Thursday, March 25, 2010


Today's hero is a blast from the past in more ways than one, his name is Arnold John Percival Taylor, commonly known as A.J.P. Taylor, and his claim to fame is being one of the most intellectually gifted historians that I have ever been forced to, err had the pleasure of reading. The so a historian as a blast from the past, and the fact that in my previous life as a history graduate student (an abject failure I was), his "The Struggle for Mastery in Europe" was the first book I was assigned to read. I should have known from the start that perhaps a career in law was a better option, because Mr. Taylor's scholarship, and writing style sailed so far over my head that I was shocked at my own lack of learning. The "presentation" that I had to provide for my classmates on my reading of the book was rather disastrous. I figure you are bright enough to click your own way over to his website, and read all the details of his life, and also I am feeling quite lazy today. I will say that if you feel brave, and attempt to read any of Mr. Taylor's works prepare for a long haul. He will tell a story in the most complicated way possible, and he will drop names and use words that he ASSUMES you already know. The problem is that usually you don't know the names he is dropping, and therefore you feel a bit abashed when you have to Google the name to find out who in the blue fuck Taylor is talking about. It makes reading one of his books take about 3 times longer than normal. However, if you can keep up (which is tough) it is a worthwhile endeavour. Taylor is an awesome writer, and a extremely smart man, and you will learn something in virtually every paragraph. Whether that is from your own lack of education or his over abundance of it, is not really important, you still learn. He is even credited (though it is disputed) with coining the term "The Establishment" when referring to the British elite class. Taylor was a populist type of historian, and was vehemently opposed to the "Great Men" of history theory. He was famous for making statements that ridiculed, or pointed out the flaws of leaders. He once wrote of Metternich's political philosophies that, "most men could do better while shaving." He was determined to bring history to the common man, and many numerous appearances on TV in order to make that happen. His literary style was probably a bit much for the common man, but at least it was magnificent. So, for writing the book that whipped my entire ass as a budding historian, and is probably why I am a lawyer today, A.J.P. Taylor (March 25th, 1906-September 7th, 1990, at the age of 84) you are my (211th) hero of the day.

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