In Sunday’s Washington Post I reviewed Alex von Tunzelmann’s new book, Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues that Made History. It’s extremely topical, providing historical and comparative context for thinking about the evaluation and potential toppling of statues of historic people. Von Tunzelmann, I write, “makes a compelling case that scrutinizing monumental statuary is an integral part of what open societies do as they reassess past values and seek new ones to guide their futures.”
I buy her central argument, as I write here: “Statues are hulking barometers of the values of society around them. In authoritarian countries those values are imposed from above. But in a democracy, von Tunzelmann makes clear, the public has the right to continually reassess and judge them, and perhaps find them wanting.” She also knocks down the various arguments that are rolled out against toppling statues.
For more, please read the review, which appeared in Sunday’s Outlook section.
My most recent review for the Post was of historian (and Maine native) Alan Taylor’s American Republics back in June.