There are those who wonder if the whole of history is now
valuable only as a politically correct lesson in the stupidity and
cruelty of monarchs, aristocrats, industrialists and generals.
Stern, loveless voices tell us that history as we know it is an
irrelevance, with its obsession with dead white men, or with
Judaeo-Christianity, or classical antiquity, or the West, or
enlightenment, or wars, dynasties and treaties…
History, then, as one long, grovelling apology or act of selfabasement and self-laceration. A history in which historians have
to stand on one side of an argument or another, for, in between,
they are nothing but dry-as-dust statisticians. Or we see
historians as creepy hindsight critics who can, in the safety of
their studies, point out to Alexander the Great and Napoleon
where they went wrong and how they would have done it better.
There’s no phrase I can come up that will encapsulate in
a winning sound-bite why history matters. We know that
history matters, we know that it is thrilling, absorbing,
fascinating, delightful and infuriating, that it is life…
History is not the story of strangers, aliens from another
realm; it is the story of us had we been born a little earlier.
History is memory; we have to remember what it is like to
be a Roman, or a Jacobite or a Chartist or even - if we
dare, and we should dare - a Nazi. History is not
abstraction, it is the enemy of abstraction.
Salinger. Official trailer.