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Simon Schama

Simon Schama

Overview
Simon Michael Schama, CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (born 13 February 1945) is a British historian and art historian
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain
Simon Schama's A History of Britain
A History of Britain is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama, first transmitted in the United Kingdom from 30 September 2000....

. Other works on history and art include The Embarrassment of Riches, Landscape and Memory, Dead Certainties, Rembrandt's Eyes, and his history of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, Citizens
Citizens (book)
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is a book by the historian Simon Schama. It was published in 1989, the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and like many other works in that year, was highly critical of its legacy. "The terror," declared Schama in the book, "was merely 1789 with a...

.
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Encyclopedia
Simon Michael Schama, CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (born 13 February 1945) is a British historian and art historian
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

. He is a University Professor of History and Art History at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. He is best known for writing and hosting the 15-part BBC documentary series A History of Britain
Simon Schama's A History of Britain
A History of Britain is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama, first transmitted in the United Kingdom from 30 September 2000....

. Other works on history and art include The Embarrassment of Riches, Landscape and Memory, Dead Certainties, Rembrandt's Eyes, and his history of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

, Citizens
Citizens (book)
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is a book by the historian Simon Schama. It was published in 1989, the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and like many other works in that year, was highly critical of its legacy. "The terror," declared Schama in the book, "was merely 1789 with a...

. Schama is an art and cultural critic for The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

.

Life and early career


The son of Jewish parents with roots in Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

, and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, Schama was born in London. In the mid-1940s, the family moved to Southend-on-Sea
Southend-on-Sea
Southend-on-Sea is a unitary authority area, town, and seaside resort in Essex, England. The district has Borough status, and comprises the towns of Chalkwell, Eastwood, Leigh-on-Sea, North Shoebury, Prittlewell, Shoeburyness, Southchurch, Thorpe Bay, and Westcliff-on-Sea. The district is situated...

 in Essex before moving back to London. Schama writes of this period in the Introduction to Landscape & Memory (pp. 3–4)
I had no hill [the previous paragraph had talked of his enthusiasm for Puck of Pook's Hill
Puck of Pook's Hill
Puck of Pook's Hill is a historical fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of English history. The stories are all narrated to two children living near Burwash, in the area of Kipling's own house Bateman's, by people...

], but I did have the Thames. It was not the upstream river that the poets in my Palgrave
Palgrave's Golden Treasury
The Golden Treasury of English Songs and Lyrics is a popular anthology of English poetry, originally selected for publication by Francis Turner Palgrave in 1861. It was considerably revised, with input from Tennyson, about three decades later...

 claimed burbled betwixt mossy banks. ... It was the low, gull-swept estuary, the marriage bed of salt and fresh water, stretching as far as I could see from my northern Essex bank, toward a thin black horizon on the other side. That would be Kent, the sinister enemy who always seemed to beat us in the County Cricket Championship. ...


In 1956 Schama won a scholarship to the independent Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School
Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School
The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School is a British independent school for boys aged 4–19. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and of the Haileybury Group....

 in Cricklewood
Cricklewood
Cricklewood is a district of North London, England whose northeastern part is in the London Borough of Barnet, western part is the London Borough of Brent and southeastern part is in London Borough of Camden.-History:...

, (from 1961 Elstree
Elstree
Elstree is a village in the Hertsmere borough of Hertfordshire on the A5 road, about 10 miles north of London. In 2001, its population was 4,765, and forms part of the civil parish of Elstree and Borehamwood, originally known simply as Elstree....

, Herts.), followed by Christ's College, Cambridge
Christ's College, Cambridge
Christ's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.With a reputation for high academic standards, Christ's College averaged top place in the Tompkins Table from 1980-2000 . In 2011, Christ's was placed sixth.-College history:...

, reading history under J. H. Plumb
J. H. Plumb
Sir John Harold Plumb, FBA , known as Jack, was a British historian, known for his books on British 18th century history. He wrote over thirty books.-Biography:...

 and graduating with a Starred First
British undergraduate degree classification
The British undergraduate degree classification system is a grading scheme for undergraduate degrees in the United Kingdom...

 in 1966.

He worked for short periods as a lecturer in history at Cambridge, where he became a Fellow and Director of Studies in History, and at Oxford, where he was made a Fellow of Brasenose College in 1976, specialising in the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. At this time, Schama wrote his first book, Patriots and Liberators, which won the Wolfson History Prize
Wolfson History Prize
The Wolfson History Prizes are literary awards given annually in the United Kingdom to promote and encourage standards of excellence in the writing of history for the general public...

