An American journalist once remarked on the difference between France and the English-speaking world. The French, he noted, did not assume that one had to teach history in order to write it. Here is the first simplification with which this book must deal. He was right to sense a certain distrust of the ‘amateur’ on the part of the ‘professional’, that is to say the university-trained historian. He was wrong to suggest that this was a peculiarly Anglo-Saxon myopia, for in France, too, there are reservations about journalists ‘doing’ history. There are fears that they are drawn to the sensational, not to say the scandalous, and that editorial deadlines encourage rushed and incomplete research. The fact that they are often accomplished writers, who address mass markets, earn public acclaim and accumulate personal fortunes, only heightens the anxiety and fans the resentment of the Academy.
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Robert J. Young
- Macmillan Education UK
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