Over the past three years, the world has witnessed the huge social and media discussions of what figures from the past one should, or should not celebrate and commemorate with a statue. The recent removal of the statue of infamous slave transporter Edward Colston in Bristol still resonates in the UK as debates rage on race, inequality, politics and gender. The conversations, demonstrations and petitions for the removal of statues to men and women whose lives and careers are in question is not a new phenomenon, but one that has been going on for generations. Only with the arrival of online media outlets has it now come to the fore in 'real time'.
Fallen Idols will be a nuanced and constructive appraisal of the current issues facing many towns and cities as they struggle to decide how the commemoration and adoration of statues that they hold dear (or despise) can be resolved. Von Tunzelmann focuses on key statues across the USA, the UK, Africa and to the old USSR to show the reader how the march of history can be unkind to leaders we sometime venerate at one point, and then cast aside at another - what they achieved, why their memory was celebrated in stone, and why they were then removed. A hugely informative read, supported with line-drawn illustrations of the statues chosen - that will educate and entertain in equal measure.
Reviews of Alex von Tunzelmann's previous works:
Alex von Tunzelmann is one of the most gifted historians writing today. Brilliant and trenchant, witty and wise, Fallen Idols is a book you will adore, devour, and talk about to everyone you know. Hesitate no longer; buy this book ― Suzannah Lipscomb, author, award-winning historian and broadcaster
Blood and Sand - 'This is proper history. It is illuminating to pick up this book with the twenty-first century's crises of Brexit and Iraq in mind.' ― Jeremy Bowen, BBC Foreign correspondent
Alex von Tunzelmann is a wonderful historian, as learned as she is shrewd. But she is also something more unexpected: a writer with a wit and an eye for character that Evelyn Waugh would surely have admired. ― Tom Holland, author of Rubicon
Indian Summer - 'This is history as multiple, interconnected biography. . . . Indian Summer achieves something both simpler and rarer, placing the behavior and feelings of a few key players at the center of a tumultuous moment in history.' ― The New York Times Book Review
This timely, sparkling and often hilarious book is all that we have come to expect from Alex von Tunzelmann - witty (often wickedly so) scintillating, skewering pomposity. Readers will her relish eagle-eyed knack of offering jaw dropping anecdote while always keeping us aware of the big picture ― Michael Wood, Historian
Like all the best historians von Tunzelmann uses the past to explain what the hell is going on today. She does so with a flair, her signature mix of scholarship and succinctness that is so compelling. If you want to make sense of the statues debate, and the coming culture war over our history, this is where you need to start ― Dan Snow
A hugely entertaining and informative narrative on one of the key arguments raging across the globe - how does one honestly celebrate a country's past without knocking down celebrated heroes.
About the Author
Alex von Tunzelmann is a bestselling author, screenwriter, broadcaster, and media commentator. She lives in London.