. The book was originally intended as a study of the French Revolution, but as published in 1977, it focused on the effect of the Patriot
Patriots (faction)
The Patriots were a political faction in the Dutch Republic in the second half of the 18th century. They were led by Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, gaining power from November 1782....

 revolution in The Netherlands, and its aftermath
Batavian Republic
The Batavian Republic was the successor of the Republic of the United Netherlands. It was proclaimed on January 19, 1795, and ended on June 5, 1806, with the accession of Louis Bonaparte to the throne of the Kingdom of Holland....

.

His second book, Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (1978), is a study of the Zionist
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 aims of Edmond James de Rothschild
Edmond James de Rothschild
Baron Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild was a French member of the Rothschild banking family. A strong supporter of Zionism, his generous donations lent significant support to the movement during its early years, which helped lead to the establishment of the State of Israel.- Early years :A...

 and James Armand de Rothschild
James Armand de Rothschild
James Armand Edmond de Rothschild, DCM, DL, was a French-born British politician and philanthropist, from the wealthy Rothschild international banking dynasty....

.

He is married to Ginny Papaioannou, a geneticist from California; they have two children.

In the United States


In 1980 Schama took up a chair at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. His next book, The Embarrassment of Riches (1987), again focused on Dutch history. In it, Schama interpreted the ambivalences that informed the Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

 of the seventeenth century, held in balance between the conflicting imperatives, to live richly and with power, or to live a godly life. The iconographic evidence that Schama draws upon, in 317 illustrations, of emblems and propaganda that defined Dutch character, prefigured his expansion in the 1990s as a commentator on art and visual culture.

Citizens (1989), written at speed to a publisher's commission, finally saw the publication of his long-awaited study of the French revolution, and won the 1990 NCR Book Award
NCR Book Award
The NCR Book Award, established in 1987 and sponsored by NCR, was the UK's major award to non-fiction It ended in 1998 and has been replaced by the Samuel Johnson Prize.-Winners:* 1988 David Thomson, Nairn in Darkness and Light...

. Citizens was very well-received and sold admirably. Its view that the violence of the Terror was inherent from the start of the Revolution, however, has received serious criticism.

In 1991, he published Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations), a relatively slender work of unusual structure and point-of-view in that it looked at two widely reported deaths a hundred years apart, that of General James Wolfe
James Wolfe
Major General James P. Wolfe was a British Army officer, known for his training reforms but remembered chiefly for his victory over the French in Canada...

 – and the famous painting by Benjamin West
Benjamin West
Benjamin West, RA was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence...

 – and that of (by murder) George Parkman
George Parkman
George Parkman , a Boston Brahmin , belonged to one of Boston's richest families...

, uncle of the better known Francis Parkman
Francis Parkman
Francis Parkman was an American historian, best known as author of The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky-Mountain Life and his monumental seven-volume France and England in North America. These works are still valued as history and especially as literature, although the biases of his...

. Schama mooted some possible (invented) connections between the two cases, exploring the historian's inability "ever to reconstruct a dead world in its completeness however thorough or revealing the documentation," and speculatively bridging "the teasing gap separating a lived event and its subsequent narration." Not all readers absorbed the nuance of the title: it received a greatly mixed critical and academic reception. Traditional historians in particular denounced Schama's integration of fact and conjecture to produce a seamless narrative but later assessments took a more relaxed view of the experiment. It was an approach soon taken up by such historical writers as Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd CBE is an English biographer, novelist and critic with a particular interest in the history and culture of London. For his novels about English history and culture and his biographies of, among others, Charles Dickens, T. S. Eliot and Sir Thomas More he won the Somerset Maugham Award...

, David Taylor
D. J. Taylor
David John Taylor is a British critic, novelist and biographer. After attending school in Norwich, he read Modern History at St John's College, Oxford, and has received the 2003 Whitbread Biography Award for his biography of George Orwell. His novel Derby Day was longlisted for the 2011 Man Booker...

 and Richard Holmes. Sales in hardback exceeded Schama's earlier works.

Schama's Landscape and Memory (1995) focused on the relationship between physical environment and folk memory
Folk memory
Folk memories is a term sometimes used to describe stories, folklore or myths about past events that have passed orally from generation to generation. The events described by the memories may date back hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of years and often have a local significance...

, separating the components of landscape as wood, water and rock, enmeshed in the cultural consciousness of collective "memory" that are embodied in myths, which Schama finds to be expressed outwardly in ceremony and text. While in many ways even more personal and idiosyncratic than Dead Certainties, roaming through widening circles of digressions, this book was also more traditionally structured and better-defined in its approach. While many reviews remained decidedly mixed, the book was a definite commercial success and won numerous prizes.

