Posted on June 2, 2021

Richard Cohen’s New Book on Historians Is Cancelled in the US Amid Backlash at Him for ‘Not Including Enough Black Academics’

James Robinson, Daily Mail, May 16, 2021

A new history book by an acclaimed British author has reportedly been dropped by its US publisher over concerns it was ‘too white’.

Richard Cohen was asked to produce more for work for his upcoming book ‘The History Makers’ because publishers were concerned the 780-page book failed to feature enough black historians, academics and writers.

Mr Cohen, 75, who wrote the acclaimed Chasing The Sun, is said to have written 18,000 extra words covering the work of black historians.

Academics such such as Frederick Douglass and Booker T Washington are said to have been covered in the additional work.

But US publisher Random House has still decided to drop the book, according to the Guardian.

Mr Cohen, 75, told the paper the move ‘was to do with the publisher’s sensitivities’.

The book is still due to be published in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson next month.

According to the publisher, the book is: ‘An epic exploration of who writes about the past and how the biases of certain storytellers continue to influence our ideas about history (and about who we are) today’.

The book covers around 2,500 years of history and looks through the eyes of its most famous observers.

These include Roman historian Tacitus, French writer Voltaire and legendary English playwright William Shakespeare.

Work by modern day historians such as David Starkey also features.

But Random House, part of the larger Penguin Random House group, are said to have raised concern that the initial work did not feature the significant contribution of black historians and academics.

Mr Cohen is said to have responded by writing extra content, including a new chapter largely about black history and expanding on his chapter on the American Civil war.

A section on the work of Frederick Douglass, a man who escaped slavery before writing about his experience, was part of the additional content, according to the Guardian.

Historian and equal rights activist WEB Du Bois is also said to have featured in the extra content, along with Leo Africanus, a 16th Century Berber diplomat and author who wrote historical pieces on the Magreb and Nile Valley.