This Social Union, This Commonwealth

18 May 2011 1:03

On reflection, perhaps I’ve been a little too quick to discount the historical significance of the Queen’s visit to Ireland this week. Like so much else, it’s a question of… Continue reading


When Dublin trembled

17 May 2011 18:00

On 17 May 1974 — 37 years ago today — I was a 19-year-old student at Trinity College Dublin, celebrating the end of term in the Pavilion Bar near the… Continue reading


Eight Hundred Years of Oppression and Now This?

17 May 2011 17:14

Pete is right to say there’s a definite "resonance" to these pictures. Nevertheless, I suspect that British people’s view of the "historic" significance of Her Majesty the Queen’s visit to… Continue reading


An historic moment

17 May 2011 15:44

There is something incredibly resonant about the images of the Queen arriving in the Republic of Ireland this afternoon. You have probably heard the facts by now — that she… Continue reading


Bin Laden strikes from beyond the grave

13 May 2011 9:09

And so it starts. The news that suicide bombers have attacked the military base at Shabqadar, northern Pakistan, sounds a chilling note. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the… Continue reading


From the archives – the Khmers Rouge’s debt to 1950s France

15 April 2011 18:01

It is 13 years to the day since Pol Pot died in mysterious circumstances while in exile on Cambodia’s remote western border with Thailand. Where did Pot and his maniacal… Continue reading


Ferguson’s triumph

10 April 2011 21:17

The last episode of Niall Ferguson’s documentary series, Civilization, has just been aired — and for those who missed it, it’s time to buy the DVD box set. Or, better… Continue reading


The Poor Bloody Infantry Faces More Friendly Fire?

5 April 2011 15:10

In opposition Liam Fox boasted he could cut the Ministry of Defence by 25% without there being any impact on "frontline" troops. The confirmation that there will be 17,000 fewer… Continue reading


The joy of diversion

26 March 2011 12:45

“We should have more history on the programme,” said Evan Davis at the end of yesterday’s episode of R4’s Today. “I learned a lot from that.” He had just been… Continue reading


Stalin: Not Such a Bad Chap Really

17 March 2011 14:37

That, anyway, seems to be one of the things to come out of Terry Eagleton’s new book, Why Marx Was Right. It’s not published until May but Tyler Cowen reports… Continue reading


The Execution of Admiral Byng

14 March 2011 15:59

It took place, as James Kirkup reminds us, on this day in 1757. As James puts it: To this day, his family argue – with considerable justification — that he… Continue reading


How the West became so dominant

19 February 2011 15:46

Niall Ferguson has a zippy essay in The Times today previewing his forthcoming TV series and book on why the West became so dominant over the past 600 years. He… Continue reading


Two Second World War Stories

18 February 2011 19:18

Riots today in Tobruk and Benghazi, places largely known to me from films and histories and comics of the Second World War. The scale of that conflict is, in some… Continue reading


Traducing Canute Watch: Frank Field

7 February 2011 1:24

Interviewed by the Times, Frank Field fails the Canute Test: Mr Field said that it was not good enough for the Government to say there was enough money in the… Continue reading


Yes, Virginia, the World Gets Better

31 January 2011 14:33

The year before I was born fewer than one in three countries in the world could be considered properly free. Today, according to Freedom House, nearly one in two can… Continue reading


Thank you, Nacia Anastazja Brodziak

27 January 2011 15:08

Today is Holocaust Day. A day to remember the horrors of the past. But it should also be an occasion to recall the moments of hope and the people –… Continue reading


Theatre to mark Western decline

11 January 2011 12:12

USO is not what it once was. The days of Bob Hope’s wisecracking have receded into the past, and ogled Playmates no longer sex their way across stages. The Pentagon… Continue reading


The Greatest Englishmen XI

16 December 2010 23:08

17th September 1932: Members of the MCC cricket team aboard the liner ‘Orontes’ at Tilbury, en route for Australia (left to right) Walter Hammond, Douglas Jardine (captain), Brown, Bowes, Duckworth… Continue reading


Why we must remember the lessons of the Anglo-Scottish Enlightenment

7 December 2010 14:20

The Adam Smith Institute kindly asked me to speak at their Christmas reception last night, and yesterday I was mulling what to say. When at The Scotsman ten years ago,… Continue reading


A thinker of arresting and compelling grandeur

27 November 2010 13:51

John Ruskin is the greatest writer whom, today, an educated person can admit not having read without embarrassment. One professes ignorance of Shakespeare or Dickens with apology or defiance, but… Continue reading


The strange case of Turkey, Islamic history and V.S. Naipaul

25 November 2010 18:09

Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul has pulled out of the European Writers’ Parliament in Istanbul, following pressure from Turkish writers who felt ‘uneasy’ about comments he had made about Islam in… Continue reading


Who will benefit from the Royal wedding?

23 November 2010 16:33

David Cameron is playing down the effect the Royal Wedding will have on the 5th May elections, especially the AV referendum. Fleet Street’s having none of it however. On the… Continue reading


There was more to Blair than a winning smile

20 November 2010 14:36

Following Sir Christopher Meyer’s review of George Bush’s Decision Points, here is the other half of the double act. The closest I’ve come to meeting Tony Blair was knocking into… Continue reading


This Island Story

9 November 2010 17:34

I half-agree with James’s (dangerously!) quasi-Whiggish view on the teaching of British history but would put it slightly differently: pupils in England should learn how Britain became a United Kingdom.… Continue reading


What about Whig history?

9 November 2010 16:00

Simon Schama, who is advising the government on drawing up a new history section of the national curriculum, has an essay in The Guardian today setting out why and what… Continue reading