Richard Evans on Sir John Elliott’s ‘History in the making’

Richard Evans begins his review of John Elliott’s ‘History in the making’ (Yale University Press, 2012) with a self-deprecating assessment of the interest that lies in the lives of historians: ‘Historians don’t have a very good track record when it comes to writing autobiographies. The lives we lead are just too ordinary. Life in the ivory tower doesn’t usually make for exciting reading …’.

The exceptions that he identifies, the likes of A.J.P Taylor, Michael Howard and Eric Hobsbawm, are interesting first and foremost for their activities and experiences outside their chosen field of research. Ultimately, he concludes, Elliott is not such an exception, and indeed ‘History in the making’ is not really an autobiography at all. There is little of the man in its pages, but a great deal of intellectual engagement with his works.

The full review is available from the New Statesman at


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