Historical prejudice 1

August 23, 2002

Jeremy Black presents a tale of fear and loathing among historians in respect of the late Sir Jack Plumb ("A Plumb with an acerbic aftertaste", THES , August 16). Obituaries should not be hagiographies, of course, but details of how unpleasant or otherwise the individual was, although making for fascinating reading, should only impinge if they can explain an aspect of the person's historical practice. In the case of Plumb, it could be argued that his personality appears to have minimised what might have been a wider and more lasting historical legacy. However, bearing personal prejudices and grudges is minor compared with that generation of academic historians who worked tirelessly to exclude socialist and marxist historians from senior academic positions during the cold war.

Keith Flett
London Socialist Historians Group

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