Christopher Silvester

Exploring the Nature of Historical Truth

Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations)

By

Granta Books 352pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

Simon Schama is a professional historian who teaches at Harvard University. He is also a popular historian, whose 1983 book about the French Revolution, Citizens, became a well-deserved bestseller. But he is not a popular historian in the A J P Taylor mould, fascinated by problems of historical causation and able to express them in a compellingly precise style. Instead his approach is literary and digressive, seeking to establish mood and colour, given to flights of fancy (some of which appear overworked and absurd) and to ‘fine’ (even purple) writing. He reminds me a little of G M Young. It is the whimsicality of his inquiry and the quality of phrasing that counts.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Here's reviewing Rachel Kushner's novel about a woman caught in the injustice of the US prison system,… ,
    • 'Hart sets out to unsettle, startle and disturb. In this strange, disconcerting, radical version of a strange, disc… ,
    • Here is @MannJessica's June crime fiction round-up, discussing books by Georges Simenon, Jack Grimwood,… ,
    • John Stubbs reviews Stephen Greenblatt's latest, 'Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power' ,
    • RT : What happened when US military strategist Herman Kahn - one of Kubrick’s three models for Dr Strangelove - took LSD… ,
    • 'Pollan has no doubt that the use of psychedelics could have a powerfully beneficial effect on a range of condition… ,
    • A memoir about an Untouchable family and the 'formation of modern India': 'Ants among Elephants' by @gidla_sujatha… ,