I went to Birmingham yesterday to do a bit of book (and clothes) shopping and I can exclusively reveal that in New Street Waterstones History is not classed as 'academic'. 'Academic' is on the top floor; history is on the ground floor at the back, behind military history, needless to say.
This article from the Daily Heil perhaps shows why. This apparently is the future of the subject. God help us all. I did see a parallel article on 'the history boys' a while back, featuring a similar range of semi-academic half-brained toffs, making the same claim, but I was too angry to blog about that, which I guess makes me a big old sexist. Anyway, if anyone wonders why academic history is regarded as irrelevant, here is why. Only three of these seven saviours have proper academic jobs. Rescuing the past from fusty academia, indeed. Because that's all it is about - bodice-ripping yarns , 'private lives' and biographies. Christ on a bike. I'm also kind of curious about why they consented to this kind of objectification. And why the seven female historians who have (and I quote) 'changed our view of yesteryear for ever' (does none of them feel uncomfortable with that claim?) also happen to be seven that scrub up well for the camera. Quite a coincidence. We might note the pretty much complete absence of the word 'gender' from this article, but hey this is the Daily Heil. But - hey! - this is the Daily Heil, that'll be the fascist-supporting, gay-, immigrant-, minority-bashing, Richard Littlejohn-publishing Daily Heil. Don't these so-called historians (only five of whom really have a claim to be called such) have any integrity? I guess in the case of the one who works for N-Chumz (clue: look for the signature N-Chumz big hair) that's a question that sort of answers itself.
Oh yes, after perusing the quite extensive history shelves of both branches of Waterstones in Birmingham town centre, I came back with four books on continental philosophy: a discipline that at least still seems capable of turning out intelligent work worth reading, about stuff that matters. Oh, and a nice coat from Zara.