Several things got me interested in U.S. history when I was a teenager – rock n’roll, blues, civil rights, John F. Kennedy (hard to believe now!), and the war in Vietnam. By the time I became a student at Edinburgh University, protests against American involvement in the conflict in S.E. Asia had spread to Britain … More An American Historian visits Vietnam & Cambodia
One hundred years ago today, on April 6th 1917, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to approve Woodrow Wilson’s call for a declaration of war against Germany to “make the world safe for democracy”. Although the United States was only directly involved in the First World War for a period of nineteen months, from 6 … More The USA and World War I
Writing a preview of the Cheltenham Literature Festival, I suggested all History students should read literature. I was reminded of this today when I read the (belated – he died in June) obituary of Michael Herr in The Guardian. Herr’s book, Dispatches (1977), was one of the most powerful pieces of writing dealing with the … More Literature, History, and the Vietnam War
Having just been to see Race, the (rather boring, I have to say) bio-pic about the great African American athlete, Jesse Owens, I found myself thinking about people like Owens, and Joe Louis, and contrasting them with Muhammad Ali. How many people recall Owens and his achievements at the 1936 Olympics – four golds, three … More The Man – or his Times?
This Friday will witness the funeral of Muhammad Ali, the greatest boxer in history and a figure whose importance transcended sport. Hundreds will attend his funeral and many thousands more around the world will mourn his passing because Ali was internationally loved. He was one of my heroes. Thousands of words have been written about … More The Passing of a Hero