Appropriately, many of the plaudits came from the art world rather than from traditional academia. This was borne out when Schama became art critic
Art critic
An art critic is a person who specializes in evaluating art. Their written critiques, or reviews, are published in newspapers, magazines, books and on web sites...

 for The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

in 1995. He held the position for three years, dovetailing his regular column with professorial duties at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

; a selection of his best essays on art for the magazine, chosen by Schama himself, was published in 2005 under the title Hang Ups. During this time, Schama also produced a lavishly illustrated Rembrandt's Eyes, another critical and commercial success. Despite the book's title, it contrasts the biographies of Rembrandt van Rijn and Peter Paul Rubens.

BBC


In 1995 Schama wrote and presented a series called Landscape and Memory to accompany his book of the same name.

The year 2000 saw Schama return to the UK, having been commissioned by the BBC to produce a series of television documentary programmes on British history as part of their Millennium celebrations, under the title A History of Britain. Schama wrote and presented the episodes himself, in a friendly and often jocular style with his highly characteristic delivery, and was rewarded with excellent reviews and unexpectedly high ratings. There has been, however, some irritation and criticism expressed by a group of historians about Schama's condensed recounting of the British Isles' history on this occasion, particularly by those specialising in the pre-Anglo-Saxon history of insular Celtic civilisation. The series was eventually expanded to three, with 15 episodes produced in total covering the complete span of British history up until 1965; it went on to become one of the BBC's best-selling documentary series on DVD. Schama also wrote a trilogy of tie-in books for the show, which took the story up to the year 2000; there is some debate as to whether the books are the tie-in product for the TV series, or the other way around. The series also had some popularity in the United States when it was first shown on the History Channel.

In 2001 Schama received a CBE
CBE
CBE and C.B.E. are abbreviations for "Commander of the Order of the British Empire", a grade in the Order of the British Empire.Other uses include:* Chemical and Biochemical Engineering...

. In 2003 he signed a lucrative new contract with the BBC and HarperCollins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

 to produce three new books and two accompanying TV series. Worth £3 million (around US$5.3m), it represents the biggest advance deal ever for a TV historian. The first result of the deal was a book and TV show entitled Rough Crossings
Rough Crossings
Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution is a history book and television series by Simon Schama.This gives an account of the history of thousands of enslaved African Americans who escaped to the British cause during the American War of Independence...

: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution
, dealing in particular with the proclamation issued during the Revolutionary War by Lord Dunmore offering slaves from rebel plantations freedom in return for service to the crown.

In 2006 the BBC broadcast a new TV series, Simon Schama's Power of Art
Simon Schama's Power of Art
Power of Art is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama. The series was broadcast in October and November 2006 on BBC2...

which, with an accompanying book, was presented and written by Schama. It marks a return to art history for him, treating eight artists through eight key works: Caravaggio
Caravaggio
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian artist active in Rome, Naples, Malta, and Sicily between 1593 and 1610. His paintings, which combine a realistic observation of the human state, both physical and emotional, with a dramatic use of lighting, had a formative influence on the Baroque...

's David with the Head of Goliath, Bernini's Ecstasy of St Theresa
Ecstasy of St Theresa
The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is the central sculptural group in white marble set in an elevated aedicule in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome...

, Rembrandt's Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis
The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis
The Conspiracy of Claudius Civilis is a 1661–62 oil painting by the Dutch painter Rembrandt, which was originally the largest he ever painted, at around five-by-five metres in the shape of a lunette. The painting was commissioned by the Amsterdam city council for the Town Hall. After the work had...

, Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era...

's The Death Of Marat, J. M. W. Turner
J. M. W. Turner
Joseph Mallord William Turner RA was an English Romantic landscape painter, watercolourist and printmaker. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting...

's The Slave Ship, Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

's Wheat Field with Crows
Wheat Field with Crows
Wheatfield with Crows is a July 1890 painting by Vincent van Gogh. It is commonly but mistakenly stated that this was Van Gogh's last painting...

, Picasso's Guernica, and Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko, born Marcus Rothkowitz , was a Russian-born American painter. He is classified as an abstract expressionist, although he himself rejected this label, and even resisted classification as an "abstract painter".- Childhood :Mark Rothko was born in Dvinsk, Vitebsk Province, Russian...

's Seagram Murals. It was also shown on PBS in the United States.

