This summer, the news cycle was briefly exercised by the decision of a U.S. Olympic hammer-thrower to turn her back on the American flag during the national anthem, before unfurling a t-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Activist Athlete.” In the historical profession we’ve been used to this kind of thing for some time, with new publications taking the place of protest t-shirts. This garners less attention than in the world of sports but is surely a more significant development. Being an activist athlete, after all, should not necessarily make you a worse thrower of hammers, discuses, shotputs, or anything else. But being an “activist historian” emphatically does seem to make you a worse historian. At least, this must be the inevitable conclusion to be drawn from one of the latest books to emerge from the Stanford University history faculty.

Priya Satia’s Time’s Monster: How History Makes History would not normally merit coverage in a magazine intended for those who enjoy reading the latest works of history and political thought. Indeed, even if one were wholly sympathetic with the book’s polemical aims, it would still be difficult to recommend that people read it, in light of its stream-of-consciousness style of composition and emetic prose. But Time’s Monster has captured the spirit of our present moment: on both sides of the

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