Gregor Dallas, a British citizen, knows something about frontiers and cultural differences. He has spent one third of his life in Britain, a third in the United States and a third in France. He attended Sherborne School in Dorset, received an AB (economics and history) at the University of California at Berkeley, and an AM and PhD (European Economic History) at Rutgers University, New Jersey, where he taught. He also taught at Smith College, Massachusetts (one of America’s ’Seven Sisters’). He is an acclaimed historian of the ending of wars. He writes about both the famous and the unknown, and likes to put historical events in their physical place. In 2006 he set up a French section of the Society of Authors (SOAF) and, pursuing his lifelong interest in local history, organized the following year a ’Local History Workshop’ in the French royal town of Dreux; it created quite a stir in the regional press - this Englishman teaching the French their history. In 2008-9 he chaired the Constitution Study Group of the British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP), which became the object of a book (The Inglorious Revolution).
Each book by Gregor Dallas feeds into the next so that when considered as a whole the work presents a complete and novel view of history. Dallas’s books are as follows:
The Imperfect Peasant Economy: The Loire Country 1800-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1982; paperback, 2004)
A geographical, regional study which shows how a household economy works and survives in an age of technological change and crisis. The book provides the basis for Dallas’s main themes: survival in change; adaptation in movement; the identification of people and events with real places.
— "Millions of peasants in France (and elsewhere in Europe) preferred to remain in the countryside wedded to a traditional way of life which historians like Gregor Dallas find pleasing to contemplate and explain." — P.K. O’Brien, Times Literary Supplement
At the Heart of a Tiger: Clemenceau and His World 1842-1929 (Macmillan, 1993)
A book about the French wartime prime minister whose life spanned a rural world in the age of King Louis-Philippe to the industrial war of 1914-18. Clemenceau was an enormous inspiration for both Churchill and de Gaulle. The book tells the stories of both the man and the worlds he came to symbolise.
— "Dallas gives the impression of a man, Clemenceau, colliding with the various worlds he inhabited and drawn to politics by necessity… This is an interesting and convincing study of a man who searched for political decency in a world where we can now see there was little." — Francis Hodgson, The Guardian
The War-and-Peace Trilogy The trilogy studies in depth the transition from war to peace in 1815, 1918 and 1945. Many histories study the causes of war, few reveal how wars have ended. Yet it is easy to start a war; all you need is a gun. How, after a reign of savagery and barbarism does one re-establish the semblance of civilisation? Here lie stories of super-human effort and heroism in its proper sense.
Metrostop Paris: History from the City’s Heart (John Murray, 2008; Walker Books, 2008). Travelling around Paris on the city’s Métro system, the narrator recounts stories about the city’s history. The book includes visits to Paris’s catacombs at "Hell’s Gate"; to the literary cafés and old jazz cellars of Montparnasse and Saint-Germain-des-Prés; to the seventeenth-century alleys of the Marais; as well as trips to the Palais-Royal at the time of the Revolution, and the world of opera at the time of Claude Debussy. Through the eyes of the existentialist philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, Dallas describes the German occupation of Paris during the Second World War and the intellectual "wars" that immediately followed. Travelling from Metro stop to Metro stop the reader is gradually made aware of the link between music, painting, sculpture, philosophy, politics and history.
THE PUBLISHING CRISIS AND THE EMERGENCE OF COMMERCIAL CENSORSHIP
Since 2010 output in trade publishing has been blocked for large numbers of quality authors through a process of ‘commercial censorship’. The process is described in http://www.writersinfrance.net/authors-issues.html and in http://www.gd-frontiers.net/spip.php?article40.
In the case of Gregor Dallas, four major book projects have been blocked by the Sales and Marketing forces within the trade publishers, basing selection on the mechanical Nielsen Bookscan. Dallas has chosen to explore subjects that are absolutely essential for understanding our world today, but they are sadly ignored by the commercial moguls:
The Imperial Fates: The Collapse of the European Empires and the End of Communism.
