For historians this is the best and worst of times. Our numbers have boomed over the last forty years and the subjects we tackle have multiplied to match. The output of rubbish, of course, has grown proportionately; but the good scholarship – convincingly imagined, richly researched, vividly evoked, fascinating and new – has exploded.
Two generations of social and cultural revolution have liberated us to penetrate parts of society our predecessors did not reach: the jetsam of history, the excluded classes and cultures. There are no more ‘people without history’, no minorities marginalised into invisibility. Other disciplines have broadened and sharpened historians’ vision: anthropology,