Monday, February 05, 2018

Victor Kiernan (1913-2009)

V.G. Kiernan examined the manner in which the wars were conducted and their impact not only on the conquered societies but also on the societies which launched them. Kiernan addresses the ideology of empire - the concept of the civilizing mission, the triumph of civilization over barbarism - that the missionary organizations ardently supported. In reality, material profit was the prime motive, and he argues that colonialists and their propagandists did much to work up the nationalist rivalries and hatred which exploded in World War I.

Interweaving brilliant sketches of imperial and colonial life with analysis of the changing balance of economic and political power, Kiernan concludes by describing how the colonial liberation movements turned the tables in the aftermath of World War II.

Victor Gordon Kiernan ranks among Britain's most distinguished historians. After a fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge, and a long period spent teaching in India, he joined the History Department at the University of Edinburgh, where he served as professor of modern history from 1970 until his retirement. Over the course of his life he authored such works as The Lords of Human Kind; America: From White Settlement to World Hegemony; Shakespeare: Poet and Citizen and numerous others, as well as translating two volumes of Urdu poetry.

To mark his 90th birthday, the future general secretary of the Communist party (Marxist) of India edited Across Time and Continents, a selection of Victor's writings and reminiscences of the subcontinent which had been closer to his heart than any other part of the 20th-century world.

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