This is the single most important historical movement in the world since the Second World War. It is a product of the Second World War. All works on decolonization so far approach the problem via the European colonial nations. This is the only work to start with movements generated during the War from areas outside Europe, notably India and China. Even the European contribution to the movement had its Eastern European origins in the partisan war against Hitler that had turned into an anti-Western war by the 1950s and 60s. The effects of this movement are still felt today in the Islamist belt that stretches from North Africa to Indonesia, and in Africa. A 75,000 word outline of this lively work has been prepared.
The Inglorious Revolution: Britain, 2009-2010.
When the European constitution was debated in the first years of the new century the most virulent, nationalist opposition in Europe came from Britain. But it is Britain that has a constitutional problem, not the rest of Europe. Every other country had a constitution. Britain, it is true, in the 1960s had an ‘unwritten constitution’, which relied a great deal on old statutory laws. By the year 2000 — because of a series of poorly thought-out piecemeal reforms — she had no constitution. The nation (and nobody knew what that meant) faced, ten years later, the most serious economic difficulties since the Great Depression, with no political direction, no policy, no statesmanship. The book makes an invigorating tour of a developing demagogy and nationalism in England over the last four years, which includes the MPs’ expense scandal of 2009 and its effect on the General Election, the Afghan War and the debate on defence, and the long-running battle between Sterling and the Euro. England’s current ills, and the way in which she has isolated herself from the rest of Europe, are shown to be born out of an attitude that evolved during the war years and the immediate post-war period — a ‘Great British War Legend’ which served very well in 1940 but does the country a disservice today. It is again an essential book for Britain, Europe and the Western world. This highly original book is written (80,000 words), save a concluding chapter.
Ancient and Modern: A road from Auschwitz to the Abbey of Cîteaux — On Love, Politics and the powers of Good and Evil in history.
This is essentially a religious book for our time that arose out of a trip Gregor Dallas made to Poland in October 2010. The initial purpose of the trip was political: Dallas, as part of a Paris delegation, was observing in Cracow what the British Government was up to when it pulled the Conservatives out of the Christian Democratic grouping (EPP) of the European Parliament. While in Cracow Dallas visited what remained of the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz. Three days later he was on a pilgrimage in Burgundy to the Cistercian Abbey of Cîteaux. That whole week in autumn brought about a number of reflections on the effects of Christianity on Europe’s history, on her politics and on the European Union today. It also raised important questions about the nature of contemporary atheism and Judaism. Recent developments in atheistic thought are discussed, particularly the writings of Richard Dawkins, and their conclusions are found wanting. This really is a book that ought to be made available to the public. A spiritual adventure, this little book is complete at 60,000 words.
Metrostop London. A sequel to Metrostop Paris has been proposed. Moscow and Berlin are also in the works.
THE CAUSE OF THE BLOCKAGE
Why are good quality books not being published today? That has really been the subject of the whole campaign launched in April 2011, when Dallas proposed himself as an independent candidate for the Management Committee of the Society of Authors, London.
The campaign was covered by The Bookseller on 16 June 2011 under the title ‘SoA not fighting for authors claims historian’.
It is quite clear that people ‘in the trade’, as they say, feel uncomfortable about Dallas’s candidature and his emphasis on the quality of books.
Clare Alexander, who has done the rounds of Viking, Macmillan and Orion both as a publisher and literary agent, reproached Dallas as ‘foolish’. ‘It’s true that the big corporate publishers are narrowing their range. But they’re businesses.’ If you want to write quality material, she says, go to the independents, the e-books or print-on-demand. Well, the independents are not independent and the e-books and print-on-demand don’t pay. ‘Listen to Clare Alexander,’ adds the Gothic novelist Susan Hill. ‘Publishers are BUSINESSES. They have absolutely no remit to publish anything at all if it doesn’t make money.’
With friends in publishing and writing like that the quality of publishing will go down, and down, and down. Don’t blame it on the public. Blame it on the publisher. Publishing today is the shame of Britain.