By Reba Soffer
History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America examines the topics, reasons, and private and highbrow origins of conservative historians who have been additionally winning public intellectuals. of their look for a persuasive and huge charm, conservatives depended until eventually not less than the Sixties upon heritage and historians to supply conservative options with authority and authenticity. starting with the nice battle in Britain and the second one international conflict in the United States, conservative historians participated actively and influentially in debates concerning the middle, soul, and particularly the brain of conservatism. specific emphasis is put on 4 historians in Britain--F. J. C. Hearnshaw, Keith Feiling, Arthur Bryant, and Herbert Butterfield--and 3 in America-Daniel Boorstin, Peter Viereck, and Russell Kirk-who built conservative responses to unparalleled and dangerous occasions either at domestic and in another country. those historians shared uncomplicated assumptions approximately human nature and society, yet their matters, interpretations, conclusions, and prescriptions have been self sufficient and idiosyncratic. Uniquely on the subject of strong political figures, every one historian additionally spoke on to a wide public, which acquired their books, learn their contributions to newspapers and journals, listened to them at the radio, and watched them on tv. Provocative and compelling, Reba Soffer's pioneering examine presents a finished rationalization of the content material, context, and effects of conservative rules that turned dominant in Britain and remained marginal in the USA until eventually the Reagan ascendancy.
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Extra info for History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America: From the Great War to Thatcher and Reagan
Ideas are not autonomous events. It is difﬁcult, if not impossible, to imagine independent or unrelated events because they all belong in an interwoven tapestry with material, psychological, and conceptual texture. Although often interacting and overlapping, ideas have identiﬁable, historically speciﬁc contexts that cannot be reduced to universal myths. Obscurity need not be confused with incomprehensibility. As an intellectual historian, in common with other kinds of historians, I recognize that absolute objectivity and complete disinterestedness are neither possible nor desirable.
Many directions in intellectual history, including this book, share an interest in the different uses of language as they occur in historical conversations and in the construction (or deconstruction) and dissemination of intellectual information. Another member of the ‘Cambridge school’, the New Zealander J. G. A. ³⁷ Pocock identiﬁed himself with ‘Cambridge’ historians of historiography who ‘see historians as situated at moments in history, which present them with narratives to be told and with the need to retell them’.
Accepting these caveats and the relative intransigence of obstacles, how then should intellectual historians study political thought? It is relatively easy to eliminate the unsatisfactory strategies: neither general models nor paradigms illuminate the historical realities of conservatism in twentieth-century Britain or America. To recreate the context in which conservative thinking occurred, it is necessary to expose hidden assumptions, identify different kinds of thinking, and suggest why that thinking responded to, or anticipated, particular events.