G.M. Trevelyan: A Life in History

David Cannadine, Author W. W. Norton & Company $32.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-03528-5
In this thematic biography, noted historian Cannadine ( The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy ) ably analyzes the significance of Trevelyan (1876-1962), the most widely read historian of his generation, whose reputation declined sharply after his death. Cannadine demonstrates that the high expectations of his aristocratic parents and his own great talent stimulated Trevelyan to write a vast number of books, the most successful being English Social History . He sketches the influence of late 19th-century Liberalism on the earnest, high-minded Trevelyan's early work, examines the ways in which subsequent studies reflected ``Whig themes of religious toleration and constitutional progress,'' and shows that the trauma of WW II prompted him to take refuge in writing about rural life. Cannadine assesses the comments of Trevelyan's principal critics, concluding that the historian was neither biased nor superficial, but that his narrative histories ignored new thinkers such as Freud and Weber. Still, Trevelyan should be read, the author argues, for his range, his vision of the past and ``the perspective his life and work affords on his own times.'' Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 05/03/1993
Release date: 05/01/1993
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-14-026482-1
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-00-215872-5
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