Just the Facts

EconTalk Extra
by Amy Willis
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Thomas Ricks on Churchill and ... Robin Feldman on Drug Patents,...

1984.jpg EconTalk host Russ Roberts welcomed historian Thomas Ricks to the program this week to discuss his new book, Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom. While these two figures might not seem to have much in common at first glance, Ricks persuades otherwise, and that both played an important role in the post-War preservation of individual liberty. Ricks initially saw Orwell as a "left-wing parallel" to his hero, Winston Churchill, but he soon discovered they had much more in common than he had thought. How much do you think the two share? Help us continue this week's conversation, and share your thoughts with us.

1. Why does Ricks place such emphasis on "facts" and "truth" in his comparison of these two icons? How does he think they connect the two, and how does this shape his view of the political landscape today?

2. How did Churchill address class issues in World War 2, and how does Ricks believe this contributed to his success?

3. Ricks notes that Orwell never visited America, and saw only a uniquely British version of capitalism. How might the story of 1984 have been different had Orwell known more of America?

4. Which figure do you think will be more remembered in the future, Orwell or Churchill, and why?

5. Why is Orwell's 1984 not a "historical relic" today? What makes it timeless? What did Orwell not see in his novel that we see today?

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COMMENTS (3 to date)
Edwin McAuley writes:

I am surprised to discover no one has commented on this talk, to my mind it was one of the best in a long time. Most refreshing was how both Roberts and Ricks were able to hold a stimulating, challenging, and rewarding conversation whilst obviously holding diametrically different views on some things but still able to be in full agreement on others.
Such nuance is something which is sadly lacking from today's public discourse where it appears one must be "all or nothing".
The "alternative truths" which surrounded reporting on the Spanish Civil War have an obvious echo in the USA and UK today. Is it too late to educate our adults to think carefully before they take a position based on a sound bite?

Amy Willis writes:

Edwin,

Several people have commented on this episode on the original episode page here:

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2017/06/thomas_ricks_on.html

We use these follow-up posts simply to continue the conversation and pose some questions for thought, which we do not systematically do in the episode on Monday's. That said, we're delighted you have joined in! I, too, thought this was one of the best episodes of late, and I've started reading Ricks's book. I don;t always do so, as I often feel I get such a good overview from Russ's conversation, but this one really left me wanting more!

And I share your longing for more civil discourse- which guides what we do here at Econlib. I have to hope it's NOT too late!

Simon Fawthrop writes:

As a Brit it was fascinating to listen to this conversation rather than the gung-ho stuff we usually get from our side, especially with Churchill.

Russ mentions the Churchill War Rooms which I also recommend but anyone visiting London should try to add on 1, but ideally 2, days to see the Bletchley Park museums and Engima rebuild:

https://www.bletchleypark.org.uk

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