In October 2008 BBC broadcast a four-part television series called The American Future: A History
The American Future: A History
The American Future: A History is a four part documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama which aired on BBC Two in the UK during October 2008, in the run up to the 2008 US presidential election...

presented and written by Schama. In March 2009, Schama presented a BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 show entitled 'Baseball and Me', both exploring the history of the game and describing his own personal support of the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

.

In 2010, Schama presented a series of ten talks for the BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 series A Point of View:
  • Why We Like Tough Guys in Politics: When times are hard people seem to prefer tough leaders.
  • Singing in the Rain: Schama looks forward to spring with personal reflections on the changing seasons.
  • At the Heart of the Matter: The politics surrounding President Barack Obama
    Barack Obama
    Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

    's healthcare reforms.
  • The Gift of the Gab: The history of political rhetoric and the power during election campaigns of televised debates.
  • Behold, Newstralia!: Celebrates the distinctive history and culture of New Zealand
    New Zealand
    New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

     and regrets any renewed talk of joining forces with Australia
    Australia
    Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

    .
  • A Welcome Slice of American Pie: Reflection on the quality of American food and eating habits.
  • The Drama of Politics: The timeless drama of British politics.
  • When Money is Just an Illusion: Reflection on the meaning of money as represented by coins and notes and in art.
  • Hearts of Oak: Reflection on the significance of one of the sights that will greet new MPs in the chamber of the House of Commons - the panelling made of solid oak.
  • Britain's New Politics: Reflection on the 2010 United Kingdom General Election, favourably comparing the British system for a swift handover of power to the cumbersome American one.

Politics


Schama is a supporter of the Labour Party
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

, donating £2,000 to Oona King's
Oona King
Oona Tamsyn King, Baroness King of Bow is a Baroness and Member of the House of Lords, and former Chief Diversity Officer of Channel 4. She previously had served as a Labour Party Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow from 1997 until 2005, when she was defeated by Respect candidate George...

 bid to become Labour's candidate for the 2012 London Mayoral election.

Israel


Schama was critical of a call by British novelist John Berger
John Berger
John Peter Berger is an English art critic, novelist, painter and author. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text.-Education:Born in Hackney, London, England, Berger was...

 for an academic boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians. Writing in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

in an article co-authored with lawyer Anthony Julius
Anthony Julius
Anthony Julius is a prominent British lawyer and academic, best known for his actions on behalf of Diana, Princess of Wales, Deborah Lipstadt and more recently Heather Mills...

, Schama compared Berger's academic boycott to policies adopted by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, noting "This is not the first boycott call directed at Jews. On 1 April 1933, a week after he came to power, Hitler ordered a boycott of Jewish shops, banks, offices and department stores."

In 2006 on the BBC, Schama debated with Vivienne Westwood
Vivienne Westwood
Dame Vivienne Westwood, DBE, RDI is a British fashion designer and businesswoman, largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream.-Early life:...

 the morality of Israel's actions in the Israel-Lebanon war. He characterised Israel's bombing of Lebanese city centres as unhelpful in Israel's attempt to "get rid of" Hezbollah. With regard to the bombing he said: "Of course the spectacle and suffering makes us grieve. Who wouldn't grieve? But it's not enough to do that. We've got to understand. You've even got to understand Israel's point of view."

United States


Schama is a vocal supporter of President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 and critic of George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

. He appeared on the BBC's coverage of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, clashing with John Bolton
John R. Bolton
John Robert Bolton is an American lawyer and diplomat who has served in several Republican presidential administrations. He served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006 on a recess appointment...

.

Writing style


Schama has a literary way of writing that is attractive to both historians and a wider readership. It is "packed with evocative detail: rich fruit cakes crammed with raisins, currants, nuts and glacé cherries all mulled in brandy sauce".
He has also received criticism from one critic for dumbing down history, presenting a "grossly oversimplified and mythologising view of the history of nations" and not fostering critical thinking.

Criticism


Susan Buck-Morss
Susan Buck-Morss
Susan Buck-Morss is an American philosopher and intellectual historian. She is currently Professor of Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center.- Books :...

 criticizes Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

for its "selective national history" of the Dutch Republic, "that omits much or all of the colonizing story." "One would have no idea that Dutch hegemony in the slave trade (replacing Spain and Portugal as major players) contributed substantially to the enormous "overload" of wealth that he describes as becoming so socially and morally problematic during the century of Dutch "centrality" to the "commerce of the world.""

