The abuse of history for political purposes is as old as history itself. In recent years, we have seen campaigns to rewrite the history of several democratic nations in a way that undermines their solidarity as communities, their sense of achievement, even their very legitimacy.
These ‘culture wars’, pursued in the media, in public spaces, in museums, universities, schools, civil services, local government, business corporations and even churches, are particularly virulent in North America, Australasia and the United Kingdom. Activists assert that ‘facing up’ to a past presented as overwhelmingly and permanently shameful and guilt-laden is the way to a better and fairer future. We see no evidence that this is true. On the contrary, tendentious and even blatantly false readings of history are creating or aggravating divisions, resentments, and even violence. We do not take the view that our histories are uniformly praiseworthy—that would be absurd. But we reject as equally absurd the claim that they are essentially shameful.
We agree that history consists of many opinions and many voices. But this does not mean that all opinions are valid, and certainly none should be imposed as a new orthodoxy. We intend to challenge distortions of history, and to provide context, explanation and balance in a debate in which condemnation is too often preferred to understanding. We are an independent group of scholars with a wide range of opinions on many subjects, but with the shared conviction that history requires careful interpretation of complex evidence, and should not be a vehicle for facile propaganda.
Who We Are
is Director of the Foundations of Western Civilization Program at the Institute of Public Affairs, Australia. She holds a BA in History from the University of Monash, an MA in Spanish from the University of St Andrews and a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge. She is currently at the forefront of the ‘Culture Wars’ in Australia.
is Emeritus Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge and a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, a Fellow of the British Academy and a Member of the Academia Europaea. His books include The Great Sea: a Human History of the Mediterranean (2011; British Academy Medal) and The Boundless Sea: a Human History of the Oceans (2019; Wolfson History Prize, 2020). He has been appointed Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella by the President of Italy, and is a visiting Beacon Professor at the newly-founded University of Gibraltar and a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe (Warsaw).
Nigel Aston, FRHS
is an Honorary Fellow in the School of History, Politics, and International Relations at the University of Leicester where he taught for twenty years until 2019. He has written and published widely on British and French eighteenth-century religious, political, and intellectual history. His most recent publication was Negotiating Toleration: Dissent and the Hanoverian Succession 1714-1760 (2019), co-edited with Benjamin Bankhurst
author of Politics Under the Influence. Vodka and Public Policy in Putin’s Russia
Nigel Biggar, CBE
is Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, Oxford, and Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life. His works include What’s Wrong with Rights? (2020), and Between Kin and Cosmopolis: An Ethic of the Nation (2014). His latest book, Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning will be published by William Collins in 2022.
Jeremy Black, MBE
is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Exeter, and the author of numerous works on British and international history.
is Emeritus Professor of Modern European History at Cambridge, a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, and a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include The French Revolutionary Wars; The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture; The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815; The Triumph of Music; The Romantic Revolution; Frederick the Great King of Prussia (British Academy Medal); and George I.
is Assistant Professor of History at Brock University, and from 2005-2015 was a Tier II Canada Research Chair in Digital Humanities. He is the author of Emergence and Empire (2013), which received the Gertrude K. Robinson prize.
is Emeritus Professor at Solent University and Honorary Professor at University College, London. He has published extensively on early-modern Anglo-Italian subjects and now works on the legacy of ancient Egypt in Shakespearean England. He is a Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della solidarietà italiana.
is Hall Distinguished Professor of British History Emeritus at the University of Kansas; he was formerly a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and of All Souls College, Oxford; and a Visiting Professor at the Committee on Social Thought of the University of Chicago. His best known books are English Society 1660-1832 and Thomas Paine: Britain, America, and France in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution.
is co-editor and contributing author of What Should Schools Teach: Disciplines, Subjects and the Pursuit of Truth
Marie Kawthar Daouda
is Stipendiary Lecturer in French, Oriel College, Oxford. She studied French and English literature at La Sorbonne and at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, and is the author of L’Anti-Salomé, représentations de la féminité bienveillante au temps de la Décadence (1850-1920).
is professor of Military History at the University of Buckingham, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His thirteen books include The Indian Mutiny (2002), Victoria’s Wars (2006), Operation Thunderbolt (2015) and Crucible of Hell (2020). Website: www.sauldavid.co.uk
Ruth Dudley Edwards
is a D.Litt. of the National University of Ireland, and an honorary D.Litt. from Queen’s University Belfast. She won the Prize for Irish Historical Research for her biography of Patrick Pearse and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography in 1987. Among her recent work is The Seven: The Lives and Legacies of the Founding Fathers of the Irish Republic (2016). She has served as Chairwoman of the British Association for Irish Studies, and has a Facebook free-speech page and is on Twitter at @RuthDE.
