781846147852
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

The Undivided Past

History Beyond Our Differences




An impassioned, controversial plea for us to recognise the importance of writing history

David Cannadine is one of Britain's most distinguished historians and this is his masterpiece. 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'. 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 the intellectual backing and justification for terrible political decisions. Again and again, categories have been found--whether religion, nation, class, gender, race or 'civilization'--that have sought to explain world events by fabricating some malevolent or helpless 'other'.

This book is above all an appeal to common humanity. We seem doomed always to fall (most recently in the wake of 9/11) into the 'us versus them' trap, but there is no reason why the history we read and write should not be much better than this and describe what we all have in common rather than what divides us.

  • Published: 19 March 2013
  • ISBN: 9781846147852
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 320

About the author

David Cannadine

Sir David Cannadine is Chair of the National Portrait Gallery in London, 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.

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Praise for The Undivided Past

Highly intelligent, stimulating, occasionally provocative and enormous fun to read

Philip Ziegler, Spectator BOOKS OF THE YEAR

An impassioned plea ... for an understanding of the past that finds its focus in our age-old conversations and collaborations, rather than in conflict ... The Undivided Past should earn applause

Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Sir David Cannadine is a distinguished historian; his new book ... 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

This collection winningly combines history, politics, and contemporary culture in a refreshingly optimistic manner

Tristram Hunt, BBC History Magazine

A plea for us to stop seeing the past in terms of conflict rather than communality

Melissa Katsoulis, Telegraph

Elegantly written and stimulating

David Priestland, Guardian

[Cannadine's] main purpose is to exhort us to overcome our differences ... to concentrate on exploring what brings us together

Mark Mazower, Financial Times

Ambitious and wide-ranging ... an interesting and informative read

Good Book Review

Cannadine writes as engagingly and fluently as ever

Richard Overy, New Statesman

Known for a streak of iconoclastic originality ... Cannadine is always worth reading

Jeffrey Collins, Times Literary Supplement

Controversial but stimulating

Financial Times

Has to be admired in terms of the breadth of its scope, its style and its study of the engagement and interaction between the big ideas and histories of the West and the stories of transcendence and interaction

International Affairs

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