Adam Sisman

A Historian’s Heart

The Wartime Journals

By

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Does language matter? Hugh Trevor-Roper thought that it did. Nowadays it is fashionable to rate self-expression above precision. But Trevor-Roper believed that without clarity of language there can be no clarity of thought. Like Orwell (whom he admired), he knew that freedom is endangered when language becomes corrupt. These journals were written during the Second World War, when the defence of the English language against all forms of attack seemed especially important. They remained unseen until after his death in 2003, when they were discovered hidden in his house. Their publication now reveals a new side to the formidable historian. The notebook entries exhibit an intellectual in the process of formation: an isolated, reflective individual training his mind and refining his style.

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