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Renowned BBC journalist Jeremy Paxman delivers lecture at AUS
Award-winning BBC journalist and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman delivered an engaging talk on his latest book to a large audience at American University of Sharjah (AUS) on March 6. Entitled, Great Britain's Great War, the book takes a look at how the First World War impacted the political, economic, social and various other aspects of British society. The book uses a variety of first-hand source material to show how life and identity in Britain were transformed by this war.
In his lecture, Jeremy Paxman talked about the lives of British soldiers and how the First World War contributed in changing the mentality and expectation of British society. "This event over the course of a hundred years has gone from family recollection to mere history, and there is a problem in understanding history," said Paxman. "When we have any event nowadays, when there is war somewhere, we expect to see in color, moving images in high definition in our own homes on televisions and very often in real time. Even the representations of this historical event distance us from it. So we were at a point, I thought, where we needed to try to find a way in reengaging the First World War, because the life that these young men lived was completely different to the lives that their contemporaries live today," he said.
Paxman added that the young men who enrolled in the British army back then were treated as laborers as was the general attitude since the industrial revolution. "They did not expect to have the opportunity to realize their own potential, and it struck me that what we need to do to get any fresh appreciation of the First World War was to try to understand how it affected those at the time," he said. Paxman also spoke of the difference between the British youth at the time of the First World War and their counterparts today. "The cultural tradition is entirely different. That is a big divide, not only between one part of the world and another, but also between one time and another," he added.
A world renowned journalist, Paxman has presented BBC documentaries and popular programs such as Newsnight, Panorama and University Challenge. As a presenter he is well known for his forthright, tough and incisive style, especially when interviewing politicians. He is also the bestselling author of seven non-fiction books including The Political Animal, Empire, and The English.
The lecture, which was attended by members of the AUS campus community, was followed by a lively Q&A session. Paxman also spent time with the audience members at his book signing held after the talk.