Historians say Boris Johnson’s history should not be taken too seriously

In Uncategorized on May 18, 2016 by kmflett

London Socialist Historians Group

Media Release 18th May

Contact Keith Flett 07803 167266

Historians say Boris Johnson’s history should not be taken too seriously.


The London Socialist Historians Group which organises the socialist history seminar at the Institute of Historical Research in central London, has said that the claim of Chris Grayling that Boris Johnson is an ‘historian’, made on the Radio 4 Today programme on 18th May, should not be taken too seriously.

The comments under discussion relate to a suggestion by the former London Mayor that Hitler had some interest in creating a European super-state that might have had similarities with some aspects of the EU.

The historians say that Boris Johnson has written a number of volumes of popular history and that he is certainly a master of what is known as the ‘grand narrative’, a sweeping overview of events.

However Johnson is not a detail man, and certainly not someone to be found researching away in archives to establish a particular point at issue.

For example a Guardian review by Ian Jack of Johnson’s recent biography of Churchill (10.12.14) noted that ‘Johnson’s writing is all of a piece with his public persona: bright and breezy and unabashed.’

LSHG Convenor Dr Keith Flett said, History needs its popularisers and Boris Johnson can certainly do that. But history is also about detailed research to establish, as far as possible, what actually happened in the past. That depends to some extent on what research questions are asked, but Johnson is not the man to look to for a complex and nuanced view of history.



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