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History in the Making.

History in the Making. J.H. Elliott. Yale University Press. [pounds sterling]17.50. xiv + 249 pages. ISBN 978-0-30018638-3. Academics' lives are seldom exciting unless like Wheeler-Bennett, Trevor-Roper or A.J.P. Taylor they have lives outside academia or are involved in on-line scandals that become public, like certain London historians in recent years. Having said that, biographies of historians have appeared in recent years. Now we have the memoirs of Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor of History at Oxford from 1990 to 1997 and this country's leading historian of Spain. Sir John writes about his own life but it is a life within the quad. He describes how he came to be interested in Spain and Spanish history, his time in Spain in the 1950s, his immersion in Catalonia and his views of Spain. The questions of Spanish decline and isolation dominate the book. (There is remarkably little personal information--school, university, hobbies or favourite operas--although there is a chapter on the value of comparative history and a critique of the current fashion for specialisation.) He discusses the limits of history based along national lines and his fascination with the Duke de Olivares. This is a very professional memoir but one would have liked at least one personal detail. Can Sir John really be as dull as the man presented here? (A.C.T.)

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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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