Publications


Books:
  • Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands 1780–1813 (1977)
  • Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel (1978)
  • The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age
    The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age
    The Embarrassment of Riches: An interpretation of Dutch culture in the Golden Age is a book by the historian Simon Schama. It was published in 1987, five years after the bicentenary of the Dutch recognition of the young United States. The book sold quite well and led to an immediate second...

    (1987)
  • Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
    Citizens (book)
    Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution is a book by the historian Simon Schama. It was published in 1989, the bicentenary of the French Revolution, and like many other works in that year, was highly critical of its legacy. "The terror," declared Schama in the book, "was merely 1789 with a...

    (1989)
  • Dead Certainties: Unwarranted Speculations (1991)
  • Landscape and Memory (1995)
  • Rembrandt's Eyes (1999)
  • A History of Britain
    A History of Britain (book)
    A History of Britain is a three volume work written by Simon Schama to accompany a series of documentaries he presented for the BBC.The volumes are:...

    Vol. I (2000, ISBN 0-563-48714-3)
  • A History of Britain Vol. II (2001, ISBN 0-563-48718-6)
  • A History of Britain Vol. III (2002, ISBN 0-563-48719-4)
  • Hang Ups: Essays on Art (2005)
  • Rough Crossings
    Rough Crossings
    Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution is a history book and television series by Simon Schama.This gives an account of the history of thousands of enslaved African Americans who escaped to the British cause during the American War of Independence...

    (2005, ISBN 0-06-053916-X)
  • Simon Schama's Power of Art (2006, ISBN 0-06-117610-9)
  • The American Future: A History (2009, ISBN 0-06-053923-2)
  • Scribble, Scribble, Scribble: Writing on Politics, Ice Cream, Churchill and My Mother


Documentaries:
  • Landscape and Memory (1995), in five parts
  • Rembrandt: The Public Eye and the Private Gaze (1995)
  • Simon Schama's A History of Britain
    Simon Schama's A History of Britain
    A History of Britain is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama, first transmitted in the United Kingdom from 30 September 2000....

    – BBC (2000), in 15 parts
  • Murder at Harvard - PBS (2003)
  • Rough Crossings
    Rough Crossings
    Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution is a history book and television series by Simon Schama.This gives an account of the history of thousands of enslaved African Americans who escaped to the British cause during the American War of Independence...

    – BBC (2005)
  • Simon Schama's Power of Art
    Simon Schama's Power of Art
    Power of Art is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama. The series was broadcast in October and November 2006 on BBC2...

    – BBC (2006), in eight parts
  • The American Future: A History
    The American Future: A History
    The American Future: A History is a four part documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama which aired on BBC Two in the UK during October 2008, in the run up to the 2008 US presidential election...

    – BBC (2008), in four parts
  • Simon Schama's: Obama's America – BBC (2009).

Prizes & Other Honors

  • 1977 Wolfson History Prize
    Wolfson History Prize
    The Wolfson History Prizes are literary awards given annually in the United Kingdom to promote and encourage standards of excellence in the writing of history for the general public...

    , for Patriots and Liberators
  • 1977 Leo Gershoy Award, for Patriots and Liberators
  • 1987 New York Times Best Books of the Year, for The Embarrassment of Riches
  • 1989 New York Times Best Books of the Year, for Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
  • 1989 Yorkshire Post Book Award, for Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
  • 1996 Lionel Trilling Book Award, for Landscape and Memory
  • 1996 WH Smith Literary Award
    WH Smith Literary Award
    The WH Smith Literary Award was an award founded in 1959 by British high street retailer W H Smith. Its founding aim was stated to be to "encourage and bring international esteem to authors of the British Commonwealth"; originally open to all residents of the UK, the Commonwealth and the Republic...

    , for Landscape and Memory
  • 2001 Broadcasting Press Guild Writer's Award, for A History of Britain
  • 2001 Nominated for BAFTA Huw Wheldon Award for Specialised Programme or Series (Arts, History, Religion and Science), for A History of Britain
  • 2002 Nominated for BAFTA Richard Dimbleby Award for the Best Presenter (Factual, Features and News), for A History of Britain
  • 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award
    National Book Critics Circle Award
    The National Book Critics Circle Award is an annual award given by the National Book Critics Circle to promote the finest books and reviews published in English....

     for Non-fiction winner, for Rough Crossings
  • 2006 Hessell-Tiltman Prize Shortlist, for Rough Crossings
  • 2007 Nominated for BAFTA Huw Wheldon Award for Specialized Factual Programme or Series, for Simon Schama's Power of Art
  • 2008 The Daily Telegraph
    The Daily Telegraph
    The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

    's 110 Best Books: The Perfect Library, for Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution

External links