Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History
Bloomsbury, 2002 - 495 pages
In her major study the historian Erna Paris addresses one of the most urgent issues facing the world today - who owns and controls the past? - for decisions taken by those in power cast long shadows into the future. It is a powerful theme, but what makes her book compelling reading is that she pursues these demanding moral questions as a personal quest, building up the big picture from a series of intimate conversations with people who have lived that history or are living with its consequences. Starting with the aftermath of World War II in France, Germany and Japan, she loops back to the legacy of slavery in the American South, before moving on to South Africa, Bosnia and Rwanda, and to Argentina and Chile as she charts two competing drives - the potentially corrupting desire to control the past in order to shape the future and the aspiration to achieve a standard of universal justice.