rians—H.A.L. Fisher and Alan Bullocknalso espoused it. Its logical implication isnthat there is no meaning in histor)- andnno purpose in stud}-ing it. There isnneither progress nor decline, neither anpattern of lessons nor a tradition ofnconduct, and human thought and actionnhave no significant consequences. “Entertainment”nis the only intelhgiblenjustification for studying history sonconceived, although most normalnpeople would probably prefer watchingntelevision to wading through monographsnbased on this concept, and whynanyone would find history as the stor}’ ofnaccidents more entertaining than monkeysnin a cage is bej’ond my comprehension.nCertainly there is no reason toncoerce taxpayers to support Dr. Taylornand his colleagues in their solipsisticnnotion of fun. If entertainment is thencriterion of good history, why shouldn’tn.#nan^i^^^i –..^ Ad^:n'”•• ‘• V. >. ^’>j f. .•’•51’^-nIV V’^’t—. *• ^c iAtj’-‘^n•••p,::r Vl | J^^nhistorians simply fake references ornfabricate the narrative altogether? Thatnwould be e’en more amusing.nNot only does Ta’lor maintain thatnnothing can he learned fi-om history, butnhe also says nothing about wh)’ henbecame an historian. Born in 1906 into anwell-oft^ middle-class Lancashire familynof Dissenting businessmen, Taylornabsorbed their liberal and socialistnopinions without reflection. As a bo}’, henclaims, he one day heard a voice saying,n”There is no God,” and he has been annatheist ever since. So much for philosophicalninquiry. He chose to readnhistory at Oxford because his schoolnusually prepared boys to read science atnCambridge, and Taylor wanted to bendifferent. He continued the study ofnhistor)’ after taking his degree becausenhe had nothing else to do and it affordednhim the opportunity to live in Vienna forna while. By his own admission, most ofnthe books he has written were offered tonhim by accident, and there were few thatnhe undertook because he believed thensubject was important. After a few yearsn’mt.nf:^ni^V;nV/n.^^?^#n'”•JX u- r.’/.i- tin”^4nof li’ing the academic life, acquiringncontacts with serious scholars likenNamier and G. N. Clark, and contributingnto nevv’spapers and the BBC, Taylornbecame a fixture in the British intellec­ntual establishment. It is Ccisy to confuse anfixture with the real thing.nIn his youth Ta}’Ior was a member ofnthe Communist Part)-, but he gave it upnbecause he could not muster belief in itsndiscipline, ideolog)’, and program. Hencame to dislike most British communists,nbut he continued to defend thenSoviet Union. He also ga’e up his yotidifulnsocialism except as “a vague emotion”nand, later, because he was disappointednthat the Attlee government wasntoo conservative. Probably Taylor isnincapable of accepting any disciplinednbody of thought, whether theological ornpolitical, and he became an affablennihilist. He often mentions his commitmentnto the notion of sexual equality andngoes on ad nauseam about his lovenaffairs. Perhaps his belief in the equalitynof the sexes has something to do with thenfact that he has been married threentimes, that his first wife publicly andnshamelessly cheated on him, and that hisnsecond wife forbade him to mention hernname in his book. Or perhaps it is just annaccident, like everything else.nDespite his apparent nihilism, Taylorncontinued his activism for leftish causes,nmainly the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamentn(CND). The most officiousnparts of A Personal History are those innwhich Taylor inflicts his political opinionsnupon the reader. If he were an agingnLabour Party guru, these would bentolerable, because no one expectsnhistorical sophistication from politicalnfigures. But because Taylor is an eminentnacademic and historian of the 19th andn20th centuries, he has no exctisc for hisnbanalities. Listen, then, to the accumulatednwisdom of 75 years of historicalnerudition:nOn Soviet Russia: “Soviet Russia hadnmade a great impression on me whichnListed a long time. All the people wenmet—school teachers, hospital workers,nmen and women in factories—stillnseemed liill of revokitionan’ enthusiasm.n’Lhe measure of enlightenment andnemancipation that people talked aboutnin the west were here being ptit inton^a^ms^mi rgFT’ 3r32:^33:Nis:22cisa^z!sa ;:^E2^^^nSeptember 1984nnn