Blogs > Cliopatria > Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power By Robert E. Sullivan

Dec 30, 2009 1:15 am

Macaulay: The Tragedy of Power By Robert E. Sullivan

Thomas Babington Macaulay was a 19th-century British historian, essayist, and politician best remembered for his multi-volume History of England and implementation of a penal code that remains the law in India and South Asia today. But as Robert E. Sullivan (Univ. of Notre Dame) shows, there was much more to the man whose thoughts on race, subjugation, civilizing, and imperial slaughter have eluded past biographers. Through examination of Macaulay’s private letters and diaries, Sullivan has unearthed a sinister vision of a power-hungry man emotionally crippled by his father, in love with his two youngest sisters, and a proponent of “genocide.” Macaulay is an important revisionist biography that sets out to rectify the view of this man as grand and a hero. Devoting his great talents to gaining power—above all for England and its empire—made Macaulay’s life a tragedy. Sullivan offers a study of an afflicted genius and a thoughtful meditation on the modern ethics of power.

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