is Professor of Canadian history at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada. He writes on Canadian political, cultural, and intellectual history. His most recent books include Unbuttoned: A History of Mackenzie KIng’s Secret Life (2017) and No Place for the State (2020) and he is the creator and host of the Canadian history podcast 1867 & All That.
is Professor of Politics and Public Administration at Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada) as well as Senior Fellow at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary History at the University of Toronto. His recent books include Prime Ministerial Power in Canada: Its Origins under Macdonald, Laurier and Borden (2017) and Embattled Nation: Canada’s Wartime Election of 1917 (2017, with David MacKenzie) and an edited volume, The Unexpected Louis St-Laurent: Politics and Policies for a Modern Canada (2020). He is the founder of The Literary Review of Canada and for many years was President of the Champlain Society.
Brad Faught, FRHistS
is Professor and Chair, Department of History & Global Studies, Tyndale University, and Senior Fellow, Massey College, University of Toronto. His works include Kitchener: Hero and Anti-Hero (2016) and Cairo 1921: Ten Days that Made the Middle East is forthcoming
is Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a senior faculty fellow of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. He is the author of sixteen books, the latest of which is Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe (2021). He holds the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service.
is Senior Lecturer in Economic History and International Studies at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He has published widely on Iberian, Mediterranean, and Global History, is a founding editor of the Journal of Global Slavery, and a co-editor of the Studies in Global Slavery book series for Brill. Fynn-Paul won the European History Quarterly Prize in 2016. In 2020, his Spectator article “Myth of the Stolen Country” went viral, enraging large swathes of academic twitter. His book on the history of European-New World encounters will be published by Post Hill Press in 2022.
is Professor of Political Science, Portland State University. He is the author of “The Case for Colonialism”, The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’ Epic Defence of the British Empire, and The German Colonial Achievement and Its Aftermath. A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Oxford, he is a member of the board of the National Association of Scholars.
is the author of prize-winning biographies of George Curzon and Rudyard Kipling, and of The British in India and The Ruling Caste, a history of the Indian Civil Service. His other historical works include books on Spain and Italy.
is emeritus fellow of St. Peter’s College, Oxford. He taught British and American History in Oxford for three decades, convening the History Faculty’s Special Subject on ‘Slavery and Emancipation in the United States’. For ten years 2004-14, he was the Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Latterly he was Director of the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. His books include a history of workers’ education, Dons and Workers (OUP, 1995); The Life of R. H. Tawney, the historian and pre-eminent British socialist thinker (Bloomsbury, 2013); a study of the mid-Victorian Social Science Association (CUP 2002) from which the Trades’ Union Congress emerged in 1868; and his forthcoming study of the history of social statistics, Victorians and Numbers (OUP, 2022) includes chapters on working-class statisticians.
is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McMaster University, Ontario, Canada. His books include The Foundations of Primitive Thought, The Principles of Social Evolution, Ethical Thought in Increasingly Complex Societies, The Konso of Ethiopia, Bloodshed and Vengeance in the Papuan Mountains, and Do We Need God to be Good? He conducted several years’ fieldwork in Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea, and received a D.Litt from Oxford in 1989. He is also a sometime Bye Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge.
is CEO of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation in Sydney. Currently an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Catholic University, he was from 2009 to 2020 Chair Professor of English at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he is a founding Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of the Humanities. He was Reader in English, Head of English and later Head of Humanities at the Australian National University, where he taught from 1990 to 2008. He is the author or editor of five books including the prizewinning Reader in European Romanticism (2014), Poetry and Philosophy from Homer to Rousseau (2005), and Redemption in Poetry and Philosophy (2013).
is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Buckingham, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is the author of the sequence of books High Minds, The Age of Decadence and Staring at God, and editor of the complete edition of The Diaries of Henry ‘Chips’ Channon.
is the author of The Golden Warrior: the Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia; The Rise and Fall of the British Empire; Raj: the Making and Unmaking of British India; Churchill and Empire: Portrait of an Imperialist, and Empires in the Sun: The Struggle for the Mastery of Africa.
is emeritus professor of economic history at Queen’s University Belfast and visiting professor, Ulster University. He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy. His recent books include Unhappy the Land: The Most Oppressed People Ever, the Irish? (2016) and Who Was Responsible for the Troubles? The Northern Ireland Conflict (2020).
