The Making of a Social Historian
Harold Perkin is one of the pioneers of modern social history. This is his "rags to riches," or rather "slums to suburbs," story, combined with the rise of social history as the most popular aspect of that burgeoning media discipline. Born at the poorer end of an extended family that stretched from poor potters to the owners of thirteen factories, he rose by a talent for passing exams, winning prizes, and sheer good luck, to become the first titular professor of social history in Britain. On the way he became the leading lady in the Cambridge Footlights, an apprentice journalist, an RAF officer, a trade union leader and negotiator of university salaries (with Margaret Thatcher), a television presenter, founder of the Social History Society of the UK, member of the international higher education "mafia," an academic in a top-ten American university, and author of a dozen books, setting out, inter alia, a new theory of social evolution from industrial through to post-industrial or, as he prefers to call it, professional society. This he now researches on a global scale. Perkin has a gift for vivid observation and philosophic reflection, together with a talent for affectionate irony, that throws a very individual light upon modern society. This book has much to say not only to students of the humanities and social sciences, but to all concerned observers of this dynamic and troubled world. Harold Perkin is Emeritus Professor at Northwestern and Lancaster Universities, and Honorary Professor at Cardiff University. His wife of half a century is the women's historian, Joan Perkin, author of The Merry Duchess (Athena Press, 2002).