Click here to hear the Radio Programme on Arnold J Toynbee, ft. CCW Director Dr Rob Johnson.
Polly Toynbee examines how war profoundly informed the vision of her grandfather, the renowned historian Arnold J Toynbee. His generation were slaughtered on the Flanders fields but Toynbee's life took him on adifferent path. 'History is as melancholy as war itself' wrote Toynbee as he rose to become one of the 20th century's most popular historians & public intellectual. Yet real loss, from the fallout of war & troubled peace , began to inexorably shape his understanding and writing of history
Classics texts such as his vast, multi-volume best-seller A Study of History are rooted in his life and work from the outbreak of the Great War to the rise of fascism.
Haunted by the idea that he outlived so many of his generation who fell in battle, Toynbee became an important part in the Great War propaganda machine , an eyewitness to the fraught Peace Conference at Versailles & a war journalist in the troubled peace that followed. He would become a central figure in the new discipline of international relations and the founding of Chatham House as he rose to become a public intellectual. But as war loomed yet again, and after a personal audience with Hitler, Toynbee could not escape the shadow of human helplessness in the face of traumatic events surrounding him both professionally and privately. 'One is like a beetle under a steamroller' he wrote. Many of today's leading historians dismiss Toynbee's great 10 volume work as deeply flawed & riddled with mysticism and few now understand the events that deeply shaped his life. Polly Toynbee explores the events that haunted and shaped his work & life.
PRODUCER: MARK BURMAN.