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.
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.