I Didn’t Realise Petra Was an Ad for Merkel’s Immigration Policy: Civilisations Reviewed

Politics aside, Simon Schama has the makings of a first-rate TV historian.

Simon Schauma
Simon Schama at Trappenhaus, Residenz, Wurzburg looking at fresco by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Gian Domenico Tiepolo, 1752-3 (Photo: Nutopia)

Most of the history I know and remember comes from my inspirational prep school teacher Mr Bradshaw. History was taught so much better in those days. It was all kings and queens, battles and dates, with no room for any of that nonsense like,‘Imagine you are a suffragette going to protest the oppressive male hegemony at the races. Describe how it feels to be crushed by the king’s horse.’

Nor was there any question that you were participating in some kind of collaborative learning experience. Your ‘master’ taught; you listened and learned — and occasionally made distracting jokes and got bits of chalk chucked at you. That was the deal and it worked very well. This was the tail end of the era defined by programmes like Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation: one still confident enough to imagine that there are such things as good and bad art, superior and inferior cultures, right and wrong judgments.

Read the rest in the Spectator.