has a career spanning universities in both South Africa and Australia. He has published extensively in the fields of political communication and South Africa. His books include The Rise, Fall and Legacy of Apartheid; and Roots of the Pax Americana.
is a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include a history of Kosovo (1998), a 3-volume critical edition of Hobbes’s Leviathan (2012), and Useful Enemies: Islam and the Ottoman Empire in Western Political Thought, 1450-1750 (2019). He was knighted, for services to scholarship, journalism and European history, in 2014.
is a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, Honorary Professor of Medieval Philosophy in the University of Cambridge, Visiting Professor at the Università della Svizzera Italiana and a Fellow of the British Academy. His publications include The Philosophy of Peter Abelard (1997), Boethius (2003), The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy (ed.) (2012), Pagans and Philosophers: the problem of paganism from Augustine to Leibniz (2015), King’s Hall, Cambridge and the Fourteenth-Century Universities. New perspectives (ed.) (2020).
is an author and broadcaster, whose books include Indira Gandhi: A Biography (1976), Indian Tales of the Raj (1990) and Macaulay: Britain’s Liberal Imperialist (2013).
is Professor of History at the Auckland University of Technology and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He was shortlisted for the 2014 Ernest Scott Australasian Prize in History. Recent works include When Darkness Stays: Hōhepa Kereopa and a Tūhoe Oral History (2020) and The Rise and Fall of James Busby: His Majesty’s British Resident in New Zealand (2020)
is a visiting professor at the College of Europe in Warsaw. His recent works include Berlin at War (2010), The Devils’ Alliance: Hitler’s Pact with Stalin (2014) and First to Fight: The Polish War, 1939 (2019), which was awarded the History Prize of the Polish Foreign Ministry. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for services to Polish history in 2020.
is University Lecturer in Philosophy of Religion at Cambridge. He is the author of The Mind of God and the Works of Nature: Laws and Powers in Naturalism, Platonism, and Classical Theism (2019)
Cornelia van der Poll
is Lecturer in Greek at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford. Her interests include Homer and early Christian literature.
Gwythian Prins, FRHistS (emeritus)
is Research Professor emeritus, London School of Economics having previously taught at Cambridge and been Alliance Research Professor at Columbia in New York. He is currently Visiting Research Professor, Humanities Research Institute, University of Buckingham and Director, Cambridge Security Initiative Research Unit. His research interests and publications span African cultural and medical anthropological history for which he won the Herskovits Prize, imperial histories and geopolitics with a particular specialism in applied naval, strategic and defence history. He also served a spell in the UK Defence Research Agency.
is a Visiting Professor at the War Studies Department of King’s College, London, the Lehrman Institute Distinguished Lecturer at the New-York Historical Society and the Roger & Martha Mertz Visiting Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of fifteen books, including Napoleon the Great and Churchill: Walking with Destiny.
is Professor of Early Modern History and Deputy Director of the Institute for War and Strategy at the University of St Andrews. He has also taught at Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham universities, and has held research fellowships of the British Academy and Alexander von Humboldt Institution. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on war and finance in France during the 17th and 18th centuries.
Mark Stocker, FSA
is former Curator, Historical International Art, at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. He has taught at the universities of Canterbury and Otago. His publications include numerous contributions to The Burlington Magazine and When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 (2021).
is Professor & Head of Research and Development, Strategy and Security Institute (SSI), University of Exeter; The Thomas Telford Associate Fellow, Council on Geo-Strategy; and an advisory council member of the Free Speech Union.
is Emeritus Professor of French History, Cambridge, and a Fellow of St John’s College. He holds the Palmes Académiques for services to French culture. Recent works include The English and Their History (2014), Paris, bivouac des révolutions (2014), and This Sovereign Isle: Britain In and Out of Europe (2021).
is Professor of Anthropology, San José State University. Her most recent book, co-authored with James W. Springer, is Repatriation and Erasing the Past (2020).
Vernon Bogdanor CBE
is Professor of Government at the Institute of Contemporary British History, King’s College, London. He was formerly Professor of Government at Oxford University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences. He has been an adviser to a number of governments, including those of Albania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Israel, Mauritius, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Trinidad. His books include Britain and Europe in a Troubled World (Yale University Press 2020), and he is currently writing a multi-volume work on British political history from 1895 to 1997.
Robert Tombs and David Abulafia
Newsletter and social media editor:
a Cambridge PhD student
Nigel Biggar, Marie Kawthar Daouda, Saul David, Niall Ferguson, Simon Haines, Liam Kennedy, Zareer Masani, Cornelia van der Poll, Gwythian Prins, Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, Doug Stokes, Elizabeth Weiss