Friday, January 5, 2018

History Will Judge Trump!

Prior to the 2016 election a friend passed on to me an open letter written by a group identifying themselves as "Historians Against Trump".  It was signed by hundreds of American historians denouncing the candidacy of Donald Trump.  My immediate reaction was that they should have modified their group to call itself "Historians Against Trump Eternally" in order to give themselves the perfect acronym.

At the end of the day a Historians' view of Trump is simply another political opinion -- no better and no worse.  It is really NOT an historical opinion at all.  Why do I make this claim?

In the Introduction to my 2014 book America Invades ( I wrote this...

"In writing history about the recent past, there is something I like to call the “Bletchley effect.” Imagine that you were an objective fair-minded historian in the year 1970 attempting to write a history of World War II. Your account would necessarily suffer from an unawareness of the extraordinary impact of Bletchley Park and other Allied decoding efforts on the conduct of the war; these disclosures did not emerge until the mid-1970s, or thirty years after the war’s conclusion. In fact, the UK government to this day maintains some documents relating to Rudolf Hess’s  flight to Britain in 1941 on classified basis. Time must pass to allow political passions to cool, memoirs to be published, and secrets to be declassified—without this, history cannot be brought to light. In writing about recent American campaigns, our account—and those found in other sources—can be no more than a provisional judgment. Therefore, our accounts of the last thirty years or so are as much journalism as history."

Today we see the launch of Michael Wolff's best-selling book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.  It has catapulted to Amazon's #1 best-selling book on the heels of massive free publicity by the Trump-hating media.  Tony Blair and Anna Wintour have already suggested that Wolff's book misrepresents them (  The book is highly controversial with its accuracy called into question.

Obama was the best gun seller in America (;postID=6812362780498158699;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=3;src=link) while Trump has now emerged as the greatest book seller in America!

What we know for certain, however, is that Fire and Fury is NOT the verdict of History.  His work is a provisional judgement, a piece of journalism.  And the gulf between journalism and History is a vast yawning chasm.  According to accurate journalism of 1860, for example, Ulysses S. Grant was a drunk and a forgettable failure but, according to History (Ron Chernow, etc.), Grant was the greatest commander of the US Civil War.

History will indeed judge Donald Trump.  But not today.

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