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FYI Simon Schama interview on BBC.

by drpruner / March 26, 2011 3:14 AM PDT

There's an interview with him on BBC "5 minutes with ..." program.
I gathered from SE he's controversial (left or right I can't recall).

"There's no nobler label than ['populariser of history']".

[Can you remember lots of the kings and queens of England?]
'Oh, yes. Well, I can't do all the Ethels and Eggnogs ...'

[What's your favorite century?]
"This one; it's got to be the one you're living in."

I have an audiobook of his I haven't heard yet.

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He may be controversial simply because I mentioned him
by Ziks511 / March 26, 2011 1:09 PM PDT

repeatedly, and I think his work is superlative. He is an academic who can speak to people without removing nuance from what he is communicating. He also does not speak down to his audience but in a way invites them to join him on the journey he's making.

He was first famous for his book on Holland and the Dutch development of their commerce which pre-dated even that of the English. Then he wrote what I consider to be the definitive book on the French Revolution, entitled Citizens. Again both compulsively readable and scrupulously researched. He then did two series for the BBC turned into books called the History of Britain.

He's a very bright Essex boy who went to one of the grammar schools in Southend I believe and on to Oxford or Cambridge and on into the stratosphere.

I do believe he is opposed to the changes which have occurred in the English University system but that covers both the Blair New Labour and the Cameron Conservatives so there's no real differentiating. He is opposed to making wealth a critical factor in university attendance which is what has happened in Britain in the last 14 years. Labour introduced tuition fees as one of their first actions upon being elected in '97 and the Conservatives have just cranked them up to L5000 a year. Scotland remains tuition free but has had to put limits on the number of students from England Northern Ireland and Wales that it can accept, otherwise the number of native born Scots would be diminished.


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The book on Holland was The Embarassment of Riches.
by Ziks511 / March 27, 2011 5:21 PM PDT

while at Columbia he wrote an exceptional book called Landscapt and Memories which I haven't had a chance to read but for which the reviews are brilliant. Schama has always been interested in Art, and this book beside discussing how Landscape affects character and turns up in odd places in paintings discusses its effect nationally and how we remember the past. Driving through Revolutionary Massachusetts or seeing Fort McHenry at the mouth of the Chesapeake, or Fort Ticonderoga in New York state each have impacts we didn't quite expect, stirring up memories which aren't our memories, but come from our families experiences of these places, until you get to battlefields where family members fought and died,or fought and lived but were never quite free of the battle.


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