SOME YEARS AGO, Ved Mehta wrote for the New Yorker magazine a series of articles on the practice of history. They were based on the views expressed to Mr. Mehta by several eminent British historians, and reported with what accuracy who knows. Bearing the curious title, “The Flight of the Crook-Taloned Birds,” the articles seemed to demonstrate, among other things:
1) that perhaps some English historians are unduly addicted to behaving in a fashion associated with a place on the other side of St. George’s Channel called Donnybrook;
2) that English historians must be intrinsically more interesting than American historians, since the latter achieve notoriety only through the occupancy or pursuit of public office while the former seem to stumble into it just by being themselves;
3) that oral communication to an innocent-seeming Indian may not be the ideal means of formulating one’s views on history for dissemination to a wider public.
About the Author