Historians no longer gather dust in dusty libraries.
They are out and about, very much in the eye of a public which is increasingly curious in an age which has made history increasingly visual.
Broadcaster and historian Dan Snow embarks on his first UK theatre tour this summer.
Under the banner, An Evening With The ‘History Guy’ On The History Hit, he takes in Horsham’s Capitol on Thursday, June 7 (8pm).
“I have always loved history,” Dan says. “My family has always loved history. We are a history family, and there is a very vibrant history scene in this country at the moment.
“I think history has really benefited from the digital age, from lots of TV shows, from the existence of light-weight cameras and drones and much better graphics. We are able to tell the stories with technical brilliance. It was very hard to get a camera into Petra in the olden days, very hard to get a camera up the spire of Salisbury Cathedral, but all that has changed with modern technology, with drones and so on.
“But the other thing is that history has become much more important again.
“In the ’90s, a famous American said: ‘History is over, it’s finished.’ The Cold War was over, everyone was living in a democracy. Everyone had embraced democracy.
“But now people seem to need history more again. We have got Trump acting like a lunatic. We have got China rattling its sabre, Russia rattling its sabre. We have got North Korea. We have got Brexit…”
But isn’t all that happening precisely because we haven’t learned from history?
Dan doesn’t agree: “It is easy to blame history, but the fact is that we have built the most sophisticated civilisation ever known, and we have done that by building on each generation’s improvements. We have worked out by and large that democracies are the best ways of running things rather than absolutist states… I think we have definitely learned from history. The world is a better place than it has ever been before. Fewer people are dying violent deaths. Fewer people are dying from diseases. I think we have learnt to live better.”
And the chances are we will look back on present times as a blip, a ripple effect from the global economic collapse of 2008, Dan believes.
“It is easier for politicians to blame other people, but hopefully as a society we are more resilient now. And really, how many people in the world would now think that a big war is a good idea? Not many people would, but if you had asked during the British Empire whether war might be a good way to enrich the country and stop someone else, then a lot of people would have said yes. That has changed…”
Dan is out on the road to mark the launch of his own online TV Channel History Hit TV (tv.historyhit.com). Along the way, he will share memorable anecdotes from his career as a historian and broadcaster.
Audiences are in for an additional treat as every show will have its own exclusive local element that will see Dan present historical facts about each town and area on the tour. There will also be a chance at the end of the show to engage with Dan during a 20-minute Q&A.
It’s all part of the increased accessibility of history these days. As Dan says, in the olden days, he would have had to wait six months for the BBC to commission a programme; now he can make a podcast and release it the next day.
But isn’t that one of the problems? The fact that there are just too many sources these days? Particularly when you consider just how unreliable some of them are…
“That’s the great question of the age, the veracity and trust of online content. Who can we believe? Well, I want to be part of the solution. We are wanting to provide a place that people can trust.
“We want to provide another frontier in the battle against fake news.”
Tickets cost £26. Call 01403 750220.
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