Search-icon

The Undivided Past

Humanity Beyond Our Differences

By

Paperback published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

have you read it? rate it!
Histogram_reset_icon
(1 REVIEW)
ADD TO MY SHELF
About This Book

From one of our most acclaimed historians, a wise and provocative call to re-examine the way we look at the past: not merely as the story of incessant conflict between groups but also of human solidarity throughout the ages.

Investigating the six most salient categories of human identity, difference, and confrontation—religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization—David Cannadine questions just how determinative each of them has really been. For while each has motivated people dramatically at particular moments, they have rarely been as pervasive, as divisive, or as important as is suggested by such simplified polarities as “us versus them,” “black versus white,” or “the clash of civilizations.” For most of recorded time, these identities have been more fluid and these differences less unbridgeable than political leaders, media commentators—and some historians—would have us believe. Throughout history, in fact, fruitful conversations have continually taken place across these allegedly impermeable boundaries of identity: the world, as Cannadine shows, has never been simply and starkly divided between any two adversarial solidarities but always an interplay of overlapping constituencies.

Yet our public discourse is polarized more than ever around the same simplistic divisions, and Manichean narrative has become the default mode to explain everything that is happening in the world today. With wide-ranging erudition, David Cannadine compellingly argues against the pervasive and pernicious idea that conflict is the inevitable state of human affairs. The Undivided Past is an urgently needed work of history, one that is also about the present—and the future. 

Show less

From one of our most acclaimed historians, a wise and provocative call to re-examine the way we look at the past: not merely as the story of incessant conflict between groups but also of human solidarity throughout the ages.

Investigating the six most salient categories of human identity, difference, and confrontation—religion, nation, class, gender, race, and civilization—David Cannadine questions just how determinative each of them has really been. For while each has motivated people dramatically at particular moments, they have rarely been as pervasive, as divisive, or as important as is suggested by such simplified polarities as “us versus them,” “black versus white,” or “the clash of civilizations.” For most of recorded time, these identities have been more fluid and these differences less unbridgeable than political leaders, media commentators—and some historians—would have us believe. Throughout history, in fact, fruitful conversations have continually taken place across these allegedly impermeable boundaries of identity: the world, as Cannadine shows, has never been simply and starkly divided between any two adversarial solidarities but always an interplay of overlapping constituencies.

Yet our public discourse is polarized more than ever around the same simplistic divisions, and Manichean narrative has become the default mode to explain everything that is happening in the world today. With wide-ranging erudition, David Cannadine compellingly argues against the pervasive and pernicious idea that conflict is the inevitable state of human affairs. The Undivided Past is an urgently needed work of history, one that is also about the present—and the future. 

Product Details
Paperback (352 pages)
Published: January 14, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307389596
Other books byDavid Cannadine
  • Mellon

    Mellon
    An American Life
    A landmark work from one of the preeminent historians of our time: the first published biography of Andrew W. Mellon, the American colossus who bestrode the worlds of industry, government, and philanthropy, leaving his transformative stamp on each. Andrew Mellon, one of America’s greatest financiers, built a legendary personal fortune from banking to oil to aluminum manufacture, tracking America’s course to global economic supremacy. As treasury secretary under Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and finally Hoover, Mellon made the federal government run like a business–prefiguring the public official as CEO. He would be hailed as the architect of the Roaring Twenties, but, staying too long, would be blamed for the Great Depression, eventually to find himself a broken idol. Collecting art was his only nonprofessional gratification and his great gift to the American people, The National Gallery of Art, remains his most tangible legacy.

    Making History Now and Then

    Making History Now and Then
    Discoveries, Controversies and Explorations
    'History makes plain the complexity and contingency of human affairs and the range and variety of human experience; it enjoins suspicion of simplistic analysis, simplistic explanation, and simplistic prescription; it teaches proportion, perspective, reflectiveness, breadth of view, tolerance of differing opinions, and thus a greater sense of self-knowledge.'—David Cannadine This book brings together David Cannadine's most important reflections on how history has been written and made in Britain in the twentieth century. Empire, monarchy, parliament, the economy, culture, heritage and tradition: Cannadine casts his eye over some of the central topics of our age and their treatment by historians down the years, delivering rich insights into the nature and profession of history itself. Most of the essays included here were produced during his decade-long association with the Institute of Historical Research in London and they are framed by his inaugural and valedictory lectures there. The result is a remarkably coherent collection, which demonstrates yet again why Cannadine is one of the most thoughtful, original, incisive and readable historians of our time.

    The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy

    The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy
    "A brilliant, multifaceted chronicle of economic and social change." --The New York Times "No praise can be too high." --The New York Review of Books At the outset of the 1870s, the British aristocracy could rightly consider themselves the most fortunate people on earth: they held the lion's share of land, wealth, and power in the world's greatest empire. By the end of the 1930s they had lost not only a generation of sons in the First World War, but also much of their prosperity, prestige, and political significance. Deftly orchestrating an enormous array of documents and letters, facts, and statistics, David Cannadine shows how this shift came about--and how it was reinforced in the aftermath of the Second World War. Astonishingly learned, lucidly written, and sparkling with wit, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy is a landmark study that dramatically changes our understanding of British social history. "Cannadine has produced a great book, one that is comprehensive in its scope, and of critical importance."                                                                    --London Review of Books

    The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain

    The Rise and Fall of Class in Britain
    -- Paul A. Seaver, New York Times Book Review

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
Quote Cannot be Empty

Submitted quotes are usually posted within 48 hours

ThanksYour Quote Will be posted Shortly
Bookish