Daniel Francis

Reading the National Narrative

War Centennial Gets Off to Rousing Start

Jan 6, 2014

Here we are, just a few days into the centennial year of World War One and already shots are being fired in the History Wars.

In Britain, the education secretary, Michael Gove, got off the first round, urging the commemoration of the war and dissing those "left-wing" historians who, he claimed, are misrepresenting the real meaning of the conflict, which is that British soldiers were brave patriots and the cause was just and noble.

Gove's main target was the historian Richard Evans, mentioned in this space last July. Instead of taking cover, Evans returned fire in The Guardian, where he accuses the education secretary of being an ignorant mythmaker.

It's all great fun and suggests the war commemorations might be a whole lot more entertaining than I'd thought.