On The Spot: Helen Parr

What will future generations judge us most harshly for? Complacency.

Helen ParrWhy are you a historian of contemporary Britain?
Contemporary history seems more important than ever. It offers a counterweight to lazy political evocations of the past and to the instant histories enabled by the Internet.

What’s the most important lesson history has taught you? 
The past is real. We owe it to the people who had to live through it to try to see it as they saw it.

Which history book has had the greatest influence on you?
It was novels about power and violence: Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits, George Orwell’s 1984.

What book in your field should everyone read?
National Service: A Generation in Uniform by Richard Vinen.

Which moment would you most like to go back to?
I wouldn’t. We have no choice but to move forwards.

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